It might not be a common occurrence but a long term AdWords advertiser will eventually run into some sort of abnormal statistic when reviewing the performance of their campaigns. Many users will generally dismiss this to be an interface error or simply a delay in reporting but a discussion was recently held on the topic and great insight was provided by members of the community. I have consolidated this interesting information and selection of opinions into the form of a wiki article, read below to find out more.
What do these Abnormal Statistics consist of?
This discussion actually came around when I was browsing one of my campaigns and noticed that one of my keywords had generated a conversion without having a single click on it (see the red box below), not something to complain about but definitely something that sparked by curiosity. I have always come across CTR averages of above 100% (see the blue boxes below) but this was completely new to me.
Why do these Abnormal Stastics occur?
- One reason for these 'impossible' results were due to a delay in reporting as stated by Calin:
"Search terms are notoriously late in the AdWords reports, give it 48+ hours and see if it's still there.
When I want quick and more up to date search terms I always pick them from Analytics, for some reason they're there sooner than they are in AdWords (though they are generated from AdWords) ..."
- This is something I have personally experienced before but in my case these statistics were more than 48 hours old and 75 of the keywords within the campaign still have a CTR rate of above 200% as I create this article. Theresa gave a great comment which matched this more permanent data:
"In my experience this kind of anomaly is usually one of two things:
#1 - Because clicks & conversions are collected separately, steps users might take to block tracking or collection of their data online might block the click path but not the conversion path.
#2 - Because Google is actually pretty generous with the "invalid click" thing (i.e., they delete and refund some clicks that might or might not have been invalid), they sometimes delete a click as invalid even though it was clearly valid, based on the fact that it produced a conversion."
- Further digging around old threads in the previous forum also allowed me to stumble upon another interesting explanation made by AdWordsPro:
"Also, because browsers cache the search results and ads on search results pages, Google registers only one ad impression per search. On the other hand, your reports will show multiple clicks if a Google user clicks on your ad more than once in a cached browser session, which can be an entirely legitimate behavior. For example, the user may be comparison shopping or returning to your site for more information, just as one might visit a brick and mortar store in a mall multiple times before making a decision."
Are these Abnormal Statistics something to be concerned about?
The short answer is no. I was purely nitpicking as I had never come across a conversion without a click before and was interested how this had happened. A lot of time can be wasted analysing data too closely and frequently at a time; I think most AdWords users are guilty of refreshing their page over and over to get data updates when they create their first campaign while this intense approach is not really required.
To summarise Abnormal Statistics
- Statistics are not updated in real time - Clicks and impressions can take 3 hours to update, conversions can take 24 hours to update and search terms can have a delay of up to 48 hours.
- Invalid clicks can influence data - Clicks can be deleted from a campaign and refunded even when the click wasn't necessarily invalid.
- Google registers one ad impression per search - It is therefore very possible to get a CTR above 100% as all clicks are recorded as opposed to the single impression.
I have been managing AdWords accounts for over 8 years now at an international marketing agency level and also as a freelancer. I am very passionate about Google's PPC platform and pretty much anything else that is Google related. My theory in life is to learn something new every day and this community is definitely a good place to do so; I would recommend anyone reading this to stick around as it's an excellent source of information with great people contributing to it.
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