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Google Changes Conversion Reporting

Posted by Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron is the Director Owner of Advent Communication. With more than 25 years experience he has a deep...
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on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 in Google

Sometimes the most innocuous of changes can have ripples that become surfing waves before you even realise.

Google have just released news of a change that is to be rolled out during February that will subtly change the way in which conversions are reported in Adwords.

Here are the bones of the changes:

Let's imagine you have a site with a newsletter sign up, an inquiry form and an eCommerce area where you sell your products. Clearly you want to track all and any of these conversions.

Let's suppose a visitor comes to your site and converts on all three - they sign up for your newsletter, they send in an inquiry and they buy something.

Currently, you would see one conversion in your Conversions (1 per click) column - this is because Google aggregates the conversions to the visit and basically says - This visitor converted on your site. With this Google assumes that a conversion is a conversion is a conversion (which is not always the case as we reported a while ago in our article Not All Conversions are Created Equal) but the logic is sound - if we catch a client then we don't need to report that three times.

In the Conversions (Many per click) we would see three - Google is reporting that there were, in fact, three conversions. Again, logical. And provided we know what we are looking at (remember that - it's important later) then this is fine.

But Google have realised that, as we said in the aforementioned article, not all conversions are equal - and whilst a newsletter sign up and an inquiry form may have the same value to us - a sale may be worth more - and we would like to be able to segment these for reporting.

So the reporting is to change. The new "Conversion" column will be the same as the previous Conversions (Many per click) and what was the old Conversions (1 per click) is now "Converted Clicks".

But there's more. Within the "Conversion" column we will be able to "group" conversions - so in the example above we will be able to see 2 conversions - one for the contact type (the newsletter sign up and the inquiry form) and one for the sale.

Cool right? Yes it is - it will help to give us a better insight into the costs of conversions.... or at least it will for those of us who know what we're looking at.

And this is where we come back to the earlier comment. We have to know what we are looking at.

If we don't, then our Adwords column that was reporting Conversions (1 per click) - or aggregating - is now still called Conversions . but is now counting as the old Conversions (many per click) was.

So why is this a problem? Well, a little like the grouping of devices under the Enhanced Campaigns roll out, most users don't realise how these changes impact. Imagine you were tracking two conversions before under 1 per click reporting - and your cost per conversion was $20.

With this change your cost per conversion will drop to $10 - but nothing has really changed. In most cases a person seeing an increase in conversion and a drop in the cost per conversion will understandably assume that things are going much better and will raise their spend. But, in reality, nothing has changed.

The problem, as with many that surround the AdWords platform, is that Google assumes a level of understanding and familiarity with the platform that simply doesn't exist. Most advertisers are SME's with little true understanding of the most basic features - let alone how to leverage the reporting. This small but significant change in the way in which conversions are reported is another little bump in the already steep learning curve.

Below is a full transcript of the announcement that is being sent to advertisers:

Dear AdWords Advertiser,

In order to better meet the unique needs of your business, we’re making important improvements to conversion reporting in AdWords. We’re writing to share details about these upcoming changes so you are ready to take advantage of them when they are available in your account.

What’s changing?

- More flexibility in counting conversions. Beginning in February 2014, you will be able to specify how to count different conversion actions. For example, you can choose to count all instances of certain conversion actions (such as sales) while counting only unique instances of other conversion actions (such as leads).

- Easier to understand conversion column names.
‘Conversions (1-per-click)’ will be renamed ‘Converted clicks’. This new column name is a more accurate representation of what this column actually counts: clicks that result in at least one conversion. In most cases, you’ll want to measure conversions, not just converted clicks.

‘Conversions (many-per-click)’ will be replaced by a new ‘Conversions’ column that has additional functionality. This column will count conversions, based on how you want each conversion action to be counted.

An example of how this works

Acme Corp uses AdWords to drive two important conversions: sales of their online tax software and leads for their in-person consultation service. They notice that people often make multiple purchases of their tax software – perhaps separate purchases for state and federal taxes. However, people also fill multiple lead forms. While Acme would like to count every sale as a conversion, they would like to count only unique leads.

If a click on their AdWords ad led to two sales and two leads, the previous conversions (many-per-click) would count four conversions whereas conversions (1-per-click) would only count one. Acme would like to see three conversions: one for each sale, and one for the unique lead. Now with flexible conversion counting, Acme can see the right number of conversions for each conversion action they measure in AdWords

How flexible conversion counting affects your account:

If you don’t change anything, your ‘Conversions’ column will look identical to the Conversions (many-per-click) you see today. ‘Conversions (1-per-click)’ will be renamed ‘Converted clicks’ although there is no change in functionality.

Additionally, automated bidding solutions like Conversion Optimizer and eCPC will continue to function as they do now for both the new ‘Converted clicks’ column and the ‘Conversions’ column

Flexible conversion counting will be be available in your account in February. To read more about the new column names and counting preferences, please see this article in the Help Center .


The Google AdWords Team

Are Google making the reporting more accessible or more confusing? Time - and frustrated clients - will tell.

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