Google Expand “(not provided)” Offering Into Paid Clicks

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So, Google has gone and done it…

We heard on the grapevine a couple of weeks back that there were some ‘goings-on’ within Google around the ever-so helpful (not provided) data, or lack thereof.

In October 2011, Google provided SSL encryption for signed-in searches on Google, meaning that a user’s search term was tracked as (not provided). It was confirmed yesterday by Paul Feng that Google is now extending its efforts to keep search secure by removing the query on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on Google.com.

Since October 2011, publishers began losing keyword data that was invaluable in seeing how users reached their sites. Google was criticised for this move, as advertisers were still able to receive the keyword data in Search Query Reports. With Google now extending its efforts to keep search data secure, does this level the playing field between publishers and advertisers?

What Google say:

“We’ve long worked to keep your searches on Google secure. We provided SSL encryption for signed-in searches in 2011 and have rolled that out to searches from the omnibox in the Chrome browser. Today, we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on Google.com.

Advertisers will continue to have access to useful data to optimise 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.”

My initial thoughts

There seems to be a lot of chatter around this at the moment. How will it affect advertisers and individuals who rely on this data to enhance their campaigns? Will the increase in (not provided) negate the benefit of AdWords? Will advertisers see a drop in quality traffic?

We have seen Google make bold moves before; in 2013 Google switched Google Shopping to a paid platform; Product Listing Ads. Although not affecting the user, advertisers overnight saw their free product feeds turn into a paid-for platform.

This ‘expansion’ could be seen in many lights. Yes it levels the playing field between publisher and advertiser, but I feel this will do more harm than good to the digital industry. At present, we can clearly report back to clients on keyword performance etc. but going forward it will leave us with some rather, shall we say, interesting conversations with clients when asked the question ‘So what keywords are working for us?’. Will we struggle now to fully optimise campaigns with an even greater lack of data from Google? I believe this lack of data will leave advertisers throwing keywords at the wall and sitting back waiting to see which ones stick….. and more importantly, at what cost? Is this another money making exercise by Google, perhaps? Restricting the data available to advertisers leaves them with no option but to open the floodgates and introduce some guess-work. which will surely mean an increase in ad spend.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. How will this affect you? Is this the right move by Google?

As more information becomes available I will be updating this post.

The post Google Expand “(not provided)” Offering Into Paid Clicks appeared first on White Noise.

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