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Say Goodbye to Broad Match Modifier: The Future of Google Ads

May 6, 2021

By Hannah Ferguson, KPItarget

This February, Google announced a pretty significant change to their Ads platform. The company is beginning to phase out one of their most popular keyword match options, Broad Match Modifier (BMM), and they are going to replace it with a more encompassing version of Phrase Match. What does this change mean for the future of Google advertising?

What is Broad Match Modifier?

Currently, Google offers four keyword match types: exact, phrase, broad, and negative match. Each match type allows advertisers to determine the breadth of ad placement reach that they want to receive from each of their keywords. Broad match modifier is the most flexible match type. BMM keywords match user searches with all the keyword terms designated with a + sign (or close variations of those terms) in any order. 

In the past, phrase match would only show ads to users who searched for the exact keyword phrases in the same order as they were entered into the ad account. Now, phrase match is expanding to include searches with similar meaning to the account’s keywords, and the ad placements will not be fully dependent on keyword order. Currently, 89% of advertisers are actively using broad match-modified keywords — will they be satisfied with their options when the match type is retired?

These changes have been in place since early February, but Google is still allowing users to utilize BMM until it has completely phased out in July. In the meantime, Google recommends that advertisers begin to incorporate the new version of phrase match into their campaigns. This transition period is intended to help marketers ease into the new normal of building campaigns on Google ads.

The Pros and Cons of Eliminating Broad Match Modifier

The pros and cons of this change are up to the interpretation of the user. Some users are very displeased by the update, while others see it as a time-saving opportunity. Account control has been a prevalent conversation surrounding Google Ads for a while now. The company says that this update will simplify match types and give advertisers more control over their account’s keywords, but some users are skeptical. With automated bidding and budget suggestions, it’s no secret that Google offers services to assist their users, but are these recommendations taking control away from the marketer? 

While this change comes with some speculation, there are several clear benefits. The updated version of phrase match is not going to be an exact replacement for broad match, but it will still highlight some of the key aspects of the popular match type. This update will give phrase match the ability to reach audiences of scale similar to broad match, but it will be slightly more targeted and easier to use than BMM. Additionally, users who have used phrase match keywords in the past will see a jump in the number of impressions that their ads receive. The changes to phrase match and BMM will not impact the other match types at all.  

What Changes Should Advertisers Expect?

The biggest difference that advertisers will see from this update is a slightly narrowed reach. BMM would show ads to users whose search queries included any related variation of the account’s keywords. The new phrase match will take keywords and the order they were written to find search queries that best fit the ad’s desired audience. Advertisers who predominantly use BMM will see a slight decrease in impressions from this change. Look at this example from Google to compare BMM and Phrase match: 

Advertisers can utilize the reporting and analytics tools within Google Ads to see the changes across their accounts. Users can test keyword variations to understand what will work best for their campaigns. By utilizing recommendations from Google and paying close attention to campaign results, this change should not greatly affect advertisers on the platform.

All in all, the removal of broad match modified keywords will bring both advancement and uncertainty to the advertising world. This is Google’s fifth time changing match type rules since launching Google Ads, and it’s unlikely to be the last change. As the digital marketing world continues to evolve, it’s up to marketers to find the best way to optimize these changes for their future campaigns.