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Adwords Ads triggered on wrong keywords
Saw Ads triggered for previous search queries - Bug or Test?

 3:27 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was searching for few softwares on Google today and saw some strange Adwords behavior.

I started searching for (xyz category) software. Then I searched (abc category) software. And I saw few ads for xyz category software. This is very strange because xyz and abc are totally different software categories and xyz merchants would logically not bid on abc category keywords.

I did the same search on Netscape and over there it was working fine (No wrong ads shown).

I am based out of India and I was not logged into any Google service or accounts. So these are the possible reasons:-

1) Somehow Google is not able to refresh my searches and is delivering ads (of some merchants) for wrong keywords.

2) A user behavior experiment?

3) Some random test for my region?

4) Some bug in the system?

Whatever the reason, doesn't this mean that the CTR of merchants whose ads are shown for wrong keywords are affected?

I generally use Google Analytics reports to check visitor keywords. I guess I have to check my Log files also to see visitors are coming for keywords we are bidding on.



 5:30 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's called expanded broad match. You want to run the Search Query report in the AdWords Console.


 6:07 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am not sure if I was able to communicate this properly.

I know exact keywords are not allowed here....hence I tried to give a generic example. Let me give actual keywords.

I tried a search for help desk software. I got some results. Then I searched for Anti Virus software. For this search I got some Ads for Help Desk software. Then I searched for CRM software. For this, I got some ads which were of Anti Virus companies.

Unless the keywords are totally different (no common words with previous search query) I see Ads of companies for previous search query.

Is that how Broadmatch works? I am not sure because I am from SEO background ...:)


 7:35 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

Oh, I see. I've heard of other people experiencing that, but never seen it myself (or at least never noticed if it was)

I'm wondering if personalized search isn't going a little too far sometimes (even when we're not logged in)


 4:22 pm on Sep 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

the new cookie thing, where they know what you looked for in the past and provide ads based on that info, also impacts what you're seeing. think of it as them knowing what else you've recently searched for and adding a little of that info to your current search.

they're guessing it'll improve relevancy and achieve great things.

i assert that behavioral marketing is so flawed in theory as to be ridiculous - there's no way for a machine to know what i'm thinking now because of what i searched for recently. the human mind is not that simple. i am hopeful that G will learn this going forward and stop trying to guess or anticipate, just give us what we ask for, period.

clear your cookies (or don't use your my google account) when you search and you'll see the remants of their guessing go away.


 8:45 am on Sep 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

don't use your my google account

I was not signed into my Google account.

My question is does this not affect a merchant's CTR? If I am searching for Anti Virus software and showed Ads for help desk software (based on my previous behavior) I will most probably click on Ads of Anti Virus software because thats what I am searching for. Does this not affect CTR of the help desk software ads?


 2:59 pm on Sep 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes it will affect the merchant's CTR, and that keyword's CTR will be lower because of these extra impressions, but the merchants will still get the same amount of clicks from all the other searches. In terms of effect on CTR related to the ad's ranking, these impressions will not be taken into consideration, so for the ranking formula, the CTR will actually be higher (but the merchant has no way of knowing what that CTR really is).


 9:51 pm on Sep 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is something I've posted about before, but nobody quite seems to realize the severity of it. I think if everyone really saw what google was matching their ads to, they'd be as livid as I am. Query reports help, but why the "other unique queries?" what are you hiding?

Broad match does not work as well as described. Actually, I think it works terribly. First, it has a knack for displaying ads for adgroups with my higher bids.

Second, let's say I am bidding on "blue widget." When I do a search on "blues widget" (with an 's' on the end of blue) it fails to "broad match" to "blue widget" and instead triggers an ad for something like "red wingding." The odd thing is that the adgroup that does show an ad is one of my more expensive ones.

The ABSOLUTE WORST thing i've seen broad match do is show ads for searches that I AM NOT BIDDING ON.

Let's say i'm only bidding on "red widgets." Let's also say someone does a search for "blue wingding." Google will show my ad because it determined my ad was relevant to the search.

Now, if there was something relevant about it, i would have the damn keyword in my account. THERE'S A REASON I'M NOT BIDDING ON IT.

It shouldn't be our responsibility to literally sit down with a dictionary for all the negatives, you know? I'm smart enough to bid on all the keywords that I'd want to have an ad show for. Why does Google think they can do a better job than me?

because it's a great, easy way to make more money off of us...throw our ads wherever, get clicks, and feed us a bunch of BS about broad match relevant terms blah blah blah.


 12:07 am on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Broad match does not work as well as described. Actually, I think it works terribly...

The ABSOLUTE WORST thing i've seen broad match do is show ads for searches that I AM NOT BIDDING ON

It shouldn't be our responsibility to literally sit down with a dictionary for all the negatives, you know? I'm smart enough to bid on all the keywords that I'd want to have an ad show for. Why does Google think they can do a better job than me?

At the risk of taking this thread too far off track, there is a question about which I am genuinely curious. I would very much like to have at least a few serious and well-thought-out responses to this question, which I will then hand-carry to the decision makers in this area.

My question is this:

Broad match is configured (and documented) to work in a particular way, which includes 'expansions'. Given that this is so, why do advertisers who genuinely hate broad match because of the 'expansions' continue to use it - when 'exact match' is an option which would give them complete control, and when 'phrase match' is less 'exclusive' than exact, but is not expanded?

Again, this is a seriously intended question, which hopefully will generate equally serious responses.

Thanks in advance for time spent in responding.


<edit> fixed typo </edit>

[edited by: AdWordsAdvisor at 12:11 am (utc) on Sep. 25, 2007]


 2:14 am on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I rarely use it anymore, since it became expanded. But I'd *like* to be able to use it again. There are some broad matches I would like to be able to use, but some of the expansions are WAY off the mark. And yes, I can use negatives (and do) but when I'm managing 20 or more client accounts and thousands of keywords per account, I just can't keep up with the far fetched broad matches in order to keep adding them to my negatives.


 2:28 am on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

why do advertisers who genuinely hate broad match because of the 'expansions' continue to use it - when 'exact match' is an option which would give them complete control, and when 'phrase match' is less 'exclusive' than exact, but is not expanded?

When you create an advert, you are asked to enter keywords. You are not asked to surround them in quotes or braces. Broad matching is very-much the default, and I would suggest, misleadingly so.

A new advertiser will trust broad matching and then be disappointed because the presence of expansion on broad matches is counter-intuitive. Unless he reads the documents and understands them then he will reasonably assume there is no expansion-type behaviour.

The solution is to make the default a phrase match, which is the more intuitive form. Keywords created without any form of delimiter should be interpretted not as broad match but as phrase match. For those who want broad-match and the expansions, add a new delimiter around those terms.


*widget sale* = broad match with expansions
widget sale = phrase match
"widget sale" = phrase match
[widget sale] = exact match

The problem is that the word 'keyword' is expected to mean only that specific keyword, according to the English language as we know it.


 2:58 am on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)


Many thanks for the feedback so far. I have a meeting scheduled on Thursday morning with several folks whom I'd like to see your comments. I'll pass along a link to this thread at that time, and maybe even hand them a printed copy as well - being sort of old-school and loving the idea of reading from the printed page as an option. ;)

Much appreciated.



 3:58 am on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Re AWA's question:

In selecting keywords and deciding bidding the objective is to optimize the keyword relevancy, of which the metric is conversions, with CPC costs, all the while maximizing total profitability, which entails maximizing the audience within the aforementioned constraints.

As good as the Adwords keyword tool is, it is far from being exhaustive about all keyword permutations people actually use. If we use exact match, we fail to maximize the audience. And we can't just lay down a massive pattern of all the permutations we can think of, because we're not allowed that many keywords. True broad match is an excellent compromise.

We hate expanded broadmatch because it destroys the optimization of keyword relevancy and bidding. Expanded broad match typically kicks in on keywords with high bids and CTRs. When that happens, expanded broadmatch goes looking for other keywords to run, using only CTR as a metric. But advertisers don't want mere clicks. We want conversions. The typical expanded broadmatch ends up being high CPC and poorly converting. It's highly unprofitable.

Further, the user is being harmed too. They're being shown an ad that they think is relevant, but when they get to the site they see it isn't relevant.

And who benefits? Google. And takes it straight out of the credit card account leaving the advertiser largely in the dark about what hit them.

One simple example. Say you sell widgets wholesale and broad match "wholesale widgets", as widgets come in a mind-boggling variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. You're b2b. A typical b2b transaction is, say 30x a b2c transaction for widgets, so acquiring a customer is worth a lot. You bid high. You've got a good ad and a good reputation in the industry. You get high CTR. Expanded broadmatch kicks in and decides that wholesale=cheap and starts running your ad on "cheap widgets". You get lots of clicks from consumers, who promptly abandon your site because you don't sell to consumers.

So, what do you do? Go to exact match and leave lots of long-tail traffic on the table, or put in hours and hours tracking down all of the undesirable broadmatch terms and negativing them out so that you can have a full set of the desired traffic?

Or beg, plead, cajole, and curse Adwords to get that!%#@$!@# thieving E * V * I * L expanded broadmatch shut down.

I've been saying it for 3 years now: Please, please, PLEASE! turn that thing OFF!


 12:55 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

One other reason we often feel forced to use broad match is because of the low volume condition that can take exacts and phrase match offline. As we try to focus our keywords tighter, there's the low-volume limit where we're so targeted that the particular keywords each get so little traffic that an appreciable number of them go offline.

As far as G processing speed, surely exact matches take less crunching power - seems like low volume tags, that take us out of the auction, shouldn't exist. Since they do, we seek the balance between the two ends of the broad-phrase-exact spectrum and get pushed towards using the broad end of the spectrum more than we ideally would.


 2:04 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

AWA, one suggestion I've heard repeatedly at search conferences and on forums is exactly what was already suggested here, that is, bring back true broad match, and have a separate option for expanded.

Adwords Help describes broad match as matching the words in the phrase you enter, in any order. But it doesn't explain expanded match, i.e. the fact that you may be matched to searches that DON'T include all the words in your broad match keyword, and/or will match to words that aren't part of your keyword.

For example, one of my keywords is "family fun." I just saw in our Search Query report that we are being matched on searches for "family guy." Sorry, that has nothing to do with what I'm advertising, and it's NOT broad match - the word "fun" wasn't in the searched term, nor is it in any way relevant to "guy" nor to the entire searched phrase. If I wanted to match to "family guy", I would have just the word "family" as a broad match keyword - but I don't, for a reason (it's way too broad). This is where the problems come in, and where the option to have true broad match would fix the problem.

I hope this makes sense and helps you some, AWA.



 2:28 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Others have said quite well why we need the old broad match back. I just want to add that I would spend even more money on AdWords than I do now if I was able to use broad match without expansion. It would be a win/win change.

handsome rob

 3:46 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have to echo what many other here are saying, and what I myself have been saying for a long time.

When I do a broad match bid on New York Widget Rental and my ads are displayed (and clicked) for searches like:

New Orleans Widget Rental
New York Limo Rental
London UK Widgets

I see the value to Google (making money off the click), but what is the value to me since I don't operate in New Orleans, don't rent limos and have never even been across the pond to London? These aren't hypothetical examples... I have a spreadsheet FULL of examples just like this and worse.

Trust your advertisers to do their own keyword research and allow them to opt out of expanded broad matching. Not allowing advertisers to do so is absolutely indefensible and suggesting "a combination of phrase, exact and negative keywords" is not a solution. What advertiser in their right mind bidding on "New York" keywords would think to add "London" as a negative?


 4:38 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mel66 - I have recenltly seen a much worse example than your family guy problem.

I won't give actual kw but using a generic example.

I have a broad match kw for the brand of apples 'Granny Smiths', in my tracking system I see that it has been clicked on several times and that the actual search term entered was apples.

To me that is FAR FAR too broad. Worse still I set up another campaign and add the keyword apples as an exact match, with a much lower CPC bid, acording to AdWords support guides this should now be the only term that matches to that search term. Is it...nope...broad match on Granny Smiths continues to get clicks.

Obviously I then go and add a negative exact to the original group for the term apples....but should all of this really be necessary?

[edited by: Spitman at 4:40 pm (utc) on Sep. 25, 2007]


 4:54 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've had that happen too, spitman. It's absurd.



 5:09 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)


First, I should be clear that when I say "broad match," I really am talking about "expanded broad match."

Phrase match is often tough to use for a couple reasons: it is essentially a new keyword, with no QS. If I am bidding on "widgets" and set it to phrase match, it takes too long for the phrase part to start working. It takes time for me to show for "buy widgets" and "blue widgets for sale." If the quality score is too low to show the ad for these phrases, how am I supposed to build clicks and increase my quality? I don't think increasing the bid amount helped this, either.

Exact match is just too restrictive, and it's nearly impossible to find enough exact phrases when I have over 4,000 items in stock.

So, for a few extra examples on why I loathe the expanded broad match:

A search for "pinks sands clothing" does not trigger the "pink sands clothing" keyword. It misses it completely and displays an adgroup containing NONE of the three words in the query.

A search for one of our items in Spanish can trigger an ad...even though my keywords and site are ALL in English.

If expanded broad match is able to match words to each other, based on relevancy, then it should be able to start matching those words to items on our site. I'm tired of looking at the search query reports and wondering "how the *&^& did it decide a search for THAT should show my ad?"

Our site is checked, and compared to our keywords to confirm relevancy. Can't "expanded broad match" do the same relevancy checks?

handsome rob

 8:18 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)


I've experienced the foreign language match with my broad match keywords too. Unfortunately, no hablo espanol.


 9:02 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yet it's still "qualified traffic." NO refund for you.

handsome rob

 9:26 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> Yet it's still "qualified traffic." NO refund for you.



 9:40 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I use broad match because Google displays these ads first.

Believe me, I'd like to use exact match...even phrase match. then I'd get more "targetted" traffic.

but broad match, with a bunch of negative keywords seems to be the best way to get onto the front page of google PPC results (without paying an arm and a leg).


 11:33 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't know if this is related Mikkel but I have been searching for say 'green horn widgets' and then searched for 'poor people eaters' and Google have displayed 'green horn widget' adverts fused into the RHS results for the search 'poor people eaters'.

The search terms were totally unrelated, but interesting targeting going on, all without being logged in (eww, don't they know enough already?).

Has anyone else experienced this? I only saw it active for one morning.


 12:57 am on Sep 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google is permitting itself more liberties to support advertisers' quest for ever more volume. You can't fault Google for this, least of all given that their expanded broad matching - #*$!les, warts and all - is the best broad match in the market, but in cases where advertisers are feeling pain from EBM wackiness it certainly begs the question:

How can Google on the one hand be turning the Quality Screws more and more while riding the white horse of The Sacred User Experience, and at the same time encourage all new and existing advertisers to use EBM when it has such profound flaws built into it and which C - L - E - A - R - L - Y provide both a horrible user and advertiser experience?

Google gets ~70% of its revenues from broad match and EBM, whereas Yahoo gets only ~30%, and something tells me that's because Google has pushed broad match to all new advertisers and made it the default for a long time now. I don't expect Google (now in near-monopoly position) is going to give up its monetization advantage until some upstart search engine shows them that they can actually *take marketshare* away from Google.

AWA, hand-delivery of feedback makes for a great visual, but I advertisers are responsible for their own growth desires. I do, however, think it is more than mildly disingenuous to suggest that there's even the *remotest* possibility that Google execs will change the default match option to one that makes them less money - it just ain't gonna happen, no matter what campus you're on.


 1:22 am on Sep 26, 2007 (gmt 0)


Broad Match Bid Term = "Diet"

Matched To & Charged For Search Query "When Will I Die"

Why not match to "Girls Undies" (undies also has the three letters die in it)


Broad Match Bid Term = "Atlanta Widgets"

Broad match Displays for "Any City Widgets" (saved a lot of money when I discovered that one)


 12:59 pm on Sep 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

@bduns and handsome.rob: We've had the foreign language thing happen to us too. We've even had foreign *characters* driving clicks. Our campaigns are set to US / English only. The explanation given by Google is that the people doing those searches were located in the US and had their default language set to English, but were doing searches on non-English words.

I can understand that Google's algo can't always tell which words are English and which aren't. But can't they see the foreign characters and filter those out?


 1:14 pm on Sep 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here's another example, and AWA, this isn't fodder - I'm very serious about the obvious shortcomings here concerning broad match.

Google: Dozer Sandals
(dozer is a model of sandals made by the Teva sandal company)

The top ppc spot says "bulldozers for sale". He could be phrase matching "dozer", but I assume his relevancy for this search wouldn't pass muster. So I'll bet you $5 it's expanded broad match.

Spot 4 is also for someone selling bulldozers.

Keep this up and consumers will stop looking at the ppc ads.

For fun, and to bring focus to the un-relevancy (like an un-cola) being introduced by expanded broad match, search through the organic results and see how deep you have to go before running into a bulldozer listing that gets shown to this person who is searching for a popular model of sandals...


 6:01 pm on Sep 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Broad Match Bid Term = "Atlanta Widgets"
Broad match Displays for "Any City Widgets" (saved a lot of money when I discovered that one)

The ABSOLUTE WORST thing i've seen broad match do is show ads for searches that I AM NOT BIDDING ON.

Google: we care about user experience, quality and relevancy. At the same time they implement “expanded broad match.” This doesn’t sit well with me.

Here is one more example:
I’ve seen in adwords reports that google has “expanded broad matched” me on keywords in Spanish language typed in english letters. Thanks a lot!

Google is milking us like crazy with expanded broad match. It makes me think about another thread on this board “Google Says Click Fraud Is Overestimated”
I go to the car repair shop and place a work order to change the oil and the oil filter. Then I come back later and the service shop informs me that they also replaced my transmission. Do I have to pay for that transmission even if I didn’t order it?
When I see keywords that I didn’t bid on I feel the same way I don’t want to pay for those clicks!

*widget sale* = broad match with expansions
widget sale = phrase match
"widget sale" = phrase match
[widget sale] = exact match

I bet they discussed this structure before implementing it. Your fair proposal is not economically sound.

This 48 message thread spans 2 pages: 48 ( [1] 2 > >
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