Back in mid-January Google announced the release of its new and improved ad preview tool, which allows you to preview the Google results pages and see if / where your paid ads are appearing without having to incur impressions or clicks.

A useful new feature was the ability to test geo-targeted ads for campaigns that are not where you are physically located. E.g, UK advertisers targeting the US can see if and/or where your ads appear on Google.com to someone in the United States.

In January, Google updated the tool to also allow you to see if your ads were showing for your chosen settings, which Campaign and Ad Group that search was associated with, and if your ad wasn’t showing then let you know why.

However, at the end of February Google announced that it will be removing the separate ‘Ads diagnostic tool’ and ‘Ad preview tool’ and creating a combined ‘Ad Preview & Diagnosis’ tool within the ‘Reporting and Tools’ tab.

In order to look into several different keywords simultaneously you now have to visit the keyword tab within your account and visit the “Diagnose Keywords” link under the ‘More Actions’ drop down menu to see which keywords your ads are showing for and which are not.

However, when using the keyword diagnosis tool we’ve found that it is riddled with the usual Google problems regarding low search volume, as many ads are ‘diagnosed’ as not showing due to ‘Low bid or quality score’ when the quality score was stated to be 10/10 and the few impressions that keyword had received previously had an average position of 1.

The reason given for the ad not showing when hovering the cursor over the speech bubble is “One of your other ads is showing for this keyword.” When clicking through the ‘What can I do?’ link, the advice given is: “Please review your campaigns for duplicate keywords. If you have duplicate keywords and you’d prefer one ad to show for a search term instead of another, you can delete one duplicate keyword or raise the bid for the ad that you’d like to show.”

Other keywords in the same ad group that we tested were not showing and no specific reason was given. We can only assume that it is due to ‘low search volume’ and the advice given to resolve it is to: “consider increasing your bid or budget to the recommended amount to capture more potential traffic.”

Another flaw  is that some of the diagnosis simply wasn’t true, as some keywords that were stated as ‘not showing’ actually were when searching for that exact keyword phrase.

These tools can be useful, especially if you wish to check ads that are geo-targeted to an area in which you are not located and especially useful as they allow you to see the ads without incurring impressions.

However, the cynics amounts us may suggest that the keyword diagnosis tool is another way for Google to encourage advertisers to increase the bids and budgets and spend more money with them.

Have you had a similar experience with these tools? Do feel free to let us know…