Display campaigns can be a great source of leads, but they can also be a bit tricky to control. Websites on the Google Display Network can change something about the content of their site, or which ad formats they allow to show on their site, causing a change in traffic for your campaign. So you’re running a display campaign that’s bringing in a substantial amount of leads. What do you do when you start to see conversion volume drop off?

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This particular campaign went from 200+ conversions a month to only 5 last month. Impression volume has substantially decreased over the months, which led to the decrease in clicks and conversions. The big questions here are what actually happened, and how do we fix it?

Step 1: Where are you losing volume?

Take a look at your ad groups segmented by week (or whatever time frame you’re working with) to see when and where you start to see a dip in impressions, clicks, or other metric of choice.

ad groups

Here we see that the bulk of conversions were coming from Ad Group 2, and impressions dropped off starting around the week of 6/23.

Check where you’re losing volume. Is it conversions, clicks, or impressions? In this case we see a dip in impressions, which correlates to a huge decrease in clicks. The conversions completely disappear.

So, what’s going on in this ad group? Our next step is to dig down and look at the keywords and placements.

keyword changes

Huh, this seems strange. This keyword was clearly the driving force behind conversion volume. Let’s see what the placements look like.

AdWords allows us to drill even deeper into this placement, by seeing the specific pages on the site that your ads appear. This particular page on about.com has suddenly lost almost all of its impressions.


Step 2: Check your change history & Placement pages

At this point in our analysis we see where and when the change happened, but the ultimate question is still left unanswered: what caused this to happen?

Start by taking a look at your change history to see if it’s something that you (or someone else) changed in the campaign or ad group. In this particular instance, the account is using an automated bidding feature. This has been changing ad group level bids anywhere from 5 to 30 times per day. This campaign has always been utilizing automated bidding, so it’s hard to say one way or another if this has had a negative impact on performance.

In this situation, it could also be that something changed with the placement itself. Maybe they changed the content of the page.  There’s an online tool that archives snapshots of websites and allows you to see what a site looked like at a particular point in time. I looked at a few of the placements, comparing April 2014 to today, and there was a pretty drastic difference in the layout of the site.


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We can’t say with 100% certainty that the change in site layout caused impressions and overall traffic to dip, but the site change is a good indication that it’s possible. I checked a few of the other placements and the majority of them showed no big changes over this time frame.

What’s Next?

For this account, we will test removing the bid automation, as well as adding new keywords to the ad group. Adding new keywords will allow us to find other relevant placements on the display network, as well as try to get our ads to show on this particular placement again.