The PPC landscape is constantly changing and it seems that in 2019 the shift towards Automation and Smart Bidding is in full swing. Below we detail three important changes to Google Ads, one that has already happened and two that are on the horizon. Some users have welcomed the changes, others are more sceptical. One thing is for certain – they have stirred up both discussion and speculation.
1. Phrase Match and Broad Match Modifier expanded
Last year Exact match was expanded to include wider searches as long as the intent of the user was the same. Initially in 2014, Exact match had been expanded to include misspells, plurals and other minor deviations. Last year’s wider expansion was met with discontent from the PPC community as it went directly against the core strategy of many accounts – you mine for keywords with Broad Match Modifier (BMM) and you add them to Exact if they perform well. The perception was that Exact was no longer Exact, and the carefully crafted structures of many accounts would now have to be adjusted, or at least controlled more tightly with negatives.
It now seems that this was the first step on the road to eradicating the match type entirely in favour of total automation. Last month Phrase and Broad Match Modifier were also expanded in a similar fashion (that’s ALL of the match types for those not keeping count). This shift makes it almost impossible to employ the classic ‘BMM mining – Exact performing’ strategy, as Google now has much more free rein over your query matching. This is the example they gave for BMM:
Keyword: +lawn +mowing +service
Matched Queries: “grass cutting and gardening services”, “rates for services that cut your grass”.
Remember that the key function of the BMM was to let your keyword match to any query, as long as it contained the words you had locked in with a plus. The queries here contain none of those words. Imagine teaching a new starter – “we use BMM when we want to show for queries that contain these words but not really because it could show for anything remotely related”.
“What is the point?” they would ask.
The party-line justification for the expansion is that it will enable you to match with queries that you might have otherwise missed (the function of pure broad keywords). We think it takes control away from your match type and emphasises your bid instead. There was a reason we wanted to miss the queries!
It’s time, instead, to employ the use of the DSA to do your query mining for you, as we are sure most of you are doing now anyway.
Essentially, the BMM keyword match type is now dead.
2. Average Position to be sunsetted
At the end of September, the beloved Average Position metric will be sunsetted. In its place will be a hazy and vague pair of metrics, ‘Top Position Rate’ and ‘Absolute Top Position Rate’.
Purportedly, ‘Absolute Top Position’ is position one and ‘Top Position’ is any ad that appears above an organic listing. The reasoning for this change is currently unclear – Google suggests that the new metrics give a much clearer understanding of your position on the page as opposed to a view in comparison to others. At the moment, I am unconvinced that percentage rates telling me how often our ads appeared above organic listings is any clearer than a number detailing the position the ads showed in. I am, however, convinced that the PPC practitioners out there will find a multitude of clever and innovative ways to use the new metrics to their advantage!
3. Mobile Ads Specialisation to be removed
The Google Partners specialisations are currently sub-divided into Search, Mobile, Video, Display and Shopping.
Mobile has been the hot-topic for years, with a huge amount of traffic shifting platforms from Desktop to Mobile, many PPC professionals cut and sliced up their account structures, duplicating campaigns so that they could assign more budget to a purely mobile version of each campaign and call it out in the ad copy – apply now straight from your mobile!
Mobile gave rise to many attribution headaches – if someone spent all day on their phone researching a product, but didn’t buy it until they got home to their Desktop, how much should you attribute the conversion to the Mobile traffic? Questions such as this led to the necessity of Mobile having its own specialisation. Now that is about to go away.
The removal of the Mobile Ads Specialisation (including its Exam and Badge) is a very interesting change, not only because of the removal itself but because of the implication that there could be something taking its place…
Speculation has already begun that the Mobile specialisation is being removed to make way for a new category, and the prevailing theory is that the new qualification will be in Smart Bidding and Automation. At this point, what else could it be? Changes by Google are being drip fed to the PPC users, they are always presented as a slight change that will make something more useful, or let you reach something you were missing, or give you more time for strategy instead of manual work.
When you take a step back and look at them all in conjunction, there is a clear thread of automation woven through them. You always have to relinquish control of something back to Google to meet their optimisation score. The end result will be the end of match types, no more campaign segmentations by device, just a rolled up agglomeration of keywords with automated bids and auto-generated ad copy.
To all the clients and agencies out there – don’t worry, this is nothing new for those working in PPC. As we said before, the face of the landscape is always changing – adaptation and evolution are key to success in Google Ads. We will no doubt come to discover new ways to achieve great results in PPC. After all, automation is freeing up time for us to analyse and strategise more than ever before.
If you need support with your PPC strategy in response to these important changes, get in touch with the experts at Ricemedia today!