In September last year, Google implemented one of the biggest updates to it’s advertising platform ever, by significantly reducing the number of viewable search terms for campaigns. This meant that two thirds or more of an advertiser’s data on keywords causing their advert to show would disappear overnight. Here was the official line at the time:
“We are updating the search terms report to only include terms that were searched by a significant number of users. As a result, you may see fewer terms in your report going forward”.
The reasoning behind it was apparently to strengthen user privacy, although a number of advertisers felt the move was more cynically to prevent users from removing terms that weren’t deemed relevant, thus keeping spend levels higher.
Almost a year later, and the fallout from this change has largely died down. There has been a big shift to using smart bidding strategies, workarounds have been implemented where possible, and ultimately people’s expectations have adjusted. That was until earlier this month, when all search terms suddenly reappeared in accounts for a few hours. People scrambled to download their data while it was available, assuming it was a glitch. However, Google Ads liaison Ginny Marvin then confirmed that the company were looking into ways to increase the amount of data available again:
So, why the sudden change of heart? It’s difficult to know for sure, but perhaps the drop off in advertisers generally during the pandemic means Google is now trying to find ways to make their offering more appealing again. Or, again being cynical, the shift to smart bidding means they don’t have the same need to hide terms anymore.
Either way, it can only be a good thing to have more data available again (if more time consuming), and with several of our clients seeing the unfiltered data creeping back in, we’re keeping everything crossed that this is a permanent move.