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the role of placeholder keywords in search ads 360

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Does your business or digital agency use Search Ads 360? If so, Tom Walkden, Head of PPC, has some technical insight for you…


Did you know placeholder keywords can be used within Search Ads 360 to make tracking your non-Search campaigns, such as Display or Video, possible? Using placeholder keywords is an advanced yet effective method of tracking which is only relevant to agencies and businesses using Search Ads 360.


We recognised that although Search Ads 360 is an advanced tracking and bidding platform, it is unable to track all campaign formats. Tracking challenges arise when Display and Video campaigns are also run through your Google Ads account and monitored through Search Ads 360. But we found a solution. Placeholder keywords.


what are placeholder keywords?


A placeholder keyword is a method that provides Search Ads 360 with the information it needs to track visits and sales from your Display or Video activity. By creating placeholder keywords, the system applies tracking parameters to these inactive, ‘dummy’ keywords, tracking Video and Display campaign performance and reporting in the same way as Search campaigns.


how do placeholder keywords work?


Search Ads 360 tracks Search activity extremely well, using floodlight tags to do so. For example, if a user Searches for Nike shoes on Google, they will be shown an ad for Nike shoes - an easily trackable process. However, as key words aren’t used to track Display and Video campaigns, Search Ads 360 is unable to report on their performance.


Let’s consider an example with Google Ads. Businesses often run various campaigns through Google Ads including Search, Display, Video and sometimes App campaigns. From these campaigns, imagine that Google Ads reports 10 sales from Search, two from Display and one from Video, however, due to tracking limitations, Search Ads 360 only shows 10 sales from Search, none from Display and none from Video. Not ideal. But by implementing placeholder keywords, Search Ads 360 can be effectively tricked into thinking Display and Video campaigns are keyword based, reporting in the same way it does for Search campaigns.


Any keyword can be used with this approach. We often create a random and nonsensical string of keywords matched to campaigns based on whether they are Video or Display, as a result, the campaigns are tagged, and the floodlights are triggered to enable Search Ads 360 to track and report performance. Once a placeholder keyword is created, it’s tracking information needs to be manually copied to the search engine and when a user clicks on the ad, Search Ads 360 can collect and report this data.


why should you be using placeholder keywords?

A powerful reporting platform, Search Ads 360’s value is lost when it’s unable to provide all the data behind each of your campaigns. Placeholder keywords enable tracking of visits and sales correctly no matter the campaign type making it an effective solution for managing everything in one system. This leads to increased efficiencies and a streamlined tracking and reporting process with a holistic view of all your campaigns in one platform. Having recognised this issue, we have been able to successfully implement placeholder keywords, adding further value to our clients’ paid media strategies. If you would like to find out more, contact our Paid Media team today.

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