How Out of Date is the Learning Center and AdWords Exam? |

How Out of Date is the Learning Center and AdWords Exam?

By Tamsin Mehew / October 18, 2012

AdWords has changed a bit over the years. The interface changes, functions come and go, new settings appear…

The problem is that not everything changes at the same time, meaning AdWords Help might not immediately reflect shiny new features. The AdWords exams – and the Exam Study Learning Center – are always behind on something.

It’s possible that some things are left out for simplicity. For example, it’s possible they left out some of the many and varied targeting methods for the Display network in the Fundamentals sections to avoid over-complicating things. But some things are just plain wrong.

If you use AdWords quite a lot but are just studying for the AdWords exams, it’s useful to know what the exam thinks is the case and what actually is the case. Or if you’re using the Learning Center to teach yourself about AdWords, you may be wondering why what you’re reading doesn’t match the real thing. Here’s a rough guide to where the Learning Center and exams are behind.

The Networks Tab

This has, more or less, been replaced by the Display Network Tab. The Networks tab used to give an overview of traffic on the different networks, as well as a list of automatic and managed placements. The Display Network tab doesn’t have that overview, and covers all targeting options (keywords, topics, interests, and now age and gender).


Section 4, Device Platform Targeting mentions “desktop and laptop computers” and “iPhones and similar mobile devices”, but neglects to mention tablets (which have been an option since July 2011).

Also, it claims statistics are available only in aggregate: “If you’d like to see performance statistics broken out by device platform type, we suggest creating two separate, identical campaigns and targeting them to different device platforms.” This is wrong; to see performance broken out by device, use the Device segment.

Close Variants

This might be left out to keep things simple; it’s easiest to explain exact match as the ad appearing “only on a query that precisely matches the keyword”. But, seeing as the “include plurals, misspellings and other close variants” campaign setting is turned on by default, this actually isn’t how exact match works on most campaigns. You’d think they’d mention this somewhere.

On the subject of match types, there isn’t any mention of broad match modifier either, even though it’s been around for about two years. Not sure why embedded match would make the cut but BMM wouldn’t…

Demographic Performance

Section 11.2, AdWords Reporting will tell you there is a ‘Demographic’ view in the Dimensions tab “packed with information about the gender and age groups of your users”. There isn’t. There hasn’t been since March.

Before March, if you were on the Display Network, there were campaign settings to exclude age groups or specify a percentage by which to alter bids for particular age groups. Now you can’t alter bidding, although you can exclude ages and genders at ad group level (in the ‘Gender’ and ‘Age’ parts of the Display Network tab). You just can’t see your performance data split by demographics any more.

The section also says the Geographic Performance report in the Dimensions tab shows the ‘geographic origin’ of searches. This isn’t quite accurate; the ‘User locations’ report shows where searchers actually are, the Geographic report shows either their location or the location they’re searching for.

Wonder Wheel

Not actually part of AdWords, the Wonder Wheel was an option in the sidebar of Google Search. It would show your search term, with spokes sticking out showing closely related concepts. You could click on a concept and it would expand, gaining spokes and related concepts of its own.

This one went away in July 2011.

(If you miss the Wonder Wheel, or want to find categories Google thinks are related to your keyword, try the Contextual Targeting Tool – it uses the same engine.)

The Video Targeting Tool

There used to be a standalone tool for finding suitable placements on YouTube. Now there’s just the Placement Tool. There are Placement Types in the sidebar, and you can uncheck them all except Video to get YouTube placement ideas.

Report Center

The Reporting lessons sometimes mention the Report Center. It was retired two years ago. It used to be where you could download a variety of reports, which nowadays you get from the Campaigns tab or Dimensions tab. Some things – like the Conversions page – have moved to the Tools and Analysis menu.

Anything Else?

I’m sure there are many more things that I’ve missed – if you can think of any (or just fancy a rant on how inaccurate the exams are), feel free to comment!

Image credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy.

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