The Growing Problem of Ad Self-Serving on Google
Any time an ad behaves in unexpected ways or is modified, I need to know what impact the changes are having on my campaign. Maybe placing the display URL in the headline does increase conversion enough to offset any higher costs a boost in clickthroughs would cause. Maybe it doesn’t. I have no idea because there aren't reports I can pull to determine how useful this change has been to my client.
I simply don't optimize my accounts on clickthrough rates; I optimize them on conversion metrics. It's upsetting to learn that Google was functionally optimizing my account for higher clickthrough rates without my knowledge, regardless of whether it improved my conversion metrics.
I've written about Google’s lack of transparency in its AdWords system before. This includes its obfuscated search partner network and its woefully incomplete search query reporting. This beta went a step beyond merely obfuscating data; it made material changes to the text of ads without the advertiser or agency's knowledge or consent.
A troubling pattern is developing whereby Google expects its advertisers to simply accept it when it says, "Trust us that this is for your benefit, we’re Google." It seems to me that failure to provide complete visibility into advertisers’ campaigns isn't doing the best job of “organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful.”