As of mid-May, the default behavior of Google's exact match will be...inexact.
Google officially announced this yesterday, but our friend Ryon Prior of WordsGoHere.com saw some notices to this effect in his campaigns last week. I learned today that we've actually been Beta testers of this -- man, I'm getting farther from the front lines than I like!
This announcement set off a firestorm on SEL, but I think the reaction of some commentators is a wee bit too dramatic.
In my view this is to some extent "dumbing down" the tools to make them easier to use. That's helpful for a great many small advertisers who can't handle the complexities well. Advanced users still have the option to make those all important distinctions. We know from experience that the quality of traffic on "Flowers" and "Flower" can vary tremendously for flower delivery companies so being able to make this distinction and bid differently is extremely important for these folks. Had Google taken away exact match entirely I'd be apoplectic! But they didn't. Controls are here:
For advanced practitioners this is just another match type to use.
As Mia Brennan, RKG's Director of Testing and Analytics pointed out: we now have to figure out a strategy for dealing with in effect 7 match types: exact, near exact, phrase, near phrase, broad match modifier, broad match, and Dynamic Search ads. For some the product is getting simpler to use, for advanced users it may present one more complexity.
The default setting matters, and defaulting this inexact behavior to a service called "exact match" is a bit disingenuous. I wouldn't be surprised to see exact match renamed as "basic match" or "standard match" ala Yahoo/Overture.
We'll have more follow up down the road.