Rumors that Google would extend “not provided” to paid search clicks were confirmed true yesterday afternoon. Google announced that, like organic search, it will no longer pass referrer data for clicks on paid search ads:

    “Today, we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on

    Advertisers will continue to have access to useful data to optimize and improve their campaigns and landing pages. For example, you can access detailed information in the AdWords search terms report and the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report.”

Google has been criticized for shutting the door on organic referrer data, while leaving it wide open for search. At SMX, Google hinted that it would address that inconsistent policy toward user data and security. And now it is official -- that referrer data for AdWords will be blocked, as well.

So what does this really mean for you and your campaigns?

I asked our two resident PPC experts here at Semify -- CEO Chad Hill and Senior PPC Analyst Dave Crist.


    The reality is that it won't be that big of a deal. Google lets you dynamically insert the keyword that matched the query (i.e., the keywords may be "blue jeans" and the exact search query was "best blue jeans"). Today we'd be able to see exactly what someone searching for “best blue jeans” did on the site versus someone who searched “blue jeans”. Going forward you'll lose a little data because both of those will show in Google Analytics as “blue jeans”.

    But this isn't that big of a deal because most people are already running very specific campaigns where they have already separated "blue jeans" and "best blue jeans" as two different keywords.

    Users need to go to AdWords and add tracking keyword parameters to their URLs. Even if they don't do the prior step, they will always be able to get the exact search query in Adwords but won't necessarily get to see how specific search queries behave on their site via Google Analytics.


    It really doesn’t change a whole lot for the seasoned PPC professional. To be honest, it probably doesn’t change a lot for the amateur either, since I have my doubts they would be looking at this data anyway. In reality for PPC, if you have campaigns and adgroups structured correctly along with proper tagging, then you should get plenty of data to optimize campaigns and understand the ROI for specific queries.

    For content network campaigns, this might be a little more or a hassle, but again, the data you need should still be available in AdWords and optimization will not be affected a whole lot.

Thanks to Dave & Chad for the input!

We'll check back in with Dave and Chad to provide any updates on the impact as everyone settles into this new "not provided" change.