You Got SERVED! Billed Cost vs Served Cost in the New Google Ads Interface
By Adam Bullock
Fun fact - the ‘cost’ metric found in the Google Ads interface isn’t always the actual cost passed on to the client.
Duh, Adam, of COURSE there are tiny fluctuations due to spammy clicks and other adjustments from Google.
Well, I’m talking about relatively large differences in the actual cost in the interface compared to the billed cost. This can make a big impact on the bottom line of a client budget for a month.
AND this ‘cost’ metric is the only metric used in Google’s API for reporting. That’s the trickiest part - it’s not the billed cost!
Thankfully, Google has added a nifty report titled “Overdelivery” that spells it out.
I check this instead of the ‘cost’ listed in the interface, especially with clients that have display campaigns. Newly launched display campaigns, especially with broad targeting, can overspend significantly when first enabled before Google shuts them off.
In other words: make this a part of your routine!
To find this report:
Click the “Reporting” graph button at the top right within the new Google Ads interface (this report is NOT available in the old interface).
Choose “Predefined reports (formerly Dimensions)” then “Basic” then “Overdelivery.”
Boomshackalacka! You’ve found the served and billed costs for all your campaigns! But it’s a little sloppy…so let’s change the format of the data. Click “Table” at the top left and change it to a “Bar Chart.” Yes, the image is broken. It’s been broken for at least 3 months.
Select “Served Cost” and “Billed Cost” then “Continue” to generate the report.
And voila! You have a super easy-to-read chart with your ACTUAL COST for your client. Here’s a recent example we had for a client of ours with a $5,000 budget:
We ended a month at $4,970.93 spent of their $5,000.00 budget (99.4%…nice!). However, this client of ours loves popping into the interface and seeing what changes we’ve made, how things are looking, etc. They were confused why we went $277.61 over budget that month
Turns out: we had spun up a few display campaigns and they overspent the first few hours they were on. We received confirmation from Google that we were not charged that spend because we had a daily budget in place.
I implore you to keep an eye on this particular report, especially if your ‘cost’ looks a bit funky.