Google Keyword Data Posturing

The more I look at the actual changes to the keyword data that will be provided by Google for paid search activity the more it looks like a non-story. Digging into the details of the official announcement it looks like the loss of data will be nowhere near as significant as the loss of data from organic search in the move toward “secure search” and the resulting (not provided).

This particular section from the official announcement was very interesting indeed:

  • “For customizing landing pages, we suggest using the keyword that generated the ad click, rather than the query. The keyword and match type can be passed to your web server by using a ValueTrack parameter in your destination URLs.”

As far as I can tell it looks like – at worst – some advertisers may need to change the way the organise and tag their campaigns and they will still be able to pass the keyword that triggers an ad, just not the exact query.This is, of course, even less of a problem if you were only running exact match campaigns. They will also still be able to get exact query data within the AdWords interface.

There may be a requirement to change some of the systems in place for tracking but the degree to which this will need to change will likely vary. It seems like in the case of Google Analytics (and other tools using the AdWords API) a few minor tweaks here and there should allow the majority of data to still be passed along, just not the exact query. So the data available within analytics platforms will be slightly less granular, and perhaps slightly more difficult to implement, but nowhere near as significant as the loss of keyword data from organic search.

I will update this as more information comes through but it looks at this stage to be a bit of a non-story now that the official version of events is out. The cynical onlooker may even suggest that it is an attempt to pacify the cries of hypocrisy over the discrepancy between paid and organic data in the previous scenario, but this will do little to dampen those cries based on my current interpretation.

Some of the observations from yesterday based on the early leaked reports remain valid and make no mistake about the battle for enterprise budgets through “stack” solutions, but it seems with the official announcement the story may not be about the competitive advantage gained, but rather the half-hearted efforts to protect privacy whilst still passing virtually all of the information to advertisers and keeping a pretty clear double standard in place for data from advertising vs. organic traffic.

As always, the above thoughts are my own and do not reflect the opinion of my employer or anyone else. This is my personal blog.

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