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Google’s broad match modifier to phrase match update


Blog Article

Google’s recent announcement regarding the withdrawal of support for broad match modifier and its expansion, instead, of phrase match, is bringing some key changes with it. We spoke to Jack Grantham, one of our Senior Paid Media Account Managers, to get his insight on how he thinks this change will impact advertisers going forward.

What is changing with this update?

Using broad match modifier, an advertiser can input the keywords +moving +services +NYC +to +Boston, and appear for searches of both “moving services NYC to Boston” and “moving services Boston to NYC”. However, with the new phrase match update, the ads will not appear for search queries for the opposite direction (Boston to NYC).

Google have illustrated this in their example below:

Google bmm to phrase match diagram

Google also announced that word order will still be respected when it’s important to the meaning of the query, which they provided this example for:

Google bmm to phrase match table

Some good news for advertisers is that there’s no need to migrate keywords because the change is happening to both match types, and also all performance data will be retained. From July onwards, advertisers will not be able to create new broad match modifier keywords, and all existing broad match modifier keywords will follow the new behaviour.

What do our experts say?

“There’s a lot of scepticism around the recent match type announcement from Google, and understandably so, considering advertisers are seemingly getting less and less data transparency with every passing day. With that said, the actual impact of this update for most will likely be pretty minimal, as the new matching behaviour will essentially see phrase match become the BMM of old. Google have indicated that the “new” phrase match will incorporate BMM’s best features, so making the switch from BMM to phrase match will, by and large, net the same clicks and sales as you’ve been generating through BMM – particularly for those who have already fully embraced machine-learning.

Those impacted the hardest will be advertisers who are currently reliant on phrase match as it currently exists – as those keywords may begin to drive clicks from search queries they weren’t intending to serve for. Advertisers wanting to continue to utilise phrase match in its current form will be required to have a more comprehensive negative keyword list to avoid capturing unwanted matches for ads. For example, industries where the order of words in a search query defines the context will need to be more careful. This is because what Google defines as a close variant may be different to what you as an advertiser deem a close variant – so be sure to keep an eye on the search terms when the matching behaviour changes in mid Feb.”

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