The Death of BMM Keywords: Google Ads Latest Update

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Earlier this month, Google announced an update to the matching behavior of phrase and broad match modified (BMM) keywords that has every Google Ads user concerned with the future of search ads.

Though this change can lead to an increase in traffic on any of your phrase match keywords and a slight decrease in traffic on any BMM keywords, you need not worry. Below we will detail the current changes and go over best practices, adjusting strategy, and how this will impact paid search campaigns.

The BMM Pitfall Is Still On Course

According to an email blast sent by Google in early February, starting February 18th, phrase and BMM keywords will begin to match the same in user searches. This means that, with this updated matching behavior, ads may show on searches that include the same or more specific meanings as your keywords.

Google has also announced that this new phrase match will fully replace BMM by July. Currently, your existing BMM keywords will continue to work, but it is recommended to use phrase match keywords as a replacement for BMM going forward.

While this change is an effort to simplify keyword types and allows for more granular targeting, it comes after Google’s other recent announcement of limiting visibility on search terms. With these ongoing shifts, marketers must now rely heavily on audience targeting and tagging when the Google Ads platform is meant to simplify efforts with machine learning.

This change may cause stress for those who need to rely on the broader business for higher performance. In all actuality, audience targeting does allow us to:
● …go after customers rather than what they are searching for,
● …show ads to visitors who have interacted with our site,
● …reach existing customers with remarketing,
● …and much more!

Retiring BMM Is A Necessary Agony

Though learning to adjust to the constant changes that are Google Ads is a daunting task, the retiring of BMM is a necessary next step in the goal to build a more automated platform.

This change doesn’t mean that you will no longer be able to reach the users that you were targeting. It just means that longer tail keywords will no longer be triggered by BMM search terms and will slowly integrate with phrase match keywords instead. Below is a small table explaining the queries that will no longer be triggered.

Broad match modifier keywords and phrase match keywords.

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Keep in mind that this is something you will have to consider going forward. Since your BMM keywords will continue to work using the new phrase matching behavior, you will be able to keep all of your performance history and will not need to take any immediate action.

Best Practices to Help You Thrive Through The Change

As always, advertisers should monitor their search term reports, but there are a few additional best practices that will ensure that the BMM change has little impact on your current campaign performance.

Leverage Auction-Time Bidding: Consistently, the most pressing concern with Google Ads is overspending. Auction-Time bidding allows you to set bids more quickly and across more keywords.
Monitor Budget: As mentioned before, phrase traffic may increase. In turn, this may also increase your ad spend. Check for campaigns that are underperforming, overperforming, or limited by budget to ensure continued success.
Check Device, Demographic, and Location Reports: Though it may seem counterintuitive to limit your ad show, platform changes can bring about strange phenomena. Similar to monitoring your budget, make sure your ads are going to the proper targets and not being wasted on a particular type of audience.
Utilize Keyword Tools: The biggest under-utilized weapon in your ads repertoire is negative keywords. Be sure to add a minus (-) to any words that will bring your ad in front of the wrong audience. For example, a hotel such as Tierra Patagonia may want to add a minus on top of words like “clothing,” “jacket,” or “gloves” to stay away from fans of outdoor gear. Keyword planners can help you filter out these modifiers.
Maximize To Maintain Budget: There is nothing wrong with wanting to stick to your daily budget. If the increase in phrase match is your pressing concern, an Automated Bidding Strategy setup to Maximize Conversions or Maximize Clicks is the best way to maintain traffic.

3 smart bidding strategies for marketing goals.

(Image Source)

Embrace The Future Without BMM Keywords

Closer to the final changes, Google will start to surface recommendations to help remove redundant BMM keywords in the same ad group where the keyword is already present as a phrase match.

Until then, marketers with heavy reliance on broad match-modified keywords should consider creating ad groups or campaigns at a match type level, segmenting them between different users. In other words, it’s time to re-evaluate your funnel. Best practice suggests that exact match should be used as a lower-funnel strategy, phrase match as mid-funnel, and broad match (not to be confused with broad match modified) as upper funnel.

Aside from working on your funnel, now may be a good time to implement prospecting and retargeting campaigns. The classic marketing “rule of 7” suggests that a user needs to see an ad 6-7 times before converting. This cannot be done without retargeting your captures.

BMM or not, don’t ever underestimate the skill of audience targeting. Think creatively about who is behind the keyboard, do research, and lock down your keyword phrases. Going this extra mile can help you build audiences that help you target the correct user every time.

While this all may seem like additional work, and frankly a waste of time, the marketing world is constantly changing in order to work out these kinks. The worst that can happen is that we as marketers learn how to lock-in an airtight strategy as the services we rely on make the changes necessary for us to grow in the future.

Sarah Jean Aviola

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