Not "Evil" But Annoying: Google's (GOOG) "Broad Match" Can Blow Out Budgets On Unwanted Keywords

Advertisers are “frustrated” by Google’s broad match program, Citi’s Mark Mahaney says, after speaking to many of them at a search conference in Seattle. Broad match automatically spreads ad campaigns across keywords advertisers don’t necessarily want to buy–and, in some cases, can blow out budgets, resulting in more revenue for Google and worse leads. Advertisers are particularly frustrated with the effort required to “opt out” of this program. (In February, we wrote about initial frustration with a feature of this program called Automatic Matching).

Mark Mahaney:

Google continues its effort to improve the user search experience by showing fewer, yet more targeted ads across an increasing number of search terms. However, many SEMs and marketers we spoke with indicated that Google’s extended broad match policy still does not do an adequate job of consistently providing relevant queries for the keywords that they are bidding on.

Under the extended broad match policy, Google takes synonyms of keywords and matches them to queries. While the policy has been in effect since 2005, it appears that Google continues to add matches to terms, and does not allow advertisers to opt-out. As a result, savvy advertisers have to spend more time working around this policy by articulating exact matches, phrase matches or even identifying negative keywords in order to develop successful search campaigns. Furthermore, inexperienced advertisers could conceivably blow through their ad budgets on clicks with poor conversion rates, if their ads are shown on queries that are not necessarily relevant.

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