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Google Ads Automation Changes in 2021: How to Get Ahead

Digital advertising holds great potential — if your teams and systems can make the most of every change. While platforms like Google and Facebook continue to make mass advertising easier than ever before, your teams are still forced to keep campaigns updated with a never-ending wave of new product rollouts and ad format changes.

2021 has been a big year for Google Ads updates. Here’s what you need to know about the many changes, and how to ensure you’re taking advantage of the latest Google Ads Automation tech improvements to enhance campaign management capabilities and strengthen advertising strategies.

1. Google Ads Match Type Change

One of the biggest changes Google is making concerns keywords and match types. Google Ads announced this transition back in February 2021 and the official rollout will be complete in July.

Broad Match Modified was introduced in 2010 by Google as a way to leverage broad matching keywords, expanding matching search queries for advertisers, while reassuring advertisers that certain designated words were guaranteed to be present.

Google is moving on from the broad match modified (BMM) keyword match type by incorporating much of it’s behavior into the phrase match type. This returns Google’s match options to a simplified set of matching strategies, broad, phrase, and exact.


Why the Change?

It’s all about intuiting your audiences’ needs more intelligently, especially if they’re searching for variations of the same solution. Google has amassed mountains of user intention data. Now, the tech giant can better match search intent to advertising intent, reducing the need for advertisers to try and anticipate all the phrases that are used when searching for your product or services.. Says Google: “We’ve seen that phrase match and broad match modifier often serve the same use cases, and that you can reach more of the right customers through a combination of the two.”

How it Affects You

There will be some strategic shifts in campaign management. Chances are your managed account ads use phrase matches today. The shift to incorporate broad matches could have a drastic impact on performance; your ads might start showing for unintended searches, and you could spend money on the wrong search intent. This means your advertising budget is spent on unqualified traffic, and you miss out on a lot of potential leads.

Here’s a quick example: You sell air conditioners. One of the larger brands in air conditioners is Mitsubishi.

You did your homework. You found from previous experiments that you can safely drive ad traffic with the exact and phrase match keywords of “new mitsubishi ac”. You also determined that when you use broad match for the same terminology, you get matched with car shoppers looking for “2021 mitsubishi cars”, so you have chosen NOT to use broad matches for that term.

With this change, some percentage of broad match behaviors are now incorporated in phrase matching keywords, so your traffic may start to bring in more unintended car shopping terms, and it’s all dependent on how Google internally determines the similarity.

With some unknowns in new traffic, your team may be consumed with updating your keyword lists and negative terms to re-shape your traffic. Team capacity may be affected in a big way —think about the time it would take to re-analyze matching search queries, transition every campaign to incorporate the new keyword sets, update your negative match lists, and position them to shift again with any new updates. If your team is doing that work manually, it could take weeks, and have a big impact on morale and retention.

How it Affects You

To benefit the most from the updated phrase match format, a great solution is to have an automated advertising platform that can:

  • Automatically determine step changes in your traffic.
  • Review search queries on your behalf for poor performing variations.
  • Find new negative keyword patterns that positively reshape your traffic.
  • Incorporate those learnings into your entire portfolio, without having to do it account by account.

An automated platform unlocks a proactive versus reactive strategy, and allows you to retain some control and customization across accounts that can still be automatically updated in the future.

2. Responsive Search Ads Prioritization

There’s another shift happening in search campaigns. Google Ads offers two primary types of ad formats within search campaigns: Responsive Search Ads and Expanded Text (search) Ads.

In February 2021, Google announced that Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) were the default ad type in Google Ads. Responsive Search Ads were introduced in 2018 as a way to help advertisers “auto-optimize” their ads. Including 1-2 responsive ads in a strategy has been best practice since rollout. Yet, many advertisers have shied away from the manual effort needed to include these across thousands of accounts, or have felt data was insufficient to improve the assets — and their performance.

Why the Change?

Responsive Search Ads power a more dynamic advertising approach; because of their capacity for more text variation, you can add content to match a user search query more intelligently. This is a conversion rate best practice and allows advertising teams to evolve strategy and respond to dynamic consumer behavior in the pandemic — an era marked by rising e-commerce sales.

How To Get Ahead:

If you aren’t prioritizing the ad strength of your RSAs — aka their intentional, relevant content for consumers — you may miss out on the gains that come from intelligent matching. This directly impacts clicks and conversions.

Creating RSAs takes a little mindfulness. You give Google options for reforming your ad unit, but you may not want random variations thrown out in your ad content. You need to strategize each phrase’s purpose and give Google the phrases in a way that makes them compatible with one another.

Think in terms of each headline:

  • You may want one of the headlines to be a brand message, one to be a value prop, and one to be a call to action. For example: Fluency’s RPA Solution | Do More With Less | See our Website
  • If RSA’s are built carelessly, we haven’t given Google’s learning engine enough information and it may result in it just trying 3 value props. You don’t want your ad to be shown like this :

Call us Today | See our Website | Come To Our Shop

Controlling this scenario is done through thoughtful creative building alongside a concept called “pinning” in Google’s terminology.

Creative building and pinning take time. You could use a team of strategists to update all your ad formats, but you run into the same manual labor (aka wasted time and money) conundrum.

Ad automation can help here too. You can instantly make format changes across accounts; teams can update one campaign with a dynamic tag, and run a command that replicates a new format across all of your accounts. Thoughtful tooling helps you organize and build libraries of content to pull from, which will take the complexity away from the construction of these new RSA ad formats.

3. Overarching Automated Strategies Push

Starting in September 2020, Google has pushed users towards online advertising automation. Google now limits the available data in the Google Ads Platform — think search query reports and impression data. This makes it difficult for analysts to rely on reports or add negative keywords and make manual changes they may have been used to.

Why the Change?

Google places value on machine learning algorithms and smart bidding strategies; localization, personalization, and intelligent anticipation of audience needs are the way of the future. The match type changes and Responsive Ad changes mentioned above are the first steps in offering advertiser customers a new type of strategic power.

How To Get Ahead:

Google offers a lot to an advertiser if you can optimize accounts and embrace smart advancements for every account. You know the changes are just going to keep coming, so the strategy is to:

  1. Transition all accounts to be in line with the 2021 changes above
  2. Seek out a solution that lets you test updates in batches and automate across portfolios

What would it mean for your business to tap into better advertising strategies at scale?

Read our blog “How Automation Powers A/B Testing at Scale and Ad Account Growth” to learn how a Google Ads automation solution can instantly update your accounts to be in-line with Google Ad changes, run A-B tests at scale and more.

You could save a lot of money with a robotic process automation-powered tool this year — and beyond. See our map of all the places your team could save time and money with an RPA for advertising solution.