Google Ads News Roundup: September-November 2021

Google Ads Keyword Match Update: Another Nudge Toward Broad Match with Smart Bidding

On September 23, Google announced new changes to keyword matching aimed at steering advertisers to using broad match with Smart Bidding to cover most queries.

The algorithm responsible for determining search intent will now be applied to keyword matching behavior for broad and phrase match, though exact match still gets preference. As with the retiring of modified broad match earlier this year, this update is another push for advertisers to put their faith in broad match, Smart Bidding, and Google’s ability to accurately pick up relevance signals.

Not all PPC experts are thrilled at these changes. Here’s Amy Bishop at Search Engine Journal:

There’s still value in having multiple match types, in the sense that exact match should still match more tightly and therefore may attract better relevance than a broad match keyword. Putting all of your eggs in the broad-match-basket could lead to increased [cost per lead] because that term could likely still match to other lesser-relevant terms, driving up the cost.

She recommends running small tests before accepting Google’s assertion that there is no benefit to using the same keywords in multiple match types when using Smart Bidding, with the assumption that broad match already covers the same queries.

For more on the exact nature of the changes (it’s complicated), read Amy’s analysis here.

Antitrust Legislation Could Decouple Google Products from Google Search Results

In the first serious move to break Big Tech’s grip on eCommerce, U.S. Congress has introduced five antitrust bills aimed at Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, etc.

Like everything that comes out of Congress these days, it’s a mega-bill, combining five bills that each target a different allegedly anti-competitive practice. We’re most interested in the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which would stop Google from highlighting their products over others in search results. An example of this is Google pinning Google Maps-powered rich results to the top of the page.

UK-based digital map provider Streetmap lost its anti-competitive search “abuse” case against Google back in 2016, when a High Court ruled it was OK for Google to show Google Maps results above its rivals. But that was just one company. And the political climate/public opinion has turned against Big Tech since then, even in the formerly friendly U.S.

If the bill passes in its current form, advertisers could still take advantage of Google’s structured data format, which allows businesses to supply rich search results. Google already shows customer ratings and pricing info from competitor sites Yelp and Tripadvisor, but not as prominently.

Map results could conceivably come from a different product provider than Google, though it is admittedly hard to imagine how that would work. For local businesses, Google Maps and Google Reviews work in close concert to show customers businesses near them with the most positive reviews.

More on what the House antitrust bills could mean for Google here.

Related: Google enlists small business owners in aggressive anti-regulation campaign

If you manage Google Ads for clients or run ads for your own business, you will have received an email from Google Customer Solutions with the subject line: “Take action: Understand the impact of new legislation on your business.”

The email warns that, if proposed U.S. antitrust legislation passes, it will “disrupt many of the digital tools you rely on every day – including Google Ads and Analytics, Gmail and Docs, and your business listing on Google Search and Maps” and could “make it harder for customers to find your business.” It concludes with a call to action that signs you up to receive future communications from Google’s PR/lobbying team.

Recall that Facebook launched a similar PR campaign when Apple introduced new privacy policies that impacted Facebook’s ability to collect and sell third-party customer data. Taking a play from Facebook’s PR playbook, Google is also positioning itself a champion of small businesses.

They’ve created an advocacy website targeted at business owners that appears to suggest the proposed antitrust legislation would kill rich results altogether.

Proposed antitrust legislation would impact rich results, but Google’s argument is misleading

What they aren’t explaining is how de-privileging Google Maps, Reviews, etc., would send us back to the days of 10 blue links. Their argument is essentially, it’s all Google products or nothing.

Regardless of how the legislation plays out, it seems unlikely we’re going back to the image on the right, given how enthusiastically businesses have embraced Google’s structured data format to supply the dominant search engine with rich search results, which enjoy more prominent formatting and placement in search results.

Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica reads between the lines here.

GetResponse Partners with Google Ads

GetResponse, the popular email marketing app, has partnered with Google to integrate Google Ads into its platform.

According to the Yahoo! Finance story, the integration will allow novices to use the Google Ads lead form extension, via an API, to integrate paid ads into their campaigns. The extension also automatically adds leads to the user’s email list with just a few clicks.

More here.

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