Google Ad Grants Changes You Need to Know

Most eCommerce, retail and fashion advertisers aren’t aware of Google Ad Grants, and for good reason. The program is specifically designed for non-profit organizations looking to use Google AdWords to get their public service messages out to a wider audience. The program is run across 50 countries, and eligible charitable organizations can receive up to $10,000 per month of in-kind Google AdWords advertising.

Changes to the Grant Program

On December 14, 2017, Google lifted their $2.00 maximum cost-per-click (CPC). Those advertisers using “Maximize Conversions” in automated billing will be more competitive given that their monthly grant money can now be used for Google Search Partners or Google Display. Ultimately, advertisers within the program are now able to maximize more of their allotted in-kind advertising budget.

The most important change involved click-through-rates (CTR). Specifically, accounts that don’t have a CTR above 5% could see their account suspended. Also, violating any the new policy changes could result in suspension of the account. The following table summarizes these Google Ad Grant changes in detail. 

Policy Policy Type Current Policy New Policy
Max CPC Bid Bidding Bids cannot exceed $2.00 Bids may exceed $2.00 if opted into “maximize conversions”—(effective immediately)
Account Click-through rate Performance No restriction Must exceed 5%
Keyword Quality Scores Performance No restriction Keywords must have a quality score of 3 or higher
Length of Keywords Keywords & Queries No restriction No single-keywords (unless your brand)
Types of Keywords Keywords & Queries No restriction No overly generic keywords
Location Targeting Account Structure No restriction Must be relevant to the location(s) of your non-profit
Sitelink Ad Extensions Account Structure No restriction At least 2 active sitelinks
Number of Ad Groups Account Structure No restriction At least 2 ad groups per campaign

Why Were These Changes Made? 

Google made these changes in order to make sure that nonprofit advertisements were as relevant as possible. Previously, advertisers exhausted ways to spend their monthly allocated budget by expanding location targeting or bidding on general keywords—two actions that invariably lead to irrelevant searches. Advertisers were maximizing their budget, but the leads and interest generated weren't focused. Google’s new policies may be intended to cut down on these practices. 

Steps to Take

So, what should you do if you are one of these nonprofits? First, check your account’s CTR. If you’re below 5% CTR, then start reviewing each of your advertisements. Look at removing keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2. Review all of your ad groups, site links and location targeting parameters. Have you recently changed anything? Better yet, have you been employing either of those two aforementioned tactics by using general keywords and wide location targeting parameters? If so, then now is the time to change. 

Second, review new search queries coming into your website and compare them to those that were already driving traffic. If using more generic keywords, and expanding your targeting parameters, was a recent decision, then you should easily be able to identify the discrepancies in traffic volumes. 

Third, make sure to add filters to your campaigns. Use negative keywords within each of your ad campaigns to minimize bad traffic and reduce uninterested ad impressions. If you’re running a geo-marketing campaign, then modifying your geo-targeting parameters, and focusing on more relevant locations, will help to cut down on irrelevant traffic and impressions. 

Fourth, get back to proper keyword research. Review your keywords and research their relevance. You can take advantage of Google’s keyword matching options by leveraging the broad match modifier and exact match types. Proper keyword research will help with your ad campaigns, while also simplifying how you produce relevant ad copy and relevant ad extensions.

For advertisers of nonprofits, it's ultimately about making sure the advertisement and keywords are relevant to the message. These changes are really about program policy adjustments and understanding those adjustments means doing away with outdated strategies of using generic keywords and expanding targeting as a means of maximizing budget. 

If you're a nonprofit charitable organization looking to manage your marketing budget better, then working with an outside firm may help you further reduce costs. If you're interested in seeing how, then read our recent publication, How Digital Marketing Agencies Cost Less Than In-House Teams.

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