About explanations

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

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

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.

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.

All other explanations

  • Asset changes: How adding or removing the assets used in your App campaign ads affect your performance.
  • Eligibility: How different factors may have affected how often your ads were eligible for traffic (for example, budget exhaustion or pausing an ad group or campaign, when all ads in an ad group were disapproved).
  • 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 competitions and search interest: How changes in search volume on Search partners and opt-in/opt-out of Search partners 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 see explanations if your date range contains today’s date because there may be more data for the day.

View explanations

By default, you’ll see 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 see how this value has changed since the last period.
    For example, if you selected the last 7 days as your date range, you’ll see explanations of how your performance changed from the week before.
  4. Click View explanation to see what caused the change.

Get explanations for custom date ranges

To compare two custom ranges, choose the two 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 see a % 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 see explanations

  • Explanations are only available for Search campaigns using manual bidding, enhanced CPC, or target CPA, as well as App campaigns using target CPA. You won’t see explanations for Search+, Display, Video, Shopping, or Dynamic Search Ads campaigns.
  • Explanations will only be triggered if they meet the volume and change threshold.
  • Explanations are only available for data within the last 90 days.You can still view the % change for more than 90 days, but the explanations window won’t show.
  • Explanations work only for comparisons of equal length and contiguous time periods.

Explanations are available for the following metrics:

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

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