Articles > Conversion Optimization, Digital Advertising Increase your ROI with Google Performance Placement Reports and Search Query Reports

There’s nothing I like better than when Google AdWords decides to make our lives as search marketers just a bit easier. If you’re interested in working smarter and improving campaign results, be sure to check out two of the more recent reporting roll-outs – Google’s new Placement Performance Reports and Search Query Reports.

Google Placement Performance Reports – Finally… We now have visibility and CONTROL over where our ads display in the Content Network given Google AdWords’ relatively new Placement Performance Reports.

For the sake of providing some historical context, there definitely has been an evolution in terms of Google’s Content Network offerings. We were granted some control years back when Google decided to let us set separate bids for Content v. Search (and by the way, if you aren’t bidding separately for the Content and Search Networks, you really need to make this change – these really should be viewed and managed separately, as they are entirely different beasts).

The ability to bid separately for Content and Search was definitely a big step towards more control.

Then, another not-so-small victory came about when Google decided to let us exclude sites – nice feature, and another step towards more control. But given that most account managers don’t take the time to dive into their log files, this didn’t help much for those who were clueless as to the source of their traffic in the first place.

But now with Google’s new Placement Performance report, we’ve got quick and easy visibility coupled with control. These reports allow you to see exactly which Content sites are sending you traffic and conversions, and therefore make the right decisions to improve your campaign’s ROI from the Content Network (as opposed to throwing your hands up in the air in frustration and pausing the Content Network all together as many of us did in the past).

For those sites that are driving costly traffic yet few or no conversions, go to your Tools link and choose the Site Exclusion option to eliminate future clicks from these lower performing websites.

For those sites that show up in your Placement Performance Reports as top performers, consider maximizing your exposure by setting up a Site Targeting campaign. With a Site Targeting campaign, you can explicitly choose which sites you want to appear on and therefore maximize exposure on your most effective placements. However, note that I say ‘consider’ Site Targeting because there is one major caveat – you end up paying on a CPM basis if you do this and in my experience thus far, this is a big downgrade in ROI. I’m personally willing to give up the increased control in order to keep my coveted CPC pricing model.

The Placement Performance Reports combined with Site Exclusion is definitely a great combination for increasing ROI on the Content Network… though I have to mention one big flaw. Domain ads. You’ll notice in your Placement Performance Reports that there are line items that say ‘Domain ads’, which refer to Google ads that show up on parked domains. In our experience, these parked domains drive lots of clicks and few conversions… yet currently, Google will not allow advertisers to opt out of domain ads, as you can with individual sites.

Overall though, a thumbs up to Google for granting us this increased level of visibility.

Google Search Query Reports – If you are using Broad or Phrase Match, then Google’s new Search Query Reports will definitely be your friend. Downloading a Search Query report will allow you to pull statistics including conversion information for the specific search queries that were used by the searcher who clicked through on your ad – as opposed to seeing metrics only for the term you were explicitly bidding on in AdWords.

I definitely recommend pulling this report ASAP if you have not already. You will be quite shocked at the terms that you are phrase and broad matching to currently. Many are so completely and totally off the mark it is not even funny – which in turn is creating a whole lot of buzz and well-warranted discontent regarding Google’s Expanded Broad Match (check out Expanded Broad Match Hurting AdWords Advertisers and Up The Creek With Google AdWords Broad Match).

Here are some suggestions for taking the Search Query report data and converting it into a positive in terms of ROI.

For those terms that are driving traffic yet not converting, set up negative keywords in your campaigns and/or ad groups; thus eliminating this ineffective traffic.

For those terms that are driving effective traffic and conversions within your ROI benchmarks, yet you aren’t explicitly bidding on them (the broad or phrase matched terms), go ahead and add these terms to your campaign. Even though you’re already showing up for these terms, you can maximize exposure and control by bidding on them individually.

Learn more about Google Placement Reports:
How to Use Google’s Placement Report and Site Exclusion to Cut Your Customer Acquisition Costs by 20%
Google Content Placement Performance Report Rollout

Learn more about Google Search Query Reports:
My Newfound Love: Google AdWords Search Query Reports
Searching Beyond the Paid: Google AdWords’ Search Query Report …

Bravo to Google for giving us the tools to increase ROI from our online campaigns!