AdWords is getting very complicated . There are new features being churned out constantly , and if you're a new advertiser or simply not a paid search expert, it's difficult to keep up with what's in the interface, let alone make use of all the tools. Obviously we can't review the utility of every single new feature for every single advertiser here on the blog, but I thought it would be useful to walk through a specific feature for a specific type of advertiser. The aim will be to offer advice for how to evaluate new features and whether there's utility in leveraging them for your own AdWords campaigns.
Evaluating a New AdWords Feature: The Ad Interactions Report
AdWords announced  the introduction of a new report in the dimensions tab (the reports' having moved to the dimensions tab is something you may not have known ). The post outlines what the report does:
To access the new report, select the “Free clicks” view within the Dimensions tab of your AdWords account. If you don't see the Dimensions tab, you can enable it by clicking the arrow button next to your existing tabs above your performance table.
And includes a screenshot of the feature:
The view to get to this data is titled "Free Clicks." This isn't the only Google-friendly labeling  going on in an AdWords tab, which is something to keep in mind when evaluating the new features AdWords is rolling out.
Three Questions to Ask About the New AdWords Feature
As you look at a new AdWords feature, you need to consider three questions:
- What does this feature really do?
- How can I use this feature for my campaigns?
- What sort of actual impact can this feature have on my campaigns?
The idea here is that there is a lot going on within the AdWords interface, and not all of it will apply to your campaign or be worth the time and effort for you to engage with. Let's take a look at the new "Free Clicks" feature from the perspective of these three questions.
What Does the Ad Interactions Report Really Do?
The Ad Interactions Report offers you data about how people interact with different components of your ad, and about actions they take. It's important to note that these "free clicks" aren't all clicks. Included in the items AdWords is reporting on are:
- Get Directions - This is, in fact, a click and probably has a high level of intent for the searcher.
- Display ad mouse over for at least 1 second - Here is a good example of a metric that may or may not be interesting to your campaigns -- also not exactly a free click.
- Video Play x% - Another click, and a pretty interesting piece of data if you're running video campaigns.
- Product Plusbox Expansion - This is again a click, a searcher expands the product plusbox to get more information about the product listing.
This brings us to the question of what to do with this data.
How Can I Use the Ad Interactions Report to Improve My Campaigns?
This is the key question. If you're a B2B software company not running video ads, this may be a moot point: you might not even see any data in the dimensions tab. This data could be invaluable, however if you're:
- Running an extensive product campaign - The product plusbox data can be quite useful -- this is a nice piece of first-touch data in the conversion funnel for searchers. Understanding how many people interact with the product plusbox and looking at that data in relation to clicks and conversions.
- Running video ads - Video campaigns are a relatively new channel and additional pieces of data like how many people viewed the video and how deep they got into the video. From there you can tweak things like where to position certain components of your video content, reworking the video creative, etc.
- Running a local campaign - Local campaigns can be very difficult to measure. Call metrics and this new data offer some excellent insights into people who don't actually convert through a form on your website but do mean additional business. Incorporating this data into your optimization efforts can have a tremendous amount of utility in evaluating the ROI of your campaigns.
If you fall into one of these camps, then the next step is to evaluate the cost/benefit behind leveraging and acting on this data.
What Sort of Actual Impact Can this Feature Have on My Campaigns?
If you've gotten to this point, this is the key question: Is using this new feature (in this case the Ad Interactions Report) worth the time and effort? Think about how your data impacts your actions and the impact it'll have on your campaign. Look at a report and think about what you can do with it. If you're running local campaigns and have been struggling to put the pieces together, the data about people who click "Get Directions" is likely to be well worth the effort. The video ads and product campaigns can potentially give you very valuable data as well, depending on the types of campaigns you have set up.
A key consideration is how laborious reporting can be and how you'll fit the data into your process. Can you easily act on the data you're seeing? Does it lead to actionable insights or are you staring at information that's interesting but doesn't lead to campaign improvements?
A good exercise here is to actually pull the report, look at the data, and try to integrate it into your campaign optimization process. From there you need to think about how much value you're getting. If you haven't attended to basic best practices like landing page optimization, ad text testing, and bid optimizations, new features will often be less impactful for you than getting "the basics" right, so keep this in mind as you consider implementing new features or over-analyzing new reports and data points.
About The Author
This is a guest post from Tom Demers . Tom takes on pay-per-click and search engine optimization consulting projects through Measured SEM Search Marketing Consulting  (you can contact him at tom at measuredsem dot com to learn more) where he works with companies of varying shapes and sizes.