A Practical Guide To The New AdWords Interface

There’s no going back for me now, I’ve made the compulsory switch to the new AdWords interface. While I have my gripes, there are also some useful new features which can help in-house search engine marketers save time and streamline account management tasks. The real question is, do the improvements outweigh the loss of some of the original functionality?

Without a doubt, my favorite new feature is the ability to see Search Query Performance report data while viewing an AdGroup’s keywords in an account. If you click on the magical “See Search Terms” button on the Keywords tab of an AdGroup, the Search Query Performance report data appears, with flags on which keywords are in the AdGroup. There is also the ability select and add (en masse) good keyword matches or add matching queries as negative keywords. I like that Google is making this data more transparent and actionable, right there next to the keywords.

As a corollary, content targeted campaigns now have Placement Performance report data viewable within the AdGroup, again with the ability to (en masse) exclude sites or add them as a “managed placement”. A note on the nomenclature change for content campaigns: “placement targeting”: where an advertiser specifies certain sites to target is now named “managed placements” and content targeting where an advertiser specifies keywords that trigger site matches is now named “automatic placements.”

There’s an amazing irony in Google having initially removed the search functionality from the AdWords account with the new interface (it is back now, in a small way). Yes, it was painfully slow if you had a large account, but I always thought if Google could handle searching the whole Internet, an AdWords account, even a large one, should really be easy.

The new AdWords interface has filters. And for anyone complaining about missing the old slow search, I strongly suggest you spend some time with the filters. Filtering is way more powerful than the previous search functionality, not only can you filter for text (basically the same as searching, now just faster), but also for other parameters like status, click-through rate, conversion rate, and almost anything else Google is tracking. Filters are an enormous opportunity to quickly zero in on both high and low performing account elements.

If you are a big AdWords Editor user, some changes are less exciting as they represent a move to present more AdWords Editor functionality in the online AdWords interface. Two features that I theoretically love, but never use, are the option to edit in a spreadsheet or download, both now available by clicking on the “More Actions” button, available at most levels of the account structure. I like that the functionality is there, and I am sure some search engine marketers must find it useful, but given that I use AdWords Editor quite a bit, I tend to just use it for spreadsheet size changes and account exports.

Users of Google Analytics will appreciate the new graphing feature as the functionality is very similar to Analytics graphs, though I admit I hide them most of the time as I’d rather see the numbers. Other tools have migrated to the Opportunities tab, which also contains a new “Ideas” feature. Ideas reports on potential keywords you may want to add to your AdGroups, with the ability to directly save to the AdGroup or to a pending changes file.

The suggestions and pending changes are both downloadable for review in a spreadsheet. So far I have found the Ideas to be prolific and several are good suggestions, though definitely not all. There is the ability to mark each suggestion as a good fit or not, hopefully the tool learns over time to improve suggestions. The new Keyword Tool beta, which combines the Search-based Keyword Tool with the traditional Keyword Tool is also linked from the Opportunities tab.

I am sure initially I missed some of the old AdWords features because I was used to them, and once I adjusted to the new interface I’d see the reason in their demise. This is true of filters largely replacing search, but I can’t say the same for many features I miss. For example, there is now a limit of 100 rows per page, so only 100 AdGroups or ads or keywords are viewable on a single page. I hate having to navigate through pages and would gladly trade viewing everything for whatever possible loading speed gain was generated (currently not an option). In the same vein, I miss the one page view for an AdGroup, no longer can you view the keywords and ads all on one page.

While I am sure some search engine marketers like the ability to make inline changes, I find it annoying and would love the option to turn it off. Accidental clicks to edit versus clicks on the navigational link happen all too often for me, and I don’t find the inline editing all that more useful than the previous editing functionality. Also the buttons next to account elements to pause or enable are nice, but why is delete only available on the top menu and not as an option in the button?

My last pet peeve is the altered navigation paths. From the Ads tab of an AdGroup – if you click on the link back to the Campaign level, you are still on the Ads tab, but now ads for the entire campaign display, it actually takes multiple clicks to get back to the home screen to view all campaigns, or even all AdGroups in a campaign due to the persistent tab feature. I recognize that it could be useful to see all ads for a campaign, but the navigation to do that could be built to not interfere with basic account navigation. After looking at an ad or keywords, often I’d like to go look at something else in another campaign, and with no one click to get back to the campaign list, that takes a lot more clicks than it used to.

We’ve only just begun to delve into all the practical applications of the new AdWords interface features, for more information, short, helpful videos and a guide to the new versus old interface functions, visit Google’s new AdWords interface microsite. The site is a great resource for getting up to speed on the functionality changes and answers many questions for search engine marketers.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | In House Search Marketing


About The Author: is the Vice President, Marketing at Viator,the leading provider of destination activities worldwide, and also blogs on in-house search engine marketing issues at inhousesem.com.

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  • http://www.cpcsearch.com Terry Whalen

    Thanks, Kelly. Another navigation feature I miss is the ability to sort ad groups [by spend, for example] and then – by clicking on the ‘Next’ button – move to the next ad group according to how you sorted them. This was especially useful when doing ad optimization – you could move from the most important ad groups with the most data in them to the less important ad groups. It would be great if they brought this back!

    It would also be really nice to be able to look at data day-by-day or week-by-week within the main management interface – you could have simple ‘forward’ and ‘back’ buttons located next to the date range drop-down which would go forward or back the unit of time that is being displayed. Does this make sense to folks? In other words, let’s say you think it’s important to look at the last 3 days of data. Once you select the last 3 days using the ‘custom dates’ feature, you could then be able to look at previous 3-day periods by clicking 1 button (in this case a ‘back’ button). This might cut down on the number of reports needed to troubleshoot things or see certain trends, and it could save time.

    Some other ideas for discussion:
    – Keyword tool – bring back ‘in campaign’ to kw tool so user does not have to cross-check whether kw is already in campaign
    – Reports – default sort should be ‘largest to smallest’ in reports, as it is in campaign mgmt interface
    – Reports – have reports automatically open (in new tab) when finished running
    – Data – option to include columns for total value and ROAS
    – Reports – have report filter include same functionality as AE (e.g. keywords containing the word ‘flash’, by month)
    – Ads – ability to mouse over specific ads to show when the ad was made active
    – Reports – ability to un-select ‘ad id’ when running reports (or be able to hide the column)
    – Reports – ability to filter for certain campaigns, while not having to have a ‘campaigns’ column in the report – so the user does not have to do pivot in Excel to bring everything together


  • reklame

    Great article, thanks Kelly!

    What I miss within the search query report “on demand” is an option to choose another adgroup to add the selected keywords to. I often create adgroups with only one keyword and put (not so) related keywords to other or new adgroups (as often some phrases of the search query reports wouldn’t fit).

    And then there is obviously a bug – I cannot view videoads anymore. Image ads can be pre-viewed, but there is no preview-link for videoads. So it is not possible to manage videoads in the new interface.


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