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AdWords Basics - Metrics

Metrics are data attributed to components of an AdWords account, such as ‘Clicks’ and ‘Impressions’. In this guide, we look at the most common metrics in quite some depth and less common metrics in slightly less depth. This is a beginner’s guide to AdWords Metrics, more advanced metrics and concepts have been included in more advanced guides within this knowledge base, we do however at least mention every metric within AdWords.

Advice to Live By!

  1. “Why measure something if you do not use that data?”
  2. “Data is useful only within the context of other data”

These two statements should be considered deeply by anyone who regularly deals with data, and is very relevant to AdWords data. I explain a little about each one below:

“Why measure something if you do not use that data?”

This doesn’t mean; ‘don’t measure anything’… It simply means that measuring things, collating data and analysing is largely a waste of time if no actionable insights can be drawn from it. This highlights the intrinsic relationship between data and recommendations / action taken in an account.

“Data is useful only within the context of other data”

A single metric is almost always useless and unable to provide any insight when taken out of context, moreover, data can appear to be impressive when either out of context or when ignoring a larger context.

For example, are a million Clicks good? Are a million Clicks better than 1,000 Clicks?  Without more data, it is impossible to say, 1,000 Clicks with a 100% conversion rate are probably better than 1 million clicks with a 0% conversion rate.

10% YoY (Year on Year) improvement may be good or bad, if the past four years all saw a 20% improvement YoY, you are actually looking at ‘an improvement’ in the loosest possible sense of the phrase.

Types of Metric

There are a number of ways to cut metrics, but for the purposes of this guide we will refer to calculated metrics vs. non-calculated metrics. For example: both Clicks and Impressions are non-calculated metrics, whereas CTR (Click Through Rate) is calculated from these two metrics.

The Importance of Understanding Metrics

Metrics are data specific to an attribute or behaviour of either part of or the entirety of an AdWords account. Thus, understanding them means understanding account performance. AdWords is very data heavy, this is its biggest strength in many ways and so a good eye for data is essential when actively working within AdWords.


We list, in this guide, keywords by priority; typically, this sense of value and priority comes from what clients’ value. Whether you work for yourself, in-house or for an agency, the bottom line for most people is ‘the bottom line’… Is what you are doing making money?

Metrics such as ‘average impression frequency per cookie’ are not often requested or reported on, not to say that they do not hold value or cannot be used to practical effect, simply they are not as important to most people as Profit, ROI and Clicks.

Ultimately the priority and value of any metrics will be determined by the goals that drive the account forward. Consequently, reporting either internally or externally should be tailored to the needs of the client.


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