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Automatic Match: Will More Google Advertisers Be Helped Or Be Harmed?

Recently Google sent an email to agencies about a new beta feature coming down the pike called Automatic Match.

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Automatic matching shows ads on relevant search queries not already captured by the account's keywords. It works by analyzing the content of the landing pages, ads, and keywords in an ad group. It then shows ads on search queries relevant to this information.

The system will continually monitor the performance on these queries and adjust its matches accordingly. Automatic matching aims to show ads only on queries that yield a high clickthrough rate (CTR) and a cost-per-click (CPC) comparable to or lower than an ad group's current average CPC. This way, ads receive additional targeted traffic at a similar cost to the current traffic.

The feature will be enabled by default, although it won't begin to affect accounts until June 3, 2008.

See a list of frequently asked questions about automatic matching at http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/topic.py?topic=13669&hl=en_US.

It is great Google continues to innovate and release new features.

It is less great when a new feature

  • has the potential to reduce conversion for advertisers,
  • has the potential to increase Google revenue,
  • and -- most important -- is turned on by default.

Most folks stick with the defaults. This inertia can be put to good use, for example, when companies automatically enroll employees in retirement plans -- participation soars to 90%.

Defaulting people into programs which on average help participants is a Good Thing. The minority for whom the program isn't helpful can always choose to opt-out.

Should Google have made Automatic Match opt-in or opt-out?

I predict most large Google advertisers and smart SEM agencies

  • will quickly test automatic matching,
  • will determine that the feature reduces sales-per-click and campaign profitability (assuming the advertiser/agency is doing a decent job with comprehensive keyword lists and match type testing), and so
  • will turn automatic match off.

So no worries, major advertisers won't be tripped up by this either way.

So let's turn our attention to smaller advertisers, who comprise the bulk of Google's customers.

I predict that many small advertisers won't take the time or the effort to dig into this issue, and so will just leave the automatic match box checked.

Some of these advertisers will benefit from more traffic.

Some of these advertisers be hurt by higher advertising fees and lower quality traffic.

Net net, will defaulting automatic match to "on" help or harm the bulk of Google advertisers?

I have my opinion. What do you think?

Related:

a signed blank check for google automatic match
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