Paid media professionals are no strangers to reporting.
However, not all PPC reports should be treated the same.
- Different audiences require you to focus on different metrics, and who receives your report should dictate the type of analysis you put together.
- Reporting also varies depending on the time frame you review, with the most common cadences being weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually.
Each report has key similarities and differences, so let’s dive in.
Effective analysis overview
First, a quick refresher on how to effectively analyze PPC performance:
- Note any shifts in key metrics, especially spend and conversions.
- Explain what those shifts mean in the real world.
- Call out the potential causes behind any trends.
The result is a clear overview of what’s happening in the account, why it’s happening, and what you did to influence that (or how you plan to address it if action is needed).
- Example: “Conversion rate increased 10%, which indicates that our landing page resonates better with our audience after updating the content two weeks ago.”
This general approach is relevant for any report, regardless of audience or cadence.
A weekly cadence is usually the shortest duration people are asked to report on. The audience for these reports might be your regular point of contact or a direct manager so that the analysis can be more in-depth.
For accounts with a high volume of data (which may also coincide with higher budgets), it’s fairly common to see trends appear week over week.
- Call these out, any reasons for the shifts, and any action items that might be needed.
- You can also provide a quick month-over-month comparison to look at the broader picture.
For accounts with lower budgets or less data available (like if you target a niche industry), week-over-week shifts might not be as prevalent.
- Try not to overreact to minor shifts in this situation, as data could be skewed by the short time frame you’re looking at.
- Example: 2 conversions last week vs. 3 conversions the week prior is a 33% decrease, but the overall volume is similar. A 33% decrease for an account averaging 100 conversions per week could be much more alarming though.
- Instead, I recommend looking at a month-to-date comparison to the previous month to give you a better idea of how performance is trending over time (e.g., 10/1–10/12 vs. 9/1–9/12).
- You could also compare to the previous period if it’s longer than a week (e.g., 10/1–10/12 vs. 9/19–9/30).
The biggest differentiator for weekly reports is that you can dig deeper into the account. Hone in on specific keywords and audiences that are seeing a shift. Note any recent changes you made or tasks you’re actively working on to improve short-term performance.
- In other words, get a little more into the nitty gritty. Since you’re probably delivering this to someone you work with often, they don’t necessarily need to be reminded of the longer-term goals every week (though that should still be kept in mind).
These same principles apply if you do biweekly or mid-month reporting instead of weekly reports, and the final product may look something like this:
Monthly reports should be a staple for any digital marketer. Your audience is likely the same as weekly reports, but they could also be sent to other stakeholders you don’t work with frequently.
Start by comparing performance to the previous month and provide insights based on that month-over-month data. You don’t need to go as in-depth as a weekly report, though – broaden your focus to what had the most impact.
- Example: Instead of highlighting specific keywords/audiences, call out the ad group or campaign.
- There may be times when you need to provide more detail, particularly if performance worsens, but in general, this can serve as a good framework.
Once you’ve done a month-over-month comparison, compare your performance to the previous year. Are you beating last year’s benchmarks? If not, why? This is a great way to hold yourself accountable and identify opportunities for the future.
- Year-over-year analysis can also be fairly brief. You still want to give insight into changes that are impacting performance, but a quick summary should suffice.
The key with monthly reports is to analyze performance with medium- and long-term goals in mind. People receiving the report don’t necessarily need to know the fine details – just the key points.
- Example: Noting that you updated ad copy and CTR increased overall instead of listing each individual headline change.
The final product may look something like this:
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Another common reporting time is at the start of each quarter. Similar to the difference between weekly and monthly reports, these analyses should have a longer-term perspective.
However, quarterly reports are also more likely to be viewed by higher-ups, like VPs, Directors, and C-level executives. It’s important to approach these like an executive summary because of this.
In your analysis, focus more on the account’s long-term strategy, profitability, etc. Executives likely aren’t as worried about efficiency and engagement metrics (like click-through rate and average cost per click) unless those were defined as core KPIs or had a major contribution to overall account growth.
This is especially true for any charts, graphs, or other visualizations you include in the report.
The comparison period should also be the previous quarter and the previous year.
- Example: If you’re doing a quarterly report for Q4 2023, compare that to both Q3 2023 and Q4 2022.
The final product may look something like this:
Lastly, annual reports can be used to summarize major initiatives throughout the year. The people you deliver this to will likely be similar to your quarterly reports, so the approach should also be similar.
The main emphasis should be whether or not company/department-wide goals were achieved.
- Compare performance to the previous year and note any major wins or areas for improvement.
- Outline your highest impact initiatives from the past 12 months, what went well, and what you would have done differently.
This gives you a roadmap for the coming year while also highlighting success, and the final product may look something like this:
Tailoring your PPC analysis: Insights for every reporting cycle
Effective PPC reporting is a matter of timing and audience. Tailoring your analysis to the right timeframe is essential.
The biggest difference between weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports is the amount of detail you should go into.
- Weekly reports are the most in-depth, focusing on specific short-term updates.
- Monthly reports are crucial to understanding medium- and long-term performance, with slightly less detail needed than weekly reports.
- Quarterly reports take a higher-level look at key trends unfolding throughout the year.
- Annual reports summarize major initiatives, with the main emphasis being on company/department-wide goals for the year.
Clarity, relevance, and actionable insights are key to PPC reporting success. Connect data to real-world implications, speak your audience’s language, and refine your reporting skills to make a difference in your paid media efforts.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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