Google is tweaking its AdWords system on February 28th–launching a beta of an “automatic matching” feature that will automatically sign up advertisers to bid on keywords they haven’t bid on, SEO Fast Start reports. This new feature is presented as a benefit to advertisers–a way to get more clicks–but it’s also obviously a way to drive more revenue for Google.
SEO Fast Start hates the new tweak, arguing that it’s a trap through which Google will just suck more money out of advertisers by automatically signing them up to bid on keywords they don’t want to bid on. Other SEO experts and advertisers may have a more favourable view (if you have an opinion here, please weigh in below).
The question for investors, meanwhile, is whether this tweak should be regarded as just another “monetization and advertiser-experience improvement” change–or whether Google is flipping this switch now because the quarter is weak.
An industry insider made a compelling argument to us last week that Google is more exposed to a recession than most people think, in part because reduced consumer spending will lead to fewer paid clicks (this was Google’s problem last quarter). This tweak is certainly consistent with that theory: If advertisers aren’t able to spend their whole budgets because cash-strapped shoppers are clicking on fewer ads, one way to try to address this would be to include the ads on a broader number of searches. (Whether this would actually lead to more profitable revenue for the advertisers, however, is a different question).
Here’s Google’s note explaining the new program to an AdWords customer:
I’m excited to tell you that you have been selected to participate in a beta for our new Automatic Matching feature which will be starting on February 28th.
Automatic Matching automatically extends your campaign’s reach by using surplus budget to serve your ads on relevant search queries that are not already triggered by your keyword lists. By analysing the structure and content of your website and AdWords campaigns, we deliver more impressions and clicks while maintaining your current CTRs and CPCs.
For example, If you sold Adidas shoes on your website, Automatic Matching would automatically crawl your landing page and target your campaigns to queries such as: “shoes” “adidas” “athletic”, etc., and less obvious ones such as “slippers” that our system has determined will benefit you and likely lead to a conversion on your site.
Be assured that automatic matching will try to never exceed your budget. If you’re already meeting your daily budgets, automatic matching will have a minimal effect on your account.
Here’s SEO Fast Start’s take on it:
The broad match feature of Adwords is bad enough, folks. Now they’re offering you the exciting opportunity to bleed every penny of your budget every day, advertising against keywords that you didn’t want to bid on. Sure, if I sell Adidas shoes, why wouldn’t I want to get some traffic from people who searched for slippers? I mean, it’s not like I’m trying to turn a profit or anything, right?
This is pathetic. Don’t get sucked in.
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