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How to Tell If Your Online Ads Are Working Using Google Analytics

Justin Givens 11/19/19 2:20 PM

I’ve overheard conversations like this way too much in the marketing space:

Yup, I use Google Ads and I’m spending a good bit per day. I have a great number of impressions and clicks and my average cost per click is below average.

I always wonder why those conversations stop there.

Are those ads even working for you and your business? That’s great that your average cost per click is below average, but if those users are bouncing 100% then you're just wasting money.

What are those clicks and impressions doing for you? Your goal for your ads should be conversions, not just impressions or clicks.

Conversions drive business! They drive results! They give you an understanding of what is working and what’s not.

So, how do you tell if your online ads are working? In this blog post we are going to cover the reports you can view in Google Analytics to measure the conversions of your Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords).

Things to Know Before You Check the Reports

IMPORTANT: You will not be able to easily tell if your online ads are truly working if you do not have goals and a measurement plan set in place. Here's more information on these things.


Before you can measure your results, you'll need to have goals first. Without any goals set, you're just putting money into a machine and hoping to get "something" back. These goals need to be SMART and directly related to your ads.

Not sure about SMART goals, learn more here in our blog post.

Measurement Plan

Something else to consider is how you measure your ads results. Are you using an analytics platform, like Google Analytics, to track what happens after a user clicks through on your ads.

You must have a measurement plan in place before you spend a single penny of your marketing budget.

Since this post discusses using Google Analytics to see if your ads are working, that means that we've connected Google Ads to Google Analytics. If you haven't done this, please review this support document from Google.

Want to actually understand Google Analytics? Well, you can learn all the basics in just 9 days!

Sign up below to have a short video texted to you every day to learn more about Google Analytics:

Google Analytics Reports That Show You If Your Online Ads Are Working

If you have Goals and a measurement plan set in place, then you can use the following reports on Google Analytics to see how your online ads are performing.

Campaigns Report

Reports > Acquisition > Google Ads > Campaigns



The Campaigns Report will show you all of the different campaign names from Google Ads that are driving traffic to your website. This report is great to compare how your campaigns are doing against metrics on your site. To see how a specific campaign's ad groups are performing, click on a campaign name and drive into the Ad Groups.


IMPORTANT: Make sure your Conversions column is set the best conversion to review. Meaning if you site has eCommerce, make sure that is checked. If you don't have an eCommerce site, make sure to set it to a goal that has value. This will give you more information about your ROI.

Click on an Ad Group name and you’ll be able to dive into the specific keywords (if it was a search campaign) or Ad Name (changing to Ad Content as the Primary Dimension).

Keywords Report (Search)

Reports > Acquisition > Google Ads > Keywords



Reviewing the Keywords Reports will help you understand how your keywords are performing against one another by site metrics. You can see data such as which keyword is driving the most conversions and also which ones have the lowest bounce rates. This information can help you make better decisions on your bid adjustments.

Display Targeting Report (Display)

Reports > Acquisition > Google Ads > Display Targeting Report



The Display Targeting Report is very useful when you want to review the Interests and Remarketing or Demographic details on the traffic. This data provides you with a better understanding on who your target personas are and how they perform on your website.

Final URLs Report

Reports > Acquisition > Google Ads > Final URLs Report



The Final URLs report will show you all of the final URL links used within your Google Ads. If you have multiple final URLs, you can compare how each one is doing. If you ran different landing pages for different ad sets, you could compare how those URLs did against conversions as well.

Improving Your Online Ads with Actionable Data

There is it folks, four reports on how well your online ad strategy is working towards your business goals. Remember to review this data as the data that’s in Google Ads does not show you site metrics (like average time on site, bounce rate, pages per session). To save yourself some time, add these report links to your bookmarks or setup automated reports.