The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed a little alert popping up in Google Ads when in the Search Terms area of the platform. It warns that the report will only include terms that were searched by a “significant” number of users, starting this month.

This is Google announcing further changes to the availability of user search data within Google Ads. It’s not to the same extent as when Google dropped organic query data from GA but is potentially a significant change none the less.

According to Google, “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.”

Is This Even a Problem?

Even going back 10 years there was a portion of the search query report, as it was known, which included “other” keywords for which there was no data available – so the concept isn’t exactly new. The key is what the definition of “significant” is, and how much data might be lost.

A core part of optimisation has always been query management and ensuring that a client's ad shows for searches that are the most relevant is one route to an efficient campaign. If this change impacts this data too heavily, we may end up in a situation where money might be wasted, but we won't know for sure as we won’t see the data to correct it.

We won’t know what we don’t know – ignorance isn’t always bliss, especially in advertising.

A Glimpse of The Future?

The flip side of this is that since the removal of close match variants as an option (it is now on by default) and the move towards automated bidding and ad types, the argument could be made that the system is better at dealing with queries already.

Maybe we are control-freaks and need to trust Google a little more to do some of the menial tasks and move towards a more strategy-focused future. After all, Smart Shopping has already closed off the search term reporting entirely already.

The days of spending four hours as a new search exec trawling search term reports for nuggets of both gold and, well, rubbish are coming to an end. Probably, they’re over already. And, let’s face it, that’s not entirely a bad thing.

Google has stated that this change is designed to “maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data”. If this is the case then it may well be seen as a positive move by users, but until we see the level of impact this has it is one we will be keeping a very close eye on.

As ever, if you have any questions about these changes and what they mean for you, don’t hesitate to drop us a line >>>