One of the biggest aspects of paid search, and online marketing in general, is reporting. Paid search reports let clients know how their campaigns are performing and, second to ROI, they are often seen by the client as the most important part of paid search. In this article, we’ll go over the types of reporting you can do for your paid search campaigns and give you some tips on how you can best create these reports.

KPIs & Goals

If you landed on this article, you are probably excited to get started on your paid search reports, but first things first; you need to make sure you know the KPIs (key performance indicators) and goals of your client’s campaign(s). Of course, if you’ve already had your campaigns live and active you should know this, but just to be safe, be sure to confirm it. While confirming your campaign’s KPIs and goals, you should also find out if your client or team already has a benchmark for what those KPIs and goals are. These benchmarks could be from their previous campaigns or they could be preconceived numbers. Either way, it’s important to gather as much information as you can.

How Often Should You Report?

Before you get to planning the actual report, you’ll want to decide how often this report will be going out to the client. Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly, be sure you have set a reporting schedule with your client so they know when they should expect their reports. This not only helps your client but also helps your team plan accordingly around the reporting schedule.

Depth of Paid Search Reporting

When it comes to the depth of reporting, you can either go super high-level (maybe just two lines of data) or so in-depth you need to spend an entire day with your team and client going over the report and data. Either way, you want to make sure the depth and level of reporting you decide on is aligned with what the client is expecting. Before getting started on your reporting (after you know the KPIs and goals of course), you’ll want to make sure you talk with the client on what they are expecting with their reports and that realistic expectations are in place.

High-level Reporting

If you are either running a simple campaign or have a client that just wants to know the basics, taking the high-level route for reporting may be your best bet. While this is going to vary by campaign, client, and even your company’s way of doing things, here are a few things you may want to include in your report:

  1. Spend – You should include the spend from your paid search campaigns (whether this is before or after agency markups) so that the client can know, with one glance, how much their campaigns have spent.
  2. Conversions – Whether your KPIs are phone calls, PDF downloads, or coupon redemptions, you will want to report this out in your report. If your client is expecting to see multiple types of conversions, be sure to break these out in your report.
  3. Cost Per Conversion – While we all know this is a quick formula to do, save your client some time by including Cost-Per-Conversion in your report. For some industries, you may have multiple “cost-per-conversions;” for example a home service company may have Cost-Per-Lead and Cost-Per-Booked-Appointment.
  4. Campaign/Service Breakout – If you are running campaigns for multiple services or even multiple types of campaigns, you may want to break out the above metrics by campaign.

In-depth Reporting

If your client is a little more advertising savvy or just wants additional data in their reports, you may look at doing more in-depth reporting to support this. Of course, an in-depth report can go as detailed and in-depth as needed, but here are a few things you can start with.

  1. All High-Level Reporting Metrics –Include all the parts mentioned above in the high-level reporting section.
  2. Campaign Metrics – Some clients want to know their impressions, clicks, average positions, cost-per-clicks and click-through-rate. You can include this data and sort it by date, campaign, service, device-type or just have one overall line.
  3. Site Metrics – Including site metrics like bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration can help show site engagement from your various paid search campaigns. This is a great way to show your client how having a correctly optimized landing page and website plays a role in the success of their campaigns.
  4. Analysis – In a more in-depth report, you can include short analyses, like showing how certain changes impacted performance or even how the campaigns vary by day-of-week or time-of day.
  5. Comparisons – Like an analysis, including comparisons can help show trending and seasonality throughout your campaigns.

Report Design & Formatting Tips

Once you’ve decided what will be going into your report, it’s time to create it. Here we’ll touch on a couple important design and formatting notes you’ll want to consider and go into how you can make the report.

  1. Keep it Simple – Whether you are creating a high-level or more in-depth report, keep it simple. No one wants to receive a report that is so cluttered they don’t know where to look or even what they’re looking at.
  2. Graphs & Tables – If you know your client likes visuals more than straight data, make their report visually appealing. Test out different types of graphs and charts to find what works best for the data you are reporting on.
  3. Color Scheme & Logos – When it comes to coloring in reports, there are at least two ways you can go about it… you can use your agency/company’s branding or you can use your client’s branding. At Zion & Zion, when we send out paid search reports to clients, we tend to stick with their brand colors and logos. Many of our clients usually need to pass around their paid search reports within their company so we like to stick with their colors. If we are meeting in-person with a client and going over paid search, we typically stick with our branding. Of course, there’s no right or wrong way to go about this, it just comes down to what you think is best for your client and agency.
  4. PDF or Sign-In Page – Many agencies will create client login pages or dashboards for their paid search reports, giving client’s a login to their paid search report. These are sometimes through paid tools or built by an agency in-house development team, and could be updated on a schedule or include live data. For agencies that do not take the web route for client reporting, they will send out PDF versions of the report to clients.
  5. Tools or Custom – For paid search reporting, you can either use reporting software and tools (like Acquisio or NinjaCat,) or make your own custom reports in Excel. Paid tools are nice in that they already have templates setup and require little back work to get them up and running, but can be more limited when a client has custom requests. Custom Excel reporting can take some time to setup, but with enough time devoted you can create great reports where you can just do quick data dumps that can automatically update all your formulas, tables, and graphs.

The Don’ts of Paid Search Reporting

  1. Don’t assume the client understands
    • Be sure to explain (and maybe walkthrough) your report the first or second time around.
    • Include short definitions on the report or create a cheat sheet for your client to reference.
  2. Don’t forget about client feedback
    • After you’ve sent one or two reports, make sure your client has everything they need in the report, and find out if there are any changes or additions they want for the report.
  3. Don’t create a report only you can edit
    • If you’re a freelancer and on your own, of course this is fine. But if you’re part of a paid search team, make sure your report isn’t one that only you know how to update.


Overall, when it comes to reporting on your paid search campaigns you really need to stick to what is best for you, your client, and your client’s campaigns. Remember to include what they want, but also to not over do it with data-overload.