newspaper-press

Breaking: ‘Not Provided’ to Slam 3rd Party Paid Search

Update: Google has now officially released information. Thank you again to our source for giving us the early heads up!

 

*Please note: We received this information from a source that I trust. This source, and only a few others, received a notice directly from Google regarding Paid Search query data. I have read the document myself, which is why I am sharing this on our blog today. 

Details:

  • Google will cease supplying 3rd parties with paid search query data
  • Reports within AdWords will remain unaffected
  • This will also have an affect on website analytics packages but we’ve not yet heard about anything with Google Analytics
  • Services that use this query data may have no way to access it anymore

This change is expected in the next few weeks. Source also notes that, in their opinion, another possible motive for the change by Google is that less data leads to less accurate AdWords decisions which increases ad spend.

All search created equal?

I have personally been very outspoken in my criticism of Google’s ‘not provided’ stance. I find it hypocritical to say ‘not provided’ is for privacy… but if you PAY US we will give you the data. So for me this would be feel like a step in the right direction if Google is to continue down the ‘not provided’ path.

Again, as with any sensitive industry information, this could end up not coming to pass. We will update this post as we receive more information.

What are your thoughts on ‘Not Provided’ expanding to Paid Search? 

We’d love to hear from your in the comments!

A.J. Ghergich

I help companies attract links and social engagement through Content Marketing. Follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/seo for Content Marketing tips and the latest on the SEO industry.

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62 Responses to “Breaking: ‘Not Provided’ to Slam 3rd Party Paid Search”

  1. David Iwanow David Iwanow said ...

    I’d assume Marin, Kenshoo and Acquisio teams would have to know something about this…

    1. AJ Ghergich AJ Ghergich said ...

      Yeah the word on this wills spread pretty quickly at this point. Google could always change their mind but I highly doubt it. They would not have updated high spend accounts with this heads up if they had not already made the decision to move forward.

      1. Aussiewebmaster Aussiewebmaster said ...

        Google loves crushing industries and then coming in to dominate the space

  2. Paul Shapiro Paul Shapiro said ...

    First of all, this makes complete business sense for Google. Second of all, it’s consistent with what Amit Singhal said at SMX West. Thirdly, it doesn’t really matter. All the data will be accessible from within AdWords (if I am interpreting correctly).

    1. Yuriy Yarovoy Yuriy Yarovoy said ...

      It does if you manage ~$100mm in spend across 80 brands and rely on Kenshoo or Marin to sort it all out. Comparatively speaking, the Adwords UI is like a stone tablet compared to these tools.

      1. The Local Seth The Local Seth said ...

        Exactly. Also, this would pretty much end the businesses of Marin, Kenshoo, Acquisio, etc. correct, not to much the agencies/companies that rely on their platforms? I don’t think Google is willing to go there, but I have been wrong before about them in the past plenty of times.

    2. Shawesome Shawesome said ...

      Business sense? Maybe in the short run. In the long run though? There’s an awful lot of continued goodwill that these kinds of actions cost them. Right now it doesn’t matter quite as much because there’s no serious search challenger to Google. I mean, yeah, Facebook dominates social media and much of the advertising ecosystem there is focused right on them (see http://www.buyfacebooklikesreviews.com for instance) but a few years down the right the situation could be different. And people will have long memories about how Google behaved when they were on top, how they provided no customer service to the little guys,etc.

      1. Sharla Laurin Sharla Laurin said ...

        facebook will be falling soon i think. unless they change their timeline policy direction of showing more paid and less of the content you want, the industry is so ready for a better platform to take over. don’t think they are too big to fail either. changes have happened every few years so far, and there is no reason to think they won’t keep happening. remember myspace… it was the big one at one time. livejournal was a precursor to myspace… all it will take if facebook keeps irritating people, which is happening more and more, is for an alternative to catch enough facebook users to crest the wave and they will bring everyone else with them in following waves. i am personally looking forward to it. alas, there is no real contender yet, though i have seen 2 trolls now on g+. but, it won’t be g+.

  3. victorpan victorpan said ...

    So the query data is still there on your AdWords account? Seems like either a policy or API change.

    Also seems like the same play that was done on all the SEO tool providers a back in December-ish 2014. (AdWords won’t give you access to our API unless you stop scraping rankings)

    1. Paul Shapiro Paul Shapiro said ...

      It changes reporting and the use of 3rd party services.

  4. James Finlayson James Finlayson said ...

    I wonder how literal to take this. Right now Marin etc pull the data for free because they have access to the Preferred AdWords API Pricing program. If they’re just retiring that program then they’ll still be able to access the data via the standard API – it’ll just make the services much more expensive.

    If they’re going to remove it from the API as well so it’s literally only available from within AdWords then that’s a whole different situation. Presumably if Marin etc try to solve the problem by scraping AdWords then (as victor points out), it’ll be the same situation as when Raven etc pulled ranking data for risk of losing API access entirely.

    Either way, this will increase the cost of big company’s AdWords campaigns…. which is probably a smart move by Google because, for them, cutting down or significantly reducing their PPC campaigns often isn’t an option.

  5. Remi van Beekum Remi van Beekum said ...

    If they would choose to remove this data from all API’s (and essentially kill Marin, Kenshoo and some analytics firms) but wil give their own properties such as Google Analytics and DoubleClick DS3 access to it. They’ll be in trouble with EU-law.
    A bit like Microsoft and IE some years ago.
    That would be a very stupid thing to do. Even for a monopolist like Google.

    1. The Local Seth The Local Seth said ...

      Pretty much exactly what I was going to post. This can’t be true.

      1. AJ Ghergich AJ Ghergich said ...

        As I mentioned in the post anything is possible. However, two other people have reached out to me today saying they got a similar message yesterday from Google so I am pretty sure this is true. Google could change their mind or alter the details but when they start telling account owners…the decision has already been made.

        1. Steve Donatelli Steve Donatelli said ...

          AJ, can you clarify (I apologize if it’s somewhere else in the thread or comments). Did they mention that they would be removing this data from the API accessibility?

    2. AJ Ghergich AJ Ghergich said ...

      Totally agree but this is Google right now…

      1. Cody Cahill Cody Cahill said ...

        This is Google’s stance:

    3. victorpan victorpan said ...

      Not so fast. It will depend on how the court system will choose to interpret the industry space. The rulings will differ by country. (Remember how Samsung was not guilty for IP infringement in Korea vs Apple?)

      1. Remi van Beekum Remi van Beekum said ...

        That’s true. But in general the EU is a bit more worried about a level playing field than the US. And I think this would go to some EU court, not to the local EU-state-courts.

        But that totally depends on the rumours being true. And how far they will push this.

  6. rjonesx rjonesx said ...

    I am highly confused at this point. “Not Provided” is simply blocking the referrer data from organic searches. The supposed “hypocrisy” was only doing this for organic and not also for paid.

    1. Is Google simply expanding this program to block referrers of paid clicks too?
    2. Is Google removing keyword data APIs?
    3. Is Google removing keyword data tools?

    The language is here isn’t very specific about what Google is actually doing.

  7. Kat J Hall Kat J Hall said ...

    “Life is Good” was something I put in the banner for my calendar with the Microsoft Office Suite. Sadly I didn’t copyright/trademark it, and while life is still good, someone else seized the day. How about a copyright/trademark for “Monetize This!” or, better yet “(not provided)”? This is a unpaid, free tip.

  8. AndyBeard AndyBeard said ...

    This is speculation, but this is how I see this going down.

    They will provide all the search keywords that match a particular keyword in your Adwords campaign.
    They may even provide cost data against those clicks
    It is unlikely they will provide conversion data against a specific search keyword (as this could be attributed to an individual)

    They will not provide data for individual visitors, and won’t pass the parameter in real time to your landing pages.

    I think they will provide the exact same data to Google Analytics. There won’t be any competition issues.

    edit: oh and improved user privacy will actually earn them brownie points in Europe

    1. AJ Ghergich AJ Ghergich said ...

      Interesting take Andy

    2. Aussiewebmaster Aussiewebmaster said ...

      and then platforms like Kenshoo and other Adwords managing programs will decrease seriously in added value

  9. Brian Dean Brian Dean said ...

    This is an interesting (although not that surprising) move by Big G. I mean, they’ll never completely obscure ALL paid keyword data or else Adwords couldn’t exist.

    But the more they keep the data internally, the more ammo they have against privacy concerns. And as you said, they really don’t care who they upset anymore, whether it’s SEOs or PPC 3rd parties.

  10. Alan Morte Alan Morte said ...

    Well, as usual, thank you for the update AJ.

  11. Vasanth Babu Vasanth Babu said ...

    i ll get free keywords from adwords it ll useful for me to get some ideas
    it ll reduce some time to post my content
    we can get number of hits from the keyword we r looking for

    i m in learning blogger interested to explore more on getting more traffics

    i m seeking to get some more ideas to improve my blog from lower to upper level

    come visit my site in free time

    knee-slapper

  12. Chris Sanfilippo Chris Sanfilippo said ...

    So does this “search query data” include search volume?

  13. mldriggs mldriggs said ...

    Sounds like a good time to unload your Marin stock :) Or maybe get lucky and Google acquires them!

  14. alanmitchell alanmitchell said ...

    Sounds a bit counter-productive to me if it is true. Most Google AdWords and Google Analytics changes over the last 10 years have been to provide advertisers with more data and more ability to fine-tune their campaigns, rather than less.

    It sounds like we can still get search query data from the AdWords and Analytics web interface reporting, but this change will just make it more cumbersome and difficult. Over time, advertisers will find it harder to mine search queries for negative keywords, adjust bids by theme, and research new long-tail phrases, which will reduce the average ROI / profitability of a keyword. Bids will fall, and Google’s profits will decline as a result.

    Unless Google are planning to launch some new AdWords search query mining functionality in line with this change, it doesn’t seem logical to me.

  15. André Scholten André Scholten said ...

    They will only remove referral data for AdWords clicks so you can’t get the keywords through the referrals anymore, that’s it. All other keyword sources like the AdWords API will remain intact. Google will never kill the other adwords management tools, it’s a big source of income for them.

  16. Nick_88 Nick_88 said ...

    As a shareholder this is a bad move. And I won’t be the only one – I’ll put it out there and say there is *no way* that this going to happen.

  17. Jim Banks Jim Banks said ...

    inside Adwords nothing is going to change. I suspect with the new ease of linking Adwords and GA accounts this is to force advertisers to use Adwords, GA and the Google bid management platform Doubleclick if you want to see your own data.
    You’d like to think third party providers would be told about this, but that has never been Google’s way of doing business.

    1. Christopher Shaffer Christopher Shaffer said ...

      “Advertisers will continue to have access to useful data to optimize and improve their campaigns and landing pages. For example, you can access detailed information in the AdWords search terms report and the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report.”

      1. Tim Daly Tim Daly said ...

        Chris, point I was making is that if Google doesn’t make it available to other vendors via API, it will not be made available special to Doubleclick. That is current company policy.

  18. Eloi Casali Eloi Casali said ...

    It’s the only way for them to push the GA premium platform. It makes business sense, if you own the source, why let the river flow through your competitor’s village.

  19. Sophia Wright Sophia Wright said ...

    more data = good, less data = bad. Ergo bad move by google. They should open organic and paid back up

  20. Larry Kim Larry Kim said ...

    meeting with the adwords team today in mountain view and will ask about this (we manage like half a billion in ad spend – they usually tell me if stuff like this is going down). At first glance i think we’re confusing a few issues.

    1) “Google will cease supplying 3rd parties with paid search query data” This isn’t new. They’ve been cracking down on who may access to keyword tool data (which is derived from search query data) for several years now in a few ways – enforcing terms of service on how the data may be used, and limiting access to a smaller number of third party vendors who implement a required minimum functionality (RMF). Basically, in order to have access to the query data, you need to be a legit software company that has built a functioning adwords management platform, like wordstream for example. If you were an SEO agency that used to have an adwords API token, it’s probably been shut down over the last few years or if it hasn’t already been shut down, it won’t last long. that’s what you’re talking about in terms of “3rd party access” here, this is nothing really new. If they were going to stop providing it to all 3rd parties, then that would be new/surprising.

    2) “Reports within AdWords will remain unaffected” Ok, so nothing new here either…

    3) “This will also have an affect on website analytics packages but we’ve not yet heard about anything with Google Analytics” – Again, i’m pretty tight with the adwords API team and they generally telegraph big changes months ahead of time. This hasn’t come up yet, so i’m skeptical, but i’ll ask them today when i see them this afternoon.

    4) “Services that use this query data may have no way to access it anymore” this is pure speculation / linkbait.

    Overall, i’m calling BS / Linkbait on this AJ. Post the email notification you claim to have gotten and prove / clarify what you’re talking about.

    Regardless i’ll confirm this later and write up a response later when i know more.

    1. AJ Ghergich AJ Ghergich said ...

      I mentioned in the article multiple times that this could end up not happening. At the time of writing this I had 1 source. I now have 2 more that received a very similar message. They could ALL be lying to me I guess.

      1. Larry Kim Larry Kim said ...

        Prove it AJ. post the email in it’s entirety. Your failure to do this is very telling to me.

        1. AJ Ghergich AJ Ghergich said ...

          So you want me to prove I am not lying to you by lying to the sources that trusted me with the info. GOT IT!

          1. MirandaM_EComm MirandaM_EComm said ...

            The whole thing is very strange. Google doesn’t typically send out secret letters that could be reproduced or shared before they announce changes. They work with select partners when they’re testing or piloting, but they don’t make announcements like this to a few people in writing ahead of an announcement, for this very reason.

            You already wrote your interpretation of the content of said letter, so if a confidence was to be violated, that’s already happened. Google would know who received the magic letter. He’s asking you to print it to verify a) its existence and b) its accuracy.

            1. AJ Ghergich AJ Ghergich said ...

              “so if a confidence was to be violated, that’s already happened.” I had my source personally approve the blog post before it went live with SEVERAL rounds of edits.

              So your statement that I am violating the confidence of my source is simply wrong.

              1. MirandaM_EComm MirandaM_EComm said ...

                “the confidence has been violated…”

                As in the confidence between Google and your source. Publishing the exact correspondence isn’t going to further violate that – you already spilled the beans. Usually, when you put words in the mouth of a mega-corporation and speak on their behalf, you need to back it up.

                It’s not too much to ask. It’s the bare minimum that should happen when you’re saying “Google put this in writing and this is what it said.”

        2. Michelle Welch Michelle Welch said ...

          Wow, way to be a d-bag. He obviously gave his word to protect his source, why would he violate his promise just to satisfy a comment troll? Your mud-slinging reflects really poorly on Wordstream as a whole.

          1. Larry Kim Larry Kim said ...

            he’s the one making this claim. i’m just the one asking for proof. why should anyone believe anything without proof.

    2. Tim Daly Tim Daly said ...

      Unlikely Larry will confirm anything today and he shouldn’t be unprofessional by slinging negativity. I spoke with as senior people as Larry has access to already today. Response was they were aware of the bustle in the blogosphere coming from more places than just this post by AJ. They also wouldn’t confirm or deny it.

      1. Larry Kim Larry Kim said ...

        it was me that asked paul to write the post this morning. as i suspected. the official announcement says clearly that search query data isn’t dead:

        “Advertisers will continue to have access to useful data to optimize and improve their campaigns and landing pages. For example, you can access detailed information in the AdWords search terms report and the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report.”

        end of story.

        1. Jeremy Rivera Jeremy Rivera said ...

          @larry_kim:disqus again you manage to sidestep responsibility for your words and actions by mischaracterizing AJ’s actions here. He received what turned out to be very valid information from a confidential source who obviously was not in a position to be named. You came in stomping AJ for “saying search query data is dead” when that is NOT AJ’s position nor what the source was reporting.

          The source reported a shift that would obscure adwords query data from search traffic, but NEVER about API access or through adwords.

          You perceived this as a threat to your business, you attacked AJ’s reputation, character the validity of the post and when it was PROVEN TRUE. You NEVER apologized to AJ. That. Is. Wrong.

      1. Larry Kim Larry Kim said ...

        hi: spoke to the journalist and the editor there. The article in question has been updated with the following conclusion:

        “Update: I’ve clarified above that the search terms report is not new.
        It was renamed awhile ago from search query performance report. To
        reiterate, advertisers will still have access to the search query data
        in AdWords.”

        1. Tim Daly Tim Daly said ...

          Larry, lets not scramble to split hairs here. You accused someone of putting forward an untruthful story for link baiting purposes. A.J. was 110% on the money. Stop the self-promoting importance by name dropping, be humble and apologize. This isn’t the first time you’ve been wrong, won’t be the last.time. The fact you had to “reach out” to Google proves you aren’t in the loop like you thought you were at Google. If you were in the loop, you would have heard before A.J. did.

          How Google applies “Not provided” to organic listings is now coming to paid listings. And how they support the reporting of that information (i.e. Paid vs Organic, Search Term Query) is also the same. I personally predicted this when Google started their push for “privacy” under organic listings. The actions taken here are to create a competitive advantage with the Google Stack by controlling the information and providing it in an aggregated fashion for advertisers to make decisions while eliminating competitive offerings from parsing the string. Google is not looking to harm Advertisers, just eliminating competitive offerings of a technology stack.

          1. Peter Levin Peter Levin said ...

            Agreed Timbo — this seems like a lot of noise for little impact to advertisers. Google knows there is huge value/power in Search Query data and are keeping to themselves whenever possible…unless marketers are willing to pay for it (ie run robust Adwords campaigns).

    3. Larry Kim Larry Kim said ...

      ok i contacted paul feng and others at google adwords today. As i suspected the rumors are not true. The search engine land article has a lot of factual inaccuracies, too. I spoke to their editor and the journalist who worked on the story and they’re cleaning it up. anyway, here’s everything you need to know! http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/04/09/paid-search-queries-not-dead

  21. Roxy Roxy said ...

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  22. Jeremiah Smith Jeremiah Smith said ...

    I’m excited to see how marketers will respond to this change.

    I think we’ll be leaning more on AdWords keyword query reports which could also be taken away one day.

    When you think about it, we’re paying Google for advertising through AdWords, the specific keyword data is just a privilege they’ve offered us in the past. They can take it away if they want. They don’t owe it to us.

    Knowing that, what else could we stand to lose as marketers and still provide value to our clients? I think the proof is in the pudding. So long as clients can see the value we bring to the table through quality marketing services, we should good for years to come.

  23. nabeel nabeel said ...

    Hi

    I see a keyword (I bid on) generated 4000 impressions past few days but when I pull the Keyword Detail report for that ‘selected’ keyword, the sum of impressions on all search terms is not more than 2000.
    Where did my impressions go?

    Can someone help me on this.

    Nabeel

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