Last month, Google launched a long overdue revamp of the AdWords’ Opportunities Tab. Not only did it upgrade the display to a simpler, cleaner format, but it also made major improvements to the content provided.

The original Opportunities Tab helped advertisers recognize when to expand their keyword lists, raise their max CPC bids, and increase their budgets. Now, Google has incorporated new best practices related to AdWords’ most famous brain child, Enhanced Campaigns, as well as the recent changes to the Ad Rank algorithm. Advertisers can expect to find recommendations encouraging them to:

  • Implement ad extensions
  • Split ad groups into smaller, more relevant groupings
  • Adjust bids based on impression share data

Before you head over to AdWords and give it a spin, let’s review the pros and cons of the new and improved Opportunities Tab. I’m feeling glass-half-full today, so we’ll start by examining the pros.

Benefits of the New AdWords Opportunities Tab: What We Like

Here are some of the reasons I think the new Opportunities Tab in AdWords is a good thing:

It is a secret bullet for inexperienced advertisers.

Small businesses are often hesitant to devote resources to hire a digital marketing agency, let alone an in-house account manager. We often see that paid search campaigns land up in the hands of busy owners or staff members who are unfamiliar with PPC. Taking on an AdWords account is a daunting task, particularly for someone who has no experience in the space. For this individual, the Opportunities Tab is a godsend. It outlines their top PPC priorities and allows them to quickly take action.

It’s about time Google does the analysis.

For those of us that aren’t statisticians, analyzing AdWords performance can be a headache. Why not leave it to the brainiacs over in Mountain View? Essentially, the Opportunities Tab serves as an automated account manager.

It provides valuable dirt on your competitors.

Much like a Trojan horse, the Opportunities Tab offers juicy details about your competitors’ performance and helps you make bid adjustments to get ahead. For example, it may recommend that you bump up your bids on key terms to increase your impression share. To make a case for this change, it will show your current impression share alongside that of your competitors.

It keeps you coming back for more.

The more engaged an AdWords user is, the more likely they are to see positive trends in their account. I suspect there is a direct correlation between AdWords usage and Google client lifetime, making this a win-win for Google. It keeps advertisers happy and ensures that they continue pumping money into AdWords.

Downsides of the New Opportunities Tab: What’s Not So Great

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are definitely a few red flags associated with the Opportunities Tab. Here a few that come to mind:

This could be a dangerous trap for SMBs.

Often, small businesses do not have the capital to hire an in-house PPC manager or expensive agency solution. Many owners/marketing managers take it upon themselves to develop an understanding of PPC best practices to ensure that they manage their accounts successfully. As the Opportunities Tab becomes more prominent, I expect that we will see many SMBs put full faith in AdWords’ recommendations, rather than investing the time to learn paid search on their own.

Your opportunities are based on an incredibly small set of data.

Surprisingly enough, AdWords only uses the last 7 days of account performance to produce recommendations. While this up-to-date data may prove helpful when fine-tuning your max CPC bids, typically one week’s worth of data is not enough to make a compelling case to change a campaign-level bid adjustment or to divide an ad group. Moreover, using such limited data could skew the impact that Google predicts each change will have on the account, giving advertisers unrealistic expectations.

Google is biased.

Sure, it’s nice that AdWords is extending a helping hand to advertisers, but whose best interest does Google really have at heart? The new Opportunities Tab is certainly more advertiser-centric than the original, but it is certainly more focused on account expansion than cost savings. Keep in mind, it does not offer negative keyword suggestions, alert you to costly keywords or recommend budget reductions. Advertisers should continue to carry out these tasks on their own.

The moral of the story is: Take all of Google’s recommendations with a grain of salt. Rather than blindly accepting your new “opportunities,” take the time to review the information and ensure that you are making the best decision for your account. I’m a big fan of using every tool in the toolbox and I see no reason to avoid the Opportunities Tab. Just be sure to use it wisely.