Google Ads Reduced Search Term Data Due To Privacy
Google Ads have been continuously updating and making changes that affect the landscape of digital advertising.
On September 1st, Google started limiting the data in the Search Terms Report and will show only the ones that have reached a “significant number of users“.
This means that you will no longer be able to use this report to see all of the terms that triggered your ads. This, unfortunately, is a negative impact on agencies and business owners who rely on the report’s data to optimize their ads’ performance.
Google Ads Statement
“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
We don’t know how Google defines the word, ‘significant’ but one thing we know is it affects the ad campaigns and budget.
How does this limiting the search term data affect your Google Ads account?
You won’t be able to see the irrelevant searches you’re paying for since there’s no way to directly identify them.
For example, If your ad targets the keyword “car tools” and someone searches for “car parts,” it should appear in your search terms report so that you can minimize where your ads irrelevantly appear.
Search Terms Reports are used by advertisers and agencies to optimize their Ads Performance, the data can be used to:
- Build negative keyword lists.
- Identify new keywords
- Identify the best match type for particular keywords.
All of this helps ensure you’re spending your ad budget properly, but with the update, it seems that it will be hard for you to allocate your budget with this update.
Why Are They Limiting the Search Terms?
As mentioned above, the primary motivation behind this update is that they are protecting the user’s privacy. We feel this doesn’t really make sense as the search term report is one of the most reliable and useful reports among search marketers.
We can’t help but feel this is just a blatant revenue-raising activity.
How It Can Affect the Advertisers?
Some people may think that low-volume keywords aren’t important but every irrelevant click is ad spend wasted. And these all add up over time.
The reduced visibility into search queries affects the following:
- It will possibly make keyword mining more difficult and renders broad match unusable.
- It might cause reduced conversion rates.
- Creating a single keyword per ad group might be difficult.
- It melts your ad budget really fast without knowing the other search terms.
- Advertisers will get less data and more wasted ad spend
The Search Terms Report is the catalyst to prevent serving ads against irrelevant or low-value searches. At the level of change we’ve been adapting, it could have an impact on the long term optimizations and the performance of ads. Especially when advertisers can’t rely mainly on automated bidding, they’ll need the data to optimize the keyword set, exclude poor performing search phrases, and to improve an ad copy’s landing page.
Wondered how big of an impact this could have in your account?
Well, we ran the numbers to find out exactly just big of an impact this can have.
The data below shows the visibility of the search term report in the first week of August to the first week of September based on our clients’ accounts.
Each time your ad appears on Google or the Google Network, it’s counted as one impression. But since there are millions of search terms, Google only showed search terms for about 4% of total impressions for our ads. That percentage decreased to 2% in September.
When looking at our clients’ accounts, Search Term Visibility for Clicks during August and September has dropped from 95% to 33%.
This is a massive loss in visibility for advertisers as since advertisers pay per click for every ad, this means increased wasted ad spend.
The loss of click visibility has led to a decrease in cost visibility as well. When looking at all of our clients, Search Term Visibility for Cost during August and September has dropped from 100% to 60%
That means our current budget is being spent on search terms we can’t see and can’t evaluate for optimization.
When looking at all of our clients, Search Term Visibility for Conversions has decreased by 60% in September. It may not be as huge compared to loss in visibility for clicks and cost, but still a larger decrease than expected.
Overall, most advertisers believe that this is a harsh step especially for clients with small budgets.
So to adapt to the recent changes Google made, these are the tips that will help you:
- Use Google’s Search Console to identify organic search trends and compare them to your keyword performance. Yes, they never reach the level of detail of the Search Terms report and also remove some searches but this option might help you identify the keywords you are looking for.
- Using the Microsoft Ads search term report can supplement your Google reports.
- You can use the Google Keyword Planner to see more additional insight into potential searches.
- Have your own website search data especially if you’re an e-commerce advertiser. Analyzing it will yield you information on your paid search keyword strategy.
The changes in Google STR is fresh news to us and we’ll update this article once we go further into the details. If you have a question regarding the issue or if you want us to manage your Google Ads account, schedule us a call!