March 23, 2021
Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Updates & Impact
Starting on February 18th, Google will be changing phrase match behavior by making it a lot more similar to broad match modified. At the same time, broad match modified will be completely phased out as it will start acting as an evolved version of phrase keywords. This change will be fully rolled out by mid-summer this year, with English language along with seven other languages the first to receive this update. All other languages will follow suit in Q2.
Google is making phrase match work as a combination of phrase and BMM match types while still honoring the word order in phrase keywords. Here’s how it looks in the example below:
Here’s another example provided by Google in their announcement. Pay attention to the first table with broad match modified (BMM). It shows which type of searches you will be missing out on if you won’t take any action to update your keyword set. Remember, all broad match modified keywords will start behaving like an updated phrase keyword in the second table.
Important to note that all keywords that were using partial BMM, such as +red tennis +shoes, will still become full phrase keywords. In our example, it will become “red tennis shoes”. It’s easy to see that advertisers with high BMM or partial BMM search volume might see a decline in impressions because, in those cases, these new phrase keywords will be matching to fewer searches.
Another factor to take into account is keyword duplication or overlap. With BMM essentially behaving as a phrase keyword, there can be cases where an identical BMM and phrase keyword are matching to the same search. It means that budgets between campaigns or ad groups can shift, so it’s something to keep an eye on after February 18th.
Let’s try to review 2 scenarios to determine the potential impact.
Potentially sees an increase in volume due to an increase in match rate with more searches. Phrase match will expand to cover additional broad match modifier traffic, ultimately driving more impressions.
For example, “holidays in colorado” as a phrase keyword will now begin to match to “holiday spots in colorado”, which was previously only eligible for BMM.
Often it will depend if most keywords contain just 1-2 words or if the account is structured around long-tail keywords. Short phrase keywords were already acting similar to BMM, but it might trigger even more searches now. Google is promising to honor the word order in all phrase keywords when it’s important to its meaning. Longer-tail keywords might see additional volume, but considering that they are usually already limited due to length, there might be less impact due to this change.
Likely to see a decline in volume due to changes to strict word order. Partial BMM keywords will be treated as phrase keywords.
For example keyword +trips +to new york will work as a phrase match type “trips to new york” losing the volume from that partial broad match. It will lead to a potential decline in impressions for these keywords.
Broad match campaigns with smart bidding will become increasingly important for maintaining search volume. Google included a note about smart bidding updates for broad match type keywords in the same announcement in another clear indicator that they’re moving toward AI-based targeting as the predominant method for search. Moving forward, broad match will use more signals to determine the most relevant search by looking at the landing page and other keywords in the ad group.
Don’t forget that there is no need to change existing BMM keyword match types to phrase match as they will automatically behave as phrase keywords. Converting all BMM to phrase match will dislocate historical data for these keywords, so it’s definitely something to keep in mind when considering an account restructure or clean-up.
At Metric Theory, we’ve begun client preparations coinciding with Google’s announcement last week. Here are few main steps we recommend taking to successfully prepare Google Ads accounts for BMM and phrase match transition:
Adjustments & monitoring:
To better understand why these changes are happening, we should review what match type adjustments has Google done in a past. Below are most notable changes:
As you can see, Google is regularly making changes to its match type structure. On one hand, it improves account structure and generates more search volume for advertisers while still, in most cases, maintaining search relevancy. On the other hand, search ads are becoming looser and a very tightly knit account structure is becoming a thing of the past. All this begs the question, will one day Google leave us just with broad match type keywords paired with smart bidding algorithms? Will even keywords be retired? This idea doesn’t sound that crazy anymore.