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23/03/21 Ben Owst

How we’re managing the transition from Google Ads Broad Match Modifier in to Phrase Match

Google have been dropping some major updates what feels like every other week so far in 2021.

Are you keeping up with them? Without a doubt, the biggy is the consolidation of broad match modifier and phrase match keyword targeting.

Need a Recap?

For those who’ve missed this, in a nutshell, come April 2021 two become one. Your BMM keyword targeting will be narrowed and your phrase keyword targeting will expand so the two match types blend together.

Broad match modifier in to phrase match explained

The impact of this will be felt especially if you’re using a broad match modifier for keyword mining. You’ll find your search query report running thinner on new keywords and conversely you’ll find your phrase matches picking up terms it never would have done. Google have released an informative document here that’s well worth having a quick whip through.

Why the change?

Google is on a relentless push for advertisers to transition and embrace automation and this change takes another step in that direction. There is however a much clearer distinction now between broad, phrase and exact match types to simplify the experience for new advertisers.

How We’ve Responded

Fortunately, Google has made our lives easier by smoothing the transition; you may notice recommendations popping up in your account to transition your BMM’s into phrase match and it’ll flip them over for you in moments.Thank you very much Google. Furthermore, if you make no changes to your BMM’s they'll automatically change targeting even with the + functionality on them.

Our main focus has been paying laser focus attention to our search query reports to monitor the impact of these changes as they rollout, the change isn’t due to fully kick-in until April but expect to see some differences before that point. Some of our clients operate in very niche markets where volumes are limited. In these areas, the new phrase match targeting may not cut-it for identifying new terms especially if they’re long-tail. The hope for Google here is that broad match is resurfaced as the keyword discovery tool, and if you are struggling to get the volumes then explore this as an option. Make sure you keep red-hot on those negative keywords where needed; this has been our approach to get ahead of the curve.

We have found the combination of broad match and smart bidding to be quite a force to be reckoned with, but as always, test here first and only use smart bidding once you have data accumulated that’s sufficient enough. This change does open more of a need to trial these types of combinations, which is a must in any case before you make sweeping adjustments to any campaign

We have been working under the mindset that this change has already been implemented, so we don’t have a scramble to make changes when it kicks in fully. Prepare now to smooth the process over and get acclimatised to the new targeting methodology and for any new account or campaign builds. In short:; use phrase match from the get go instead of BMM.

Wrapping Up

Most advertisers should only see minor impact here and won’t need to take any action but it’s worth keeping it front of mind if you do have accounts heavy with BMM’s. If that is the case,consider making proactive changes now, but never change keyword match types with existing data as you will lose it all. Not cool!

Google has taken a lot of the pain out of this transition by automating the process largely - it means less friction for Advertisers and forces the adoption of the rollout in the same hand, so it’s of benefit to both sides.

Ben Owst

Self-confessed PPC nerd with over 10-years of experiencing everything the digital marketing world has to offer.