Earlier this morning, Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog didn't see his shadow and determined that winter would soon be ending. While we are fans of tradition here at Inside AdWords, we're happy that forecasting your AdWords performance doesn't require assistance from any furry pals or an early morning wake-up call. Instead you can look to various resources located right in the AdWords interface to help you determine how to better manage your account. Here are a couple of tools to check out:

The custom date range filter in the Report Center allows you to compare performance from any period of your choice. For example, if you run an online flower shop and you're interested in seeing how your Valentine's Days ads perform year-over-year, you could benchmark against last year by running a report for February 2006. Or, perhaps you own a bed and breakfast and would like to see how traffic to your site fluctuates with the seasons; to do that, you could create a report for all of 2006.

Google Analytics is another great tool to help you view past performance and compare different time periods. The handy date range comparison feature allows you to specify two different date ranges. Once selected, your reports will update, showing differences between the two date ranges. The % change column shows the change in values between your two selected date ranges.

While there may not be one single best way to "predict" how your AdWords ads will perform, one thing is certain: using the tracking and reporting resources within your AdWords account will give you more information and insight to guide your future decisions. It's also a lot easier to access and a tad more scientific than consulting your favorite groundhog. That said, we look forward to the end of winter and spring just around the corner -- thanks, Phil!