The ROI Revolution Blog
Testing AdWords Ads in Google Analytics
March 26, 2007
It's easy to set up multiple ads for an Ad Group within Google AdWords, but how can you tell which ad is performing at a higher level? You may be using Conversion Tracker to make your decision, but that only tells a small part of the story using a single metric, cost per conversion.
Google Analytics allows you to get the entire story about the ads that you are testing, using multiple metrics. Here's how to get that story:
You can access ad results at the campaign, ad group, and keyword level using Google Analytics. Simply use the AdWords Analysis Report, drill down to the appropriate level, and then open up the Analysis Options menu by clicking on the little purple button next to the appropriate record.
Select Cross-Segment Performance from the list, and for the field, select Content (shown below). You will see a list of all ads, arranged by title, associated with the campaign, ad group, or keyword, along with conversion data for each one of your goals and $/Visits. This will give you a better idea of how well your ads are faring against each other.
Sounds great, right? Well there is a slight problem to be aware of when testing in this manner. If you are using auto tagging within Google AdWords, then the ads will be identified by titles. Therefore, you can only use Google Analytics to test ads that have different titles.
If you want to test something different, such as the ad copy or the display URL, you would have to either change the title slightly (capitalization, punctuation, etc.), or you would have to use manual tags for these ads. If you decide to go that route, by sure that the utm_campaign, utm_term, utm_medium, and utm_source tags match your campaigns exactly, or else you will be causing more problems than you are fixing. Regardless, you would lose the ability to track at the ad group level, as there is no manual tag for ad group. For more information about manual tags, visit the Link Tagging 101 and Link Tagging 102 articles. You are better off using Conversion Tracker for tests where you would like the ad titles to be the same.
So, in summary:
1. Create the ads you wish to test in AdWords. Make sure the titles are at least slightly different.
2. Go to the AdWords Analysis report. Drill down to the campaign, ad group, or keyword you are testing.
3. Click on the little purple button to cross-segment a record by 'Content'.
4. Use the results to select the best ad.
Remember that you can use the utm_content manual tag for non-AdWords ads, and you would have to use a different report, like Overall A/B Testing, to find these results. Also, it's bad practice to run a test on your ads at the same time you are either changing bids on your keywords or testing the corresponding landing pages. Testing either of these at the same time you are testing ads will compromise your results.
Update (3/30/07): I just found out that Robbin Steif from Lunametrics wrote a different article concerning this subject last August that you may wish to check out.
Google Analytics for Online Advertisers
Here at ROI Revolution, we consider Google Analytics tracking essential for paid search, so it's included in our PPC Campaign Management service.