Is "Not Provided" a Big Deal for PPC?

Recent rumours in the search world have been confirmed in Google's Developer blog that Google is planning on blocking the search query data from third parties.

Sheer panic. How will we track and optimise our accounts properly?

Fear not my friends, all is not lost. Remember that the 'keyword' is the keyword added into a PPC account, and the 'search term' is the actual search query they match onto - so these are not the same thing…

Let's firstly remember what isn't changing:

  1. You can still pull all the normal search term reports in Adwords for keyword discovery and negative mining.
  2. Adwords search term reports will continue to include conversion data for those accounts with Adwords conversion implemented.
  3. You can still track and report at a keyword level from all third party tools.

So we can still see the search queries in Adwords, and we can still track to a keyword level in third party tools. Phew.

So what is changing then? The main difference is that third party tools which rely on the search queries passed through the API, i.e. many of the campaign management tools and some third party tracking tools, will have to do so at keyword rather than search query level.

Is this the end of the world? Probably not. Yes you may lose a little of the accuracy and efficiencies from reporting and tracking on a search term level, but this data is still going to be available within Adwords for keyword and research and negative mining, and advertisers should still be able to track back to the keyword externally.

The cynics among us would say that Google is going down a path to force users to use only Google products to be able to access all the necessary information. Those less suspicious would point to all the data still being available, just in different locations, and say this is simply in line with the change to Natural Search results last year.

Either way, my personal opinion of the announcement is that it won't have too big an impact on campaign management and optimisation for the majority of PPC-ers, as the industry can still track to keyword IDs/levels in third party management and tracking solutions, and the search query report remains one of many optimisations tools and reports within Adwords itself.

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