In September 2020, Google Ads posted a notice on its console informing its advertisers that the search terms report has been updated and will now only contain search terms that are looked up by a large number of users. This means that, through the report, you will now not be able to view all your search terms. More specifically, the report added, “Starting September 2020, the search terms report only includes terms that a significant number of users searched for, even if a term received a click. You may now see fewer terms in your report.”
This new development could have several repercussions for advertisers. One advertiser pointed out how customers might now have to pay for irrelevant search terms and “won’t be privy to the keywords” that need to be added as negatives. It’ll also become increasingly challenging for advertisers to optimize their ad spending since, from September, they will view search terms only with many searches.
Response by Google
Google later responded with a follow-up statement that delineates the new change: 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.
The update was not received favorably, and many paid search managers expressed their skepticism and frustration. These managers mainly feel as if they now have less control over their accounts, as well as less valuable information from the company. Additionally, some paid search managers highlighted the loss of visibility and control and added how the situation would not be as bad if the other changes mentioned above were not being implemented too.
Google probably wants to earn even more money
Brett McHale, the founder of Empiric Marketing and paid media marketing expert, shares this sentiment:
“Google has continued its trend of reducing transparency for the purpose of its own bottom line. Not only has it taken measures to broaden match types across the board, but it is also now limiting your visibility into how you’re spending your money.
Advertisers will have to start using more exact match variations to ensure that they’re showing up for the most relevant queries possible—unless they are comfortable spending quite a bit of money to get an idea of where to optimize from broad and phrase match.
It all seems like a way for Google to make more money while reducing the advertiser’s ability to optimize, not to mention relentlessly encouraging automated bidding.”
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding Google’s new changes. For advertisers looking to explore Google ads new search terms, they’re facing multiple confusing questions regarding what Google means by “significant, how the change will affect overall paid search trends, and whether this is the first of many changes. Hence, advertisers need to be aware of the implications of these changes as they come. Meanwhile, to stay on top of their game, advertisers should ideally launch a dynamic search to look for new keywords, continue optimizing, broaden their skill sets, and use smart bidding to optimize for any “hidden” terms.