Is The AdWords Interface Too Complicated?

images-4I want to have a discussion about the Google AdWords interface. I would invite all users of the platform to participate. That includes PPC professionals (in-house, agency, etc.) to the PPC novices (SMB owners doing it themselves, junior level employees or interns tasked with it, etc.)

Initial Thoughts

From the title, you may guess (accurately) that I feel the interface is too complicated. However, I find that I have mixed emotions about even that statement. On one hand I can empathize with the PPC novices and see how difficult it can be to find information that you want. For example, let’s imagine we’re a small website started by a farmer who sells grass fed beef jerky. This farmer is a little web savvy and so he sets up an AdWords account and starts bidding on keywords like “grass fed beef jerky” or “grass fed jerky”. After spending a few bucks he asks himself “Where are people from that are interested in grass fed beef jerky?”

How would he go about answering this question?

Navigating the Interface

Let’s start at the beginning – the Campaigns tab, which looks like this:

As a PPC professional I know that you would go to the Dimensions tab (circled in red) to find this type of report. However, this isn’t a really intuitive name for someone who hasn’t used the interface regularly. Strike 1, but we’ll hope our farmer gets the right tab.

Even when you get to the Dimensions tab you’ll still need to click the drop down box that is currently defaulted to “View: Day” to see your other options. Our farmer then finds one report named “Geographic” which sounds good and another named “User locations” which sounds maybe a little more specific?

I would say this is strike 2 on Google, but let’s go with “User locations”.

Once we have the actual “User locations” view our farmer sees impressions from Iceland and Serbia, despite targeting the United States. That’s weird, but at least they didn’t click right?

After scrolling a little he sees lots of locations, lots of impressions, but lots of 0s in the Clicks column. He decides he needs to focus on the clicks first so he scrolls back up and clicks the column to re-sort by clicks (he’s pretty web savvy, though many people wouldn’t have realized they could do this).

This is super specific, but almost too specific. 2 of the top 3 are in Chicago, Illinois, but our farmer has to scroll down a couple more pages to find the other clicks from Chicago, Illinois. Actually, despite having only 121 clicks, there are 1062 user locations reported. Strike 2 Google. It’s too much to handle and our farmer gives up.

How a PPC Professional Handles It

Say I have the same question about a campaign? As a PPC professional here is what I would do:

  • Go to Dimensions tab
  • Get to User Locations view
  • Download report for desired time range
  • Use a pivot table in Excel to see by state, country, etc.
  • Make adjustments to geo bid modifiers or geo-targeting based on the results

That whole process wouldn’t take me more than a few minutes, but for a novice it would be quite difficult and involved.

What Should Google Do

Back to our discussion. I’ve provided a starting point. We would like to hear from you in the comments below. What would you like to see? Is the problem too big to address?