Nobody is surprised when Google says it’s making changes to its ad platform. Some changes have minor effects, such as updating its name from AdWords to Google Ads, while others have major effects such as rolling out a Smart Bidding strategy to automate management.
The latest update comes on the heels of reduced data insights combined with a national focus on protecting personal data. Google continues to limit the functionality and customization of Google Ads, making digital marketers question whether the reduced control will affect the performance of paid search campaigns.
The answer? It depends. (Sorry about that.)
As Google continues to retire broad match modified search phrases, PPC marketers will pay special attention to keyword data to determine what converts, what doesn’t, and what tweaks we can make based on the data that’s available.
By the end of July 2021, Google Ads will have transitioned completely away from broad match modified as a customization choice. Broad match modified allows search marketers to cast the widest net with variations in synonyms and the word order.
When used strategically, broad match modified is effective for targeting specific queries. However, the flexibility in variations allows a lot of room for misinterpretation, making other match types such as phrase match or exact match more attractive in specific situations.
As Google Ads phases out broad match modified, the functionality will be absorbed into phrase match type. PPC marketers will still be able to modify search terms with the variations they’re used to by using phrase match going forward.
In its infancy, phrase match used to mean exactly that—the search query needed to match the keyphrase perfectly. Over the years, phrase match has evolved to include more rigorous customization of synonyms and word order, similar to broad match modified.
The similarities between broad match modified and phrase match make this switch more manageable because search marketers will still be able to access similar functionality. However, no one knows exactly how these changes will play out until they’re complete.
In addition to paying close attention to performance of PPC campaigns, paid search specialists will lean on the evolved version of phrase match to tweak performance. Google Ads will still allow access to phrase match, exact match, and broad match, just not broad match modified.
The accounts we manage at Br8kthru don’t lean heavily on broad match modified, making this change unlikely to have a major effect on paid search campaigns. This is a strategic decision that allows us to have more control over matching the user’s search intent with the ads delivered.
Any paid media campaigns that still use broad match modified after July 2021 will be automatically switched to phrase match type. This shouldn’t have a major effect on campaigns, but paying attention to these changes and monitoring accounts closely is key to lowering any risk.
The best way to prepare for any changes to paid search functionality is to go straight to Google. This support article on “Making it easier to reach the right customers on Search” thoroughly details the news about broad match modified. Google plays up making these changes to support digital marketers, but anyone working in the industry knows this is marketing speak.
The updates Google Ads has made to its platform in recent years hint at a future that limits data insights and manual customization. This limited functionality is the overarching concern search marketers face as Google continues to evolve.
The bottom line is as long as your search marketing team pays close attention to PPC campaigns, performance will remain steady as they make tweaks to adjust for these new changes.