AdWords Now Shows Separate Metrics for Google and Search Partners

by Martin Perron

As announced on their AdWords blog yesterday, Google is now giving advertisers more insights into their AdWords campaigns by adding the ability to view campaign statistics for Google Search and Search Partners separately. It’s about time!

How can to see the data?

At the Campaign Summary and Ad Group Summary pages, you’ll now see a drop down with the following options:

  • Summary – See statistics aggregated in one line
  • Split: all search/content network – See separate statistics for search (which includes Google search and search partners) and the content network, as well as a line combining the two
  • Split: Google search/search partners/content network – See separate statistics for Google search, search partners, and the content network, as well as a line combining the three
  • Only show: Google search/search partners – See statistics for search only (includes Google search and search partners)
  • Only show: Google search – See statistics for Google search only
  • Only show: search partners – See statistics for search partners only (doesn’t include Google search)
  • Only show: content network – See statistics for the content network only

Previously, these pages showed performance information rolled up in one line item for each campaign or ad group.

First the Content Network…

Google’s Content Network was long an area of dissatisfaction to some advertisers mainly due to the lack of control and transparency Google provided as to which sites showed your ads. Google responded by providing placement reports, demographic bidding options, ability to exclude sites in categories such as parked domains, error pages or sites with potentially offensive content, and recently, the ability to target both keywords and placements in the same campaign.

Where “opting-out” of the Content Network was once a default tactic to improve ROI on a campaign, the flexibility and control brought by these improvements now provide real opportunities to get results by strategically targeting the Content Network.

…Now the Search Partners

As for the Search Partners, Google has relationships with sites that agree to show ads in response to searches performed on those sites (sometimes search driven, sometimes navigational driven). The actual “search partners” has always been a grey zone as to knowing how it performs and where your ads show. Google does provide some examples on their AdWords Help section which mentions sites like AOL, Ask.com, Shopping.com -  but also includes sites that installed the Google Site Search.

What do you do now?

Google can report separate metrics back to January 1, 2007, any data prior to this data will be categorized under ‘Google’ in your account. If you opted out of the Search Partners recently, take a look at your data since Jan 1 and see how the Search Partners performed relative to Google – perhaps you’ll see positive results that may justify reactivating this network. If you’re currently including the Search Partners in your campaign, analyze the data to see if this part of your campaign is delivering on your campaign goals or wasting your budget. In the current economic climate, this may be an interesting way to see if there are any cost savings to be had for some of your campaigns.

More control?

Not yet. More insights, yes – well, at least a bit. The only control you currently have is to exclude the entire Search Partners Network from your Google campaign. Hopefully, the Report Center will allow for more granular statistics by Search Partners.

What’s next?

Although breaking down campaign statistics between the Google and Search Partners is a great step into seeing how your campaign is performing on each, I would like to see a few more features added:

  • Similar to the Placements report, the ability to see which Search Partner your ads showed on and campaign statistics for each domain/url
  • Ability to exclude individual Search Partners or domains/urls
  • Option to target only the Search Partners in a campaign
  • Ability to report between “search results” vs “navigational results”
  • Separate bidding options for Search Partners

Is this only the first of many improvement with the Search Partners? Any other features you’d like to see Google roll out for the Search Partners? Please share in the comments below.

You can learn more about the new Search Partners features in the AdWords Help section but there’s also a conversation going on at the webmasterworld Google Adwords forum about this update, so be sure to check it out and see what others are saying.