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Issue 6 - 2nd February 2023

A dangerous change to Google’s Content Targeting options

In this edition of our newsletter:
● A dangerous change to Google's display targeting and what you can do about it
● We share our latest blog post on B2B SEO and how to put the extra E in E-E-A-T content
● Join us at Search London on 28th Feb
Illustration of desktop

A dangerous change to Google’s display targeting and what you can do about it

It’s not unusual for Google to tweak things in Google Ads in ways that can impact campaign performance. For instance, there was a change to keyword match types two years ago: https://sharpahead.com/blog/google-ads-adieu-broad-match-modifier/. Usually these changes have only modest implications for running campaigns. 

But yesterday we learned about a Google Ads change that is a bit of a shocker. It won’t affect every advertiser by any means, but if the changes are relevant for your campaigns then the impacts could be horrendous. Here’s the core part of the announcement: 

“Also, to help you reach more potential customers, your ads will now show on content that matches any of the topics, placements, or display and video keywords you target. For example, an ad targeting a topic and a placement will be eligible for impressions which match either. 

Currently, your ads can only show on content that simultaneously matches all of the topics, placements, and display and video keywords you target.” 

In summary: Google are changing some display ad targeting from “AND logic” to “OR logic”. So previously we could target display ads to pages that are on specific websites AND that relate to specific topics. Now that “AND” will change to “OR”. The changes will be applied automatically to running campaigns and there’s no way to avoid this. 

This might not seem all that dramatic. But here’s an analogy: 

Suppose you’re a business that makes chutney. You have a regular order with a supplier for green tomatoes. Things go well for several years with your green tomatoes turning up each day. Then one day you receive a shipment with: 

  • A few green tomatoes – way fewer than your normal order
  • Loads of red and yellow tomatoes
  • Loads of cabbages, cucumbers, peas and broccoli

I think you’d be unhappy! You call the supplier. “What’s the problem?” they say. “You asked for green tomatoes. Everything we’ve sent you is either a tomato, or green. Or even both!” 

The same problem applies to display campaigns that are impacted by this change – instead of reaching the exact intended audience, they will go to much broader audiences that are largely irrelevant to the advertiser’s original strategy. 

I understand that Google need to evolve their platform and, from time to time, that means we’ll lose functionality. But this way of implementing a change could undermine trust in the Google Ads platform. I  hope  Google will reverse it, or at least implement it in a “safer” way. But for now we have to take Google at their word and assume the change is going ahead. 

Check out our blog for more details of the change, why it is particularly bad for niche B2B marketers, and what you can do about it (TL/DR: turn off the impacted campaigns before the 1st March 2023). 

For Sharp Ahead clients: if you are retaining us to manage your PPC campaigns we’ll be proactively reviewing all of your Google Ads campaigns before the 1st March to mitigate the impact of this change, so you don’t need to take any action yourselves. 

As usual, if you have any concerns or need help with this or any other aspect of PPC management for B2B marketing, please get in touch! 

Have a great weekend! 

The Sharp Ahead Team

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