The end of transparency at Google
For the past few years, Google has been moving more and more towards automated digital marketing solutions, but for whose benefit? Indeed, Google is increasingly automating its digital marketing products to make its solutions more accessible to its users and likely increase its profits.
Google Ads has evolved a lot since its creation in 2000. In recent years, several products have made the transition to the Smart (automated) format, where advertisers and customers lose several control options and must completely trust algorithms to manage results. . Although some of these Smart Campaigns , such as Smart Shopping , usually generate good results, fewer and fewer options are available to analyze the data and control our delivery in order to optimize our results.
Since the advent of Smart Campaigns , Google has made two updates aimed at greatly diminishing the control advertisers once had. One was for search term reporting and the other was for keyword match checking.
With the search terms reporting update rolling out in September 2020, it’s time for fundamental targeting to move on. Important changes will be made gradually to keyword matching starting February 18, and the migration will end in July 2021.
In September 2020, justifying its decision on privacy considerations, Google Ads significantly reduced the transparency of its buying platform by a major reduction in access to the source data of search network campaigns: search terms.
“ In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for. We're continuing to invest in new and efficient ways to share insights that enable advertisers to make critical business decisions” – Source
Search terms are the most important data for any campaign run on the search network. This report shows us the user searches where we got impressions and clicks and invested our budget.
This decrease in transparency has caused such a stir that a petition has been launched to demand the abolition of this update, but impossible to fight against a giant like Google. The cause was already lost.
Since that September 2020 update, approximately 40% of search term data has vanished, causing enormous opacity when it comes to delivering results and investments. The possibilities for optimization and delivery control have been greatly reduced, which has had a direct impact on the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, particularly with regard to the Quality Score. The Quality Score is made up of three elements: the engagement rate (CTR), which constitutes 75% of the Score, the correlation of the ad with the query, which constitutes 25% of the Score, and the quality of the destination. Considering that on average 30% of search terms are available, platform users have lost 40% of optimization capacity and must now trust the “System” which,
Here is a recent example of data available and data not available (“Other” queries) in the search terms report. “Other” queries are also known as BlindFold, which we covered in another article .
We tried to see if queries not available in the UI (Front-End) were available in the databases (Back-End) using tools that connect directly to Google databases through the APIs, such as SuperMetric and BigQuery. Unsurprisingly, the query is completely hidden, even for advanced users who connect directly to source data through API connections.