KPI’s for PPC Campaigns – ‘the Good, the Bad and the Underappreciated’

We get it. Sometimes a Google Ads account’s perceived performance comes down to hitting key KPI’s. ‘Drive up transactions’, ‘increase revenue’, ‘reduce CPC’s’, the list of targets can sometimes seem never-ending. So what really matters?

In this article we’ll review some of the most important metrics in Google Ads, highlighting those that should be receiving the most, and the least, of your attention.

The Good

Revenue

Starting off with one aimed predominantly at e-commerce accounts, revenue should often be the main focus for Google Ads accounts seeking to ramp up profits. As is often the case, if an account is making money and consistently sees growth, then everybody wins.

Looking at the bigger picture, however, revenue can also be a great way of noticing not only trends within the business but also the wider industry as a whole. If, for example, you begin to notice revenue from a potential campaign decrease significantly and there isn’t a lot of account based evidence as to why this may be, it could be a sign of wider market competition. From here, you could then take a look at the ‘Auction Insights’ section to see how the market has changed and determine whether or not increased opposition is impacting your ROI.

It is also important to note that when taking revenue and lead generation campaigns into account, leads, quality of leads, lead-sale conversion rate and sales data is also crucial to ensuring quality growth. In understanding this, you can help to ensure that you see not only increased revenue, but also the potential for longer term customers.

Click-Through Rate

Whilst this metric has its obvious strengths, it also carries with it some much stronger, less known, powers. Click-through rates highlight how relevant your ad copy is to the respective keyword, if you dig deeper, this metric can highlight audience psychology and help to better understand audience personas.

Are users interacting more based on certain calls to action? Are they responding better to certain words in your headline? Have you seen CTR improvements based on audiences? This KPI can be a fantastic way of increasing relevance and driving down CPC’s (cost-per-clicks) so don’t be afraid to test and monitor CTR’s as it could end up saving you money!

Impression Share

I have to say it. Impression share reports are great. In order to fully understand your account and to gain an insight into the role that not only budgets, but also wider factors are having on your accounts, then impression share reports are the place to go.

Google calculates impression share by taking the number of impressions your ad received and dividing it by the total number of impressions your ad was eligible to receive. From here, through looking at associated metrics (like impression share lost to budget/rank and exact match IS) you can better analyse what elements your campaigns need to play a greater role in the ad auction.

The Bad

Quality Scores

This is a difficult one to add into the ‘bad’ section, however, there is some context to my reasoning. Whilst quality scores can be a great way to determine which elements of your ads are performing well, they should ALWAYS be treated with a pinch of salt.

Firstly, it is important to take data density into account when reviewing them. If a keyword has a quality score of 3-4/10, but has only garnered 50 impressions, is that really enough data to accurately determine performance?

In addition to this, it can become very easy to develop a sense of tunnel vision when looking at an individual keyword’s quality scores rather than looking at the wider picture. If for example a keyword has a poor quality score but continues to generate conversions and or quality traffic, then how important has quality score proven to be?

Clicks

Arguably the most controversial thing ever written – but hear me out. Clicks are great but clicks without context are bad. If an account is driving a great number of clicks but those clicks either aren’t converting or the audience isn’t who you are trying to target, then clicks are the tombstones in the graveyard of wasted spend.

clicks-and-a-good-contextclicks-and-a-good-context

It’s always best to understand the context. It’s important to ask the questions: What data are we seeing reflected in the account? Are users converting? Are search queries relevant? In addition to this, what can Google Analytics tell us about these users? Are they spending time on the website or are they bouncing off having cost the account 43p in the process? (A hypothetical 43p of course!) So whilst clicks can look great, they’re nothing without other metrics.

Interactions

The Google Ads purist in me still questions the necessity of this KPI within the Google Ads platform. I cannot begin to describe the unfathomable feeling of anger and frustration having spent five minutes downloading a large data file, to see that I had forgotten to add in ‘clicks’ (with the context of course!) and what stood in its place was ‘interactions’.

Google defines an interaction as ‘main user action associated with an ad format – clicks for text and shopping ads, views for video ads and so on.’ Whilst interactions can be handy for cross campaign reviewing, they can often confuse beginners (and apparently angry purists) to the platform. As the term ‘interaction’ technically covers both clicks and engagements, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of reporting interactions on face value – don’t. When using this metric, always consider what the interaction is it’s referring to as you could end up misreporting data.

The Underused

SEO/PPC Combined Reports

‘Teamwork makes the dream work’, never was this more true than with PPC/SEO combined reporting in Search Ads 360. Find search terms that triggered your content to appear on Google either from an organic perspective, paid or both! This can be a great way to better understand which content drives the strongest engagement and it can also provide information on organic versus paid comparisons. More information on these can be found here.

Impressions

Now if I didn’t lose you at the clicks comment, I’m sure you’re reading this wondering what impressions is doing in the ‘underused’ section right? Well, this is because people often purely look at impressions as a judgement of search volumes/how often it is being seen by audiences, but they are soooo much more than that.

Impressions can, for example, be a great way understanding performance trends. If you have seen more impressions for relatively the same YoY spends and you’ve also been noticing quality scores increase (with enough data that is!) then this could be a sign that account optimisation is working. Using the same analogy, if we again see an increase in impressions for the same spend but on a month to month basis, this could also perhaps signify a fluctuation in search trend data.

There are so many facets to impressions that often go undetected, so why not have a look in your account and see what they could secretly be saying to you!

Conversions (with the correct format of attribution modelling)

As the great saying goes, ‘To understand conversions is to understand attribution modelling’. Conversions (much like other metrics in the list) may not always appear as they seem. To best understand conversions and how successful your campaigns have proven to be, ensure that you have in place the correct attribution modelling for your Google Ads account.

Often the ‘default’ attribution modelling that is in place with conversions is ‘last click’, which attributes all of the conversion to the last touchpoint in the funnel. Whilst this may be appropriate for your business needs, you may be looking to better understand the user journey. This is where alternative attribution models come into play. Choose from a number of models including ‘Linear’ (covering interactions across all facets of the user journey), ‘First Click’ (attributing all of the success of the initial customer interaction) or even set up a custom model.

Having a better understanding of what attribution model works best for you can be a great way of getting the most from your campaigns.


Main Takeaways

To conclude, it’s so important to not take KPI’s on face value. Whilst there may be a wider business focus on driving revenue or traffic, it’s important to understand that there are many elements that come into play.

‘Pigeonholing’ an account to focus on one key metric may have a detrimental effect on the overall quality of the advertising and could lead to more hassle in the long run!