News & Insights


How Measure and Use Adwords Data Correctly

pwd staff OLIVER WOOD
Oliver Wood

|30th April 2017

Collecting and using data is critical for optimising AdWords campaigns. With it, you can act on what you have learned to improve paid traffic performance with adjustments in bidding, budgeting and targeting optimisation.

Setting up for measurement

For the measurement piece, there are several key considerations for tracking paid traffic performance.

  • Include cross-device conversions since the majority of searchers start on one device and finish on another.
  • Link Google AdWords and Analytics so your are not just measuring leads in AdWords but also the behaviour of people who come to the site from an ad, but do not convert.
  • Include every action that is important to the business so you understand when those conversions are happening and which ads influence the decision to convert.
  • Remember to increase lookback window for users with longer purchase paths.
  • Track the value of conversions through dynamic values.
  • Choose the correct conversion count with one for lead generation and every for transaction.

Understanding Attribution

Since the user path to purchase is complex, it is important to switch to a multi-touch or data driven attribution model when reviewing paid traffic. The specific model used depends on factors for that specific business, meaning not every business will use the same model. However, the majority will benefit from going beyond a last-click model.

Once you know what to measure and have transitioned to a thought process beyond the last-click attribution model, the next step is deciding how to act on this data to make strategic decisions in an account and account for nuances in performance

Shifts in mobile

When switching to a multi-touch attribution model, there may be more conversions on mobile devices from paid traffic. These conversions do not necessarily mean that mobile is suddenly doing better. What is likely happening is that mobile is now getting the value it deserves with this shift in attribution. Previously, conversions that were credited entirely to a desktop device due to the last-click model are now attributed to all the touchpoints, demonstrating the true value of mobile.

Shifts in upper funnel conversions

Upper funnel advertising like Display ads and Youtube videos are good strategies for searchers in the consideration stage. Similar to what you might see with mobile, when you switch to a multi-touch attribution model and value conversions beyond the last click, it will show these ads in the upper part of the funnel having more conversions. Again, it does not mean you suddenly have more conversions by shifting the model, but it is a change in how conversions are understood through the journey. This clip from Entrepreneur shares some additional insights on understanding the funnel.

Shifts in keyword conversions

An example of a generic search is “great tech gifts”. This indicates that searchers are unclear about what they even want. But as they search, they may come across information for “highly rated tablets”. It is still generic but it could eventually lead to your ad for a “Samsung galaxy tablet”.

The initial generic terms reach more prospects and a multi-touch attribution lets AdWords experts discover this and then expand on these keywords. Like with the above examples, there was always value from generic keywords but a last-click attribution model does not fairly assess these types of terms. Once these generic searches are identified and conversions are partially attributed to them, you may decide to expand on these generic terms…

To continue with this keywords theme, AdWords experts should also use the keyword planner to discover new phrases based on device, match type and location to use in new or existing ad groups. Although the keyword planner only provides an estimate, the tool is still a good starting point. In addition, it is worth visiting Google Trends for additional insight about keywords. These trends go back a number of years and include YouTube search trends, which may indicate potential keywords for a video title or description.

Ads throughout the buyer journey

As data is collected for the different stages of the consumer journey, ad creatives should align to the consumer stage for paid traffic. AdWords experts are able to learn which keywords introduced the prospect to the funnel compared to those that converted the prospect into a buyer.

When prospects are In the research phase, that is the time to introduce them to a product or service, but not with hard sell. For example, users who are searching for general information about tablets are not ready to see an ad to “buy now”. Instead, they should be presented with a soft ask to ‘explore’ or ‘learn’.

And as mentioned earlier, value will be attributed to mobile device with a change in the model which makes it easier for AdWords experts to bid appropriately on these devices. Multi-touch attribution may indicate a need to bid up on mobile so searchers see these ads earlier on in the search path. The problem is that mobile is often undervalued in last-click attribution because it is often used as a research device. Bidding down on devices without looking at other attribution models can result in missed opportunities for paid traffic from mobile.

Applying bid strategies

There are so many factors involved in bidding that it can be tough to manage which is why Google offers Smart Bidding to take the heavy lifting off AdWords experts. This offers real-time bidding based on a user’s likelihood to convert, considers 70 million variables, can be scaled globally and has the potential to drive more conversions saving time on manual optimisation with paid traffic.

But of course, one size does not fit all which is why AdWords experts align their bidding strategy to marketing goals. Early in the funnel, advertisers want to be seen and especially need to consider their bids for mobile. Since it is a smaller screen, visibility especially important on mobile. Target CPA and eCPC, of course, requires conversions as indicated by their name before they can be used.

What about budget?

What if you receive better performance from your paid traffic over time but are limited by budget? This is a likely scenario with ongoing optimisation resulting in an improved CTR and increase in the number of clicks. And adding more money to the campaign may not be in a company’s budget. One option is to reallocate budget from poorer performing campaigns to those with better performance. Or create a shared budget across campaigns to efficiently distribute budget if you cannot add more to the budget.

With campaigns that are limited by budget, use a bid simulator to lower bids and get more clicks for the same cost. Also, view click performance for each bid. There may be some room to decrease bids but get close to the same number of clicks at a slightly lower position.

Before acting on measurements insights, make sure paid traffic campaigns are set up for success. Use an attribution model that makes sense for your business and accounts for the complex path in the consumer journey. As you act what you learn, some actions include expanding words, changing creatives to match the place in purchase path, bidding accurately on device type, and using automated bidding strategies.