For a long time, advertisers on Google AdWords have struggled to cope with the large variance of traffic volume and ROI in using Broad Match keywords versus Phrase Match or Exact
The general industry-accepted idea is that while Broad Match keywords are useful for new and old advertisers alike, there are many situations in where using them may not be in the best interests of the advertiser.
Whilst Broad Match keywords promise to give the advertiser maximum exposure, exactly how relevant that exposure is often called into question. The result is that many advertisers will get left with numerous mismatched impressions that negatively affect their campaign quality score and worse, clicks that result in no material gain; as in some instances searchers will click on these mismatched ads, but not go on to convert once on the site. Hence, the cost of that click may not be realised now or ever.
While the more restrictive Phrase Match option covers this issue to a large degree, it achieves that by compromising on ad exposure which means lower traffic and conversion volume. Increased ROI at the cost of significantly lower volume of conversions is not very appealing to businesses/marketing professionals.
The accepted norm in the search marketing community until now has been to start with Broad Match keywords with an extensive list of accompanying negative keywords to manage exposure to relevant searches. Search marketers will then identify the keywords/phrases that perform to the desirable level of ROI and subsequently move them to the stricter Phrase and Exact Match types. In all this, the start of the campaign has been most crucial and the precision and accuracy with which the initial selection of Broad Match and negative keywords work has been of great impact on the success of the campaign.
The search community has long debated over the usefulness of Broad Match and demanded an alternative for and more control over the random search queries their keywords end up getting impressions for. Google have finally answered by introducing a new match type in the arsenal. It’s called the Broad Match Modifier (BMM). Essentially, it fits somewhere between the Broad Match and Phrase Match keyword types. The object it satisfies is to stop individual words from Broad Match keyword phrases from triggering impressions on ‘deemed’ related words in user searches. Google have released the graphic below to explain exactly how BMM differs from all other match types.
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With Broad Match, the words ‘formal’ and ‘shoes’ will both be independently considered and matched to singular/plural versions, synonyms and other related words not included in the campaign keyword. ‘Formal’ triggered impressions for ‘Evening’ and ‘Men’s Dress’, while ‘Shoes’ triggered ‘Footwear’ and ‘Wingtips’. If the advertiser earlier only wanted people searching for shoes and Phrase Matched ‘Formal Shoes’, they would lose impressions on searches like ‘Evening Shoes’ and ‘Black Dress Shoes’ because their ad will only show if the phrase ‘Formal Shoes’ was part of the search query.
However, by introducing a “+” sign just before the word shoes, they can achieve exactly what is desired, without losing on a possible load of other search queries that are not part of their campaign.
Google has reported that advertisers who used BMM during beta testing of the new match type reported seeing higher clicks and conversions than before. However, Google reported their findings from advertisers who earlier mainly used the Phrase and Exact Match types. Clearly, the increase in exposure lead them to receive more traffic, but with greater control over click-quality – this probably led to the rise in conversions. The report clearly shows the BMM as a means to entice cautious advertisers to have a more bullish approach with their marketing without losing too much control. But what does it mean for the rest of the advertising community that already uses Broad Match?
Other beta testers have independently revealed that on introducing BMM keywords into campaigns with existing Broad Match keywords, BMMs had significantly higher CTRs and conversion rates than the traditional Broad Match terms. We experienced similar results on testing the BMM with one of our clients.
Overall, we observed average conversions on BMM keywords to be double that of the Broad Match keywords.
All in all, Google seem to have hit the right note with search marketers with this release, although it will be interesting to see how keywords utilising these matching options perform in the longer term.
Please note, for now, the release has been made available to advertisers in the UK and Canada only.