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adwords match type close variants

AdWords has announced they will be removing the option for advertisers to opt-out of close variant matching for phrase and exact keywords in late September. What does this change mean for advertisers? Well, close variants are turned on at the campaign level by default, so if you’ve never disabled the option you won’t see any change in performance.

AdWords is making this change so advertisers can reach more customers and to reduce management complexity, but any changes aimed at easing management always seem to take away control from the advertiser (e.g. enhanced campaigns, upgraded location extensions). As an account manager, I value this control so I can better optimize my clients’ ad performance but I’m not sure this change will have any major impact.

To get input from others about this change, I asked on our Digital Marketing team for their opinion.

Alan Amerault, Associate Director of Digital Marketing

There’s going to be backlash, and negative ‘press’ surrounding lack of advertiser control. I’m assuming the following impacts:

  • Overall CPCs will continue to rise as competition blends further with lack of specification on particular terms.
  • Management ease will improve from a volume gathering standpoint.
  • Negative keyword utilization and strategy will become even more important. Advertisers are forced to adjust for poor results with negatives as opposed to slowly branch out with additional expansion terms and matching types.

How do I feel about it?  It’s as good a time as any to continue to diversify channels, extend marketing footprint, and focus AdWords bidding on the campaigns that drive value, and branching out where they do not.

Alex Tomin, Search Engine Marketing Consultant

I think it will have a negative impact on ability to control keyword relevancy. Currently we have an ability to use close variants (by default) or opt-out from this if necessary. Now AdWords is removing this opt-out option. Basically, AdWords offers less control over the keyword relevancy which would lead to low traffic quality and, as a result, additional advertising cost. In order to filter out irrelevant searches and reduce the cost it makes sense to review the search query report on a regular basis and keep updating your negative keyword list.

As for my own opinion, most of my clients already opt-in to close variants. Performance on mispellings or singular/plural version is not very different. For advertisers that do see performance differences, you can still control visibility by putting negative keywords of the poor performing variations into your ad groups.

What is worrisome to me is this continuing trend of Google making changes to the AdWords platform that limit the control advertisers have over how they spend their own advertising budgets.

What do you think, will this change affect your AdWords advertising strategy?

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