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AdWords is breaking the most fundamental SEM rule

We're showing ads for keywords we don't bid on



7:32 pm on Jul 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

So I suppose this is more of a rant than a question, as I have already confirmed this with our google rep.

AdWords is showing our ads for searches done on keywords on which we are not bidding. This is NOT a case of "expanded broad matching" or any of the other garbage about phrase matching, negative keywords etc. etc.

I guess I can't really mention specific keywords, but it's the equivalent of searching for something like "sandals," and then Google shows an ad for bathing suits.

Sure, bathing suits go with sandals, but if I'm not bidding on "sandals," why the heck would I want someone searching for sandals to click on my ad for bathing suits?

The whole point of SEM is to identify someone searching for a specific item, then making sure that they see your ad for that product. It is NOT about suggesting other related things or guessing what else the might be interested in.

So if anyone out there is wondering why the heck they're getting so many impressions....you may be showing ads for things you aren't bidding on.


7:45 pm on Jul 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yeah unfortunately you have a long road of negatives head of you to get them out.


7:46 pm on Jul 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Haha, not me....our reps have a loooong road... :)


1:44 am on Jul 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think this is a case of "expanded broad match".

Whatever you call it, many of us at webmasterworld have seen similar things recently. AdWords is antagonizing a lot of people.


2:19 am on Jul 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Valid point, but you can be narrow-minded if you think consumers only buy what they are "looking for." Have you never bought something offline or online that you weren't searching for?



2:41 am on Jul 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We have also noticed our ads appearing for queries not related to our keywords. For example the query "BrandName-123" was triggering the ad for the "BrandName-456". We confirmed that there were indeed no overlapping words. Since the launch of the expanded broad match, our conversions have taken a dive and incorrect matches like this would explain such problems.

This is a serious regression in functionality for advertisers who have taken the time to be more specific to improve relevance. It is also a serious blow to the search quality experience for Google's end users.

I think it is very reasonable that Google advertisers begin demanding refunds for incorrect ad placement. In my mind, it's as serious an issue as click fraud and it is time for a third party to monitor the quality of Google's matching algorithms.


3:12 am on Jul 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

See [webmasterworld.com...] for a recent discussion of this growing problem.


6:23 pm on Jul 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for that link, cline, but that's what got me started on looking for this problem within my account.

I've talked more with our reps (we get a whole team of people), and get a load of this:


I can understand some examples of the broad matching, where a single word is the same in two different phrases....but showing my ads when someone searches on a term that I AM NOT BIDDING ON?

This is completely against PPC theory.

True, people sometimes can be "switched" to buy something they weren't looking for....but I can't learn anything from this, because I have no idea WHAT search query is triggering an ad...I'm blind.


7:06 pm on Jul 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How does this affect the quality score for a keyword? If they are showing the ad for terms that are not being bid on and people are not clicking, does it lower the overall quality score for the keyword?


7:15 pm on Jul 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have to agree with BDuns..though I can see how finding 'related' items could be of value to both the advertiser AND consumer..it defeats the entire purpose of ppc. Anytime the line between the concrete and abstract is approached, things get confusing.

I think the only way for google or any other engine to justify this search standard fairly is to share with customers their method of grouping...and everyone knows that ISN'T going to happen :)

It would be ideal to create a search engine that reads minds and just KNOWS what a person is searching, providing as broad or as exact results as the person is looking for..BUT until then..the engine has only the words/phrases provided to go by. Google is trying to be a mind reader..giving up relevancy for mind reading!


2:46 am on Jul 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

BDuns, Adwords has been doing this for years to advertisers, and they appear to be doing it more and more. Every advertiser should run a search query report. Many will be shocked by what they see.

I've been complaining to my reps about expanded broadmatch for years. If more advertisers were aware of the harm being done to them and to users by expanded broadmatch, perhaps there would be enough of an outcry to convince Google to stop this harmful practice.


7:01 am on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Gotta love how when you try to bid on a keyword that's not "relevant" quality score kills you.

Then Google does it without your permission.


9:37 am on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

"This is completely against PPC theory. "

The second tier PPC services have been doing this for years to get additional traffic (which they can bill).

It seems Google has 'learnt' from them how to generate more clicks and bigger bills...

The other thing these 'other' second/third rung PPC services do ..is send a mixture of bot and human traffic.... I hope big G does not take this step....

Way to go..


9:51 am on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

There sure is a lot of waffle from Google...somebody must have read 1984 by George Orwell and decided to try out doublespeak in spectacular fasion.

look at this from their own learning center

==> Please not the the decisions we make concerning advertising in no way affect the search result we deliver.

Now go to google and pick a highly competitive market generate an advert and then search for the words in the advert verbatim.. (obviously i can't name specific ads or companies)

Right so... the long and short is that their are ADWORDS ads appearing as description CONTENT in the serps. Adwords is being served to SOME google customers as html and returning to the serps... so wheres this 'in no way affect the search results' then?

Y'know when a company has to jump up and down telling you what nice people they are you can be almost 100% assured that the opposite is the case! The humble don't screem their modesty from the rooftops!


4:24 pm on Jul 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I should probably post this to the "features I would like to see" list, but I wanted to get some input.

Is it possible to come up with an ideal list of matching options? Whether or not Google's system can handle them is another story, but what would we like to have?

Going from broad to narrow:

1. Expanded Broad Match
2. Broad Match
3. True Phrase Match
-your ad shows for every query with that phrase
4. Relevant Phrase Match
-same as the current Phrase Match
5. Exact Match

Is there anything else? I would use all of those options depending on the campaign. There are times Expanded Broad Match works and there are times it doesn't. There are times the current Phrase Match is fine, but there are certain cases where it excludes too many relevant queries.


5:11 am on Jul 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

This is NOT a case of "expanded broad matching" or any of the other garbage about phrase matching, negative keywords etc. etc.

If it's not broad match, then what is it?

If this isn't a strategy to juice earnings, then maybe we'll see organic listings for sandals fill the top results when people search for bathing suits. Google might as well hand the search crown to MSN, Ask.com or yahoo!


1:20 am on Jul 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I agree with skibum. Everything I've seen about this is that it's an attempt to juice earnings -- and a tremendously successful one. Advertisers are unaware of what's happening. They just pay the bills.


12:19 pm on Jul 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

As of a few months ago we question the display of ads with our Google team EVERY time we see it going awry. Google generally hate using human time. If we use up their time asking them to explain, fix, augment or advise EVERY time then our philosophy is that they will realize over time how much human input we use up and simply comply by advising us in a way that won't have us on the phone to them.

In one campaign they 'extend broad matched' one area in south america to another 1500 miles away... a little like comparing 'skiing in the rockies' to 'surfing in california'... crazy stuff... and everyone knows there is no relationship whatsoever.

So if my team fires off one email to each to their preferred contact in Google and they each wait until they get an answer by pausing the campaign... (trust me it takes a lot of guts to pause a campaign until you hear back ... but it takes almost no time at all if you tell them you 'paused the account' )

My feeling is that just like Google specialists offering to 'optimise' your account that you get all sorts waffle but the bottom line is that a record of your comms are kept and when that reaches critical mass there will be an examination of your accounts. Stupid attempts to loosen wallets by 'extended broad match' etc. will be re-considered. Especially if they see tons of negative matches in accounts.

My advice on this particular thing is that Google ARE fluffing out their balance sheet at advertisers expense needlessly...and they know it. I know this because I know it...and I don't work for google!

That I could not care less if my competitors are taken to the cleaners by Google. In fact if I thought I could engineer a bill 'legally' of course from Google three times the normal size to my rivals then I'd do it.

So in a way its in my interest for Google to send out large bills...just not to me!

So I query everything, I never let Google 'broad match' my terms and most of them are exact matches on older accounts now anyway...only new ones are broad and even then I won't let them away with a red cent without an email full of explanation. So eventually Google will have to come up with new BS...just for me... lol


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