How to Define, Track, and Optimize PPC AdWords ROI

Q4 2014 saw another year of strong profit and growth for Google, with “with revenue up 20 percent year on year, at $16.5 billion,” said Patrick Pichette, chief financial officer (CFO) of Google.

The e-commerce and search giant focused heavily on online advertising in 2014, a trend which Pichette noted is likely to continue moving into the coming year: “We continue to be excited about the growth in our advertising…”

PPC 2015 Audit Roadmap: Define, Track, and Own 2015 AdWords Success

For Google advertisers, 2015 stands to profit heavily from AdWords advertisements. Here’s how to get the most out of it.


What Does AdWords PPC Success Look Like?

A common issue across e-commerce advertisers and retailers encounter is defining clear goals. Ideally advertisers should pinpoint specific targets and margins for their ads and campaigns. Even more importantly it’s key to identify broad objectives- a major focus for 2015.

PPC advertisers should audit their 2015 AdWords goals now; utilizing performance date from the previous year to PPC advertisers should audit their 2015 AdWords goals now, utilizing performance date from the previous year to set campaigns up for success in the upcoming year.

PPC Goals:

  • Grow orders
  • Gain market share
  • Increase spend efficiency (generally used for longer standing accounts)

PPC goals should be clear, specific, definable, and trackable, but most importantly aligned with an advertiser’s site.

What to Track for AdWords PPC

Fitness goals of “get fit” aren’t tangibly effective without benchmarks of success, indicators toward goal acquisition alongside a definition of fitness. Success for PPC similarly requires clear goal indicators to be sure advertisers are on track to hit PPC goals.

Advertisers can leverage AdWords competitive metrics to gauge campaign success and proactively manage PPC ROI.

AdWords Competitive Metrics to Track

Impression share: Impression(s) on search divided by overall estimated eligible impressions. You can analyze impression share performance at the Campaign, Ad group, and Keyword level. (View under Campaigns tab.)

Impression Share eligibility is based on ad bids, ad targeting setting, ad approval, and ad quality score.


Lost impression share: Percent of time ads weren’t shown on the ad network due to poor ad rank or lower ad bids (ad rank= bid x quality score). PPC advertisers should evaluate lost impression share year round to determine where competitors are outperforming, and how to improve ad rank variables (e.g. average position) and bidding strategy.

Overlap: How often a competitor’s ad receives an impression when an advertiser’s ad also receives an impression. Or the percent of the time a competitor gets impressions when a PPC advertiser ad is also getting impressions.

Outranking share: Number of times an ad ranks higher than another ad, plus the number times an ad shows when competitor ads did not, divided by the total number of auctions the advertiser participated in. Utilize these metrics to inform PPC strategy or your campaigns including budgetary and bid changes. Consider leveraging other performance indicators, and prioritize your online store goals at all times.

How to Track AdWords PPC

Google consistently updates AdWords to include refined reporting features, tools, and capabilities. This year Google also updated Google Shopping Campaigns, rolled out device specific reports, and conversion reporting.

PPC advertisers utilize Google AdWords reports to track key performance metrics, and ensure ongoing campaign success. Below are the principal PPC reports PPC advertisers take advantage of.

adwords-search-term-reportAccount settings: PPC account settings are another area where it can be easy to gloss over refinements, or let things run.

AdWords advertisers should audit PPC account settings at least once a year. Examine mobile bid adjustments, ad delivery setting (accelerated vs. budget), location reporting, and geographic reporting.

Download reports to determine if bids align with performance, which sitelinks are working better than others, which site links are interacting with call extensions, etc.

Note: Remember to evaluate search, display, and local differently:

  • Search- based on direct response, order volume, ROI
  • Display- evaluate with ad interaction rate w/ads, traffic (site)
  • Local- foot traffic to B&M

Evaluate network settings, seasonality, budget, and e-commerce trends when analyzing your performance data to ensure your PPC campaigns are profitable for 2015.

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