Google have announced some game-changing changes to Ad Grants, which offer non-profit organisations search advertising grants of up to $10k. Over 35,000 non-profits participate in this programme which has operated on a $2 max bid limit. The consequence of the bid limit meant that there was a vast amount of keywords that could not be targeted, and if quality score was low on keywords that did fall below the $2 threshold, then their ads may have struggled to show.

Google Grants accounts are also unable to participate in Google Display, YouTube and Remarketing.

The biggest change to the Google Grants programme is that the upper bid limit of $2 is being removed. This is exciting news for non-profits and where applicable their relevant PPC agencies, who may have struggled to show ads on relevant keywords that are above this threshold. For example in December, bids for “donate online to charity” are over £17!

However, with the removal of the $2 bid comes one proviso - that the account maintains 5% CTR. If this is missed for 2 months in a row, then the account will be suspended.

The updated policy goes into effect on the 1st of January, leaving little time for accounts to be optimised to hit the new standards.

Other policy updates as follows:

  • Campaign must be opted into the “Maximise for conversions” bidding strategy.
  • Keywords must have a Quality score of 2 or more
  • Campaigns must have a least 2 active ad groups with 2 active ads
  • Accounts must also have geo-targeting

This updated policy makes complete sense and aligns with Google’s aims provide an excellent user experience by providing quality search results. As long as non-profits bid on keywords that are relevant to their offering with compelling ad copy the 5% CTR requirement is achievable.

The bidding strategy requirement also makes sense, ultimately leaving the bidding to Google’s algorithm avoiding an all out bidding war for key terms which will just drive CPCs up to crazy levels. However with advertisers keen to attain to the 5% CTR, it is interesting that the bidding strategy will be looking to optimize for conversions with high converting ads not necessarily having the highest CTR.

The biggest challenge for non-profits will be to maintain the 5% CTR requirement and we recommend the following to increase your CTR:

  • No competitor bidding
  • Ensure ad groups and keywords are highly relevant
  • Review all ad extensions to increase CTR, ensuring to take advantage of all
  • Possible extensions, and applied at campaign level, if not ad group level, to increase relevancy.
  • Ensure your ads are compelling
  • Ensure you are tracking all relevant conversion points and use call to actions
  • In your ad copy that drive conversions to enable the system to have enough data to optimise your bids

Despite the previous $2 Max CPC restrictions, our non-profit client have been consistently hitting the total $10k grant for 10 months in 2017. CTR has been increasing over the 5% mark in the past 2 months and is at 6.31% for December. We are excited about the potential to increase conversions for our client through conversion-relevant keyword targeting which previously were unattainable through the $2 bid limits.

For the updated policy page please see https://support.google.com/grants/topic/3500093?hl=en&ref_topic=3500091,3500123,3540513

Of course, as PPC agency that adheres to Google best practice, above and beyond, we can use the remainder of December to expand the account to take advantage of the new opportunity, instead of struggling to bring the account up to the expectations and avoid getting it cancelled.

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