PPC Optimization: 5 AdWords Features to Strengthen your Campaign

In a recent Learn with Google webinar, Google highlighted five features in AdWords that allow you to examine your PPC campaign from all angles. Learn about the latest functionality within AdWords that allows you hone in on specific dates, or join forces with Google Analytics. Explore reports that give a bird’s eye view of your PPC landscape, allow you to scope out the competition or peruse your customers’ journey before converting.

All five AdWords features are integral to PPC optimization. Discover how to leverage each of them to the benefit of your PPC campaign, with critical insights from Google VIPs and BCI’s Senior SEM Analyst Michael Shore. Explore all the features, or click a heading to jump around:

1. Time Period Comparisons

Dive into specific time periods.

2. Top Movers Report

Identify top increases and decreases within your campaign.

3. Auction Insights Report

Check out the competition.

4. Search Funnels: Assisted Conversions Report

Determine how users interact with first click keywords.

5. Google Analytics Columns

Hook up your Google Analytics for even more data.

1. Time Period Comparisons

In a blog post introducing the new feature, Google recommends using time period comparisons to answer questions such as:

  • Which campaigns saw the largest increase in clicks?
  • Which ad groups saw conversions drop by more than 20 percent?
  • Which keywords saw an increase of at least 100 clicks?

As the name suggests, time period comparisons allow users to compare different time periods throughout their campaign history. You can compare different days, different months, different quarters, different years — whatever you want.

This feature was released on August 5. During the “Taking Advantage of New AdWords Features” webinar, Google Senior Product Manager John Diorio explained that time period comparisons were created to “make it really easy for you — at any point in time — to see how any metric has changed without having to dump the data to CSVs.”

To use time period comparisons, drop down from the date, switch the compare button on and then apply the the change — voilà.

Time Period Comparisons
Turning on time period comparisons is as easy as 1-2-3.

2. Top Movers Report

Google recommends using the top movers report to answer questions such as:

  • “What is driving a change in my clicks or cost?”
  • “What campaigns or ad groups saw the the largest moves?”
  • “Did any of my recent changes break something?”

The top movers report, launched in June and housed under the Dimensions tab, shows AdWords users the top increases and decreases in clicks or cost across two time periods. According to Diorio, the purpose of this report is twofold:

1. The top movers report can be used to “clearly isolate a handful of campaigns and ad groups that have experienced the most change for a given metric.

2. “When the data is available, [the report can] actually provide you with insights into what you may have done to help contribute to this change.

Users can control the dates of the top movers report to compare movement in 7-, 14-, or 28-day periods within the last 90 days. Diorio recommends monitoring the reports on a daily or weekly basis and praises the report as an “almost a tool.”

Our in-house expert Michael Shore adds: “If you’re looking for highlights, this is a great report. Rather than mining the data yourself, the top movers report provides users with a summary of increases and decreases.”

A screenshot showing the top movers report. According to Google Adwords Senior Product Manager John Diorio, this report can be used to “understand the drivers of change and take action.”
This is another screenshot of the top movers report from Inside AdWords.

3. Auction Insights Report

With the auction insights report, answer questions such as:

  • Who am I competing with?
  • Are my ads showing in relation to my competitors?
  • Are my ads showing up for branded keywords?

The auction insights report debuted in 2012 with new functionality added two months ago. The auction insights report allows users to compare impressions between their own campaigns against their competitors’ campaigns.

“A key component of developing a search ads strategy is understanding what other advertisers are doing and using this intelligence to optimize campaigns for top performance,” Inside AdWords states.

While in its previous form, users could analyze impressions one keyword at a time, now, users can compare groups of keywords, individual ad groups, multiple ad groups, individual campaigns and multiple campaigns — all for a “bird’s eye view of your competitive landscape.”

“On a keyword by keyword basis, you’re able to see how you stack up against your competition from an impression share standpoint,” Shore says. “I find this tool very useful if you see a change in cost per click or something where you’re seeing a drop off or increase in traffic — anything out of the ordinary. You’re able to go into this report and see who’s bidding on this keyword and what their impression share is.”

auction insights ss
Inside AdWords offers this screenshot of a sample auction insights report.

4. Search Funnels: Assisted Conversions

With the search funnels, answer questions such as:

  • What are my top-performing assist keywords?
  • How much revenue are my assist keywords generating?
  • After clicking my ad, how many search interactions do my visitors go through before converting on my website?

While this report isn’t new, it’s a powerful driver of actionable insights that help with PPC management. Search funnels provide users critical information about the path consumers take before they convert. Search funnels (which can be found under conversions within reporting) offers a set of eight reports, including: top conversions, assisted conversions, first click analysis, last click analysis, time lag and path length.

“The most valuable aspect of search funnels is looking at consumers’ interactions — the search funnels report gives you more insight into how people are searching, and converting, for a product or service through paid search,” Shore explains. “For example, your keywords might not be driving a lot of last click conversions, but through funnels you can see if those clicks and keywords are actually assisting future conversions. Let’s say somebody searches for your product, clicks on your ad, browses your website, doesn’t buy anything, and then comes back a couple days later, clicks on your ad and buys something — that keyword will be a considered an assist keyword.”

“A lot of times people try to optimize AdWords accounts based purely on last click conversions, but you’re able to derive a little bit more value through the assist report’s granularity,” Shore adds.

The following Google AdWords video walks users through all eight of the search funnels reports.


5. Google Analytics Merge

By merging Google Analytics with AdWords, answer questions such as:

  • How long are people staying on my website after they click on my ad?
  • How many pages do people visit after they click on my site?
  • If someone bounced, why did they bounce?

Merging your Google AdWords account with Google Analytics allows you to “take action based on website interaction data,” according to Diorio.

Shore agrees: “This allows you to import cost and click data from AdWords into Google Analytics so you can see it all in one place. Google Analytics is a good tool to gauge user interaction with your website. When you’re able to bring in data from AdWords on clicks, impressions and costs into Google Analytics, you get an extra layer of visibility into how your paid search campaigns are truly performing.”

Linking your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts also allows you to import Analytics Goals into AdWords as conversions. This allows you to track additional conversion types in AdWords that you are not (or cannot) track using AdWords Conversion Codes.

The following video from AdWords provides an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to link your Google Analytics account with your Google AdWords account.

Have questions about these or other AdWords features, or PPC optimization in general? Feel free to ask us in the comments.

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (2)
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2 Replies to “PPC Optimization: 5 AdWords Features to Strengthen your Campaign”

Great job Kristi, Auction Insights is my favorite tool and some marketers still don’t know its around. Anyhow great post!

Awesome post Kristi! I’m working on setting up our first PPC campaign this week and this has been very helpful!


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