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I just spent two hours changing the settings in each of my campaigns due to Google’s release of Near Match settings into the account interface. Why? Because Google has a bad habit of automatically opting existing campaigns into new features. If you’ve done any work with AdWords then you’re familiar with this game. If you don’t adjust the default settings on new campaigns you will show ads on both search and display, you’ll show on all devices, and anywhere within the country, and now your exact and phrase match keywords will automatically expand to match “close variants, including misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents and abbreviations.”

You can find this new setting already in your accounts, however according to Google the feature will not be turned on until mid-May (see AdWords Blogspot post).

Starting in mid-May, phrase and exact match keywords will match close variants, including misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents and abbreviations. Based on our research and testing, we believe these changes will be broadly beneficial for users and advertisers.

Why Did I Completely Opt Out of Near Match?

Lack of Control

Let’s just say that when it comes to my pay per click campaigns, I’m a major control freak. I may not insist that you use a coaster for your beer when you come over to watch the Pens dominate the Flyers in game 4 of the NHL semi’s. Did you catch that game last night? The Pens took it 10-3, but I do need 100% control over my PPC campaigns.

Unfortunately this new match type lives at the campaign level, so I can’t test it on individual keywords. I can’t use AdWords campaign experiments to accurately test against the old match types. I can’t choose to effect only exact or only phrase. Nope, it’s all or nothing folks. This setting will affect all exact and phrase match keywords in an entire campaign or none at all.

I also lose control over dynamic keyword insertion. I use DKI with exact and phrase match keywords only if I want to control when it works and when it doesn’t. Not to mention I want to ensure that any ad text that shows dynamically is brand safe for my large brands.


Google has left us the option to opt out, which I appreciate. As with any new feature in any tool, there are bound to be bugs at first and I don’t want my accounts to suffer while these bugs are worked out. I work with very large advertisers and the additional traffic that could come in off of these expanded match types could cost my clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye.

I can’t afford to trust that “near misspellings and close variants” are close enough to convert at my target ROAS. Too risky for me, not to mention the reasons I would use these matches are covered by modified broad match. If I am in the discovery phase of a new account and need to dig up new keywords I will use a mix of modified broad match and negative keywords.

So there you have it, this pay per click nerd will steer clear of the near match setting until there is more info on exactly what it matches to and more options to control it.

What do you think? Will you take the risk?