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Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi.

 

Over the past few months, my average session duration has fallen off. It was once 1:56 and is now 1:34. Could a "plummeting" session duration decline be symptomatic of a poor adwords campaign?

 

The majority of my adwords campaigns are doing well in regards to click-through rate. But I have a remarketing campaign with a CTR of <1.00%.

 

Or am I barking up the wrong tree altogether? Why does duration fall off? I recently began adding more information to the site hoping to hedge my bets a bit. But no great reversal yet!

 

Any guidance or suggestions would greatly be appreciated.

 

Thanks!

Re: Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 2
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi TG

The first thing I would check is an increase in mobile traffic. The reason for this is that many people are seeing a decline in average session duration and the reason for this is simply the rise of mobile. Users tend to spend less time on a mobile site than the desktop version and this will obviously reduce overall time on site.

Other than that, things to consider are the main areas of traffic. If Paid Search is the main contributor to your site then it is a likely place to start. But if it is perhaps organic or email then they would more likely be the main reason for a drop, simply due to volume areas and average time on site overall. Unless of course you are specifically talking about the session duration of Paid Search only.

To answer your other question, a drop in session duration may not be indicative of a poor campaign but could actually suggest a stronger campaign. This can be seen when you consider that a bad campaign could force people to search for what they need and when that is changed and users are sent directly to what they are looking for then average session duration will drop.

It is also worth noting that time on site, while a helpful metric should not be a major area of concern at all. Rather consider conversion rate, and micro conversions. If you start seeing a drop off there it is much more telling.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Re: Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks Clynton - I really appreciate the response - it's very helpful..

Yes - paid and organic are the main contributors.

When I go to Content Drill Down in Analytics - The vast majority of my adwords campaigns (I would guess 80% - 90% without counting them) have 100% Bounce rate and session duration of ZERO. The remaining 10% - 15% are doing fine.

 

Looking at Mobile from Jan 1, 2016 - Today: (for whatever reason - it would not accept my .png file image...) But my MOBILE duration is 1:36 while my tablet and desktop is 1:16.

 

Is there a way to see a mobile trend over time? Or do I need to do it manually with adjusting date ranges?

 

Regardless - the mobile duration looks great compared to desktop - so I am sort of leaning on adword (based on the information above) - as the culprit.

 

We sell to a limited market (manufacturing) and are not an online ecommerce business (can't track definitive sales) - and as such - need to protect the small portion of the audience I  capture - so things like decreasing duration raises alarm bells that I need to account for! Smiley Happy

Re: Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi T G,

If 90% of your AdWords campaigns have a 100% bounce rate then that is very much indicative of an issue. This is of course assuming that that it is not a standalone landing page or blog post that you are sending users too.

Remember that time on page calculations in GA require 2 hits in order to calculate a time on page. So if it is a stand alone landing page and the only other hit that can occur on page is for the user to signup/download a white paper then it will be the case that anyone who does not convert is considered a bounce.

In order to say for sure whether or not it is an issue some context would be helpful if possible.

Re: Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

[ Edited ]
T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

If I look at acquisition in GA - and drill down to Session Duration> Display Network... The Bounce Rate for "Display Network" is 91% and a session duration of :32.

 

I have 5 PPC campaigns - and my CTR's are as follows:
Campaign 1 - 10.9% (Brand)
Campaign 2 - 1.09% (Competitors)
Campaign 3 - 3.65% (Dynamic Search)
Campaign 4 - 2.68% (Melting Pot)
Campaign 5 - .14 (Remarketing)

 

I don't know if "Display Network"  is Remarketing or Dynamic Search or both. I guess that is where I need to start.

 

We are a  company that sells industrial machines. We have competitors that sell similar products - so it's not like it's a unique product. We compete well, organically, with companies that dwarf us in available resources.

 

We also do well with industry keywords & PPC for a surprisingly little amount of money.

 

I appreciate the help sleuthing.

Re: Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

Badged Google Partner
# 6
Badged Google Partner
Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Start at the top level with your source/medium report. As a source, if Google/cpc does NOT make up the majority of your total traffic, then the overall site duration decline could not be primarily because of AdWords. If google/cpc does make up the majority of your traffic, then yes - AdWords account performance will dictate overall website metrics.

If your concern is session duration, or pageviews, contact completions, ecommerce sales, etc., then create goals for those events in analytics. (Once you have goals established, and your AdWords and analytics accounts linked, then you can import those analytics goals as conversions in AdWords.) Not all clicks or sessions from any source are going to lead to a conversion. If you use engagement metrics like duration as a goal and optimize for that goal, then your overall account (site) duration will improve.

Clicks and CTR are no indication of on site behavior, or post-click action. What is your advertising goal?




Tom

Re: Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi TG,

The first thing I would highly recommend is to build you own channel grouping. I have found the standard GA channel grouping to be far too simplistic in its approach to different types of traffic.

This way you are able to better see what channels are doing what without adding secondary dimensions all the time or looking at other primary dimensions. It is worth noting that it is best to create a new custom channel grouping rather than edit the default channel grouping and the reason for this is that edits to the default grouping are not retroactive whereas your custom channel grouping will be.

Too answer your question regarding 'Display network" This will include anything on GDN and not search, so dynamic search will not be grouped here.

Display campaigns do also tend to have a higher than normal bounce rate and therefore lower than normal session duration, more specifically acquisition campaigns with remarketing a slight improvement on that and then dynamic remarketing the 'best' of the GDN campaigns.

It might also be useful to link your AdWords to your GA and import your AdWords numbers into GA. This way you can do a full analysis of your account and easily identify where the issue is.

Re: Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

[ Edited ]
T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 8
T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks Clynton - I need to read this carefully and do some investigation on custom channels. I am new to PPC since late last year, and consider myself a novice. I am just now getting comfortable know where to look for information within GA. Adwords to a much lesser extent. But all knowledge comes with time and effort!

I have already linked my adwords to my GA account. But I obviously have not used that portion of my GA account. The "full analysis" which you have mentioned is why I am here! :^) And you have been a big help. I'm going to leave this open for a while - I will report any new findings. It may help someone down the road.

It seems to me that the remarketing is what is killing my numbers.

BUT - I don't know what dynamics to look at to say "Okay - we know remarketing is killing the average duration - but this is why we should keep it..." As I will have to justify the results at some point both to myself and management.

Thanks!

Re: Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Participant ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi TG,

Happy to be of assistance. I would highly recommend looking into the AdWords section of your GA account when considering where the issue lies.

Once you have established where the issue is you need to look inot the account itself and see if there is an underlying problem with the campaign/ad group.

Perhaps you have selected to allow AdWords to find new customers and it is this portion of the remarketing that is performing poorly. it may also just simply be certain placements or perhaps your targeting is not granular enough. Another potential reason could be a large disconnect between your ad and the landing page, or perhaps the landing page is just not clear enough in the first 3-5 secs of landing on it.

There are a host of potential problems and the best way to find the reason is simply to work through it methodically and make sure you understand how the current campaign is set up and how it should be operating.

here is a nice resource to start with regarding remarketing:
https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2476691?hl=en

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Re: Session Duration Falling Off - Adword related?

[ Edited ]
T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 10
T G
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks TomHaleJr, I need to sit down and think this through. Please see my newest reply below.