Changes To Google Ad Grants – What Nonprofits Need To Know
The Google Ad Grants program gives nonprofits an in-kind donation to be used for advertising on Google Ads. In December 2017, Google made some major changes to their grant program policies. These changes to Google Ad Grants are now in full swing. If you’re a nonprofit with Google Ad Grants campaigns, here’s what you need to know.
Google’s trying to shift the focus of Ad Grants away from “spend as much as possible” to “be as useful as possible”. The Ad Grants program used to reward big spenders – if you consistently spent your $10,000 USD per month, you’d be eligible for Grantspro ($40,000 per month). Nonprofits would throw a lot of keywords into campaigns to try and spend that $10k – a challenging task when you can’t bid higher than $2.
Most keywords were fair game, as long as it wasn’t for commercial purposes. But because many advertisers focused on quantity rather than quality, this became a problem. The ads weren’t always relevant or engaging for the people searching, and the overall quality of the results dipped. Google is consistently trying to improve the user experience in the search results. So, the new policy changes take away the incentive to show for anything and everything, now pushing nonprofits to be useful and relevant above all else.
The biggest change is the requirement for accounts to maintain a minimum 5% click-through rate (CTR). This is a big jump for many advertisers, going from the old 1% that Google asked for. Google claims that 5% CTR is lower than the current program average, but not all advertisers feel that way. The new benchmark CTR is designed to eliminate keywords that aren’t as relevant to users as they could be. It also discourages showing for competitor names, as well as general terms for visibility.
Another major update is the requirement for keywords to have quality scores of 3 or higher. Again, this is designed to encourage Ad Grants recipients to focus on being useful and relevant, rather than simply spending their full grant. With quality score being a critical component in the new policies, it makes active Google Ad Grants management a requirement. Nonprofits who ‘set and forget’ their Grants campaigns will be in more danger of losing them moving forward.
Aside from these major changes, Google released several other policy updates that can affect your account. The main ones include;
- Non-profits cannot buy branded keywords that they don’t own (so, no more showing for competitor names).
- Campaigns must have at least two ad groups, with at least two ads running in each group.
- Accounts must have two sitelink ad extensions active.
- Most single-keywords are prohibited with the idea that non-profits should be specific about what they show for. There are exceptions to this rule which you can find here.
You may be thinking that your Ad Grants account is doomed, and that all these policy changes work against you rather than for you. One exciting new change is the ability to bid higher than $2 CPC when campaigns are on an individual budget and using the automated bidding strategy of “maximise conversions”. While automated bidding strategies aren’t always the best way to go, it’s an outstanding opportunity for Ad Grants participants to get those ads ranking higher!
All policy changes came into effect on 1 January 2018. If you haven’t addressed the new policy changes – the clock is ticking! The main thing to remember is that Ad Grants can be a fantastic way to promote your cause and get in front of the people who need you most. While it might seem complex at times, the benefits to your non-profit are incredible.
If you’d like to know more about Google’s new policy changes for Ad Grants you can find their updated policies here. Still confused? Worried you’ll lose your grant? Need some advice? We’re here to help. Contact us to speak to a Google Ad Grants specialist today.
Written by Gemma Renton