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Precise Keyword Targeting No More for AdWords PPC Advertisers?

Google AdWordsGoogle has recently announced that starting late September 2014, PPC advertisers using AdWords will be left with no ability to de-select close variants for keyword targeting. Previously, PPC advertisers could opt-out from having their ads displayed with close variant searches, but it seems that all campaigns will now include them.

One of the advantages of exact and phrase match was the ability to track when a searcher used a specific phrase that triggered an ad. This will not be possible anymore in the new all-variant AdWords.

What Close Variants Means to PPC Advertisers

Close variants are a feature of Google AdWords that allow matching of keywords on close iterations or on misspellings. The tool is useful for those who want to save time, not miss important queries, and gather more coverage. Until now every advertising campaign with Google AdWords has this setting on by default, but it was possible to be turned off on the campaign settings page.

Some campaigns have currently this setting turned off in order to save some money on PPC advertising. They prefer to know on what keywords they are spending their ad budget on. If their budget is constrained, by turning off the setting for close variants advertisers have an opportunity for a lower cost click.

The problem with automatic close variants is that many matches may be only close in spelling, but very different in meaning. For advertisers who enjoy having full control over their campaigns the announcement of Google is not good news. It will not be possible anymore to know exactly where the ads are displayed by Google.

No More Precision Keyword Targeting

That option for precision will be unfortunately removed in late September. Removing the ability to opt out of close variants affects the ability of strict targeting. Advertisers will lose the possibility to instruct Google to spend on specific terms.

The consequence of this change in the way Google AdWords will work from September is that those users who preferred to not use close variants will likely have more work to do. They will have to cut analyze the keyword ?details’ reports in order to evaluate the spending on variants.

PPC advertisers will also have to add many more negative keywords and they will not be able to use anymore those old exact match ad campaigns. Those advertisers who will want to bid differently on singular versus plural will need to create multiple ad groups and negative out the opposite plurality.

However, the change will also have some benefits. Those who used to opt off from close variants will be forced now to stop chasing exact matches with lower efficiency and start focus on the big picture. They will migrate from tactics to strategy. And it is well known that it is the strategy that can drive the bigger profits.

For example, just from landing page optimization the gains can be three or even five times more. A top ad copy can bring six times more gains. The change in AdWords will force advertisers to focus on these strategic means of driving up profits instead of basing their advertising campaigns on exact matches and compiling excessive keyword lists. The recent Hummingbird Google update already pushed a shift towards a "keywordless" world and a more object based advertising campaigns.

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