Google AdWords Not Provided Still Hypocritical

Apr 11, 2014 • 8:11 am | comments (19) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google AdWords

google adwords not providedAs you know, Google is now not passing referer data to AdWords advertisers log files, web servers and analytics packages. Hence, AdWords went Not Provided. But, there are easier ways for AdWords advertisers to get that data than organic users, which leaves open the purpose behind not provided in question.

Google says this is done for the "security of our users" but if that was the case, why does ValueTrack still work, and the ability to use dynamic keyword insertion where you can set custom landing pages with it?

This can be a confusing topic, so again, I'll step back and explain.

Not Provided with AdWords means that the referer data passed when a searcher clicks from the search results ad to your site is removed. So that keyword data is removed from the referer data so it would protect the searcher from anyone knowing about their specific search, except Google.

But if the advertiser can pass the search keyword via ValueTrack and keyword insertion, even if the search keyword doesn't exactly match the query (although chances are it will match 100%) exactly, that is still a security issue to the searcher.

If they are afraid of the NSA or random sniffers, then only pass referer data from Google SSL to SSL enabled sites. If not, then turn off the ValueTrack and/or the ability to pass a hint of the keyword to a destination URL.

If they are concerned about someone stealing data from the advertiser, then again, don't pass it even with SSL enabled, like they do on organic.

The API and AdWords reports are fine to keep with this logic but not ValueTrack and custom keyword based destination URLs.

Am I making sense? Is this implementation of not provided within Google AdWords hypocritical still? Yes, it matches the organic side but the organic side did not have the ability to implement ValueTrack and custom keyword based destination URLs.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Twitter.

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F1 Steve

04/11/2014 12:17 pm

Agree with everything you just said Barry! Durant must be catching 50 winks in his arm chair still, wake up Durant and let the defence begin!


04/11/2014 12:30 pm

Barry, you already know the answer and your behavior isn't far away to be determined as hypocritical, please find something interesting to report instead of this, you already covered the not provided with Adwords issue at least several times this week... do you really want to check Google patient and get penalized for using anchor text keywords to score better for not provided keywords or whatever you are looking to rank for?

Barry Schwartz

04/11/2014 12:36 pm

Excuse me? I covered the (1) rumor, (2) the official announcement and (3) the hypocrisy. That is 3 times.

Mike Weaver

04/11/2014 12:46 pm

He needs to make breakfast for Matt, first.

Matt Lambert

04/11/2014 12:55 pm

Anyone might think that "security of our users" is not the real reason.

Barry Schwartz

04/11/2014 01:03 pm

No one is saying that is not a real reason, it is. So secure it all the way through.


04/11/2014 01:22 pm

Barry keep digging An advertiser shouldn't at a later date be able to determine the keyword someone (i.e. a specific conversion event) used when searching. Otherwise the whole change is pointless. You should be able to determine which bid keyword I realize you would then have to guess which words should be added to a negative keyword list but otherwise Google are not achieving their supposed objectives.

Barry Schwartz

04/11/2014 01:23 pm

Yea, I know, it makes it a bit ridiculous. :-)

Michael Korolishin

04/11/2014 01:52 pm

Lol what

Durant Imboden

04/11/2014 03:18 pm

Search Engine Watch has a report that might help to dispel the panic and posturing:

PM Fiorini

04/11/2014 03:54 pm

All the search query information will be available via the AdWords API. It's only the analytics (e.g., GA) that won't have this information. Thus, it's still there, but you have to "dig" to get at it.

Matt Lambert

04/11/2014 06:30 pm

If changes are for security, and it's not secure, there might be just cause for speculation. These are clever people after all.

Jim Christian

04/11/2014 09:28 pm

I don't know why this is a big surprise to people. Google has been pushing the envelope of acceptance for a long time. While it angers everyone, we continuously fail to get enough backing to force them to knock it off... So welcome to a (not provided) world.

Barry Schwartz

04/11/2014 10:57 pm

did you read the story? I am talking about the issue with Google's reason for going this route.

Barry Schwartz

04/11/2014 10:57 pm

did you read the story? I am talking about the issue with Google's reason for going this route. you see?

Alistair Lattimore

04/12/2014 01:43 am

While it seems simple Barry, in practice I don't think it is that straight forward. As an advertiser, you need and Google want to provide you insight into your advertising and its effectiveness. Failure to do so adequately could compromise AdWords, a massive risk for Google given that product delivers ~95% of their earnings. If Google were to push harder on this front in an attempt to stop leaking of users query data, it seems likely that savvy advertisers that value that information are going to move their match types over to exact match - in which case they'll get the information anyway. How would you propose Google would avoid such a scenario, remove exact match match types? Advertiser would move the phrase match and only have one or a very limited number of keywords in an adgroup - a virtual proxy for exact match in that scenario anyway. From a privacy stand point I think it is good that Google are plugging leaks bit by bit, reducing the amount of query data that is leaking in general but I think it'll be a while longer before they might plug that holes entirely.

Kaloyan Banev

04/14/2014 04:01 am

I think that this was expected, as Google try to unify organic and paid search. Not very nice though from any point of view. Honestly, I think that Google made number of big mistakes since the beginning of 2014.


04/14/2014 06:09 am

@rustybrick:disqus Is it possible that google could remove all the adword data from the keyword planner tool in future? What will be the consequences then?

Barry Schwartz

04/14/2014 11:58 am

Anything is possible but they have not announced that nor does it seem likely.

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