Measuring and comparing performance by periods of time

Curious whether your ad is clicked more often on Fridays than Sundays? Want to easily compare ad group impressions by quarter? AdWords provides multiple ways to compare performance over time.

You can view AdWords performance over time in the following ways:

  • Compare performance across two time periods
  • Segment your data by time periods
  • Use the Time view in the Dimensions tab

Compare performance across two time periods

Let's say you want to know how your campaigns did last week compared with the week before. Or maybe you want to see data for the current month compared with this month last year. You can see all this by using the "compare dates" option in the date range drop down menu.

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. Click the down arrow in the date range in the upper right corner of your screen.
    Date range box
  4. Make sure the "Compare dates" option is set to ON.
  5. In the top section of the menu, select the date range you’re interested in. Then, in the section below "Compare dates" select whether you’d like to compare the Previous period or the Same period last year or create a Custom comparison. (If you select Custom, you’ll be prompted to enter a specific date range.)
    Custom date range
  6. Click Go. You’ll see results for both time periods charted in your performance graph.

To see the comparison metrics in your statistics table, you’ll need to click on the + icon that has now appeared in each of your column headers. Doing so will expand a column to in show four columns: the current time period, the previous time period, the numerical change between the two periods, and the percentage change.
Expanded columns

Once you choose a time period, both alone and as part of a comparison, those dates apply across your account (until you change them).

The "compare dates" feature lets you compare performance across two time periods, but not more. For example, if you want to look at performance per day over the last month, it’s better to use segments, which we describe below.

Segment your data by time

Segments can provide a more granular view of your data. For example, say you used the date range box and selected "Last week" in order to look at overall performance for the last week. But then you decided you wanted to see that week broken out by day. For this, you would use segments.

Once you create a "Day of the week" segment, your single row of data will become eight rows of data: the original row plus one new row for every day of the week.

Day of week segments

Click the Segment button above your statistics table and select Time from the drop-down. This splits your statistics table into rows based on the period of time you select.

Options include:

  • Day of the week (e.g., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
  • Day (e.g., Wed., December 21, 2011)
  • Week
  • Month
  • Quarter
  • Year
  • Hour of day

Use the "Time" view in the Dimensions tab

The Dimensions tab lets you slice and dice your data by period of time across an ad group, a campaign, or your entire account. For example, you might want to track an ad group's performance on an hourly basis to see how well it's performing at different times throughout the day. Then you can use these insights to schedule your ads for the hours when they're most likely to receive the greatest number of impressions and clicks.

For example, you could run a report to compare your total clicks in January across ad groups, or find out whether a certain campaign has a better CTR at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. How you view your data is up to you.

Here's how to see performance by time period in the Dimensions tab:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. Select the campaign or ad group you'd like to see in the side panel. You can also see statistics for your entire account by clicking All online campaigns in the panel.
  4. To see data for a specific period, click the date range menu on the top right corner of the page and select the time period you'd like to analyze.
  5. Click the Dimensions tab.
  6. Click the View button in the toolbar above your statistics table.
    See time data in the Dimensions tab
  7. Select Time from the drop-down, then choose Day, Week, Month, etc. Your statistics table will update with time data.
  8. Once your statistics table looks the way you want, you can download the data in a report. Just click the download button Download in the toolbar.

Tip

You can also view performance by geographic location and see reach and frequency data on the Dimensions tab.

Next steps