Google issued the following statement: “In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for.”
The effect of this change will primarily depend on how Google defines ‘significant’. This will surely affect the campaigns and budgets of many advertisers. The range of impact is yet to be ascertained. Currently we can see search terms with only one impression or click present in the search term reporting. This is a common sight but we can guess that this will not continue in the near future. All we can do now is wait and see how Google approaches the change to the search terms report.
We have to respect the fact that Google wants to protect user privacy but we also have to consider the impact once the data is withheld. The purpose is clear, Google wants to prevent misuse the access of personally identifiable information which users may have included in their search queries. It is also to prevent advertisers from exploiting query data to identify users.
Google already has a limit in terms of query data in their Search Console for this particular reason. A users’ query triggers ads and whenever a user clicks the advertiser has to pay for that. Now if this data is taken away, advertisers won’t know what we can’t see.
If the change is limited to only sensitive queries which trigger privacy issues then it is fine. Our main worry is that the statement has a different essence and there are thousands of low-volume queries with absolutely zero privacy risk. We hope Google will take the best course of action as far as this change is concerned.
The main challenge will be in the area of negative query management. Advertisers will have far less control over the queries that trigger their ads. Over the period of time advertisers have gradually shifted their focus a lot from positive keyword management to negative keyword management approach to their keyword optimization. Search terms reports play an important role nowadays because of this.
Limiting access to this data will create problems for advertisers. They will not be able to determine which queries should be added to the negative keyword lists to make their campaigns more efficient. A single low-volume keyword will not have much impact but in aggregate the costs will add up. Advertisers will not be able to understand which words or phrases are working and which ones are not.