One issue which many new AdWords advertisers face is curiosity. The appeal of seeing for yourself how your adverts look within a live environment, Google’s search page, is entirely understandable. After all, you’ve invested a lot of money and you want to be able to see the results, much like an offline print advertiser wants to be able to visit the site on which their billboard is held and see the effect in person.

However, getting out of this mindset is one of the most important challenges facing businesses that may be unfamiliar with advertising on Google’s search network or, indeed, with advertising online at all. While searching for terms you know you are bidding on appears logical, there are many reasons why this is a very inefficient and inaccurate way of evaluating performance.

Settings

Firstly, there are a number of configuration options within the AdWords interface which can restrict where and when an advert is shown in the first place:

1. Location – Setting country, region or even postcode specific targeting means that only users within those IP Address locations will be able to view the advert

2. Budget – Setting realistic daily budget caps ensures you don’t overspend. However it also means that Google will evaluate how much budget you have and how much search volume a term is likely to obtain in a given day, with the result being that your advert may only be displayed for a certain percentage of those searches

3.Delivery Method – Even if an advertiser attempts to get around Google’s system of displaying adverts sporadically throughout the day by setting advert delivery to ‘accelerated’, this causes its own headache if the advertiser then runs out of money for the day and cannot display during the afternoon or evening

4. Ad Scheduling – Adverts aren’t necessarily set to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during campaign setup. For some businesses, budgets may not stretch for this amount of time, and therefore peak times may be identified and adverts only visible during these times.

Personalised Results

Secondly, Google is smart. A quote taken directly from one of their help sections states:

“…if you repeatedly look for your own ad using Google search but never click on it, you might stop seeing it entirely. That’s because Google’s system stops showing you ads that it thinks you aren’t interested in.”

This is one fundamental reason why searching for your own adverts on Google is a bad idea. It very quickly becomes an inefficient way of monitoring how often your adverts are live because after a few searches and no clicks, you may not see the advert again. The only way to offset this would be to click on the advert, costing you and your business an unnecessary charge.

Negative Effect on Costs

Searching for your own adverts and never clicking on them also means that your overall performance in AdWords is affected, often having a long term impact on account costs.

The reason for this is quality score. A big factor in the amount you are likely to pay for each click is a relevancy score out of 10, which Google gives you in relation to each keyword you bid on. The higher the score out of 10, the lower you will pay for the click, in theory. Quality scores are based on several indicators, one of which is click through rate. This means that as your account matures, you are aiming to increase the average click throughs on adverts so that your costs decrease and you can re-invest in more terms.

Therefore, by searching for your advert repeatedly and rarely clicking on them, the click through rate for those keywords will be diminished, which in turn ruins the quality scores you have associated with them, which in turn means you need to bid more to remain visible. Over time, this causes a much wider negative impact on the quality scores of all keywords, old or new, due to poor historical click through rate.

What Can I Do To Monitor Performance?

Once you’re made aware of the effects of searching for your adverts, the obvious question is “What other method can I use to measure the visibility of my advertising?”

The easiest and most efficient way to monitor visibility is to view impression share statistics within the AdWords interface. These are not automatically added as columns when you start a new account, so you need to add these in. Impression share defines how frequently your adverts are being shown when users type in the keywords you are bidding on. Therefore, if your impression share is 80%, you are reaching 8 out of every 10 people who type in those keywords. Rarely will an account reach 100% impression share, due to fluctuations in competition and relevancy, and the reasons for low impression share can be due to either budget, rank or a mixture of the two.

Alternatively, if you want to simply view how your advert looks, you can use the AdWords preview tool. Here, you can see the results of a search without impacting the performance of your campaign.

Finally, if you’ve read through this article and still aren’t convinced as to why you shouldn’t search for your own adverts, I’d advise that when you do a search, the very least you should do in order to be as accurate as you can be is to clear your cookies and cache first, then log out of Google. This way, you can ensure you are getting a better view of how results look without the impact of previous behaviour/personalisation.

4Ps isn’t just another PPC management agency. To discuss how paid search strategies are evolving alongside new developments in ad technology and tracking, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels. What could a performance marketing agency do for your business?