Modified Broad Match = Old School Broad Match


Any experienced Google AdWords advertiser knows that the broad match type has had its own special logic for several years. As the broadest of the three match types (exact, phrase, and broad), it added semantic matching into the mix several years ago. In other words, more than just showing your ad against minor variations such as common misspellings, depending on your bid, the query, and perceived user intent, synonyms might also come into the mix. If you advertised for the broad match

green tennis shoes

… and “blurgues” happened to be a synonym for tennis, your ad might show up if a user typed “scenic blurgues in loafer ca”. Loafer, CA, in this case, happens to be the name of a fictitious town in California, and in some circles (in this fictitious example), there is a secondary meaning for “blurgues” and it is not “tennis,” but rather “nudist camp”.

Because these (and less fanciful) types of matches sometimes got into the mix when experimenting with broad match, you’d need to be vigilant about such “bad matches”. It got a lot easier to be vigilant when the Search Query Report relocated from the back end Reporting tab (where you can still get it) to a handy See All Search Queries button available under the keywords tab in any ad group, campaign (or even, gotta love it Google!, account-wide in one handy list sorted in any order you like, such as by click volume). Using that tool, you exclude “bad” matches — just don’t overreact to stuff that *might* still convert (consider your account a portfolio of opportunities and remember that Google’s data might be right in terms of probabilities of conversion being reasonable on some odd seeming phrases, in combination with certain user patterns).

Old-timers, beta testers, web forum grouches, and not a few Googlers probably said 1,000 times: wouldn’t it be nice if you could just use broad match in the old way, and tennis always meant tennis? So you’d match up against “green tennis footwear california” and never, ever, ever, against a nudist colony query?


I feel sort of like I’m announcing “YOU CAN BUY GROCERIES WITH PAPER MONEY!” — given the retro flavor of this “announcement” — but it’s good because now advanced advertisers essentially have four (some might want to quibble and say six) match types to play with. (To get to six, add “advanced matching,” which is even more of a black box than broad match, and can be disabled at the account level, and “exclusions” or “negative matching.”)

The four are, in order of precision as neatly diagrammed in Google’s Inside AdWords post of yesterday:

  • exact match
  • phrase match
  • modified broad match [aka kickin’ it old school]
  • broad match [sometimes known as “yikes match” but in reality, a useful tool for most of us]

Google actually makes that into five types in their diagram, given the flexibility of how you can use modified (old school) broad matching.

You could go with

green +tennis shoes

…to partially constrain matching to ensure that tennis always meant tennis.

Or, you could go with

+green +tennis +shoes

…to further constrain matching to ensure that green always meant green, tennis always meant tennis, and shoes always meant shoes, without stopping you from matching against a query like “green reebok tennis court shoes”.

We’ve been in the beta test for some time, and are still gathering data. I will write about the findings in an upcoming ClickZ column.

The functionality has quite a bit more applicability than you might think. Remember all those campaigns that made you crazy because of how broad matching works? Let’s say you have an idea to advertise on a certain brand term for something really broad, like:

facebook app

and it’s going haywire because weird matches like

beebo dating

orkut investigation

… keep piling onto your attempted broad match, so rather than constantly negativing new weird matches that pop up, you give up.

You want to be somewhat open, in part to gather some information, but you absolutely want the associated queries to include the brand “facebook”. Easy! Now you just go with

+facebook app

and your open-ended broad matching problem is solved.

Today, the open beta is extended to *all* advertisers… in Canada and the UK. Hey, what can we say, sorry America but you’re just going to have to wait. (Must be payback for us hearing “iPad now available in Canada, finally” and “Rogers won’t offer unlimited data plan for iPad”… etc.)

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