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April 2014

GOOGLE ADWORDS SSL ENCRYPTION UPDATE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY What is happening? The ability to obtain query data coming from broad match keywords will no longer be possible. What are the effects? Understanding keywords triggered under the broad match type will be made more challenging. How does this change affect marketers? Query data coming from broad match keywords will potentially appear as “not provided” or “unavailable” in reports, such as path to conversion found in bid management tools. Identifying the value of generic terms could therefore potentially be more challenging. For brand awareness focused campaigns it will also become less straightforward to monitor and control what queries are triggering ads.

What can be done about it? Data from Google Adwords SQRs (and Google Webmasters Tool when available) will still be available however will need to be reviewed on a more regular basis. Extrapolating Bing/Yahoo data and using it to run on Google may also minimise impact. In terms of customising landing pages, Google have suggested using the keyword that generated the click rather than the query. What are the immediate next steps? Contact your Account Manager to discuss in greater detail. *IMPORTANT THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND* This change ONLY AFFECTS PAID SEARCH QUERY DATA from Google.

ABOUT SSL ENCRYPTION Towards the end of 2013 Google moved to 100% secure search with regards to organic keyword data, meaning that data from all keyword searches became encrypted, regardless of whether a user was logged into a Google account or not. Google have now started to take a similar approach to paid keyword data; specifically query data coming from broad match keywords, resulting in the data coming from these particular queries becoming unavailable. The official reason for the move is to further increase the protection on user privacy initially seen with the organic keyword data update. EFFECTS OF SSL ENCRYPTION The impact on mature accounts is likely to be minimal, primarily due to the size of these accounts where you would naturally have a well developed exact match type footprint. Newer accounts however, are likely to contain low volumes of keyword data and have a less established exact match footprint. The utilisation of broad match query data is often pivotal in helping expand the keyword coverage in these accounts and therefore expanding their exact match footprint. The changes will also have an impact on third party technology providers and their ability to mine and utilise these terms for features, such as path to conversion reporting and keyword expansion tools. Keyword detail gaps will therefore become present in these type of reports with keywords potentially appearing as “not provided” or “unavailable”. WHY IS GOOGLE MAKING THIS CHANGE? The official reason for the change is to enhance the efforts to protect user privacy with Google stating “we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on”. Whether it is intended or not, the move also gives Google a distinct competitive advantage over other 3rd party tools and platforms as they ultimately have control over the data and may (or may not) choose to provide this solely through their own products in the future or at a premium. The change also lends itself well to the premise that practitioners will need to think more broadly about search by potentially moving away from static keyword buying and gearing strategies more specifically towards buying audiences. SUMMARY It remains to be seen what the overall impact will be: tech providers will be exploring ways of dynamically mining SQRs , agencies and SEM practitioners will have to develop more complex solutions to launch campaigns with a well developed exact match type strategy and think broadly about how search strategies will evolve into audience buying. As Google looks set to become more opaque on the data they will provide on the search query, it is only going to be increasingly important to incorporate and leverage other client-side data to improve optimal bid decisions. As before, we will be keeping a very close eye on the impact and how budgets and campaign performance will be impacted.

SMG POV - Google Adwords SSL Encryption