Nick Rennard
By Nick Rennard | SEM | August 29, 2014

Customizing Columns in AdWords

There are many pitfalls to avoid when analyzing AdWords data. Some people over/under-analyze a single piece of data. Some don’t look at enough data (for example, they’ll base their changes off of just a handful of information that isn’t necessarily statistically significant). Others try to analyze too many pieces of data and end up getting overwhelmed by non-relevant information.

analyzing data

So where’s the healthy balance?

Today we’ll review how to set up columns with some of my favorite pieces of information to monitor while managing an AdWords campaign.

Now, you may not know what I mean by “setting up columns.” Let’s start from the beginning.

columns 1

These red arrows show columns in AdWords.

Columns in AdWords let you view whatever piece of data you feel is relevant to your campaigns (clicks, impressions, conversions, etc). These are some basic examples, but you can get very granular when determining which campaigns, ad groups, and keywords are most effective. Check out the image below:

customize columns

In your main AdWords home interface, click Columns -> Customize Columns. Here you’ll find a screen that looks something like this:

columns 2

Within this interface you can add or remove pieces of data that you’d like to view within your campaign. Let’s review the pieces that I find to be most useful:

Clicks: Clicks help you understand how well an ad is performing. Relevant, highly-targeted ads are more likely to receive clicks.

Impressions: Impressions show how often your ad has appeared on a search results page on Google.

CTR: Clickthrough rate measures how often people click your ad (CTR = clicks/impressions). CTR is extremely useful when rotating ads – I wrote a 3-part series on ad rotations and AB split testing here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Avg. CPC: Average Cost Per Click is the amount that you pay, on average, per click.

Cost: the total amount (in dollars) you’re paying for your clicks

Avg. Pos.: Average Position shows where your ads rank compared to other ads within the search results page.

Impression Share: impressions you’ve received divided by the number of impressions you could have received (displayed as a percentage). Here’s a great resource for you to read up on impression share.

Conversions: these need to be configured manually via the Tools tab; conversions can track lots of metrics: calls, form submissions, e-commerce sales, consumer behavior on the website, quote requests, etc. I recommend that you not only display these, but also make sure that they are set up properly and that you’re tracking as many different conversions as you can. More information means more opportunities for optimization.

Cost/Conversion: total cost divided by total conversions. If you know how much a conversion is worth to you (like a form submission or a quote request), then this statistic is useful to determine whether you’re getting a good ROI from your AdWords campaigns. This statistic is more useful for people whose conversions have similar values. For example, let’s say your company sells jewelry. It would be hard to determine whether you were getting an acceptable ROI based solely on cost per conversion because you don’t know whether the conversions are $10 silver friendship rings or $5,000 diamond necklaces. This is why the following piece of data, conversion value/cost, can be more useful depending on your campaign’s conversions.

Conversions Value/Cost: total conversion value divided by total cost. This is generally used for e-commerce sales since it’s very easy to determine your revenue by tracking it within AdWords. However, you can still set of values for other types of conversions. For example, let’s say an average phone call ends up resulting in a sale for you 20% of the time. If your average order value is ~$1000, then you can assign a phone call value of $200. This will help give you an idea of your campaign’s ROI.

View-Through Conversions: these are only relevant to remarketing campaigns, so if you’re not running remarketing, then don’t worry about these. View-through conversions happen when a customer views (but doesn’t click) an ad before converting. These conversions are not calculated into your cost/conversion or conversion value/cost. In fact, they are seldom considered by anyone. View-through conversions are important to keep track of basically because they track the value of branding. Keep in mind that, when you run a remarketing campaign, your ads will follow your customers around on other websites for anywhere from 30-90 days (you can adjust this within AdWords settings). People who see your ads 50 times over the next 30 days may not convert immediately because they’re not ready to follow through with the sale (especially for long-term purchases where people generally do a lot of research before pulling the trigger on purchasing). However, the next time they think of the item they were looking up, they may go straight back to your website because they remember your ads that followed them around. This effect is known as ‘branding,’ and it’s a somewhat intangible value that we can’t measure accurately with numbers, but we should certainly keep track of it when determining the effectiveness of an advertising campaign.

Bounce Rate: Bounce rate measures the percentage of time that someone immediately clicks back after landing on your website. If you have a bounce rate of 40%, then this means that 40% of the people who land on your site immediately go back. A healthy bounce rate would sit anywhere between 20-60% depending on the campaigns, website, keywords, and many other variables. A campaign with a bounce rate above 60% should be revisited since there’s probably some tuning you could do to refocus your traffic.

If you’re looking to broaden your scope within AdWords, then I highly recommend you try activating some of these columns and taking note of their performance as you make changes in your AdWords campaigns.

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