Google AdWords has been rolling out some major changes that may affect your campaign for better or worse. As Google becomes more confident in its AI technology to revolutionize paid search and SEO, AdWords is making some careful adjustments to campaign bids and keyword match types to raise the stakes. Even mobile display ads have been refurbished to help monetize Google’s mobile first display.
Changes to Exact Match
Google has made another change to exact match targeting that will trigger ads for a “kind of” exact match query, regardless if it includes function words or varies in order. This change will now trigger ad impressions for search queries that add, replace, or remove a function word from their query. A function word is essentially a word that is meaningless on its own. Examples of function words include, conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, modals, quantifiers, and auxiliary verbs.
Ads will begin to drive impressions for search queries that feature a different word order from the AdWords account keyword list. Google states no words will be added to create an impression, but if a function word is changed to create the same user intent, than the ad may still be triggered. For example, if you searched “Best SEO Books” this might display an ad with the keywords “Best Books about SEO.”
Google introduced close variants in 2012 to its exact match type to account for plurals, misspellings, and other small errors. Advertisers were able to opt out of close variants to assume more control of their traffic and keyword usage. But in 2014, Google eliminated this option and now Google has left advertisers to rely on machine learning to acquire their referral traffic for them.
Have changes to Google’s exact match targeting led to a dramatic new change to the Ad Rank threshold?
Changes to Ad Rank
People have reportedly seen CPCs rise across different verticals due to a change in the Ad Rank threshold. Query context has now become a factor accounting for ad spend. For example, informative queries will have a higher threshold than queries relating to retail products. This means that the CPC for an ad in a news vertical might be much higher than for a query relating to home appliances because these queries tend to display less ads.
Users may notice that their max CPC may increase even as their Quality Score (QS) stays relatively high. This is because advertising over a search query with a high threshold places greater importance on max spend in order to crack this threshold. While many thought this could also be a result of Google’s change to exact match targeting or the inclusion of historical QS data, the change seems rather logical on Google’s part.
AdWords recently released seven new Quality Score columns including historical Quality Score data going back as far as January, 2016. If you haven’t tracked your QS in the past, this will provide valuable data that will allow you to assess previous campaign performance and rediscover successful ppc campaigns.
Scheduling for Offline Conversions
AdWords has now enabled a feature to automatically import offline conversion data on a daily or weekly basis. Google states that this will cut down on human errors and save lots of time for advertisers. Google has even set up an AdWords help document to help set up scheduled imports. Google will even send you an email if an error occurs during the setup process.
Expanded Display Ads and Carousels
Early this year, Google disavowed its standard text ads for its expanded mobile display ads. Google’s new expanded text ad allowed for two headline fields and expanded the description character limit to 80 characters. Now, Google has given its expanded text ads a drop down menu to feature its own ad carousel. The carousel is only displayed when users choose to click the drop down menu.
With expanded text ads for mobile devices and changes to Google’s Ad Rank, AdWords has created innovative new features to save users time and increase their engagement.