Google Ads Limiting Search Terms Reporting over Privacy Concerns
Google is telling advertisers that it’s about to stop showing them the search queries that triggered their adverts if there’s not enough significant data. This means in practice that advertisers will probably no longer be able to look into some of the queries they’re paying for.
Search terms reports only available for terms with enough users
While it’s unclear exactly what real-world impact this will have on advertisers, but they’ll certainly see fewer search terms in their reports in the future.
This change, Google says, is to maintain its privacy standards and to increase the protections around user data. The company will, however, be looking into other ways for advertisers to gain insights into their traffic so they can continue to make important business decisions.
How significant is “significant”?
We don’t know just yet. At present, search term reports include terms with just one click or impression and it seems as if this will come to an end. What the actual lower limit will be, and the knock-on effects, will be revealed in time.
Why is Google doing this?
To prevent advertisers seeing minimal query data as this is more likely to include personally-identifiable information (PII). The difference is “athlete’s foot cream buy” to “athlete’s foot cream buy near <postcode>”, for example. Of course, protecting PII is important, but hopefully the tools will be a bit blunter.
The concern is that advertisers pay each time a user clicks on one of their ads after it’s been triggered by their query. Losing this user data and essentially still paying for it could have some serious financial implications for advertisers.
Of course, Google could just be cutting out a few very sensitive queries, but if it’s going for low volume full-stop then this could lead to thousands of low volume queries becoming invisible even if they’re not risking anyone’s PII.
Negative query management may make things even harder
As close variants become ever-more prevalent, advertisers have to spend more time identifying and refining their negative keywords so that their advertising spending gets a better return. This makes search term reports even more important as businesses need to know which words to nix in order to eliminate “wasted” searches.
A few wasted searches here and there won’t break the bank, but if this new change is significant, these wasted clicks will mount up and advertisers won’t be able to run analyses to find out which words or terms are causing the financial leaks. This could affect a lot of bottom lines.