Is Your PPC Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

This post was written by Robert Brady from Robert can be reached via email at or through Twitter @robert_brady

Thomas Edison once said:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Often we evaluate our PPC efforts from the same perspective; looking at keywords that were too expensive, ad copy that had a low CTR and landing pages that didn’t convert for mistakes to avoid in the future. The problem is that by Edison’s experience you may still be thousands of mistakes from the right answer.

Find Your Bright Spots

For a moment, flip your perspective. Look at your PPC account and ask “What worked?” and then ask yourself “How can I apply those successes to other areas of my account?” But how do you find the bright spots quickly?


Not all reports are created equal. I polled a group of PPC experts and asked what reports they ran on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Here are the results:

Which AdWords report(s) do you run monthly?

Which AdWords report(s) do you run weekly?

Which AdWords report(s) do you run daily?

Interpreting Reports

Campaign Performance- This was one of the most checked reports by the pros. This high-level report will show you which campaigns are producing the best CTR and cost/conversion. Once you know where the best results are coming from, use further reports to find the golden nuggets.

Placement/Keyword Performance – Another top choice, this report will show you specifically which keywords are producing the best results. You can then consider bid changes to improve position for top converting keywords.

Search Query Performance – This report will tell you the exact phrases that your customers are searching. Here you’ll find variations you would have missed otherwise. Consider adding winners to the appropriate ad group or creating a new ad group if you find a trend. Hint: this report can be run right in the interface.

The equivalent reports can also be run for Bing (Microsoft) and Yahoo (which will merge at some point in the not too distant future).

Spread The Wealth

Now you’ll know which keywords, ad copy and landing pages are successfully delivering traffic and conversions. Ask yourself what underperforming areas could benefit from this insight. Make some changes and then test, test, test.

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2 Responses to Is Your PPC Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

  1. Brian says:

    Interesting %’s on the reports data. Not sure how you distinguished a pro vs. an amateur, but it is an interesting sampling.

    I’m shocked, frankly, to see that ad performance reporting is not being more often done on a daily basis. If you are not split testing your ads daily, you are losing potential benefit in your account.

    Good post, cheers.

  2. Robert Brady says:

    @Brian – I agree that the quicker you can run valid split tests, the quicker you’ll see significant progress. However, running any test on a daily basis potentially could lead to biases, so I can see both sides.

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