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Friday, October 29, 2004

AdWords Diagnostic Tool Unravels Ad Delivery Mysteries

I frequently receive questions about why certain ads might not be showing up in readers' Google AdWords campaigns. Unfortunately, to this point, the explanations one necessarily fumbles for tend to be spotty.

Back-and-forth with Google support is one way of handling such queries, but one has always wondered whether that's the best way. One might receive a verbal explanation by phone or a canned email. As of now, we have access to much of the same information that the support staff do as part of our user interface. It seems so silly in hindsight that a person might have had the job of cutting and pasting the boilerplate explanation for the ad's delivery issues, since nearly every delivery issue, even in the most byzantine of accounts, is logged.

We are, after all, dealing with computers here.

In a move that seems to be a rather bold form of advertiser glasnost, Google's turned some of the information over directly to their advertisers in the new AdWords Diagnostic Tool (you'll only be able to look at this, likely, if you actually have an account and are logged into it!). The tool seems to be aimed at those advertisers who frequently type in keywords and then don't see their ads showing up. There could be any number of reasons for this, as I found out when I quickly accessed the tool.

Because advertisers are trying to push the envelope in a competitive environment, many have built complex accounts with "keyword overlap." Keyword overlap isn't recommended, as it's messy, but some have legitimately used the tactic of duplicating keywords in order to tap into content targeting at a lower price. Messy, messy, messy.

Anyway, there are two typical reasons an ad doesn't show for a given keyword query, it seems: (1) "another ad in your account is showing for this keyword" ; (2) delivery of this keyword has been slowed for poor CTR.

The diagnostic tool provides advanced advertisers with information that is probably supposed to deter them from calling Google AdWords customer support to wonder about ad delivery. It can also be helpful for advertisers or consultants who want to do "cleanup" on accounts that have keyword overlap or are just generally messy. However, one suspects a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, so Google should prepare for a flurry of hand-wringing and misinterpretation of the information shown in the interface. Once again, if you're keeping score, the average IQ out here in advertiser-land is about 78 points lower than that inside the 'Plex.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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