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90% random drop in search partners traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
We're running a pretty typical e-commerce campaign. It is not a shopping campaign. There are quite a few ad groups, roughly a million total keywords, and a lot of dynamic keyword insertion. I've spent the better part of my day staring at Adwords for the last 10 years - and I'm completely stumped. If you solve the below issue, well, you'll save a business and you'll have my eternal gratitude. I'll also fly to wherever you live and buy you as many beers as you like.
 
 
Our issue is rather unique. We've been in the e-commerce space, regularly spending 7 figures in the 4th quarter, for 5 years now and have never seen anything like this. Last night, around 11PM, our partner traffic just fell off a cliff. Impressions went to about 1/5 of same-hour previous days, and average position on those impressions tanked as well. As a result of the lower average positions, the CTR fell dramatically, resulting in an overall click decrease of about 8-10x. The interesting thing is google search traffic has not been affected at all. We are receiving the exact same impressions, clicks, and average positions as prior days. Our quality scores remain at 7-10/10. There have been no changes to the ads, keywords, bids, etc in prior days. It just happened.
 
Everything I could think of - I have checked. I manually looked at a dozen partners and I still see us there. I've looked into matching to see if maybe broad matching somehow changed on partners. The distribution is all the same. There are no new competitors. Even if there were, they wouldn't just be taking 90% of our partner volume and 0% of our google volume. Everything is the same. I'm out of ideas. All I know is roughly 80% of our traffic was partner traffic and now instead of spending five figures a day, we're barely spending four. We're an ecommerce business that relies heavily on Adwords for user acquisition and if we don't figure this out in time to properly resume our campaigns before Black Friday, we won't have a business.
 
I'm all ears for ideas.
3 Expert replyverified_user

Re: 90% random drop in search partners traffic

Rising Star
# 2
Rising Star

 Hey web, how are things?

 

I'm sorry if this is a stupid question, but English is not my native language so I need to understand a few things in order to try to help: by "partner traffic" you mean your client?

 

 

A few ideas that you haven't mentioned that might help:

 

  1. Does anyone else have access to the Account? Have you check for changes on the History?
  2. How did you analysed competitors? You should use the Auction Insights Report to see if there are any new competitors momentarily
  3. Compare Impression Share and Exact Match Impressions Share with past data and see if there are any changes
  4. Have you considered external factors? You can monitor the media to see if there aren't any negative review or news about your partner brand. I've faced a huge drop on results for two clients once when they have scandals and rumors on being involved with corruption, and that took us a few days to find out
  5. Any automated rule that may have changed settings, increase/decrease on bids or that kind of stuff?
  6. Check your Search Terms report and try to find any term that have gained strength that weren't there

 

"Impressions went to about 1/5 of same-hour previous days, and average position on those impressions tanked as well. As a result of the lower average positions, the CTR fell dramatically, resulting in an overall click decrease of about 8-10x. The interesting thing is google search traffic has not been affected at all. We are receiving the exact same impressions, clicks, and average positions as prior days."

 

I've got a little lost there. At first you've mentioned that Impressions went down, and after you said that Impressions were not affected. Can you give more details?


Leandro Martinez | Basta1Click

Re: 90% random drop in search partners traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hey Leandro,

Thanks for your help. I think we got mixed up here a little bit on one point and that caused a lot of confusion. By partner traffic I was referring to google search partners (aol + etc). Our google traffic remains identical, which answers a lot of your questions. To answer some of the others,; no one else has access to the account, auction insights isn't yet available because it's same day, same with impression share (but that will plummet, the question is why?) No automated rules.

Re: 90% random drop in search partners traffic

Rising Star
# 4
Rising Star
Hey Web,

Yeah, that make sense now.

Google Adwords have very limited information regarding Search Partners. Unfortunately, they do not provide basic information we should have.

My concern is that probably some competitor took your place and is fighting hard with you on those Search Partners. Since there're no auction report individually for them, I'm afraid that you won't be able to gather much on actual data that might help. But since you didn't change anything, it make sense for me that with Black Friday right around the corner, someone with a lot of cash is bidding way high on keywords, inflating the market,and gaining space over you.

That's my thought on this.

Leandro Martinez | Basta1Click

Re: 90% random drop in search partners traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
It's certainly a possibility, but the problem for me with that theory is how would a competitor take 90% of my search partners volume and 0% of my google search volume? You can't even just bid on partners without bidding on Google too.

Re: 90% random drop in search partners traffic

Rising Star
# 6
Rising Star
Maybe the competitor is below you on Search Network, that's why trying to figure new competitors on Auction Report when it becomes available is important.

For Search Network, you may have better Quality, results, bids etc and they weren't able to position their ads in front of you.

Leandro Martinez | Basta1Click

Re: 90% random drop in search partners traffic

Rising Star
# 7
Rising Star
One thing that came in mind that I've never tested is this:

Do you know Google ValueTracks? In case you don't, they are parameters you add to your URLs that will be filled automatically by Adwords with the information you want. They all go around { } and when the user reach you page, adwords will fill those for you.

So a Final URL like: site.com?kwd={keyword} will make adwords replace "{keyword}" for the keyword triggered in your account (not user query).

Two ValueTracks comes to my mind:

{network}
Where the click came from: "g" for Google search, "s" for a search partner, or "d" for the Display Network

{adposition}
The position on the page that your ad appeared in, with a value like "1t2"(this means page 1, top, position 2)

I've never tested to see if ADPOSITION works for Search Partners. That could be a way of having by each click what your ad position was. If this works, is one way to track Search Partners information. Unfortunately you won't be able to track previous data, but hopefully this can provide useful information. If you had a average position of 1 and 2 and now you're having 3...4...or more, you will be able to find out.

You can check a full list of them going to the link below and reaching the "Final URL, tracking template, or custom parameter" section:
https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2375447?hl=en

Leandro Martinez | Basta1Click

Re: 90% random drop in search partners traffic

[ Edited ]
Rising Star
# 8
Rising Star

Hi @web M and @leandrofm, whatever would the situation but i don't think that a drop of 90% is normal due to seasonal trend or any random factor as its a search campaign and no such changes were made to the campaign so how can it be possible a sudden drop of 90% for the specific keywords; only for search partners without any impact on Google search. If it was due to black friday then both Google search and search partners might got effected not just partners.

@CassieH please provide a valid reason if you are aware of this.


Regards
Archit, AdWords Rising Star, Community Profile
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Re: 90% random drop in search partners traffic

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 9
Top Contributor

I disagree with @Archit on this.

I agree with @leandrofm that this  looks as a competitor or a seasonal trend.

 

PS: @Archit; This is a peer-to-peer community. Advertisers should share experiences and knowhow among themselves, in order to help others.  If a case has to be escalated to Google, there are   processes  set, for that, which we follow, to ensure that the case referred to the "right (support) station".  Please refrain from doing so by mentioning Google's employees. 

Thank you.

 

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer’

Re: 90% random drop in search partners traffic

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 10
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks to everyone trying to help out. Everything is still the same here. Google search traffic remains stable, partner traffic remains down 10x. The auction insights report shows no changes from prior days. In fact, our impression share, avg. position, and top of page rate have actually improved a tiny bit. This is not surprising given that the auction insights report only looks at Google search traffic.

We reached out to support yesterday morning (12 hours into the issue occurring). They wouldn't escalate it to the tech team for 24 hours based on a theory that the volume would recover on its own. That seemed strange to me but there wasn't much we could do. The issue should be escalated today and I'll keep everyone posted.

Lastly, I understand the additional competition argument. Besides my earlier point that it should affect both google and search, I'd like to add that in five years of running ecommerce campaigns around Black Friday, I haven't seen anything like this. There is definitely some increase in competition, but it is gradual, occurring day over day and hour over hour towards the end. An impression cut of 60% (on partner traffic) and average position fall of over 2 positions in a single hour points to something else to me.