What PPC Metrics Are Important For Reporting | Paid Advertising

Here at PCG one of our values as an agency is teaching.  One of the ways that we teach our clients is through our monthly phone calls.  The purpose behind our monthly phone calls is to go over the story of what happened the month prior.

Most monthly phone calls follow the same cadence.  We go over the report and share the knowledge we have from the previous month.  Our monthly reports are full of great stats, however not every number is important and not every number can drive changes to strategy.  Therefore, it is important to put our data into context for the client as well as look at trends.

In today’s blog post I am going to break down the anatomy of our PCG monthly reporting and talk about what the data means. Lastly, I will cover how you can use your monthly data to have better conversations with your agency.


Cost is a standard metric that you should expect to see on any monthly report.  You should also ask to see this information in a table with a trend.  Cost is how much you spend the previous month.  This is important because you want to stay on budget.  Keep in mind this number can change since when it comes to PPC, you pay when your ad is clicked and not when your ad is shown.


Clicks is another standard metric.  Clicks are also great to see in a trend table.  This metric tells you how many people who saw your ad clicked.  What is important to know about clicks is that you don’t want to use this number as a performance metric.  If you have the wrong marketing mix, or misleading ad copy you could end up with many clicks, from the wrong audience.  At the end of the day, you want prospects clicking and  you do not want clicks from current customers, employees, or kids.


Impressions are a standard metric, and like the previous two metrics this is data that works well in a trended chart.  Within the automotive industry, I often see this metric misinterpreted.  Impressions are simply how many people saw your ad.  Too many impressions indicates that your keyword strategy is too broad.  Too many impressions also indicates that your PPC account is over utilizing high funnel PPC tactics such as the display network.  This is not a metric to use to measure performance.  Impressions for impressions are simply wasted spending.

Average CPC

Average CPC is a standard metric that is often misunderstood.  It is also wonderful to see the average CPC in a trend chart.  The average CPC is a measure of traffic quality and the type of traffic you are getting.  A lower CPC can indicate that you are overspending in the display network or on brand terms.  A high CPC can indicate that you are optimizing for very challenging conversions.  For example, if I set your campaign up and optimize for only completed vehicle purchases, the CPC would increase significantly. Other factors play into CPC are geographic region, the number of advertisers in the auction, and your keyword strategy.  This is a number that you should watch closely. If CPC starts to change in one direction or the other you need to talk to your agency about what is happening in the account.


This is one of my favorite metrics.  CTR helps determine how relevant your ads are to searchers.  If the CTR is too low this indicates that your keyword needs to be more targeted.  You may also need to make sure your ad copy is relevant to the search term.  A low CTR could indicate that you are spending too much money on higher funnel traffic and not enough money on low funnel traffic.  Low funnel traffic typically has a higher CTR.

Phone Calls/Conversions

I am not going to spend much time on these metrics because these are the metrics covered most frequently.  There are rare times that I do see these metrics indicating a problem in an account, but when that happens it is something we discuss with the client.

Conversion Rate

This metric shows how well the website is doing converting paid traffic.  I don’t spend much time on this metric on calls as I am not in charge of the website, however if you have questions or have changed your pages this is a metric worth investigating.  We can also use this metric in combination with CTR to determine traffic quality.


This metric is a measure of efficiency.  When the goal is account growth oriented, we do see the cost per conversion increase. Growing accounts require wider targeting which does include some degree of wasted spend and inefficiency.  Unfortunately, it really isn’t possible to grow and become more efficient at the same time.  A recommendation I make to clients is to focus on growth for 3 to 6 months, and then spend some time working on becoming more efficient for 3 to 6 months.  This way the account always stays in an acceptable range.

Questions Anyone?

Now that I have explained the data, let’s cover some great questions that you can ask your agency in your next meeting:

  1. Why did impressions change?  Did you add a campaign or stop a campaign or was the search volume down this month?
  2. Is there a reason we saw a large increase in CTR? Were there some new ads that connected with our audience?
  3. What conversions are we measuring?
  4. It looks like our CPCs are increasing, what are we seeing in the auction?  What is happening with our competitors in auction insights?

Once you start asking questions like this, you can start to understand not only what is happening in your account, but what is happening in your market.  Here at PCG with the inventory challenges we are seeing larger movement in the campaigns.  We are seeing impressions decrease across accounts because models are no longer available, so we must turn off ads.  We are also seeing other advertisers moving budget into service campaigns which increases the CPCs for those keywords.  We are also seeing fewer conversions as we shift budget into different campaigns that don’t necessarily have the volume that some of the new and used car campaigns generate.  

If you are asking the right questions and talking through the data with your agency then long term you can help drive better decisions for your dealership.

Picture of Sarah Stemen
Sarah Stemen
Sarah Stemen is a Paid Search Strategist at PCG. She has been working in digital marketing since 2007. She has worked at large companies such as Nationwide Insurance and BMW Financial Services and has also worked on the agency side before joining PCG. What she loves most about her job is testing and engaging in high-level strategic conversations with clients to impact all other advertising channels. When Sarah isn't working you can find her weight lifting or taking care of her 3 kids.

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