Thursday, February 4, 2021

Changes to phrase match and broad match modifier

On February 4, 2021, we announced upcoming changes to phrase match and broad match modifier. To simplify the keyword portfolio and help advertisers reach more relevant user searches, we are bringing behaviors of broad match modifier (BMM) into phrase match, and phasing out support for BMM. This will be a gradual rollout that will change the back end processing for keyword match types (AdWords API, Google Ads API, Google Ads scripts) in order to simplify keywords and make it easier to reach relevant customers.

The updated phrase match will contain the best of both match types: the control of phrase match, and the expanded reach of broad match modifier. Both phrase and BMM keywords will continue to work and beginning February 18, 2021 for our first wave of languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian), keywords using the phrase or BMM notations will begin to use the updated phrase match behavior. In Q2 we will begin the same process for all other Google Ads languages, and expect to complete in July 2021.

In July 2021, once all languages have the updated phrase match behavior, advertisers will be prevented from creating new BMM keywords (but any legacy BMM keywords will still work).

The changes to phrase match and BMM will not impact negative keyword match types.

How does this change affect the AdWords API, Google Ads API and Google Ads scripts?
Starting in July 2021, you will no longer be able to create new BMM keywords (i.e. matchType of BROAD and keyword text in which tokens begin with +). We will do a separate reminder announcement as we get closer to this milestone.

What impact should advertisers expect?
Impact will depend on each advertiser's usage of phrase and/or BMM and how comprehensive their query coverage is.
  • Advertisers predominantly using phrase match are expected to see an incremental increase in clicks and conversions
    • This is due to the additional queries to which these keywords will now be eligible to match. For example, “holidays in zambia” as a phrase keyword will now begin to match to “holiday spots in zambia”, which was previously only eligible for BMM.
  • Advertisers predominantly using BMM are expected to see a slight decrease in clicks and conversions
    • The majority of this loss is from BMMs where the modifier was only applied to part of the keyword, e.g. tennis +shoes.
    • In addition we are now considering word order when it’s important to the meaning of the keyword, so some matches that previously matched to BMM will be filtered out.
What should I do?
Advertisers may experience traffic shifts. User queries that previously matched to keywords in one match type may become eligible to match to a phrase or legacy BMM keyword causing the volume to move across keywords. For this reason it is important for advertisers to monitor their accounts and adjust budgets if needed to accommodate additional volume. Additional best practices are outlined in the announcement.

If you have any questions or need additional help, contact us via the forum.