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Escape the AdWords Management Vacuum: Google Ad Preview Tool

When I’m managing an AdWords account, I can sometimes forget where these ads are going.   A whole lot of AdWords isn’t visible from the user interface.   It’s easy to look at cost per clicks, conversion rates, bids, and ad positions – without really doing a check on the actual substance behind it.   Especially because I’m comfortable with submitting ads and keywords, without having to worry that my ad will actually show on Google and that things will run the way I expect.   But this whole user-interface vacuum, strips away some important performance predictors/indicators:

1. What does my ad look like next to competing ads?

2. What kinds of products and sites show up in the natural listings?   If you’re setup with international targeting especially you’ll want to give things a looksee.

3. What position does my ad tend to show in for certain exact match queries (after all, the average position for a broad-match term is going to be an average over a variety of queries)?

4. Is my ad getting distributed on search partners for important queries?

5. Does it appear that my ad is making it into the yellow box at the top of the Google search results for important queries?

6. What kind of location information is being appended to my ad (especially if I have ad extensions enabled)?

What a list, right?   A lot of this stuff can be answered by doing a search on some of the terms you’re bidding on, but you don’t typically want to do it in the regular Google search engine.   Google uses your search history to serve up ads, and will stop showing an ad if you don’t click on it often.   The best way around this is to use the Ad Preview Tool.

Google’s Ad Preview Tool: Great for AdWords Management

The Ad Preview Tool shows you how the ads look for a particular query, based on location settings, Google domain, and language settings.   Besides doing a spot-check the first time you setup an account, it’s beneficial to check up on your ad preview anytime you make significant new additions or rearrangements.   You might be surprised by the results: maybe your ad doesn’t compete well with the natural listings; maybe competing ads are from an entirely different, high returns industry that make bids unaffordable for you; maybe there are other companies showing ads for your trademark in specific locations and you didn’t notice it before; and the list goes on.   Couple it with the Ads Diagnostic Tool inside the AdWords interface, and you’ll start getting a lot more information about your ads that is just too hidden to see from typical metrics.

One major drawback to the Ad Preview Tool is you can’t click on links to see what pages they go to.   You have to get inside Google to do this.   Really, to completely see the continuity between your search term, ad text, and landing page you need to click an ad.   You also might do it as a sanity check to make sure there isn’t something unexpected happening (a keyword-level destination URL? Problems with the auto-tagging parameters? Things like this).   And . . . obviously, you also want to check your competitor’s landing pages to see how yours stack up.

There’s a lot that goes into AdWords management.   The Ad Preview Tool is really helpful for getting an account on track and meeting your cost/revenue goals.   So don’t get trapped in an AdWords management vacuum, get outside the user interface.

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About Steve Loszewski

Steve Loszewski leads the paid search team at Pure Visibility. He is individually qualified in AdWords, has the Google Analytics Individual Qualification, is an Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Associate, and is a Sun Certified Programmer for the Java Platform SE 6. Steve has been managing AdWords accounts since 2005 and also has experience in SEO. Most of his time is spent in the trenches, working with keywords, ads, bids, landing pages, placements, etc within the AdWords Interface. You can find him on Google+.

One Response to "Escape the AdWords Management Vacuum: Google Ad Preview Tool"

  • Martha
    January 15, 2011 - 3:36 am Reply

    As someone who is just beginning to explore the possibilities with AdWords this post brought up some important things for me to consider. Thanks for the insight.


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