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AdWords +New +Matchtype

Posted on Monday, May 24th, 2010 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, SEM

Ask anyone in the UK what the big news of May 2010 was and you’ll likely hear terms like ‘general election’, ‘hung parliament’ and ‘coalition’, along with a peppering of ‘volcanic ash’ (yum!). But for the dedicated Search Agent a new government paled into insignificance in comparison to AdWords’ news: a new match type.

First, the details: the new filly in the match type stable is called the Broad Match Modifier (BMM), and it’s not really a completely new match type at all, rather an amendment to Broad match in the form of the ‘+’ sign. What it does is ‘lock’ any token within the keyword that is prefaced by a ‘+’ into much stricter matching, while leaving the remainder of the query on regular Broad match.

Here’s an example, using the keyword ‘corgi registered plumbers’:

Keyword Possible Search Queries Notes
Corgi registered plumbers Corgi registered plumbers

Gas safe registered plumbers

FMB registered builders

Corgi model trainsets

Corgi specialist vets

Labrador show registration

A huge number of irrelevant queries around dogs, toys and more can map into this Broad match keyword
+Corgi registered plumbers Corgi registered plumbers

Corgi show registration


Cogri registered

Now ‘corgi’ or something very close (plurals, close misspellings etc.) has to be in the query. Still leaves the door open to some irrelevant queries though.
Corgi registered +plumbers Corgi registered plumbers

Gas safe registered plumbers

Registered plumbers

Corgi registered plumbing service

Now ‘plumbers’ or something very close has to be in the query, likely eliminating any dog or toy related queries.
+Corgi +registered +plumbers Corgi registered plumbers

Corgi plumber register

Cogri registered plumber

Corgi registered plumbing

Corgi registered plumbing service

Only queries containing all three tokens in very nearly their exact form are mapped in, significantly reducing unwanted traffic, but reducing overall traffic volume less than Phrase match.

So, this new modifier seems to do a good job of filling the gap between the oh-so-broad Broad match and the nitpicking Phrase match. A gap which anyone working in PPC will be excited to see filled.

We at The Search Agency are currently testing out this new tool in a range of situations, but there are a couple of uses where we’re sure we’ll see positive results…

Geo usage: Anyone who’s spent time setting up campaigns for clients with a large number of geographical locations knows how unusable Broad match is for these purposes. Set a geographical term on Broad match and you’ll quickly find yourself frustrated with Google’s assertion that ‘Birmingham’ and ‘Manchester’ are near enough the same thing, or for that matter ‘Europe’ and ‘Asia’.

Yet Phrase match tightens matching so much that the sheer scale of keywords needed to cover all of the right ground can be unmanageable. If you have a client offering, say, plumbing services in 100 geos, you might need the following:

“plumber GEO” x 100

“plumber in GEO” x 100

“GEO plumber” x 100

And suddenly one keyword has become 300. Then you’ll need to do the same thing for ‘plumbers’, ‘plumbing’ and so on. It can soon rack up.

Enter the BMM and this problem can become a lot tidier: you’ll still need a separate keyword for each geo (presuming you’ll want separate destination URLs for each), but a single ‘plumber +GEO’ should cover all the ground of multiple different Phrase match permutations, while also leaving the door a little more open for the weirder, but relevant, tail terms that no amount of Phrase match work can catch.

Brand usage: The BMM will also be popular where brand-name products are being offered. For example, where Broad match may have mapped the query ‘panasonic dvd player’ to the keyword ‘sony dvd player’, advertisers will now be able to use ‘+sony dvd player’ if they only stock Sony, or if they just want to make sure that Sony-related searches bring up Sony-specific ads, not any others.

The two cases above are representative of a broader division between the uses of the BMM. The geo example shows the BMM being used in a way that fits pretty closely with what Google wants to see: the BMM being used as a step ‘up’ from Phrase match. The brand usage example is the opposite: the BMM being used as a step ‘down’ from Broad match.

Readers of Google’s blog announcement of the BMM earlier this month may have been struck by the repeated stressing of the fact that “If you mainly use broad match keywords in your account, switching these keywords to modified broad match will likely lead to a significant decline in your overall click and conversion volumes”. Twice the post explicitly mentioned that the benefits of the BMM would be seen by advertisers who ‘mainly use exact and phrase match keywords’. Make no mistake, Google sees the BMM’s primary function as one of expansion rather than refinement.

In a sense, then, Google has taken a gamble with the BMM: if most advertisers use it to refine down from Broad match rather than expand up from Exact and Phrase, they will see decreased click volumes, and decreased revenue; while advertisers will see improved click-through rates and conversion rates, but, again, at the expense of volume.

In fact, it’s not impossible that this is precisely the reason why the option has currently only been rolled out to the UK and Canada, not to the US or other markets. In any case, we’re certainly excited that this option is now open (and personally I’m ecstatic that for once the UK is at the front of the betas queue!), but there’s still plenty to test and plenty to learn, both for advertisers and, I suspect, for Google itself.

Excited about the new matching option, or just green with envy that it hasn’t reached you yet? Expect to use it more for expanding up or refining down? Let me know what you think.

About Alex Campbell

Alex is Deputy Managing Director of The Search Agency Ltd., with a remit covering all strategic and operational elements of the UK agency business. Alex is based in the London office and has the distinction of being TSA’s first full time employee in the UK, having joined TSA in 2008 to lead and grow UK SEM activity. He has extensive experience managing teams in the UK and offshore and has worked with large and small clients directing campaigns across verticals including directory, leisure and finance, and across markets including Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australasia. Alex has been working in the online marketing space for seven years and holds a BA/MA in English Language and Literature from Oxford University.

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17 Responses to “AdWords +New +Matchtype”

  1. Hi Alex,

    Nice summary of the practical implications of the new broad match modifier.

    I agree, it will be especially useful for geo-targting, as well as for online retailers who only stock certain types or brands of products.

    I recently wrote an article about using broad match search queries as a tool to expand exact, phrase and negative match keywords, and improve the relevancy of your ads ( http://www.alanmitchell.com.au/techniques/google-adwords-broad-match-generator/ ), and see Google’s BMM changes as a great addition to help control broad match search traffic further.

    You could also argue that changes such as the BMM mean Google AdWords management is becoming more technical, further reinforcing the need for specialist AdWords campaign managers.


    • Alex says:

      Thanks Alan,
      Yep, I agree. The broad match search query technique you describe in your post is something we do a lot of and I’m sure the BMM is going to enhance this process.
      I also think this new option will likely shift a good number of advertisers out of the ‘only use Phrase and Exact’ mentality and into using modified broad match as well; but I do suspect that on balance Google will see overall clicks reduce in the short term as this option launches and advertisers refine their existing Broad match keywords.
      The longer term, however, should see advertisers getting better CTRs, better conversion rates, better ROI and therefore being willing to spend more. From an advertiser/agency point of view, this is definitely a positive change.

  2. Aidan says:

    Thanks Alex (and Alan for the tweet bringing it to my attention!)

    This is something several of us are really looking forward to seeing in Australia as I wrote just yesterday its actually like getting back the old broad match before it was extended to the nightmare it became. (http://adsurf.com.au/adwords-broad-match-modifier/)

    I’m wondering if its as a result of complaints from advertisers who took the time to examine their Search Query Performance reports or is it just a realisation the the Yahoo match options are better in that respect!

    Anyway, a great read here, thanks.

    • Alex says:

      Cheers Aidan,
      I’m sure it’ll be coming to Australia fairly soon – as you say, any advertiser or agency who uses SQRs will be champing at the bit (I know our US team certainly are), so I don’t think Google will be able to hold out too long.

  3. An excellent explanation of the new match type, many thanks. I’ve also pointed our FB fans in your direction. I feel very lucky to be in the UK and able to benefit from the new match type…..

  4. As you note, to say the US team is “chomping at the bit” is an understatement!

    Looking forward to expanding client options at the TSA office on the other side of the pond.

    Good job explaining something potentially complex in an easy to understand manner.

    Cheers Alex!

  5. Well, there are some interesting spotlights regarding Plumbing in this article. This should work for sure.

  6. Hi Alex,

    Just following up to my earlier comment now that I’ve since carried out some analysis on the performance of modified broad match. My testing on 3 AdWords accounts ( http://www.calculatemarketing.com/blog/techniques/modified-broad-match-adwords-analysis/ ) found that not only dies modified broad match lead to higher CTRs and lower CPCs, but it also means ads are more targeted to conversion is also likely to increase.

    I imagine these are the kinds of findings that yourself and others have suspected all along, but it’s great to see the figures back it up.


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