Search engine marketing experts trying to pull data from their Google AdWords account during the past three weeks may have encountered a roadblock. What appears to be an error in the code stopped some SEM firms from running reports and exporting data, according to an industry source.
A paid-search expert at the SEM firm discovered the problem after requesting a report. The Google AdWords app spit back an invalid error stating the report didn't exist. During those three weeks about 80% of the accounts were affected. Not all at the same time. Each day more accounts began to fail. Once the account failed it consistency failed.
It appears that how the client or SEM firm initially set up the account determined whether the reporting feature failed. If a client had several accounts, not all had a data export problem. Numerous issues occurred. It began with AdWords not being able to validate the report request.
The AdWords error suggested the SEM firm had made a client request for multiple reports when in fact it only asked for the status of one. Data that should have appeared in a report for one client ended up in another "for reasons no one could explain," according to the source.
Once the SEM agency managed to successfully request, validate and receive an AdWords report, running the same report twice for some clients meant two separate sets of data that should have been identical. This meant the report requests have been fixed, but not the data extraction.
The agency put a manual process in place to extract data for the dozens of affected clients, as well as code several "workarounds" until Google began to fix the problems. Then the SEM agency spent time removing the code. "Google isn't volunteering any information on the behavior we observed," the source says. "Nor are they forthcoming as to why, or offering reassurance it won't happen again."
Google doesn't give SEM agencies access to developers to talk through problems, which can become frustrating at times, according to the source. It's not always the case with Bing and Yahoo, he says. Sometimes the No. 2 and No. 3 search engines put agency experts in touch with developers and engineers to work through the issues.
It appears that the bigger the company the harder it falls with regards to a variety of glitches. Vanessa Fox points to the Polish blog Magiczne SEO i SEM explaining the cache for the Google AdWords help page in the search results earlier this month didn't seem to match the page visitors see. Google had mistakenly removed the page from the index.
AdWords is not the only Google product to experience a glitch. In a blog post Google Analytics team member Trevor Claiborne explains how a change in the code caused the app to incorrectly process some visits and campaign data. Since then, the feature has been corrected, but reports may lack some visits and campaign information for the dates June 24 through June 29.
The impact to Google Analytics users varies. Sites that receive a large number of new visitors and new campaigns have been affected most. Google will continue to reprocess the data and expects to have all reporting information corrected around July 12.