There are several reports suggesting that Google is about to make paid search keyword data ‘not provided’.

As Google has already done this with organic search keywords, such a move would at least be consistent, but it would also make the job of the search marketer much more difficult. 

This move has been reported by ghergich.com, and is also backed up by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Land, so there seems to be something in it. 

According to Ghergich, Google will cut off PPC referral data fro analytics packages. Here are the details reported: 

  • Google will stop supplying paid search query data to third parties. 
  • Reports within AdWords will remain unaffected.
  • SEL reports that advertisers may see [not provided] in Google Analytics reports, though whether this would apply to GA accounts linked to AdWords is unclear. 
  • Services that are using this query data may have no way to access it anymore. 

This seems to be a move to cut off the API and prevent third party access to paid search data, and perhaps to force advertisers to rely on Google’s own tools and technology. 

Samuel Crocker has written a post containing some interesting thoughts on this move, around the competitive advantage it gives Google over other analytics providers: 

Going down this route creates a massive competitive advantage for Google. They own the keyword data and can choose to provide it to users through their own products if they choose. They could also keep it to themselves if they see the benefits outweighing providing some level of data to advertisers (hint: they won’t keep it to themselves).

It does at least promise to make the company’s approach consistent with its removal of organic keyword data. As Kevin Gibbons pointed out last year: 

I do think privacy and Prism is a legitimate reason [for removing keyword data]. However, what leaves a sour taste in the mouth is the fact that paid search remains intact while organic search has disappeared completely.

That’s the obvious reason as to why people are questioning Google’s intention behind this, privacy doesn’t appear to be affecting the part of its business that drives the most revenue. 

What do you think? What do you think the reasons are for this? How will it affect your paid search campaigns?