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View Poll Results: Google Should...
Separate Broad Match & Expanded Match 24 82.76%
Keep Broad Match & Expanded Match Combined 0 0%
Restore Classic Broad Match & Kill Expanded Match 2 6.90%
Show Everything Expanded Match Will Trigger 15 51.72%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 29. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-26-2006   #1
tonerman
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Up The Creek With Google AdWords Broad Match

I recently noticed some Google clicks on keywords that were not in any of my campaigns. I sell toner cartridges on the web and I've been a satisfied Google advertiser since the days when Google charged per thousand impressions. My highest spend in any one year was 145K.

Yesterday I saw 3 clicks on the search term "NEC Supersrcipt 860" and that term is not in any of my campaigns. The 3 clicks were on my ad for the "NEC Superscipt 870 toner cartridge." at an average cost of $3.32 per click - $10. Of course they didn't buy anything from us - we didn't have the item they needed or were looking for. $10 down the drain.

Then I found another click the same day for the search term "Samsung ML-1430" and that was another term we did not have active in our keywords. The ad that displayed was for the Samung ML-1450.

Then I saw a click for the search term "Minolta 1300 drum" -another item we don't sell and the ad that displayed was for a different model number (1250W). More money down the drain! I didn't look hard - these examples just leaped out of my log files.

Googles comment to me was "I understand that due to the specificity of your keywords, expanded matching may not yield the most relevant results. Therefore, I suggest changing all of your keywords to either phrase or exact match."

So how do I fix this? Phrase Match with a bunch of scrambled phrases that allow for different search term sequences, plurals, alternate spellings, etc. What's the problem with that? My established key words with high CTR's are going to be dead and that's going to be expensive. How about negative keywords? That's a good tactic in this instance but given the clicks coming in on for products we don't sell, and the thousands of products out there, I wouldn't even know where to begin.

The moral of this story is that if you advertise technical products like computers and computer components. medical equipment, consumer electronics, or any other technical product that is part number, brand and model specific in use, and you have invested in broad match like I have, you are up the creek my friend if you try to fix it by changing your keywords to pharse and exact match! Kiss your CTR's goodbye.

My last letter to Google was my question about what they estimated the cost to me would be as a result of losing all my established CTR''s and starting over. They haven't answered that one yet, but my best guess is a 20% cost increase along with a huge drop in sales as a result of lower ad position.

Following Google's advice to advertisers over the years has lead me into a box that I can only escape by giving Google more money for less in one big gusher, or just letting them slowly bleed me to death with irrelevant ads and visitors who don't find items on the landing page that match their search query. Isn't it a Google rule that your landing page has to contain the item advertised. Apparently, that only applies to advertisers, not Google.

Expanded match in my opinion has just become an unadvertised conduit for content advertising at search term rates. Google doesn't count Expanded Match impressions in your CTR's. What does that remind you of? What ever happened to the value of relevance at Google?

Of course Google could solve this problem for me and all of its customers who have established campaigns using "Broad Match" simply by making Expanded Match an option under the previous functionality of Broad Match. All it would take is one off-on Button in the Ad campaign settings. Do I think they'll change it? No.

I hope Adwords Rep takes a look at this and responds. I woiuld be interested in his/her feedback.

Tonerman

Last edited by tonerman : 01-27-2006 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 01-26-2006   #2
integramed
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I hear exactly what you're saying. But, at the end of the day, if you have a very specific product such as a "NEC Superscipt 870 toner cartridge" then you are best off with phrase or exact match rather than let Google make decisions for you. Don't blame Google for "trying to help" with broad match. As regards losing position and CTR, remember, it's conversions that really count, not CTR. I assume you are using conversion tracking and are carefully monitoring cost per conversion. That's the number to watch. I would not worry about losing CTR, I would come back with specific matching, and clean up on conversions! Good luck.
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Old 01-26-2006   #3
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Yeah, you are right today, but not when Broad Match was originally established. I have installed Analytics at a lot of expense on a custom cart site so I know how to watch conversions. My gripe is with the little noticed change in functionality Google made to Broad Match with Expanded Match. Google isn't helping me or searchers when it shows ads that are not relevant to the query and the item is unavailable when the searcher clicks on the ad. You call that "helping"?

I do blame myself for not noticing the subtle change to Broad Match whenever Expanded Match came into being. However, it never occurred to me that Google would show a "search only" ad with no keywords that matched the query term!

Last edited by tonerman : 01-26-2006 at 10:29 PM.
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Old 01-26-2006   #4
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The Google answer to the impact of changing to Phrase Match from Broad Match was: when a keyword matching option is changed, the history of that keyword is lost. Please note your ad's position is based on both your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) for the matched keyword and your Quality score on Google and the Google Network, both in relation to other advertisers running on the same or similar keywords. Therefore, your ads' position with these 'new' keywords may vary. "

As to my question regarding potential cost impact of changing the matching options the answer I got was Google was "unable to predict the change in cost to these keywords, I suggest using the recommended amounts given by the Keyword Traffic Estimator (located under the 'tools' tab in 'Campaign Management') and altering them accordingly as they accrue history."

Like I said - up a creek. Try to stem the bleeding with negative keywords when you notice unproductive clicks (fairly easy with Analytics - very hard otherwise) or prepare yourself for a bloodbath.
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Old 01-26-2006   #5
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by integramed
I hear exactly what you're saying. But, at the end of the day, if you have a very specific product such as a "NEC Superscipt 870 toner cartridge" then you are best off with phrase or exact match rather than let Google make decisions for you. Don't blame Google for "trying to help" with broad match. As regards losing position and CTR, remember, it's conversions that really count, not CTR. I assume you are using conversion tracking and are carefully monitoring cost per conversion. That's the number to watch. I would not worry about losing CTR, I would come back with specific matching, and clean up on conversions! Good luck.
In terms of a specific keyword like "NEC Superscript 879 toner cartridge" that was only one of many keywords in that product's ad campaign key words. Other key word broad match phrases as example where "Nec 870 toner' "Nec 870 cartridge" "Nec 870 toner module" etc - "Superscript 870 toner" etc etc, maybe 40 50 key word phrases in all. Of course the purpose was to hit every possible search term that was relevant to the product.
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Old 01-27-2006   #6
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I see two choices really:

1. Change all of your groups to phrase or exact match. This will take a lot of time and effort and your CTRs will start from the default amount again. Click prices may be more expensive at first, but as your ads will be more specific you may receive higher CTRs and have lower bid prices in the long term.

2. Add in as many negative keywords as you can. Use information from your stats and any keywords that come up in the Overture and Google keyword tools.
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Old 01-27-2006   #7
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Thanks. For the moment I'm going with adding negative keywords. Analytics makes it easy for me to see any keywords that display ads for items we don't carry. With Analytics I might catch them looking at keywords that have impressions but no clicks. They are easy to spot if they generate a click. For new campaigns I'll use phrase or exact match.

There is another factor I forgot and in fact I posted about it a longtime ago and forgot about it. Expanded Match also uses all the keywords in your campaigns to generate ad results. I have a paused campaign for ML-1430 and it is linked to the same URL as my ML-1450 campaign. Expanded Match saw a ML-1430 query and popped up the ML-1450 ad. Pause for the ML-1430 keywords got overridden by Expanded Match.

Let me tell you I was angry as a hornet when I first noticed this. It really isn't the end of the world, but once you get caught in my situation there are only two ways out - exactly the two you suggested.

Some peoples lives serve merely as a warning to others. Motivation poster showing large ship beginning the final plunge to the bottom of the sea.

Last edited by tonerman : 01-27-2006 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 01-27-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonerman
I do blame myself for not noticing the subtle change to Broad Match whenever Expanded Match came into being.
I have noticed lately that the Expanded Match net seems to be being cast wider and wider, lowering the relevance of the ads that are displayed. This does not seem to be in anyone's best long term interests and I hope Google fixes it.

One answer is to use negative matches on words and phrases you don't want to match (e.g. -860 in your NEC Superscript group). The problem is

a) this is a lot of work to fix what is often, IMO, a Google bug
b) knowing you don't want to match certain words before you have matched them a few times!
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Old 01-27-2006   #9
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tonerman, several of my clients are experiencing the exact same targeting problems you are. I began noticing them in August 2005. I've set a stack of email to my Adwords rep giving specific examples of the problem. It keeps happening over and over. And, like you, I get back the same essentially useless advice about exact matching and negative keywords.

IMHO when an advertiser specifies to Adwords what keywords they want targeted and Adwords decides to target different keywords, this is a serious and fundamental breach of the trust the Advertiser can have in Adwords.

Yes, expanded broadmatch makes some sense, esp. with the many users who are not good at keyword targeting. But taking away the advertiser's control over targeting is unconscionable.

Adwords needs to do one of the following:
* Allow the advertiser to turn expanded broadmatch off
* Inform the advertiser of *exactly* what terms expanded broadmatch will trigger
* Get rid of expanded broadmatch.
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Old 01-27-2006   #10
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Wait Just a Second!

Quote:
Adwords needs to do one of the following:
* Allow the advertiser to turn expanded broadmatch off
* Inform the advertiser of *exactly* what terms expanded broadmatch will trigger
* Get rid of expanded broadmatch.
Broadmatch (as it was first introduced is NOT a problem) -- It's the "expanded match" that is the problem!

Broadmatch can be used very successfully if you know that your broadmatch keyword of colored widgets will get matches for cheap colored widgets, large colored widgets, variety pack colored widgets, etc. And you employ negative keywords.

The problem is when the expanded match comes in and displays your ads for searches that DO NOT contain your broad match keyword --- like cyan widgets, pumpkinseed widgets, gold widgets!!!!!!!!!!!

Adwords really needs to do THIS:
* Separate Broadmatch and Expanded match
* THEN allow the advertiser to elect which ones to use!
* AND inform the advertiser of *exactly* what terms "expanded match" will trigger
* OR keep broadmatch (as it was originally introduced) and GET RID of Expanded match.
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Old 01-27-2006   #11
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jbgilbert, what part of "expanded" is missing from "expanded broadmatch"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cline
Adwords needs to do one of the following:
* Allow the advertiser to turn expanded broadmatch off
* Inform the advertiser of *exactly* what terms expanded broadmatch will trigger
* Get rid of expanded broadmatch.

Last edited by cline : 01-27-2006 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 01-27-2006   #12
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cline,

Not disputing your recommendation -- agree totally.

Just wanted to make the point that Google needs to take this a bit further. If they want "expanded" to stay around separate it out.....

If we are lucky, Google reads this and cares they may do something. So far, I have not gotten my rep to take this as seriously as I'd like.
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Old 01-27-2006   #13
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The money bugs me, but the lack of relevance drives me nuts.

It can't help Google or any of us for searchers to click on a Google ad link and then not find the item on the page or anywhere else on the site. Long haul, expanded match mis-used (I have no heartburn with tennis racquets versus rackets.) is going to lead some people to shy away from ads, versus being a satisfied user who believes the ad represents a match for their query term.

It also bugs me that my ads have to be relevant and Google's mis-use of my ads don't. Expanded match is a long way from Google's excellent SERP's. A friend said to me that if Google's organic SERPS were as bad as some of the expanded match results Google shows today they would have never gotten out of the starting gate years ago.
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Old 01-28-2006   #14
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tonerman I recently turned off campaigns with 6 months of good CTR and data history. I flat out launched new campaigns from ground zero, and I had the same worry as you. It took only 2 weeks until everything normalized and allowed me to start fine tuning. My CTRs are good again and I'm glad I didn't wait before I made the switch.

I don't think its such a big deal now looking back.
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Old 01-28-2006   #15
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Thanks for the reassurance.

That's good info Fulton! Thanks. I'll pick a couple of my campaigns and make the switch and see how it goes. Curious if I can get the CTR's up. I will have to be sure I don't screw up the phrases. I can look at my own Netracker files (they let me isolate every keyword for any page that triggered a click, or a click and a conversion. Guess I've got my own personnel wordtracker for my products with several years data.

I can do a custom query in Netracker and "BOOM" every keyword for any product page.
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Old 01-29-2006   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonerman
The Google answer to the impact of changing to Phrase Match from Broad Match was: when a keyword matching option is changed, the history of that keyword is lost. Please note your ad's position is based on both your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) for the matched keyword and your Quality score on Google and the Google Network, both in relation to other advertisers running on the same or similar keywords. Therefore, your ads' position with these 'new' keywords may vary. "

As to my question regarding potential cost impact of changing the matching options the answer I got was Google was "unable to predict the change in cost to these keywords, I suggest using the recommended amounts given by the Keyword Traffic Estimator (located under the 'tools' tab in 'Campaign Management') and altering them accordingly as they accrue history."

Like I said - up a creek. Try to stem the bleeding with negative keywords when you notice unproductive clicks (fairly easy with Analytics - very hard otherwise) or prepare yourself for a bloodbath.
Up the creek? I'm sorry, I don't get it.

You seem to place a pretty high expectation on an advertising medium. Unreasonably high, IMHO.

Don't like broad match results? You can opt out. Where's the harm?

It would help if you gave examples of the broad match phrases you were using, that mapped to searches you didn't like. Otherwise we're just guessing.

I've heard the sensible suggestions on this thread that Google could make expanded broad match an opt-out. Well, technically they have done this by allowing you to use phrase match. And certainly they have done too much playing around with the expanded matching without informing advertisers of this. But on the whole, it's not causing that many problems. I can't believe three unwanted clicks is something you'd allow yourself to get "angry as a hornet" about. You'll be a very angry guy for a very long time if you set your expectation so high.

Just adjust, as others have done, and keep at it.

Part of my perspective though is shaped by the fact that I've always advised advertisers on the specifics of this platform. When expanded broad matching was terrible, my colleagues and I advised clients accordingly. When it got a little better, I advised and wrote about that, also. On pgs. 150 and 213-214 of my book, I talk explicitly about expanded broad matching. That's just one of a number of places advertisers have been have been warned, and given the pros and cons, by third parties. (I discuss pros and cons, not just cons.)

The information is not a secret, and this just in, too: you can't learn everything from (a) your Google reps and the Google blog; (b) from forums. Both are great resources but typically you will find Google staff too positive on the features of AdWords (built in bias), and forum posters, generally too negative (unwilling to present both sides when they feel they've been wronged).

In the end, how much money has this cost you? Not much. A much bigger cost is built right into your market -- very competitive. Facing your competitors in the auction is scarier than the prospect of losing a little CTR history by changing your matching options. I'm glad someone talked you out of this worry because it is always important to build a good campaign structure as opposed to obsessing with your saved keyword history. In any case, your history remains saved on the previous keywords, especially if you don't delete them but instead bid them down to .02 or something, where they will be merely deactivated.

In other words, by emphasizing more phrase matches, and turning bids on some of your broad matches way down, you get the benefit of better targeting without technically "losing" the history on the broad matches in your account, should you wish to try them again later by raising bids.

Last edited by andrewgoodman : 01-29-2006 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 01-29-2006   #17
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3 little clicks? Examples?

"Don't like broad match results? You can opt out. Where's the harm?"

A lot more money is the harm for starting all my campaigns from ground zero. Not to mention the time required to allow for creating new terms. Think I don't have a lot of other things on my plate?

OK - in the interest of full information for the forum. here are the exact broad match keywords from my NEC 870 Toner Cartridge campaign:

high capacity NEC 870
nec 20-120
nec 870 cartridge
nec 870 cartridges
nec 870 toner
nec 870 toner cartridge
nec 870 toner cartridges

As for 3 measly clicks, the total for the month of January was 25. At an actual average CPC of $3.41 that would be $85.25 in January.

Here are the actual queries that triggered the ad and incoming clicks:

nec superscript 860 toner
nec superscript 860 cartridge
nec 860 toner
nec superscript 860 toner cartridge
toner superscript 860
superscript 860 toner
superscript 860 cartridge
nec 860 toner cartridge
ned 860 toner
toner nec superscript 860
nec superscript 860 tonerd
nec superscript 860, toner
nec 860 cartridge
nec superscript 860 superfine cartridge
nec superscript 860 laser cartridge
nec 860 compatible cartridge
toner for nec superscript 860

This all started in January this year. The campaign and above keywords have been unchanged since the campaign started with the inauguration of Adwords - in other words several years. Obviously Expanded Match went fishing for more clicks in January so I'll look at my keywords report in Netracker for January and see where else I am getting hurt so I can add more negative keyword matches where needed. I'll post the results I find later today.

Maybe $85 down the drain in one month is measly to you, it ain't to me.

Last edited by tonerman : 01-29-2006 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 01-29-2006   #18
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$348 wasted in just two ad campaigns with Expanded Match Creep!

Here's another piece of Expanded Match brilliance:

Broad match term: Samsung ML-2150

Queries:

samsung ml-2250 toner
samsung 2250 toner
ml-2250 toner
samsung ml 2250 cartridge
samsung ml-2250 toner cartridge
ml 2250 toner
samsung ml-2250 cartridge
samsung 2250 cartridge
toner for samsung 2250
ml-2250 micr toner
ml-2250 replacement toner
ml 2250 micr
remanufactured samsung ml-2250 laser printer toner cartridge
rebuilt toner cartridge samsung 2250
printer cartridge samsung ml 2250
samsung ml-2250d5/xaa black laser toner remanufactured
samsung ml-2250 10000-page toner
cartridge samsung ml-2250
samsung 2250 toner d5 d8
toner for samsung ml 2250
toner cartridge samsung ml 2250
samsung toner ml 2250
black toner for samsung laser printer ml 2250
price of cartridge for samsung ml-2250
samsung ml-2250 toner $99
samsung ml-2250 ink toner
samsung toner ml-2250
ml-2250 laser toner
samsung ml 2250 toner
sam ml-2250 cartridge
"ml-2250" and "ink cartridge"
"ml 2250" samsung toner price
cartridge for a samsung ml-2250
printer toner samsung 2250

Total clicks on these? 62

Cost? Average cost per click: $4.09 $253.68

Broad Match did not make these errors when it operated as originally founded. It didn't do this when Broad Match first became Broad Match with Expanded Match. It's obvious that Expanded Match is creeping outward like a freight train.

It's one thing for Expanded match to show an ad when there is a slight spelling variation like raquets versus rackets. It's entirely another when it decides that 2150 is 2250, or 870 is 860.

Broad Match allowed very precise targeting when Adwords was originally inaugurated. Then, after years of being very successful Adwords said "Broad Match is now Broad Match with Expanded Match." This was a change to an existing match structure that there was no opportunity to opt out of unless you changed all of your broad match terms to phrase or exact match and created match terms that allowed for plurals, etc.

I believe at the time Expanded Match was inaugurated Adwords said something like if you are happy with your ad campaigns you can do nothing and your ads will respond to more queries based on your keywords.

Changing 2150 to 2250 or 870 to 860 isn't correcting a spelling error. It's probably occurring because I have other campaigns with 860 and 2250 in the keywords. In one campaign 2250 is used in my keyword "Canon imageclass 2250".

Let's see, $85 + $253 = $348 That's a long way from measly. Now I'll go find the rest of the Expanded Match clicks in all my other campaigns with Netracker and figure out the total damage from Expanded Match Creep.
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Old 01-29-2006   #19
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One last example.

The last example I'll provide is Adwords showing ads for the Phaser 750 Toner in response to the query "Phaser 780 Toner". This is a highly competitive term with an average CPC of over $6.00. There are a gazillion campaigns out there built around model numbers. When Expanded Match changes your Broad match term to some other model number you have in your campaigns for that brand, and the term it responds to is a term with a lot of traffic, you are going to get slammed big.

After reviewing several thousand query keywords for the month of January I think Broad Match even with Expanded Match generally works. However, when it turns a keyword phase into a term you don't have that has a lot of traffic you can quickly get dinged several hundred dollars as I illustrated above.

It can also display ads for campaigns you've paused because it grabs one word of one broad match keyword phrase and finds a similar phrase in another campaign somewhere. It did this when it displayed ML-1450 ads to the query "ML-1430". I had an ML-1430 campaign that was on pause.

To be fair to Google, the ML-1430 and ML-1450 are the same product so expanded match displayed an ad that was related. What bugs me was I paused a specific ad campaign and keyword list for the keyword term "ML-1430" because it had a poor ROI and ads still kept being displayed.

Adwords FAQ on Expanded Match says the following:

"What is the expanded matching feature?

With expanded matching, the Google AdWords system automatically runs your ads on highly relevant keywords, including synonyms, related phrases, and plurals, even if they aren't in your keyword lists."


I've bolded the part of Expanded Match's FAQ that bugs me. What's "highly relevant" about "860" versus "870", "780 versus 750", "1300 versus "1200"?

I have no doubt Google isn't going to change its use of Expanded Match just because some guy with the handle "Tonerman" on SEW isn't happy with it. However, the best cure to this whole problem was the suggestion made earlier by cline:

" Adwords needs to do one of the following:
* Allow the advertiser to turn expanded broadmatch off
* Inform the advertiser of *exactly* what terms expanded broadmatch will trigger
* Get rid of expanded broadmatch."

Italics added for emphasis. Your most obedient servant, Tonerman

Last edited by tonerman : 01-29-2006 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 01-30-2006   #20
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Thanks for posting those great examples, tonerman.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewgoodman
Don't like broad match results? You can opt out. Where's the harm?
I often do like broad match results. But I can't opt out of expanded broad match while remaining opted in to broad match. The harm is that expanded broad match appears to be matching further and further afield, to the detriment of relevance and profit, which ultimately will benefit nobody.

I have some good examples of this too, but we'll stick with tonerman's:

nec 870 cartridge

As a broad match, that matches a huge number of phrases, e.g.

nec 870 cartridge
nec 870 printer cartridge
nec 870 colour cartridge
nec 870 cartridge supplies
nec 870 cartridge supplier
ink cartridge for my nec 870 printer
cartridge supplier for nec 870

etc. etc. thousands of combinations that all match nec 870 cartridge using a huge variety of extra words, many times a unique phrase that you simply will not have thought about in advance. Now we are asked to give up all the benefits of broad matching, and go instead with phrase or exact matching, simply because of what can only be described as a bug. Really, if somebody searches for samsung ml-2250 toner and

a) you don't sell it and don't advertise on it or
b) you do sell it but don't want to advertise on it or
c) you do sell it and do advertise on it but the ad is currently paused(!)

then why should you have to completely restructure your account, removing all broad matches or adding an infinite number of negative keywords, simply to cope with the fact that Google is widening their expanded broad match algorithm to areas where it no longer works? You should at least have the opportunity to moan loud and long about it!
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