TL;DR – Version 11.1.2 is superior to 10.6. Get out of your comfort-zone and upgrade now if you haven’t already.
AdWords Editor is the official free, offline software client developed by Google to support AdWords account management. The emphasis is on ‘support’ here because it’s not possible to manage an AdWords account effectively with just the browser interface alone; even the newest release of AdWords Editor doesn’t cover many of the features offered in the browser client. For instance, Billing, Change History, Conversion Tracking and advanced ad extensions are still only manageable through the AdWords browser interface or API. Yes, there are many other desktop clients for AdWords but they usually cost something and this one’s free, official and powerful.
If you’re a keyboard shortcut acrobat, you’ll find Editor an intuitive and powerful tool for fast bulk edits, something that is a total headache if attempted in the browser interface. To summarise, AdWords Editor is for speed, AdWords browser interface is for depth.
The last big update to AdWords Editor was in 2006, followed by a drip-feed of small patches for years until the end of 2014 when Google released version 11, a huge visual and functional upgrade, as you can see for yourself:
Pre-11 – Legacy museum—era
Version 11+ – Bolder colours and stuff has moved around!
As of writing this, version 11.1.2 is the most recent release but 11 came out at the end of last year. Now that there’s been enough time to get used to the newest version, we can go over its pros and cons in detail. If you were struggling with how behind 10 was with the AdWords browser interface, you too may have been under the suspicion that Google were working on one giant update – a total rework – rather than a series of small patches to address the lagging gap of AdWords Editor and the browser interface. Let’s take a look at what 11 has brought to the table.
Stuff looks better and is smoother
Want to view and edit multiple accounts simultaneously? Want to edit the Shared Library? Want to edit keywords, ad text and campaign settings all at once? 11 brings these features to the table as well as a slicker, cleaner design.
Opening multiple accounts is a breeze; open as many accounts as you like from the menu at the top left. Yes, agencies, that includes MMCs, and yes, you can drag and drop and copy and paste between accounts:
The Shared Library is a welcome addition but still leaves much to be desired when compared to the features of the browser client. As of 11.1.2, the AdWords Editor Shared Library only offers the bidding, sitelinks and labels features.
The new type list allows fast access with many less clicks to niche account, campaign, ad group, ad, extension and keyword options:
Stuff is easier to move about
You can even do some clever stuff by multi-selecting campaigns by holding CTRL and clicking on them, whilst also switching to any of the view levels in the bottom left menu. You can also double click on items on the type list to open and edit multiple type windows simultaneously. Believe me when I say this is a godsend once you get the hang of it.
The search function has also been improved dramatically, now streamlined and easier to configure than its confusing predecessor. You can also save multiple custom searches:
Do you remember how clumsy the Revert function on the legacy client was? Yep, it’s a head-against-wall-inducing blunt instrument and it’s still here. But now we have an Undo function just like any Windows application and you can spam CTRL-Z to your heart’s content. Pure bliss.
Stuff that’s still not great
As indispensable as Editor is, it’s not without its flaws. Bulk uploading ad text with device preferences still sucks. If you’re using the same ad text across multiple devices, AdWords Editor will only upload the mobile-specific text, ignoring any text set to ‘all’. I had to MacGyver a solution suggested by a Google engineer, who said to add a ‘superfluous’ character to temporarily differentiate the text, hence the ‘Z’s. It worked but it still feels stupendously backwards for a Google product.
Another confusing annoyance is how Editor 11 obfuscates adding Final URLs. If you enter in only a Destination URL and Display URL then you will receive an error upon posting changes. You need to go to the URL Options tab on the ad pane and enter your URL and tracking parameters there, which is understandably frustrating to find for newbies. Here it is:
Access to Opportunities has vanished mysteriously from Editor but is still accessible from the browser interface. I have no idea why Google have done this, maybe they heatmapped the legacy client and found that no one was using it so did away with it? Perhaps not as it wouldn’t be in Google’s best interests to discourage advertisers from upping bids, budgets and keywords in bulk.
Aaaaand we still don’t have access to everything in the API in terms of the Shared Library, such as Remarketing Audiences, Business Data, Campaign Placement Exclusions and Account-Level URL Options.
AdWords Editor 11.1.2, the latest release at time of writing this article, addresses one particular shortcoming of Editor that has plagued account managers the most for years: Labels, they’re now accessible through the Shared Library in Editor. If you’re used to managing complex accounts, you’ll know why this was probably the most demanded feature for Editor; labels are indispensable for organizing and managing large-scale accounts. It’s not clear why Google kept them out of Editor for so long as they’ve managed to introduce far more complex features from the browser interface to Editor, but whatever. Labels – use them.
Don’t forget you can still use ye olde AdWords Editor alongside the new one just in case you want to relive the olden days or there’s some niggling issues with the new one rustling your jimmies.