Google recently announced some significant changes to the terms and conditions for their Ad Grants’ programme (if you’re a registered non-profit and you don’t currently have an Ad Grants account you can find out more about them here).
No More $2 Bid Cap, Well Kind Of
Their first major announcement was that effective immediately, they’re lifting the $2 USD bid cap when you use Maximise conversions as your bid strategy. There were also a number of other announcements that will impact the way many charities are using AdWords.
Lets talk about using maximise conversions so that you can get past that pesky $2 bid cap. When you select maximise conversions this means that AdWords will automatically set your bids based on campaign performance. Note: this doesn’t mean you can jump into AdWords and update all of your bids from $2 to whatever amount you like, it still won’t let you do this, you’ve got to change your bid strategy to maximise conversions and the platform will automatically increase bids where appropriate.
To set your campaigns to maximise conversions bidding you’ll first need to make sure that your campaign isn’t using a shared budget (it must have its own budget) and then click into campaign settings and change your “bid strategy”, see grab below for details.
Other Ad Grants Policy Changes
Now onto those other announcements, inside the policies for what Google refers to as “mission-based campaigns”, you’ll see the following types of activity are no longer permitted:
- Your account must have specific geo-targeting to show ads in locations relevant to your nonprofit – if you’ve been targeting the entire world, now is the time to stop!
- Your account must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month. If your account falls behind this benchmark for 2 consecutive months then your account will be suspended.
- Your account must have at least 2 active ad groups per campaign each containing closely related keywords, these ad groups must each contain at least 2 active text ads and 2 sitelink ad extensions.
- Branded words that you don’t own like “YouTube” or “Google” or names of newspapers or other organisations – this is great, it means that charities will no longer have to contend with other organisations that insist on bidding on their brand terms.
- Single-word keywords (excluding your own branded words, recognised medical conditions, and a small number of exception keywords that Google published here). This change makes sense on the face of it, however, it’s one of the trickier one for charities to contend with as in our opinion many organisations see good levels of traffic from highly relevant single word search terms. Note terms with dashes, periods, or special characters are not treated as single-word keywords.
- Overly generic keywords like “free videos”, “e-books”, “today’s news”, “easy yoga”, “download games”, “job alert”, names of places, names of historical events/people. Note: Google have clarified this and confirmed that it’s ok to bid on terms for events and activities in specific locations that might be relevant to your cause, for example bidding on “London Marathon” would be allowed.
- Keywords with a Quality Score of 2 or less
We think, overall, that these changes are a good thing and will lead to a better experience for people using search to engage with the causes that they care about.
The key now is to double down on your Google Grant and makes sure you’re as optimised as possible.
Why is Google doing this to me?
Google has commented that they want nonprofits to succeed by making effective use of the Google Ad Grants programme and these changes are more to prevent misuse and abuse of the programme. We think that all up these changes are a good thing and will prevent “lazy” management of Grant accounts and force grantees to spend the grant as wisely as possible, which means better results for everybody involved.
What if my account is suspended?
Google have said that if your account is suspended they’ll usually review within 14 days after you’ve fixed the issue, in other words they want to reactivate your account unless you’re found to be in continuous and deliberate breach of programme T&Cs.
Here’s the full announcement from Google, it’s worth also reading through the questions and answers as Google has been good at responding to questions raised by Ad Grants account holders in this forum.