What your non-profit organisation needs to know about Google Ad Grants changes
Google has made major changes to its ad grants program, which will affect 35,000 charities across the world. So, what changes do you need to be aware of to make sure your ad grant still works to benefit your organisation?
Google Ad Grants in a nutshell
Since you have to pay for AdWords, Google decided to help non-profit organisations by offering them the opportunity to advertise on AdWords for free. If your organisation qualified, you were granted up to $10,000 per month to spend in AdWords, which you could use to promote your charity alongside paying customers.
However, in December 2017, Google notified its Google Ad Grants users to tell them of the changes — giving them only a few weeks to prepare. Although Google has since stated that it will give accounts time to make the necessary changes, this still leaves busy non-profit employees with a lot of technical changes to make.
$2 bid cap is gone
Previously, non-profit organisations had to abide by a $2 bid cap, despite having up to $10,000 of AdWords money. But, Google has now decided to get rid of this, which should mean more flexibility and opportunity when it comes to bidding for keywords to boost your campaign.
However, there’s a catch. Google has only removed it for charities that build campaigns using the Maximise Conversions bid optimisation strategy. Essentially, Maximise Conversions will allow Google to automatically set bids for non-profit organisations and adjust them, which will apparently provide the ideal bid for every ad in real time.
Unfortunately for non-profit organisations, getting rid of the bid cap means that you’ll now have to optimise your AdWord account as a digital agency would.
5% minimum CTR
There are several changes to Google Ad Grants policies and processes, but the most headline-grabbing amendment appears to be the new rule around click-through rates (CTR). As of January 2018, anyone with a Google Ad Grants account will have to maintain a 5% CTR or over (an increase of 1%) and those that don’t run the risk of cancellation after two consecutive months.
In the UK, non-profit organisations have an average CTR for email campaigns of just 2.76%. So, this raising of the bar for charities that typically don’t invest a large amount of resources or cash into digital avenues might cause issues. To overcome this, ensure that you create enticing ad content and bid on keywords that are very relevant to goals.
Keywords: what you can and can’t have
According to Google’s statement on the changes to its ad grants program, every keyword in your account needs to reflect your organisation’s main mission. So, you need to use keywords that are relevant to the programmes or services your charity offers. Google claims that these must be “specific enough to provide a good experience for the user seeing your ads”.
Once Google implements these changes, you won’t be able to use: broad keywords (e.g. best coffee), single and non-branded keywords, and branded keywords not associated with your organisation. Plus, most single-keywords will be banned to encourage the use of better-targeted phrases among charities.
What’s more, Google says that non-profit keywords must be a Quality Score 2 or better, which means you’ll have to work harder to achieve the same ranking.
The change to Google Ad Grants will bring with it a transformation in the keywords department, so you’ll need to research now if you don’t want your organisation’s digital presence to suffer.
Find out more about Google’s new programme policies.
After January 2018, expect an overhaul of how Google Ad Grants is structured. This will include the use of geo-targeting, which will mean that non-profit organisation ads will only reach users in relevant locations (i.e. if you’re a childrens charity in Edinburgh, your ads won’t serve users in Plymouth).
Also, your account will need to contain a minimum of two sitelink extensions, and it’s advised that you implement these at campaign or potentially ad group level, if you can. And lastly, every campaign contained in your account will need to have a minimum of two active ads groups. These must also include two active text ads and related keywords.
These alterations promise to be a headache for many charities and you won’t have a great deal of time to get everything on track before it starts to affect your ranking performance.
If your non-profit organisation has someone who has decent knowledge of Google AdWords, you might emerge from these policy changes relatively unharmed. However, if you don’t, it’s vital that you learn about implementing the changes to Google Ad Grants now — before they start harming your account’s performance.