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7 Important Changes to Google AdWords Reporting and Targeting in 2018

Almost every month, Google AdWords introduces new features, and kills off features deemed irrelevant or confusing to its users. Most of these changes – save the major ones – go completely unnoticed, but can impact your search nonetheless. Here is a list of the latest changes to Google AdWords reporting, analytics, and targeting in 2018, and how they might impact your PPC advertising.

1. Improved analysis and performance for click-to-message ads

Added: April 2018

According to a Google Consumer Survey, 65% of customers would consider messaging a business to get information or schedule appointments. “Click-to-Message” ads have been around for close to two years, but message reporting has only been added recently, so now you can finally gain major insight into the approachability of your brand. AdWords reports include your chat rate (how many people choose to chat with you), the chat start time, and total number of messages in the chat.

These features allow the advertiser to look not only at the results of their chat buttons, but at patterns in their advertising efforts. Google gives the example of an auto dealer who adjusted their AdWords spending based on such reports. They discovered that customers from a certain area code and those with more than four messages are more likely to come in for a test drive, and allocated their budget to target similar users.

click to message ads example

2. See your non-performing keywords in a single report

Added: April 2018

Wouldn’t it be nice to know which of your keywords aren’t pulling their weight without investing any more time, money and effort? Well now you can. Starting in April 2018, the new Google AdWords Experience lets you view and download your keyword performance, customize how you track keyword performance, and run keyword diagnosis to review your Quality Score. The Quality Score, graded from 1-10, includes your keywords’ relevance, landing page experience, and landing page loading time.

Seeing the individual elements in your Quality Score separately and side-by-side is a really important change, as one being off can negatively impact a keyword’s overall performance, or even stop it showing all together. It also allows you to see which overperforming keywords should be injected marketing copy to boost a page’s overall performance. Finally, the additional of the historial quality score means that you can easily track how any changes to the page impacted its quality score.

To navigate to your Quality Score report in the new AdWords UI, go through the following steps:

  1. Click Keywords from your AdWords menu
  2. Click on the Columns icon (above your Stats)
  3. Choose Modify columns
  4. Select Quality Score
  5. Apply

Visit Google AdWords Help for complete instructions on running your keywords quality score report.

new adwords UI columns

For a quick refresher on the basics of AdWords performance analysis, check out our Quick Guide to Analyzing AdWords Performance.

3. View foot traffic conversations for the Google Display Network

Added: March 2018

Google’s new AdWords experience allows retail advertisers to view foot traffic conversion, or, rather, see how many people saw an ad for your store (defined as 50% of the ad being visible on screen for at least 1 second, based on Google's Active View technology) and then visited the store. If this seems like a major violation of consumer privacy, rest assured that the store visit data is modeled on anonymous, aggregated statistics. Not ideal for marketers who want to get black-and-white proof of the precise advertising campaign effectiveness, but a step in the right direction, as measuring retail ROI is notoriously painstaking.

The downside is that as of the time this article was written, there were a number of country and company-size restrictions to tracking store-visit conversions, which means this tool won’t be available to all advertisers.

Store visit conversions will be added to the "All conversions" column in your campaign, ad group, keyword, and product group (for Shopping ads) reports.

new adwords ui custom columns

Get detailed instructions on how to view foot traffic conversions.

For more e-commerce metrics, check out this post on the 44 E-Commerce KPIs and Metrics for Your Marketing Dashboard.

4. Target YouTube viewers based on Google searches with TrueView

Added: March 2018

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Google and Youtube AdWords had a baby? Well, wonder no more. Starting March 2018, custom intent audiences (people who are looking for your service, rather than a predefined customer) who searched for content on Google will find themselves coming across advertising content related to their search on Youtube via its TrueView advertising system.

In a blog post announcing the combined power of Google and YouTube in AdWords, the new service, Google explained how the financial services company Betterment targeted custom intent audiences who had recently searched for financial keywords on Google. Their ROAS increased sixfold and their Google searches (including those for their name) went up by 245%.

trueview campaigns adwords UI

trueview campaigns adwords UI

new campaigns adwords ui 2018

Here’s the guide for setting up and optimizing TrueView campaigns.

5. Boost your search campaigns with the improved Keyword Planner

Added: March 2018

The new and improved Keyword Planner is much more streamlined than its previous version, reducing the options the start screen to two simple options: “Find new keywords” and “Get metrics and forecasts for your keywords.”

One of the big additions in this version is that it shows mobile search volume alongside total monthly search volume, which was previously only available via a separate drop-down menu. Another change is the addition of organic impressions and organic average position for each keyword, which becomes available after the Search Console and AdWords accounts are linked and the columns are added to the keywords report.

Forecasting has also become easier, as you’ll no longer need to set a bid to do so. You can simply adjust the slider in the chart to see how bid changes affect other market performance metrics.

new keyword planner adwords ui

6. Connect with local customers using the affiliate location extensions on YouTube

Added: March 2018

If your clients sell products through major retail chains, rejoice. The affiliate location extensions allow you to add the retail locations in which your items are sold in order to target customers in a specific area. These were previously only available in Google AdWords. Now they will also appear on TrueView in-stream and 6-second bumper ads.

IHOP used this extension as part of their ongoing effort to measure the impact of its video campaigns, and was able to drive store visits from Youtube for $1 or less. The sentiment was echoed by other companies in this post on the Google blog.

Click here to learn how to use affiliate location extensions.

adwords UI 2018 adstage

7. Dig deeper using custom columns for both keywords and ads

Added: March 2018

Custom columns allow you to dig deeper into your metrics and to single out or create  the metrics that matter most to you and your clients using formulas - another step Google has taken to get your reporting out of Excel and Google Sheets. While a simpler version of custom columns has been around since 2014, the new version can be applied at the ad or campaign level, and there is a greater emphasis on separating mobile and desktop metrics.

Click here to learn more about custom columns.

how to create a custom column in the new AdWords UI

custom metrics new adwords UI

Automate AdWords reporting with AdStage

automate adwords

AdStage supports campaign optimization and closed-loop reporting in Google AdWords so you can reach customers that are most likely to convert, and report on your results quickly and with confidence. Learn more about automated AdWords reporting or sign up for our free 14-day trial.

AdStage Team