What are Search Partners?
Search Partners (SP) – Websites partnered with Google to show PPC advertisements on the Search Network. They can be opted out of in the Google interface, but advertisers don’t have the ability to bid exclusively on search partners.
According to Google, search partners are websites that have partnered with Google to show ads. In return, these sites will receive a share of the advertising profit. Some sites within the search partner network use Google to power their site search functions, including online directories and smaller search engines such as Ask and, until recently, AOL. Google-owned sites such as Maps, Gmail and YouTube are also included, so expect your ads to appear here too.
If you’re running a Google Shopping campaign, ads for your products will also be displayed on these SP sites.
In addition to only offering a vague description of SP on their support site, Google doesn’t publish a list of their Search Partners. This lack of clarity and control of where ads will be shown leaves paid search marketers frustrated, and it casts a heavy doubt on whether to include them within search or shopping campaigns.
Where to Find Google Search Partner Data
If you’ve included SP in your campaign, it’s important to continuously review to make sure these ads are not having a negative impact on your campaign’s overall performance.
AdWords can provide you with a performance breakdown of ads shown on Google search and on SP sites. You can split this data out by using the Segment tool, and then selecting Network (with search partners) at both Ad Group and Campaign level:
If your campaigns are generating poor conversion rates, splitting out SP data is a good place to start. Sometimes your ads will appear on sites within the search partner network that will generate a low conversion rate, and as a result, will skew your campaign’s overall performance.
As well as converted clicks, it’s also important to keep a close eye on the CTRs of ads shown on SP sites. Google does state that ads shown on SP sites will not affect your keyword Quality Score, which means that your average CPC will be unaffected by low SP CTRs. But despite this, poor CTRs from search partner ads will still heavily impact your campaign’s overall performance by skewing your data.
This will allow you to manipulate the data within Excel, providing you with a much clearer view of how each of your keywords is performing in Google search and on search partner sites.