Sneak Peek Into AdWords’ New Multidimensional Reports

Image of Google AdWords logo

Just over a year ago (April 22, 2014), during a livestream about upcoming AdWords features, Google announced it would be rolling out advanced reporting for AdWords. The accompanying blog post stated:

Advanced reporting: To help you analyze your data better (without the endless downloading and re-formatting of data) we’re providing you with new multi-dimensional data analysis and visualization tools so you can perform most, if not all of your data analysis, right here inside AdWords. We’re also making it easy for you to turn your data into tables, graphs and charts so that you can download them and share with your teams.

This announcement generated a good deal of excitement from the SEM community. With a whole year come and gone and the buzz quieting to a whisper, Google’s timing of that announcement, from the perspective of achieving optimal PR, can certainly be questioned.

Currently, the new functionality is starting to roll out to a very limited number of accounts. Of the approximately 100 accounts that I have access to, I’m only seeing the new “Reports Editor” in one. (The account also happens to be completely shut off at the moment.)

If you have the new Report Editor, you’ll see a “Reports” link on the top navigation between “Campaigns” and “Opportunities.” If not, the link to “Reports” is on the left navigation sidebar.

A couple weeks ago when I discovered the new reports, the update box on the Help Center article about the reporting feature said it would be rolling out to all accounts in April and May. However, as of today, that box says it will roll out “over the next few months.” It appears that whatever obstacles put a year between announcement and launch may also be delaying launch even further.

So while SEMs continue patiently waiting to get access to the Reports Editor, I thought I’d share some sneak peeks at the new functionality.

The Visual Charts

The Reports Editor can create on-the-fly line, bar and pie charts. Bar and pie charts are completely new to AdWords. Line charts have an updated look and much more comprehensive functionality.

I’m not typically a fan of pie charts for SEM metrics. The data reduction required doesn’t give a holistic view of the account reality. However, occasionally there is a use for pie charts, like this quick visual of how impressions are distributed across match types:

reports_editor_impressions_by_match_type_pie_chart

Line charts have always been available within the AdWords UI; the upcoming updates both make the data more presentable as well as introduce much richer ways to look at data.

Formerly, time was the only choice for the X-axis in a line chart. The visual chart was very thin and horizontal, making it less than ideal for using in client presentations. Additionally, a maximum of two trend lines on a limited set of pure metric data was available for charting.

The old line chart in Adwords

The old line chart in Adwords [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

With the new Reports Editor, line charts are much more visually presentable. They are still based on time as the primary X-axis, which is controlled by a drop-down at the top of the report.

You can still only have two metrics trended over time. However, there is the ability to add a data segment you are trending. For instance, you can set your segment to “country” and trend conversion volume monthly with each country as a line (though only top results will appear in the chart to a maximum of 16 lines). Or, you can trend the three match types (each with its own line) week over week:

week_over_week_conversions_by_match_type

The bar charts are another way to present data over time. They also allow many other ways to use your X-axis. For bar charts, your initial segment can either be time or something else like device, click type, or top vs. side (data points currently accessed through segment reporting).

You have the ability to chart bars for two metrics within your chosen segment. For instance, here I am looking at account-wide conversions and Cost/Conv by device:

conversions_and_cpa_by_device_bar_chart

These new, visual ways of looking at data are useful for client reporting and presentations. Surely, it will also be easier to hone in on new problem or focus areas within an account that emerge more clearly with these new visual tools.

The Data Tables

The new data tables will be much more frequently used than the charts. They represent improvements to the current reporting capabilities in a few ways:

  • They are created quickly and “on-the-fly” within the reporting system. Ever set up a complex report, downloaded it, opened it in Excel, then realized you forgot one column or segment and you had to do it all over again? That won’t happen anymore, as the data is built right in the UI.
  • “Segments” are presented as columns rather than indented rows in the UI, which makes comparison and sorting less cumbersome.
  • The data presented can be filtered regardless of whether or not the filter is also a column in your report.
  • There are some entirely new available data points.
  • Time periods on saved reports can be changed on the fly rather than having to “regenerate” data in each time period.

For instance, this report shows a totally new data point (conversions metrics on search queries). It shows a segment as a column rather than as an indented row (the “conversion action names” column) and I’ve filtered it to only show this data for mobile devices. Formerly this kind of filtering could only be done by including all devices as a segment, then downloading and extracting only the mobile data in Excel:

account-sensitive data obscured

[CLICK TO ENLARGE] – Account-sensitive data obscured.

The Impact

The most interesting reports to me are those that tease at new ways to look at data that will lead to new techniques, best practices and optimizations.

For instance, looking at mobile conversion volume by hour-of-day and day-of-week, I can quickly see that Wednesday mornings are key for driving mobile conversion volume for this particular advertiser.

day_of_week_hour_of_day_mobiel_conversions

[CLICK TO ENLARGE]

It’s data that I could have extracted from the current reporting capabilities, but I’d have had to “know” that I wanted to look at data in this manner, then go through a complex process of report building, downloading, pivoting, and filtering in Excel to get to the point where I could see this.

In this new system, I just pulled in some columns and filtered in about five seconds; simply “poking around” drove this new insight. Surely, there are multitudes of similar insights that will be facilitated by this new reporting. Some of them will be very account-specific, and others are sure to lead to new industry practices.

I do not advise holding your breath while waiting for this (already very delayed) feature to roll out globally.

I do advise reading more about the capabilities and starting to think about how your reporting and data analysis can be improved in this new environment. In addition, as this rolls out to more accounts, stay on alert for new techniques that will surely emerge, facilitated by new ways of looking at data, which can meaningfully improve your results.

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