AdWords & (Not Provided) – Why It Matters, Part Two

So it definitely seems like there is a split between those who say AdWords shifting to (not provided) for search query terms is no big deal and those of us who think it is actually quite a big deal. I love a good debate and welcome the opportunity to have my mind opened, influenced and even changed!

This post elaborates on my premise from yesterday, as it seems like it is missing from the coverage (at least what I’ve read so far) from the “it’s not a big deal” camp. Tons of respect for you, Larry Kim, but you are missing a pretty big point in your post “News Flash – Paid Search Query Data Isn’t Going Away – (Duh)”.

Unless I am completely misunderstanding this (and if I am, I welcome a the opportunity to be shown where I am mistaken!) here is why this matters – search query data will no longer be passed through to Analytics (or your lead gen tracking system, etc.). To clarify, this does not mean that the keywords you bid on in AdWords will no longer appear in Analytics, they will. What will not appear though are all of the terms that caused that keyword to trigger your ad, also known as “matched search queries” currently.

So What?

Continuing with Plumbing examples, say you have “plumber” as a phrase match in one of your campaigns. You will see stats in Analytics for the paid term “plumber”. What you won’t see is the stats on the actual terms that caused your “plumber” ad to trigger and get clicked. Why does this matter – because you are losing the ability to slice and dice the search queries that triggered this term (first 10 shown here):











Without this data being passed into Analytics, there is no way to analyze how on site behavior differs between these searchers, who in this case where looking for particular geographic service areas. Don’t you want to be able to track if certain geographic areas, when used in a search query, produce more conversions, higher sales totals, etc.? We sure do.

Losing access to this type of information in Analytics, for us, is huge. Beyond being able to look at user behavior by query, Analytics also has powerful comparison capabilities that neither Webmaster Tools nor AdWords has. You cannot, for example, compare a particular query directly against another or compare a specific query against some other set of site visitors – only Analytics does that (or other 3rd party tools too, I’d imagine).

The tools available in Webmaster Tools (WMT) and AdWords are not designed for in depth analysis of user behavior. They are designed to provide a single data point – query lists.

SEOs heard a lot of this same type of “it’s no big deal” talk when (not provided) hit organic search terms. Don’t worry, they said – you can look at entry pages and extrapolate what terms brought visitors there. That doesn’t work very well and neither will only having WMT or AdWords house this valuable data and not being able to access and analyze it in Analytics. Much like the SEO issue, you will  only be able to see part of the landscape now. I don’t know about you, but I feel much better when I am making decisions and recommending strategy based on the full landscape.

If you think I’m nuts or completely off-base on this, please chime in! I’m not too proud to admit if I get something totally or partially wrong.

You can say one thing for sure – it is never boring working in PPC!

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