You can only exit out of the new AdWords Beta so many times before you’re forced to give it a shot. It’s difficult to embrace at first because of how drastically different it is, but over time, I’ve opened myself up to some of its better features. Slight tweaks to the Campaigns tab make it easier to navigate while the overview tab looks closer to Klipfolio than AdWords. But at the same time, the look and feel seem simplified, focusing more on presentation than data granularity. It’s unclear which new features are here to stay, but let’s take a look at some of them and what they might mean for the future of paid search.
The Overview Page
Right when you switch to the new format, you see the new overview page. It’s visually much more appealing and breaks the data down into easy-to-read graphics ranging from the biggest week over week changes to new words that have recently triggered ads. The aim seems to be “high-level summary” with each square of information only showing a small snapshot of performance. The simplicity makes the information easy to understand at a glance, but you only gain a limited understanding of what’s actually occurring in your accounts. For example, there’s a chart showing performance by the hour as shaded squares for a metric of your choosing.
The chart looks nice, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where such high-level information would ever be actionable. Each individual metric tells a small part of the story, but from a very particular perspective. For example, the chart above shows impressions per hour and day of the week for all campaigns, keywords, locations, ads, and devices. Trying to answer a question like, “When should I spend more or less money during the day” would require a deeper look than this single metric can provide. To answer that question, it would be best to look at cost per conversion for your most important KPI at the campaign-level since each campaign behaves differently. I will concede that this chart does offer the ability to select between twelve different metrics, but with only a single metric showing at a time, it’s difficult to glean any actionable insight from this information.
Seasoned SEM professionals who understand these nuances may find this new format useful if for nothing else than generating ideas of what to dig into deeper. From this perspective, the new overview tab is leaps and bounds ahead of the old view which, at least personally, never entered my workflow in the past. But less-experienced or less-technical users run the risk of extrapolating too much from this limited information which could pose a risk to agencies and clients alike.
One of the changes I like the most is the slight tweak to the Campaigns tab that freezes the campaign name column when you scroll to the right. This change allows you to more easily compare metrics without having to scroll back and forth or download a report, helping reduce errors and speed up analysis. It also makes the interface friendlier to small computers or tablets. At companies like Be Found Online with scheduled work-from-home days, being able to work in AdWords on a laptop or with a single monitor more easily could be very significant.
The part of the new “Campaigns” tab I struggled with most was the minimalistic line graph that sacrifices legibility for a sleeker appearance. With only 3 values on the y-axis, major changes look minuscule, obscuring useful insights.
The helpful tabs were also replaced with minimal logos that no longer say what they are unless you hover over them.These changes seem to position the platform as an easy-to-use marketing outlet for small businesses rather than a sophisticated platform that offers levels of control and specificity you can’t achieve in most marketing channels. While ease of access can be nice, the new layout makes it easy to overlook big changes that were easily identifiable in the old format. Similar to the release of AdWords Express which automates keyword and ad placement management, these changes may make getting going easier for small businesses. Only time will tell if that ease of use will augment or detract from the more advanced functionality paid search clients have come to expect.
The opportunities tab has always been a contentious aspect of the AdWords interface. At its best, it can quickly reveal opportunities to make a positive SEM change with the click of a button. At its worst, it can offer broad recommendations that seem more in Google’s best interest than the advertisers. The new version appears to be more of the same with the biggest difference being a more visual layout marked by simple icons and big green numbers.
Clicking on “View Opportunities” reveals a couple campaigns that could benefit from this change with the same squiggly green arrows pointing “up” for conversions and “down” for cost per conversion. While the simplicity is visually appealing, I can’t help but wish that the squiggly green arrows could be replaced by actual numbers instead of the promise of vague impact. Admittedly, there are several opportunities that do just that, and the intention could be to move more in that direction as the Beta continues. Either way, the more important takeaway than squiggly green arrows is that, like the “Overview” tab, these opportunities serve as a great starting point, but can’t be considered a replacement for more in-depth analysis. I’m excited to see new opportunities that I’ve seen in the old version, but I’m hesitant to click the “Apply” button before doing some digging myself.
Bringing it all Together
While I started off skeptical, there are several interesting changes I’m excited to watch unfold in the new AdWords interface, specifically those that enhance ease of use and open my eyes to opportunities I otherwise might not find. Those new features will only be as effective as the people who use them, though, since simple does not always mean better. What automated analysis doesn’t capture is each client’s unique goals and intricacies, the relevant details from other channels, or the brand considerations that prevent an otherwise-good move. To put it simply, these insights lack the human element that makes agencies like Be Found Online so strategic and successful. To achieve incredible results, you need incredible people who think, care, and deliver every day. If you agree, check out our website or contact us here to see how we can work together.
In the meantime, you can check out our eBook on how to choose the right paid media agency for your business.