On September 1st Google briefly announced that the Google Ads search term report will now only show search terms that reach a certain limit. Simply put, advertisers will have a reduced view of which search queries trigger their ads, even if there is a click or conversion.
This limitation in advertising campaigns has caused immediate concern among advertisers and agencies, which rely on search ad statistics to optimize their performance in Google Ads.
In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for. We’re continuing to invest in new and efficient ways to share insights that enable advertisers to make critical business decisions
Google has not yet explained the term “significant number”, which currently leaves advertisers and agencies uncertain. These are mainly long-tail keywords that Bluewinston tool also works with. These keywords often have less search volume and less competition than regular search terms, so a lack of conversion information can make it difficult to optimize campaigns.
The purpose of this measure may be to prevent access to any personally identifiable information that users may include in their search queries. Of course, user privacy makes sense, but the question is whether this is the most optimal solution, because there are thousands of low-volume queries with zero risk of privacy violations.
Currently, you can see search terms from one view or one click (or a combination of both) in the search report. So this change will definitely affect single impressions and clicks. The question remains where will be the threshold for displaying search terms in reports.
We will probably hear the answer in the upcoming months, because the “pressure” from freelancers and agencies increases.
A change in the report could put advertisers in an unfavorable situation. They will not be able to properly update their negative keyword list and will not be able to rely on low-volume keyword analytics. Without this data, PPC specialists will lose the very important tool they need to optimize their campaigns and set their budget to achieve the desired results.
Advertisers will need to start using more precise variations of exact matches to ensure that they show up on the most relevant queries possible.
How PPC specialists respond to change?
Almost immediately, a heated debate broke out in the PPC community, and social networks were flooded with mostly negative views on the planned change.
The following statuses resonate the most:
- Google Ads should not restrict any data that advertisers use to optimize their campaigns.
- Less data = more unnecessary advertising costs
- It hurts advertisers in competing industries that pay high costs for each click (€ 5,10,20€,…)
- If the primary concern is privacy, advertisers should be allowed to export all search terms along with statistics.
Although Google has announced this change as a way to maintain its own privacy standards and enhance user data protection, many advertisers see it as a strategic and not very fair move by Google.
The digital agency Seer examined the initial impact of this change and calculated that Google Ads now hides search terms for 28-30% of the budget and removes the visibility of search terms with a 20.4% click-through.
This means that for every $100,000 spend in Google Ads, you’ll get $71,000 in search term data, i.e. you will have no data on terms that have spend 29,000 USD.
Tweet, which resonate in the PPC community is from specialist Collin Slatter from New York:
How to optimize the loss of search terms?
Continue optimizing ► check your campaign’s optimization scores and try to follow Google’s recommendations
To run new search ads, you’ll find new keywords ► play with dynamic search ads. This way, you can get even more keywords for your campaign
Use smart bids to optimize for “hidden” search terms ► this way Google sets lower bids for search terms that you don’t see but are irrelevant to you
Use search terms that are relevant to Google ► search terms are limited, but they’re not excluded from your Google Ads account, so keep in mind that they still exist!