Congratulations! Your account will soon be suspended… By Alan Roche
The way Google announced the sweeping changes that will affect Adgrant accounts from the start of next year to charities using its Google for Nonprofit programme, is a very good example of very bad communication.
On the face of it the change Google was announcing seemed very positive. But the changes to Terms and Conditions, to Account Management, to Mission Based Campaigns & Themes and to Website Policy are far more wide ranging than a small change to the bid cap adjustments, which was the headline announcement.
The most important change by far is the minimum 5% CTR, or interaction rate, for the overall account. Given that the CTR requirement for a legacy GrantsPro account was 2%, this 5% target seems quite onerous. Removing the options to use anything other than long tail keywords (keywords that include 2 or more words), or reference any brand names you do not directly own, is also going to have a tremendous impact on Adgrant accounts.
The fact that this was announced just before Christmas, with an implementation date of Jan 1st means that many charities are very worried about their Adgrant accounts. And they should be. There is a distinct chance that a great many accounts will receive warnings, and then be suspended next year.
Again, on the face of it these huge changes from Google look unfair and heavy handed. But there is a reason Google wants these changes made, and if you understand the reason you will be better able to use your Adgrant account under the new requirements.
The reason is Google’s obsession with Relevance. The Google Search Engine is a system exclusively designed to bring users quickly and easily to where they want to go when they enter a search term. All Google wants to do is provide the most relevant answer to the question it was asked.
Throughout the course of 2017 Google has been sending emails out to Adgrant account holders saying they perform less well than their paid counterparts and suggesting ways to improve account performance. Not many charities had the resources to react accordingly. And now Google has taken the gloves off, it is time to get granular, and get your CTR up.
Charities will either need to run their Adgrant accounts to a much higher standard from the start of next year, automate the account with Adwords Express, or have their account shut down entirely. I can see Google’s point on this to a certain extent. The best ads for an Adgrant account are the relevant ones, with a high CTR and which are likely to result in a Conversion of some kind.
However, Google seems to fail to understand just how busy anyone working in an Irish charity is at this time of year. And it has given a great many people a rather unhappy early Christmas gift.
If your organisation has an Adgrant account and you have not yet had a look at the new Ts&Cs you really need to go back up and click my earlier links. You can also take heart from the fact that Google will try to work with organisations that reach out to Google. I have already secured exemptions for high performing single word keywords, and relevant brand name use, for clients whose Adgrant accounts I run.
If you can give Google a good reason why your account should receive exemptions, there is a good chance you will get them. Just remember to make sure the reason is relevant to relevance ;-)
From the start of 2018 you are going to have to get very serious about how you run your Adgrant account, or automate it. This will present a challenge for many Irish charities, but the good thing is, a well run PPC account is an incredibly powerful tool. Orders of magnitude more powerful than a poorly run account. So despite the very bad way that Google has introduced this, it will greatly benefit those Irish charities that can adapt.
This is very unsettling in a way, next year the type of information users see about charities and their aims will change as the accounts change. Users searching on Google will be entirely unaware that these changes have even happened. But the Adgrant programme exists solely due to the generosity of Google, so this is Google’s game and Google is insisting that charities get very serious about it. So we must adapt to thrive.