Google Changes Reporting Features, And It Sucks

Long-time readers of this blog have probably figured out by now that I’m a bit of a Google fanboy. Understandable, because I’d probably be out of a job if it wasn’t for AdWords. For the most part, I’ve been pretty impressed by the changes and improvements they’ve made to their AdWords platform over this year. But recently, they’ve changed some things in the reporting features that have me fuming mad.

You might have noticed that you can no longer run account, campaign, or ad group reports in the reporting tab. Instead, Google has decided to move these features to the “Control Panel and Library” section of the campaign and ad group level views. To me, this seems utterly ridiculous. Why would you move a reporting feature from a section of your application titled “Reports”? Or, at least offer users the option to get their reports in both sections of the platform?

What’s more, the part where you actually get your reports is unlabeled and counter-intuitive. When I first found my reports missing, I checked the Google help file. It said to look for the reports in the “Control Panel and Library” section of the campaign tab. After I went there, I spent a good ten minutes looking for the small text link that would take me to the section (it’s on the left side of the page, halfway down, by the way). What really got me frustrated was that after I clicked on the link, there were no reports and no way to generate new ones. After a few days of yelling at my computer and finding no help from the “help” pages, I finally figured out that the solution to generating a new report was in clicking on an unlabeled button with an ambiguous graphic. Of course, even after all of this you can only export your current view in report form. No looking at stats by day or using other segmentation features that Google has rolled out over the last couple of years.

This reporting change screws over both veteran users and customers new to the AdWords platform. Vets lose functionality that they’ve grown accustomed to, and have to change their way of doing things unnecessarily. Newbies are bound to be perplexed by the terrible usability of the new feature and stuck looking frantically for their reports where they should be – in the “Reports” tab. All of this hassle for a feature that wasn’t even broken in the first place.

I really hope that Google wises up to their error and reverts their ill-guided change. You would think with the legendary obsession with user testing that Google supposedly has, they would at least split-test the reporting feature before they rolled it out. Unfortunately, it looks like somebody went with their gut instead of their head on this change, and we’re stuck with this ill-guided “improvement.”

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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8 Responses to Google Changes Reporting Features, And It Sucks

  1. Andy says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more about the new reporting. In fact, I’m currently writing up a blog post on some specific reports/features that are now deceased and essentially slow down or hinder the optimization process. I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s up.

    Very good post.

    Andy

  2. Meghan says:

    AGREED.

    I spent ten minutes trying to run a simple campaign report before I remembered you had blogged about it and came back for a refresher course.

    I’ve learned to do it the “new way”… but I still don’t seem to be able to get the data that I need. BAD GOOGLE. NO COOKIES FOR YOU.

  3. James says:

    Try pull a 30 day, daily account report for only selected campaigns in a multi-campaign account? Neither could I.

    I was told that there was only a 14 day limit and if I wanted thirty days I’d have to run it a 3 times on different date ranges and add them together in a spreadsheet.

    Oh and Google say the changes are to make it easier????. Did they do any usability studies or was this decided after many office drinks. Honestly, I have some amazing ideas after a few drinks, but when I’m sober I can realise how stupid they really are and move on.

    Google Engineers: admit it – you have a drinking problem!

  4. jeff says:

    Even worse you cant differentiate between your conversion types. This new change has just made my job more tedious for client reporting wtf

  5. Wes Stewart says:

    Found this post after Googling new Adwords reporting sucks. I have to add another part that sucks, you can’t email a report as a file attachment anymore.

  6. Mark Kelly says:

    Shawn- so, so, so agree with you on this. We’ve had to spend a lot of time adjusting to this new Adwords reporting method. As @jeff says above, even worse is if you have had multiple Adwords Conversion types that you are reporting on for clients. We finally figured out how to pull that data by Campaign (after numerous discussions with Google to no avail), but the way the conversion data comes out makes it way more time-consuming to put together our reports.

    And to echo your sentiment, it is WAY more difficult to use now than before. I don’t know what the heck Google was thinking. It is like whoever was running things completely dropped the ball on any user testing or getting any feedback from agencies or power users.

  7. Misty says:

    It literally took me all day yesterday to generate reports for 5 customers, these customers want daily reports, and it is nearly impossible. Google has to make this easier.