Overcoming challenges within PPC reporting
Paid Search marketers face many challenges during the day-to-day, but most of the time, these are related to account performance, rather than PPC reporting.
We don’t often think about challenges in regard to reporting, despite it being a big part of our roles.
In this blog, we will take a look at some of these challenges and their solutions. We’ll also discuss a handful of challenges to which we have yet to find a solid solution.
GA4 data lag
During the last two years, Paid Search specialists have been presented with several big challenges. The first one is GA4, more specifically, the data lag.
GA4 is different to Universal Analytics in so many ways, but one of the main differences for us is that it can take up to 72 hours for data to be attributed to each channel grouping.
Why is this a challenge?
- Hard to determine how campaigns are performing throughout the week
- Lack of real time data means it’s difficult to make reactive decisions, especially during peak periods such as Black Friday
- If reporting takes place on a Monday, there is a possibility that the data won’t be 100% up to date
From experience, we’ve seen that every GA4 profile is different. There are some that have no lag at all, meaning that all of the data from the previous day is present on the next day. But there are examples whereby the data takes between 24-72 hours to update.
One of the solutions we have in place is to record GA4 sales and revenue data for the previous week on a Monday. On Wednesdays, we then check our reports to see if there has been any change. This is a process that enables us to develop an understanding of the average percentage change. On accounts where we do have a lag, the difference between what we see on a Wednesday vs. a Monday tends to be consistent on a weekly basis. Therefore, we can use this data to predict what the final numbers will look like when we’re writing our weekly reports on a Monday.
We’ve also found that the lag from GA4 is less prominent when you pull the figures directly from your Google Ads account rather than from GA4 – despite the numbers coming from the same source, the Google Ads platform is able to deal with the lag more effectively.
Lack of insights from Performance Max
Many believe Performance Max was introduced to Google Ads to futureproof a third-party cookieless world whilst fully embracing automation across the Google ecosystem. As with all Black box solutions, Performance Max raises questions about how it works and how we track if our campaigns are successful.
The main challenge has been the lack of data and insight readily available, especially the split between shopping and the other channels involved.
Why is this a challenge?
- Shopping visibility is vital for retail clients, so it’s important to understand how much volume is going through shopping
Nobody can be sure that Google will ever release this level of insight, so, at Journey Further, we have worked hard to find a solution to this challenge in the form of a bespoke script.
This script has helped us see performance broken down by Search, Shopping, Display and Video. It has allowed us greater insight into performance and helped us make data-informed decisions on aspects of campaign and asset group structure as well as feed optimisation. Learn more by downloading our whitepaper.
In 2023, Google made many more insights available to advertisers, making this product much easier to use and optimise. We expect this to continue going into 2024, meaning we can spend more time optimising our campaigns rather than working on solutions to the challenges we’ve faced since Pmax launched in 2021.
We need effective, accurate reporting so that we can make data-informed decisions regarding campaign optimisation and budget management. We might face plenty of challenges regarding reporting, but it’s important to go away and find solutions to them to show that you can adapt to change.
If you have any questions on this need or need help on how to create a robust reporting suite – please reach out to the Journey Further team.