These past six months, Google's been a hypocrite. They encrypted keyword data for organic search, but left AdWords keyword data untouched. It seemed like the company was taking up a "pay-to-play" model for keyword data ... which didn't seem to be very Googly.
Recent developments, however, suggest that they'll soon become much less hypocritical. According to sources at Search Engine Land and Ghergich & Co, Google's going to start encrypting AdWords keyword data for third-party platforms -- though Google did not confirm these reports. This means soon, you'll see "Not Provided" creeping into your third-party PPC analytics (which will most likely include Google Analytics). Google AdWords reports should remain unaffected. Obviously, if you're running paid campaigns with other search engines, those'll still come through to your analytics -- this is just limited to Google AdWords.
Are you thrilled about this update? Bummed? There's not much you can do to get around this all -- you're playing by Google's rules if you want to use their search engine for marketing purposes. Luckily, if you've reacted appropriately to the organic data changes, you should have set yourself up nicely for this update.
What's a Marketer to Do?
Over the past year, Google's tried to make organic search more about topics and less about keywords. Instead of stuffing blog posts and website pages with keyword after keyword, you should be focusing on creating relevant content answering questions about a search-friendly topic. But it was still tempting for paid marketing managers to go after specific keywords -- after all, they could still access the specific keyword data in their analytics.
Now, with this change, paid and organic search strategies will focus on one thing: delivering content on subjects, not keywords. So if you've been changing your organic search strategy and reaping the benefits of the change, you should already have a decent idea of how to change your paid activities in similar ways.
If you haven't reacted yet to Google's new encryption updates, check out this post we wrote back when Google encrypted organic search keyword data. Though paid search keywords will now be off the table, it still has lots of great suggestions for marketers looking to pivot their strategy.
Regardless of what position you're in, remember that while having less data is frustrating, reacting to these changes is part of being a marketer today. Moral of the story? You've got this. Just like you've weathered through the previous Google updates.
What do you think of this update? Was this all just a matter of time? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. We'll continue to monitor the news for more updates as they unfold.