11.1. Monitoring Your AdWords Activity
It's important to keep frequent track of the progress of your ads. The key high-level questions are:
The AdWords Campaign Management Campaign Summary window (shown in Figure 11-1), which is the first thing you'll see when you log on to AdWords, gives you a pretty good idea of the answers to these questions.
Figure 11-1. The opening AdWords Campaign Management window provides a great way to get a snapshot of your activity for the current day (or over any other time period)
11.1.1. Understanding Your Campaign Summary
You can set the Campaign Summary window to display information for the current day or for almost any date range after the beginning of your AdWords account. Preset time periods besides the current day include the current week, the current month, and all time (since you opened your AdWords account).
Here's what the columns in the Campaign Summary window tell you about each of your campaigns:
11.1.2. Drilling Down into a Campaign
To get more detailed information about a specific campaign, click the campaign in the Campaign Summary window. A summary window, like the window shown in Figure 11-2, showing each Ad Group within the campaign, will open.
Figure 11-2. A summary is shown of each Ad Group within a campaign
Here's the information shown for each Ad Group within a campaign (in each case for the time period selected):
11.1.3. Understanding Ad Group Performance
The real information about ad performance comes at the granular level of the Ad Group. To see performance of an individual Ad Group, click on the Ad Group in the summary for a particular campaign. A window will open displaying the ad contained by the Ad Group and showing keyword statistics for the ad, like the one shown in Figure 11-3.
At first glance, the statistics for an Ad Group appear to be roughly similar to those presented for individual campaigns, and for the Ad Campaign summary, but there are some important differences:
Figure 11-3. The Summary window for each Ad Group provides a detailed account of individual keyword performance
Properly understanding the statistics relating to the individual keywords associated with your ads can help you target ads better and improve your ad performance.
188.8.131.52. Search and content results
Statistics for a given ad are divided between Searchads appearing on Google search results pagesand Contentads appearing on Google's network of web sites affiliated via AdSense.
Search versus content statistics are significant because your ad may do better in one context than the other. If you learn that this is happening, you may decide to run your ad only in Search or only in Content.
184.108.40.206. Individual keyword results
Individual keyword results are important because they allow you to determine how well your ads are being targeted. For most CPC advertisers, the ultimate goal of an advertising campaign is customer conversion, that is, getting a site visitor to take an affirmative step such as joining or buying something. Clicking through is the single most significant thing someone on the Web can do on the journey towards customer conversion. If you don't get click throughs, your ad campaign is not working, at least if customer conversion is the goal.
Assuming that your goals are like those of most advertisers on the Webto drive traffic to your site with the hope of converting traffic into paying customersyou should monitor both absolute CTR and how your click-through rates are changing.
A CTR of 2% or better is extremely good.
On the other hand, if your absolute CTR for an ad is below 0.4% you should think about how to bring that rate up, by either:
In a similar spirit, an increasing CTR for a keyword is a good thing, but a decreasing CTR is not and may mean that your ad has reached a saturation point for a specific keyword. If this is happening, you should think about alternative keyword targeting, starting with synonyms.
220.127.116.11. Keyword status
Google does not want ads to appear on its network that are targeted against keywords that it expects to have a CTR of less than 0.5%. So Google evaluates the keywords you've chosen for targeting based on their CTR with AdWords ads in general and on the CTR of similar keywords.
If one of your keywords falls below the minimum threshold in Google's estimating process, the keyword will be disabled, meaning your ad won't be targeted to that keyword. Glancing at the keyword status column in the statistics display for an ad is a good way to quickly make sure that your keywords are performing acceptably.
The possible keyword status labels and their meanings are shown in Table 11-1.
11.1.4. Using the Ads Diagnostic Tool
Will my ad appear on a Google page that answers a specific search query? This is a question of vital importance to an ad campaign manager, who may care more about the answer to this practical issue than about the theoretical improvement of keywords.
The Ads Diagnostic Tool is intended to answer this question by telling you which of your ads are likely to appear on Google search results pages.
To open the Ads Diagnostic Tool, with the AdWords Campaign Management tab open, click the Tools link, and click Ads Diagnostic Tool. The Ads Diagnostic Tool, shown in Figure 11-4, will open.
The Ads Diagnostic Tool provides two different mechanisms, which come up with the same result provided you use the same search query with each option (See "Entering Search Queries or Search Results Page URLs," later in this chapter).
Figure 11-4. You can use the Ads Diagnostic Tool to see if your ad is targeted to a keyword on Google search results pages
To use Option 1, enter a keyword or keyword phrase in the Keyword text box, as shown in Figure 11-5.
Figure 11-5. Enter a keyword or use the plus (+) operator or quotes to enter a multiword term
Next, click Continue. The Ad Diagnostics Results window will tell you if the ads in your account that are targeted to the keyword or keyword phrase you entered are likely to run on Google search pages (Figure 11-6).
Figure 11-6. The tool displays your ads targeted to the keywords you are investigating and shows you if they fail to meet minimum CTR requirements
The ads shown in Figure 11-6 fail to meet minimum CTR requirements for the keywords under investigation. This means that they would be good candidates for keyword improvement, using the tools explained in "Optimizing Your Ads" next.
On the other hand, you can see if an ad is likely to be shown using another keyword targeted for the ad. If the ad will be shown, results like those shown in Figure 11-7 will be displayed.
Figure 11-7. If you try a keyword that does meet threshold requirements, the ad targeted to the keyword is displayed
In some ways, the Ad Diagnostics Tool Option 2 may be more convenient and intuitive than Option 1. You can search in Google to your heart's content (you may even see your own ads as you search!).
When you find a specific query that you want to find out about (or want to verify your empirical findings that your ad does or does not appear on search results pages), copy the address for the Google search query from your browser's address bar. Paste the URL into the Search Results Page URL text box, shown in Figure 11-8.
Figure 11-8. You can alternatively search using a Google URL if you want to verify whether a particular search page will (or will not) display your ad
The Ad Diagnostics Results will tell you if your ad should display (Figure 11-9) or provide diagnostic messages like the one shown in Figure 11-6 if it will not.
Figure 11-9. Google shows you when your keyword and related ad does meet minimum CTR thresholds (as in this case) and also when your ad and keyword do not