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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Changes to Google Ad Grant Requirements

In late December, Google notified thousands of nonprofits around the globe that new criteria for Google Ad Grants would go into effect on January 1st. But in the flurry of end-of-year fundraising, these notifications may have slipped through the cracks.

Yes, if you’re the lucky recipient of a $10,000 Google Ad Grant, the new requirements apply to you right now. But there’s still time to get your account in order and avoid account suspension. Here’s what you should know:

The Good

Google didn’t make these changes to cause chaos. Instead, they want to raise the relevance of the ads being served up with the help of these ad grants. Not a bad thing, right? Ideally, you want the people clicking on your ads to find you for the right reasons. The hope, and expectation, is that you start to see quality traffic over quantity of clicks.

The other good news? If your organization is prioritizing a Maximum Conversation bid strategy to spend your grant dollars, you’re no longer stuck with a $2 bid cap. So as long as you have conversion tracking in place, you can more effectively bid on those highly competitive keywords that were previously out of reach.

The Bad

Of course, nothing is all good. Some of the changes Google has rolled out are going to require heavy lifting to get your account in order.

With the ability to bid higher than $2 comes the expectation your ads will produce better results. In short, say goodbye to the 1% click through rate (CTR). From here on out, your account needs to have an average 5% CTR or higher. If you see two consecutive months below 5%, your account can be suspended.

Here are a few tips to help raise your average CTR:

  • Pause high-impression but low CTR keywords.
  • Use the search terms report and add negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing on irrelevant search queries.
  • Pause generic keywords and focus on terms that are specific to your organization’s mission.
  • Ensure you are bidding on your organization’s brand terms. These keywords tend to have high CTR and can help you take up more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP).
  • Make sure your keywords are grouped into tightly themed ad groups so the text in your ad uses the same or similar words in your keyword list. This will also help improve your quality score.

Google has also expanded the list of keywords and queries that are unacceptable – like using branded words you don’t own (like “New York Times” or “YouTube”), overly generic keywords (like “free download” and “free webinar”), and keywords with low quality scores. If you haven’t checked out your ads yet for these types of keywords, now’s the time.

Tip: Prioritize mission-specific keywords to improve your ad results.

The Ugly

The ugliest possible result of these changes is account suspension. And we’re sad to report suspension isn’t being used as a subtle tool by Google. We’ve heard from partners that Google is taking these new standards seriously and accounts are being suspended.

Tip: If your account is suspended, don’t panic. You can request it be reinstated once you’ve made adjustments to your account setup.

Maybe one of the most challenging things nonprofits will face with these new changes to Ad Grants is the manpower it will take to reconfigure and manage your account. No more set it and forget it – someone needs to geotarget, monitor, and optimize ads.

Tip: Assuming you’ll keep taking advantage of Ad Grant dollars, begin talking with your team about who and how someone will take ownership of this aspect of your marketing strategy.

Change can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Firefly’s team has helped plenty of organizations get their Ad Grant accounts in fighting shape. Let us help you. Get in touch >>

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