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Google Grant CPC cap removed

Other changes rolled out in Jan 2018

12:15 pm on Feb 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Only just noticing this one today and found it odd there weren't any updates on the AdWords blog.

$2 CPC no longer applies to Google Grant accounts, but you need to set bidding to optimise for conversions. A few other changes too - min 5% CTR, must geo target, min QS3 for keywords, etc.

What's irked me about this is we're running an account for free for a small local charity - the account got suspended a couple of weeks ago (there was a notification but sent to the charity's email which never made its way to my inbox...). I spent an hour on the phone with Google support (going through the account keyword by keyword...) and he didn't mention once that these changes had just rolled out and were the cause of the suspension.

Bit of a communication fail from Google, but interesting changes nonetheless as the $2 cap was pretty restrictive.
3:04 pm on Feb 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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yep, no replies regarding my questions on this through a couple of non-profit forums. have you learned anything elsewhere about this?
3:26 pm on Feb 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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hey... I'm running a Google Grant account, and I just tried to adjust some of my bids above $2 and I'm still getting the "Bid is too large" notice. Keyword has 11.11% CTR, is geo targeted, and has a QS of 8. Is there some documentation that anyone can find on this? I know you are saying that there aren't any updates on Adwords Blog yet, but I'm curious how you ran across this? Thanks!
3:29 pm on Feb 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Not a great deal.

As I said I had a chat with support on the phone. He was super-keen to remove a lot of keywords from the account - there wasn't anything too bad (IMO), but stuff like "Facebook + [charity name]" he wanted to remove. The charity organises support groups, so pushing people to their FB pages was important, but we ended up removing it.

Other keywords removed were "hospital + [other term]" - they were edge cases for the campaign, but still relatively relevant to the charity.

The bulk of keywords removed were help / advice / info related. The charity supports families who have lost a child during pregnancy, so obviously a sensitive area. I ended up removing anything that could potentially have more than 1 intent behind the search. So "support group..." related stuff remained, but general "dealing with..." terms were removed. In all honesty I think we were too strict removing those as they were pretty relevant.

I pushed back on a few recommended changes though and the support guy was reasonably accommodating on that front so it's worth picking up the phone and chatting to them if you can.

The account was reactivated a day after that call - it gets reviewed by a specialist team.

My take on it is that the $2 cap was too restrictive, but necessary to prevent charities going into a bidding war for donation related terms. This seems to be a compromise - you still can't set a bid higher than $2 but if you let Google bid for you via adjustments / automatic bidding, they'll go higher. I've seen a 2nd account that's already hitting $25 clicks for some terms.

As part of the compromise, the general standard of the account needs to be higher - presumably to make the machine learning component of the bidding system more effective. So keywords over QS3, min CTR for account of 5%, at least 2 ads per ad group, at least 2 ad groups per campaign, no single word keywords, geotargeting in place, good conversion tracking, at least 2 sitelink extensions, no unaffiliated brand keywords, no super-generic keywords, etc.

I.e. a bunch of stuff that forces a selective narrowing of targeting.

It's not a terrible bunch of changes and should actually be pretty positive, but I think Google have underestimated just how slowly a lot of charities move. It was basically 17 days warning (over the Xmas period!) for a Jan 1st implementation.
3:33 pm on Feb 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@TheRealSaxman - we have a web dev client who we did the Google Grant setup for last year before they took it in house. They mentioned it in a meeting, then I found some stuff online. Google help pages still not updated but a few random blogs covering it.

SEL post from Dec: [searchengineland.com...]

The $2 physical cap is in place, but if you change bid strategy to optimise for conversions, Google will raise the CPC and spend the budget for you. Not sure if it also works for other bidding strategies, but manual CPC doesn't appear to be an option.

[edited by: Marketing_Guy at 3:44 pm (utc) on Feb 22, 2018]

3:37 pm on Feb 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Also I should point out, I'm just finding out about this stuff today and haven't tested a lot of it.

When the account was reactivated, there were keywords with QS less than 3 for example, so that point doesn't seem to be a hard trigger for an account being shut down.

Actually, I think Google are reasonably flexible on most the points which seem more like general guidelines.

I suspect the change has just been rushed out the door without thinking it through too much and it's caught a few people off guard.
7:59 pm on Feb 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This is the best write up on it that I have found:

He goes through all the examples line by line.

I have a client w/ the grants plus (40k/mo) and it seems like they are knocking that down to 10k/mo so that is a bit rough.