About custom dimensions

Custom dimensions add extra information to your campaigns that can help tailor reports for your business. Unlike labels, custom dimensions can contain multiple layers of information, so you can view summaries or dive into the details, along any number of pivot points that you define. This article explains how custom dimensions work and compares labels and custom dimensions.

Why use custom dimensions

The following examples show how you can use custom dimensions to create categories of campaigns and then summarise reporting data for each category.

Retailers organise their marketing efforts into product lines within larger departments, similar to a traditional department store. For each product line, the retailer has separate campaigns for brand and non-brand marketing, and has a few campaigns for specific promotions. While reporting at the campaign, ad group and keyword level is useful for tactical decisions, the retailer also needs a way to view and compare performance at the product line level. So the retailer creates a "Product line" custom dimension and then associates each campaign with a product line, such as "Outdoor furnishings", "Living room", "Audio" and so on.

For example: Reports can show the overall performance for each product line.

Product line Clicks
Outdoor furnishings 1,500
Living room 1,000
Computers 1,200
Audio 300

For deeper insight, the retailer segments the "Product line" report by campaign:

Campaign Product line Clicks
Campaign 1 Outdoor furnishings 550
Campaign 2 Outdoor furnishings 50
Campaign 3 Outdoor furnishings 400
Campaign 4 Living room 800
Campaign 5 Living room 200

Adding a secondary dimension

Secondary dimensions provide additional details, and are attached to the primary dimension that you apply to your campaign or ad groups.

For example, each retail product line belongs to a retail department, so a retailer could expand the "Product line" dimension by adding a secondary dimension named "Department". Then the retailer enters values such as "Furnishings" and "Electronics" for each secondary dimension.

Product line Product line department
Outdoor furnishings Furnishings
Living room Furnishings
Computers Electronics
Audio Electronics

Just as reports can show overall performance for each product line, reports can also show overall performance for each department.

Product line department Clicks
Furnishings 2500
Electronics 1800

Compare custom dimensions with labels

Use labels for Use custom dimensions for

Quick, informal annotations.

For example, use labels to keep track of campaigns that you recently updated with new audience targets.

Long term annotations that reflect key categories of your business or marketing strategy.

Annotations that don't require uniform naming conventions.

For example, if you create labels like this:

Shirts: long sleeve: blue

Shirts: long sleeve: red

A simple typo could ruin the naming scheme, and you might not notice until you've created and applied many of these labels.

Annotations that imply multiple levels or hierarchical relationships.

Instead of creating complex naming conventions, you can use secondary dimensions to add structure to your annotations.

Annotations that don't need to be applied to all campaigns.

If your labels are long, or if you've applied a large number of labels, it can be difficult to see which campaigns might be missing a specific label.

Annotations that you need to apply consistently across your campaigns. 

You can add a custom dimension column to a reporting table and apply a filter, or simply visually scan to see which campaigns aren't yet associated with a custom dimension value.


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