May 112010

Broad Match Modifier: Google's New Gem

Google's Broad Match Modifier is out of Beta and into production! This is a game-changing release that will allow savvy advertisers to serve more relevant ads and therefore drive better results. (Note - This feature is ONLY available in the UK & Canada as of May 11th, 2010)

We have advocated for better controls over broad match for a very long time, and the time has come! As Beta testers we've been excited about this new control set for quite some time because we have seen its benefits.


The concept is simple: by placing a "+" in front of a word or words within a keyword phrase Google will ensure that that word is contained within the user's search before serving that ad.

The +keyword will catch closely related words like plurals/singulars and common alternate spellings and misspellings. It will also catch common abbreviations. Essentially anything that is close enough to merit bolding in Adwords now.

Let's look at some examples of how BMM works:

Example 1

Under the current extended broad match product ("EBM")

KW = "European vacation packages" could currently be matched to...well...anything, but certainly a user search on "Italian museum tours" could fire that rather un-targeted ad, rather than a more targeted "Italy vacation package" also in the portfolio.

However, using BMM we could restrict this a bit with:

KW = "+European vacation packages", and guarantee that the ad is only served to those searching for something related to "Europe" or "European". This ad could still fire on

Query = "flights to Europe" or "European tourist attractions", but would NOT fire on "Singapore vacation deals"

Example 2:

Further restricting this to

KW = "+European vacation +packages" would ensure that the user searched for European packages, more than just flights or hotels by themselves, so might be served in response to

Query = "Europe travel package" or "Tour packages for Europe", etc.

Less restrictive than phrase match, but more restricted than the current EBM.

Example 3:

KW = "+European +vacation +packages" is good old broad match from the days of yore, before extended broad match made us pull our hair out. This one will only be served on highly correlated searches like:

Query = "vacation package deals for Europe", "Eastern Europe vacation packages", etc.

The flexibility this provides is tremendous! Coupled with a comprehensive keyword list, smart use of BMM and a powerful bid management system the enhanced control should make a material difference.


The resulting improvement in targeting will benefit everyone. We've found that going from campaigns on broad match, to campaigns on BMM with plus signs in front of each word in each phrase almost doubles the click-through rates. This is a result of paring out huge swaths of users looking for something else entirely.

Moreover, just as the conversion rate of traffic that matches exactly is higher than broad matched traffic, we're finding the value of BMM traffic to be significantly higher than EBM as well. The opportunity presented to sophisticated bid management systems is terrific.

The benefits to the advertiser are obvious, but more relevant ads will benefit Google as well. Just as segmentation allows us to better allocate resources in other marketing channels, tying bids more closely to the value of each segment of traffic: exact match, phrase match, BMM and EBM will allow smart advertisers to spend more money cost effectively. Additionally, serving more relevant ads will encourage users to pay more attention to the sponsor listings as the ad copy will be tighter and the landing page more relevant.

We're still learning how best to use BMM across a portfolio of keywords. We don't think ditching EBM entirely by going "all pluses" will make sense; EBM still catches crazy typos that no keyword list will have.

Layering an additional set of duplicate campaigns is one approach to filter out traffic into appropriate response buckets, but gets unwieldy at some point.

Two obvious uses include requiring (with the "+"):

  • The advertiser's domain name and trademarks. Preventing the engines from using "brand" ads for general searches, or searches for competitors will save us all a great deal of grief.
  • Manufacturer brand names within keywords. This will prevent some of the annoying behavior of broad match picking brand specific ads on general searches, or worse other brands, or even worse brands the advertiser doesn't carry.

It could be that within a grouping of related keywords, requiring the manufacturer brand and the most unique other word within each phrase might help Google find not just a match, but the best matches when nothing matches exactly.

We're tremendously excited about this product. While it does not solve the problem of self-competition entirely, it does give advertisers far more control and this will be to everyone's benefit.


32 Responses to "Broad Match Modifier: Google's New Gem"
James says:
Fabulous news, it appears that this has the potential to really increase my profits. I need this in the United States!
John says:
Hi George, Have you seen an impact on Search Partner traffic? We have had Broad Match Modifier on beta for a while now, and one thing we noticed when comparing before/after traffic is that search partner impressions dropped by over 90 percent across the entire campaign. We had theorized that by applying the modifiers that we had also restricted what Google can pull from our sites' breadcrumb trail. Of course much of this traffic is (probably) of poor quality so we weren't shedding too many tears as a result but thought that this was interesting nonetheless. Have you seen similar results? And if so do you have alternates theories that would account for such a sudden drop? Overall great summary though. We're optimistic that BMM will help solve many of our issues with EBM and Session-Based Broad traffic.
Jeff says:
nice writeup, can't wait to implement
This looks awesome! I can see this not only helping out the advertiser, but also yielding a better experience for Google users. I'm excited to see results and of course to test it out here in the US...
Thanks for your comments, everyone; we're fired up! John, I haven't looked at the effect on partner traffic, though one of our analysts may have done so. We'll take a look-see. My sense is that the network partners have always sort of played by their own rules with respect to match-types, so the Beta test may have impacted them differently than George
any idea when this comes available in holland!?
AO says:
Always great news when you get a extra layer of control. Hopefully this will be pushed to the U.S. soon.
rjb says:
I'm an engineer who worked on this feature. Partners must respect keyword match types in the same way as Google. That said, it's still possible you will find that modifiers reduce traffic on certain partners more than on simply because some partners tend to show more broad match ads overall. If you are already using broad match, I recommend applying modifiers conservatively. For each modified broad match keyword, it's often a good idea to keep a "non modified" version of it with a lower bid to catch good queries that the modified broad match might miss. Just monitor the ROI of each and set your bids appropriately. Given a modified and non-modified version of the same keyword, the eligible keyword that is of most restrictive type from the adgroup will be selected.
Roberto, thanks for clarifying! This is exactly the approach we recommend. Thank you also for building a terrific product!
Wouter, I'm not sure about that. The US is likely next, but they may move slower to roll out to other languages/smaller markets. Roberto, any thoughts?
John says:
Roberto, I'd like to thank you as well for clarifying. And I second George on the product effectiveness as well. BBM has been a great feature for us!
Hi George, You're right, this will no doubt benefit Google as well as paid search advertisers, as it allows better segmentation of keywords and therefore more accurate allocation of bids. If advertisers have more control over the traffic from broad match, they can be more sure of its value, and therefore be more willing to bid higher. Win win for both advertisers and Google. In terms of paid search strategy, one thing that immediately comes to mind is the opportunity this presents to create campaigns which target *only* EMM traffic through the use of strategic BMM negatives. This could be incredibly useful to identify new synonoms and target the more abstract but still somewhat relevant keywords which will surely have less competition as a result of this change. Cheers, Alan
Lakkineni says:
Hi George, Nice post, thanks for adding more details around BMM. For advertisers this will greatly help in getting the additional impressions / clicks that exact and phrase match can't get. I have added the "BMM" to my keywords, will analyze the and post the results in a month. I would like to see the real value from this new feature. Is there anyone else would like to share their results!! :-)
Alan, thanks for your comment. Lakkineni, thanks for your willingness to share; I look forward to seeing your data. George
Aidan says:
Yahoo! Sorry I mean great, shouldn't use the Y word in a Google article. This is excellent news, I've wanted the old broad match back since extended match started! I've seen so much money wasted by poor unknowing small business advertisers who did not know how to run Search Query Reports and implement negative matches.
Geoff says:
Been testing this since I read your article and it is a gem... excellent advancement. Thanks for the post.
Hi George, Over the last 2 months I've been testing the performance of modified broad match on 3 separate AdWords accounts, and found that keywords using modified broad match tended to exhibit higher CTRs and lower CPCs than keywords without mofified broad match: I also found that longer keywords, with a great amount of broad match modification, also tended to have higher CTRs and lower CPCs than shorter variarions with less broad match modification. Whether this is due to the increased relevancy made possible with broad match modifiers, or simply due to the reduced matching to highly competitive short-tail keywords, is yet to be decided. But based on early findings, it seems that modified broad match could be a PPC advertiser's new best friend. Cheers, Alan
Alan, thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading your analysis. We too have found BMM to be tremendously valuable. We find we can profitably bid ~20% more for BMM versions of Keywords than their broad matched duplicates.
Jason K. says:
@Alan, thanks! To modify many keywords to modified broad, I found a tool, it's very basic and free: It transforms keywords you insert to modified broad! It's also possible using Excel, but that's time consuming :)..
Zoekmachine says:
It's a great feature, which is a brother of the minus sign they already used. Thanks for your explanation, I will start using it immediately.
When this comes available in holland!? I am curious!!


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