The Pros and Cons of Google's New Match Types

They've been rumored for a while. They were more hyped up than the latest Christopher Nolan Batman movie. They seemed more confusing than an old Christopher Nolan non-Batman movie. And now, at long last, AdWords is releasing *drumroll please* Near-Phrase (NPM) and Near Exact (NEM) match types!

…sorta. And not until mid-May Per the AdWords Blogspot post:

Starting in mid-May, phrase and exact match keywords will match close variants, including misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents and abbreviations. Seems simple enough, right? Sort of like super-modified broad match.

So why all the hate??

Taking a look at the flurry of #ppcchat tweets last night and today (my own included) you can see the paid search community is a bit underwhelmed by these new “match types.” A few highlights (and my feelings) are below:


Google’s opting you in whether you like it or not

Remember when Google launched tablet targeting and automatically opted us all in? Or how they automatically put you on the display network unless you explicitly uncheck the little box? Guess what? It’s happening again. More than likely, you already see the new language in your accounts. That’s right kids, you’ve already been opted in, even though the new behavior won’t launch until mid-May.

New “match types” are set on Campaign level

I know there are some of us out there that set match types at campaign level, and that’s fine. However, I am not one of those people. When modified broad match came out, I could not wait to ACE test it against my broad match keywords to see how behavior differed.

Since you can’t test campaign settings with ACE, true A/B testing won’t be possible with NPM/NEM using ACE. I’m sure you could come up with a ludicrously convoluted day parting strategy but really, who wants to do that.

You can’t pick one or the other

Say you want to expand your phrase match keywords, but keep your exact terms exact. Sorry Charlie, can’t do it unless you break them out into separate campaigns. You have to pick all-or-nothing.

It’s kind of the same thing as Modified Broad Match

Personally, I’ve seen very few irrelevant queries by using a combination of MBM and negative keywords. I can’t think of a situation where near-phrase match would trump a well-constructed MBM campaign unless word order matters significantly...

“Near Misspellings and close variants” are pretty broad statements

As my cube-neighbor Harris pointed out, this could necessitate more SQ reports, not less.

Are [popes] the same thing as [pipes]?

What about [shutters], [shudders] and [stutters]; are they the same too?

Google already captures misspellings in search!

I don’t know about you guys, but lately I’ve been seeing fewer and fewer misspellings popping up in my search query reports. Let’s pretend I’m a turrible speeler and that I searched for sifon coffee makr:

(Big) Pro

The following is based entirely on what I think Google would do, as well their AdWords Support Article on new match behavior

Word order will matter & cut semantic problems

There are quite a few instances where simply switching the order of words around can have a profound shift in meaning. Consider the following examples:

'Polish furniture vs. furniture polish'

'Hockey video game' vs. 'hockey game video'

'Post job vs. job post'

Previously, you could sort of manipulate it using embedded negative match, but you’d likely find yourself matched to a bunch of funky meanings that you didn’t really want anyway. Assuming word order matters for NPM/NEM, this could be a huge way to expand volume for advertisers where semantics can make a huge difference.

So what do you think? Do you love the new match types, or did you start opting out as soon as you saw it in your campaign settings?

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