The Ultimate Guide to Reporting on Paid Search

By Bethan Rainford - 13 August, 2020
Bethan Rainford 2021

Paid Search is only worthwhile if you know for certain what you are achieving. This guide outlines how to create a robust reporting system, for effective and accurate analysis of your PPC campaigns.

PPC is one of the most measurable marketing channels and the Google ads/ Bing platform have an array of reports to help you understand how effective your Paid Search campaigns have been. It goes without saying you want to understand the return your paid search campaigns are generating, but what you also want to understand is the elements of your paid search campaigns which are performing well, and those which are not to help inform your optimization.

Focus Your Reporting on Business Objectives

This should be the basis of your reporting and you should ensure you map back to the objectives set when the campaigns started, Is it CPA, ROI for example. Whatever the goal, this should be your foundation. At a top level, is your account driving the goals you have set? Are you tracking against spend signed off and are you on track to hit the revenue within your ROI target as an example. If yes great, and how can we build on this? What are the opportunities to push this further? If not, why not? Are there any areas of the account which are working?

You will also want to consider seasonal trends, WoW/ MoM changes, is there promotional activity, for example, that is impacting on the numbers. Making note of your key optimisations such as audience or device bids and reviewing the change log will also help you identify whether changes in the account have had a positive/ negative impact and what your next steps could be.

Follow the Data

The best way to report and understand what is happening in the account is to follow the data. If performance is down, what area of the account is down? Can you pinpoint this to a particular ad group, keyword, product group? Is the change within normal fluctuations? Were any changes made that could impact this? Is a product out of stock? If you can view performance in GA it is also worth reviewing if other channels are down, how paid is performing relative to organic for example. If you aren’t able to identify a key area of change you also want to be considering changes in competition. The auction insight report would be ideal here, and you can view competitors' impression share on your key terms and products and how this has changed over the weeks.

Other areas that are worth considering:

  • Performance changes on a particular day/ hour/device

  • The overview tab in Google ads can give you a snapshot of key changes i.e. device, search terms, by campaign, etc.

  • You can add segments to your data i.e. day, device, network

  • By downloading a report you can add more than one segment

  • If you have a data studio report you can use fields, add comparison dates, etc. which is a quick way of creating tables and charts to understand where the biggest changes have occurred.

  • You may also have a Google report which has built-in formulas that already splits your data by various segments and date ranges.

Use Business & Website Analytics Data To Supplement PPC Conversion Data

A huge problem in many business areas is the disconnect and lack of communication between departments. Stock levels, activity outside of PPC, website changes can all have an impact on PPC performance.

Analytics data will also help understand whether the change in performance across PPC has occurred across other channels too as touched on above. This will help understand whether the change is due to external and/or website factors rather than specific changes and optimisations which have been made recently in the PPC account.

Make Your Report Actionable

Once you have managed to get to the bottom of the change in performance, whether performance is up due to a sale or new product line, or performance is down due to competition or site downtime, there will always be key actions which derive off the back of this. But what if performance is stable WoW, MoM - what's next?

There will be optimisation tasks you won't be doing every day, and there will be reports/ analysis which will need to be conducted regularly which will form the basis of your optimisations. Here is a snapshot of our favourites :

  • Ad report (Understand which ad messaging is resonating and driving the best performance). What ads should we pause and what can we test next? What ads are the competitors running? You can understand your own ad performance from the Google ads platform, but for your competitor ads you can either run a few searches yourself, or use third party competitor tools such as SEMRush.

  • Review which devices perform well and why, is the difference due to consumer behaviour or due to the user journey on that device? Do you have appropriate bid modifiers in place relative to performance or are there any fixes required to the mobile journey for example to improve conversion

  • Location reports enable you to understand if there are any specific locations i.e. towns/ cities which perform well for you? Where should you be biding up and down? Here, similar to devices, you can apply bid modifiers.

  • What day of week / hour of day performs well? Again you can apply bid modifiers to understand when conversion is highest, and therefore when you want to bid up to get that click.

  • What products generate the highest ROI? Can we put these products in a separate campaign to maximise exposure within the current budget and do these products align with GA top sellers as well

  • How can we improve our landing pages? Can we run an A/B test to understand how the customer behaves when they land on the home page vs sale page


Finally, Attribution. Attribution is a subject in itself which we will cover in a separate blog. Here we can understand whether PPC is under or over-valued. Here however it's important the business is using the same model across all channels. Check out our blog on attribution.


With PPC being one of the most measurable marketing channels it’s important to utilise the data at your disposal to understand what is working and what is not, helping to drive further improvements in your account. There are multiple sources of data available to you to help inform your decisions as we’ve touched on above which will help you to ensure you are understanding the true impact that paid media has on your return on investment.