While we were busy stuffing our faces with Halloween candy, it seems Google has played another trick on us. Google has banished more relevant data once again. Much to my dismay, I came across a lack of data while trying to initiate a new strategy for my clients. Category Exclusion data has long provided a great way to filter out unqualified traffic in your display campaigns. Since the data I seek is no longer in the engine, I had to use an example from an old presentation I made. Here is what you used to see in regards to category exclusions. At each category you saw your clicks, impressions, cost, etc. to help you make the best decision at the campaign level. Unfortunately, the only image I had was from a campaign with not enough data, but you get the picture.
Where is this data now, you ask? That’s the question I’m trying to get to the bottom of. Not one mention on the Google AdWords blog of these changes. No help from the Help Center. Even my Google reps are having trouble finding answers. What I do know is that I’m getting fed up with being fed up. Every time Google recommends to ‘bid up’ to get better performance, I want to jump off a cliff. What happened to all of our options to optimize based on data? What happened to our control over our own campaigns? Please tell me one non-Googler who believes tablets perform the same as desktop; none of my clients show this is true. Who is benefiting from these so called ‘Enhanced’ changes besides Google’s bottom line? I fondly remember the days when I had the option to make my decisions based on data and refining my strategy instead of blindly spending more money. (End rant.)
The good news is that you still have control if you want to exclude these categories, just no data to back it up. Despite the fact that you can’t see how these are performing, I would still recommend excluding a lot of these categories that tend to have ‘junk’ data, especially those that now fall under the “Sensitive Content” section. To test how the others might affect your campaigns, try excluding them one by one to see if you have improved results. You could also exclude them all and start adding them back in. If you really don’t have much display budget to spare, then consider excluding them all, leaving only ‘above-fold’ ads, to be more optimized until you need to expand.
I’ll be sure to follow up if this data becomes visible again through the engine or through Google’s internal reports. Until then, happy optimizing!