MAJOR Changes to Your Google Ad Grant – And How to Manage Them

Google Ad Grant Changes
Date Published
01/08/2018

Effective January 1, 2018, Google made significant changes to its Ad Grants program that will affect every organization that receives an Ad Grant. Google sent out an email 17 days prior to these changes going into effect, and pushed a notification to users within the platform, but many nonprofits are still left wondering what steps they need to take to remain compliant. It’s critical that you familiarize yourself with and follow the new requirements. Not complying could mean the loss of your Google Ad Grant.

Read on to learn more about what these changes mean and steps to take to limit the likelihood of your account violating these new policies. 

There have always been restrictions on how advertisers can use Ad Grant accounts, notably the $2 cost-per-click (CPC) maximum. The new stricter requirements are designed to improve the quality of Google Ad Grants accounts, forcing them to run more efficiently. While the potential loss of your grant may seem harsh, the aim of these changes is to ensure that grant money is being maximized for the benefit of each organization. Nonprofits must now take a deep look at campaign metrics and optimize their accounts accordingly if they want to continue to use their Ad Grant funds.

Here are some of the key changes.

  • 5% Account-level click-through rate(CTR)*: Google is now essentially requiring organizations to monitor and adjust campaigns regularly to ensure that they are fully optimized. Under the new requirements, you will likely need to trim down your current activities significantly and build out campaigns that are highly targeted to your services and mission. Google wants to make sure that its grant dollars are being used to serve their users relevant ads.
  • No more PPC spending cap: It used to be that you could not spend more than $2 per click in a Google Ad Grant campaign. However, the limit has been removed, when selecting a “maximize conversions” bid strategy. What this means is that Google now allows nonprofits to select more relevant keywords and create more efficient campaigns. Google wants your ads to be relevant, so they are no longer going to hamper your ability to compete with paid accounts bidding on the same keywords.
  • Single-word-use restrictions: Ad Grant accounts will be restricted from bidding on single-word keywords, except for “owned brand terms, medical conditions, basic keywords relating directly to supporting a charity, or due to the sensitive nature of the causes that charities support.” This also means nonprofits can no longer bid on keywords owned by their competitors.
  • Geo-targeting settings must be in use: This means that you need to target searchers based on locations relevant to your service area.
  • Each campaign must have a minimum of two ad groups with at least two active ads in each of them.

With $10,000 per month at stake, the potential loss of the grant makes it well worth the effort to comply! These grants are a huge opportunity for nonprofits to augment your marketing and fundraising efforts. Even if you need to enlist outside help from an agency like Allegiance Fundraising, it’s worth the investment to retain these free media dollars you get from Google.

There are a few things that are key to success in this new environment on Google.

  1. Optimize your campaigns. This will require regular monitoring, or optimization, of every campaign. Start by looking at campaigns with the lowest click-through rate. Consider whether these campaigns are necessary for your goals, and optimize them to increase performance. Delete any irrelevant keywords that have found their way into your campaigns; these will only continue to hinder your success.
  2. Be strategic with your audience selection and messaging. Be aware of what has worked best for your organization in the past to develop a strategy for future success. A landing page and ad that speak directly to the users’ search intent should yield higher click-through rates and improve your ad ranks scores. Also, ensure that your geo-targeting is as relevant as possible for your audience.
  3. Know your competition. We know you are certainly aware of who they are, but now you must be aware of what is working for other organizations in your market, or vertical, if you want to compete effectively. There are several tools out there, such as SEMrush, that can help you gain insight into what nonbranded keywords work best for your competition or vertical.
  4. Test, test, test, optimize. You need to test to see where there are opportunities for improvement. New policies require Ad Grant accounts to have at least two ads in each ad group. We recommend going beyond this for all clients so you can get a better idea of what actually resonates with searchers. If you track your data appropriately, your high-value keywords and ads sets will call themselves out and you can adjust your campaigns and bid strategies accordingly.

Currently, Google is threatening to revoke Ad Grant funding from any organization that does not follow the new guidelines for more than two consecutive months.

We urge you to review your current campaigns immediately and make the necessary steps to comply with these policy updates.

If you would like to consider getting outside help with your Google Ad Grant campaign, please contact us to find out how we can help.

*Grantspro accounts, receive $40,000 per month. Recipients of these grants also need to meet the 5% account-level click-through rate, up from 1%.

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