About explanations

Explanations give you insights into large changes in your Google Ads account performance. When you discover a significant fluctuation in performance for a compatible campaign or ad group, explanations help you quickly find out why it happened.

Additionally, Google Ads sometimes gives recommendations that appear alongside explanations. While explanations tell you why your ad performance fluctuated, recommendations help you improve your ad performance moving forward.

Explanations are currently available for:
  • Search campaigns using manual CPC, enhanced CPC, enhanced CPC for value, target CPA, maximize conversions, maximize clicks bidding, maximize conversion value, and target ROAS
  • App campaigns using target CPA
  • Performance max campaigns

Benefits

  • Save time: Discover why your account performance changed with just a few clicks.
  • All in one place: You no longer have to cross-reference reports, checklists, or other tools—simply compare two date ranges, and explanations for significant performance changes will be provided, if available.
  • Diagnose issues: Get a more accurate and comprehensive view to help you diagnose possible reasons for changes in your campaign or ad group's performance.
  • Get recommendations: Get recommendations to improve your ad performance. Recommendations are based on your campaign’s performance as reflected in explanations, including relevant metrics, the direction and size of your performance fluctuation, and specific causes.

Types of explanations

Explanations can help you learn more about how the following factors might have affected your campaign or ad group performance.

Bidding explanations

  • Bid changes: How changes to your bids may have affected where and how often your ads showed.
  • Bid strategy target changes: How changes to ad group, campaign or portfolio level target may have affected your performance.
  • Bid limit changes: How setting or changing bid limits affect automatic optimization of your bids. Bid limits can prevent Google Ads from adjusting your bids to the amount that best meets your target.
  • Bid strategy changes: How strategy type or portfolio changes may affect performance. Each type of automated bid strategy is designed to help you achieve a specific goal for your business.
  • Bid Modifier changes: How changes to your device bid modifier, location bid modifier, demographic bid modifier, and audience bid modifier may have affected performance.

Budget explanations

  • Budget changes: How changes to your budget may have affected how many clicks and impressions your ads received.
  • Budget allocation: How spreading your budget across multiple entities (for example, ad groups) may have affected the performance of other entities.
  • Budget exhaustion rate: How changing your average cost-per-click (CPC) may have caused your budget to run out more quickly or slowly than usual.

Conversion explanations

  • Conversion settings: How changes to your conversion settings could have affected performance, including changes to conversion window, conversion count, attribution model and other settings.
  • Conversion delay: How recent conversions that haven't been reported yet can cause a drop in conversions.
  • Fluctuations in number of conversions received: How changes in the number of conversions received can affect performance, and whether these changes were driven by a drop in conversion tag fires, impressions, clicks, CVR, or CTR.

Conversion value explanations

  • Conversion value settings: How changes to your conversion value settings could have affected performance, including changes to default values, transaction specific values, dynamic values, and other value settings.
  • Conversion value delay: How recent conversions that haven't been reported yet can cause a drop in conversion value.
  • Fluctuations in conversion values received: How changes in the conversion values received can affect performance, and whether these changes were driven by a drop in clicks, CVR, CTR, conversion volume, or percentage of conversions with associated values.

Asset, asset group, and ad group explanations

  • Asset changes: How adding or removing the assets used in your App campaign or Performance Max campaign affect your performance.
  • Asset performance changes: How shifts in individual asset group performance affect the overall performance of your Performance Max campaign.
  • Eligibility: How different factors affect how often your ads are eligible for traffic (for example, budget exhaustion; pausing an ad group, asset group or campaign; or disapproved ads, ad groups, assets or asset groups).

All other explanations

  • Campaign still learning (new): Highlights when a new campaign may see some expected fluctuation while still in its learning period.
  • Optimization goals: How changing your optimization goals in your app campaigns, such as changing installs to in-app actions, may affect performance.
  • Targeting changes: How changes to location targeting, keywords targeting, keyword status, and adding/removing an audience may affect performance.
  • Auction competition and search interest: How changes in search volume on Search and Shopping inventory may affect performance.
  • Change history: How changes to your account may have affected your account’s performance.

How to view explanations in your account

You won’t have explanations if your date range contains today’s date because there may be more data for the day.

View explanations

By default, you’ll get explanations that compare the date range you selected with the previous period of the same length:

  1. Go to your campaign or ad groups page.
  2. Hover over values in your data table that are colored in blue with a dotted line$1,193.60.
  3. You’ll view how this value has changed since the last period.
    For example, if you selected the last 7 days as your date range, you’ll get explanations of how your performance changed from the week before.
  4. You can also hover over the performance graph on your main campaign page. Significant changes in your performance in the selected time frame will have explanations available.
  5. Click View explanations to view what caused the change.

View explanations in your bid strategy report

You can find the root causes of meaningful changes by viewing explanations in your bid strategy report.

  1. Go to the Campaigns page on the left page menu.
  2. Click the link in your selected campaign’s “Bid strategy type” column.
  3. Hover over the value that you’d like to view explanations for.
    • Target CPA: You can view explanations for the Cost, Conversions, and Actual CPA values.
    • Maximize conversions: You can view explanations for the Cost and Conversions values.
    • Target ROAS: You can view explanations for the Cost, Conversion value, and ROAS values.
    • Maximum conversion value: You can view explanations for the Cost and Conversions values.
    • Target impression share: You can view explanations for the Cost and Search top IS values.
    • Maximize clicks: You can view explanations for the Cost and Clicks values.
    • Conversion-based bid strategies: You can view explanations for the Conversion Delay value.
  4. You can also hover over the performance graph in your bid strategy report. Significant changes in your performance in the selected time frame will have explanations available.
  5. Click View explanations to view what caused the change.

View explanations in your change history

You can identify the causes of significant changes in your ad performance by viewing explanations in your change history.

  1. Go to the Change history page on the left page menu.
  2. Hover over the performance graph. Significant changes in your performance in the selected time frame will have explanations available.
  3. Click View explanations to view what caused the change.

Get explanations for custom date ranges

To compare 2 custom ranges, choose the 2 time periods you want to compare in the date range selection:

  1. In the upper right corner of your screen, click the down arrow next to the date range.Date range drop down menu
  2. Click the toggle next to "Compare", and then select Previous period below it.
  3. Select a time period. Make sure both periods are of equal length and contiguous, or explanations won’t show.
  4. Click Apply.

You’ll find a percentage change added below the numbers in your performance metrics columns.

Significant changes will be highlighted in blue and have an explanation.

Why you might not have explanations

Explanations are designed to showcase significant changes to the performance metrics that your campaign is optimizing towards. However, you may find that explanations are not always available. Here are a few common reasons (learn more) for the unavailability of explanations:

  • The performance metric is not aligned to your campaign goals.
  • The change to your performance metric is not significant enough to trigger an explanation.
  • The date range includes today or goes further back than the last 90 days.

Explanations are currently only available for some campaign types and bid strategies as given below:

Campaign type Bid strategy Supported metrics
Search Enhanced CPC for value Conversion value
Search Manual CPC and enhanced CPC Clicks, cost, impressions, conversions, and conversion value
Search Maximize clicks Clicks and cost
Search Maximize conversions Cost and conversions
Search Maximize conversion value and Target ROAS Cost and conversion value
Search Target CPA Cost and conversions
App Target CPA Cost, installs, and in-app actions
Performance Max Maximize conversions (with an optional Target CPA) Cost, conversions
Performance Max Maximize conversion value (with an optional Target ROAS) Cost, conversion value

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