Google Is Changing Their Content Targeting Logic
What Does It Mean and How Could You Be Impacted?
Recently, Google made a pretty seismic announcement in relation to their content targeting. Now this isn’t abnormal behavior from Google; tweaks and soft updates such as this happen frequently (and thankfully Google does a good job of communicating these changes to their users). So what sets this update apart from the norm, and most importantly how does it impact things?
A Change in Targeting Logic
Before addressing the implications, below is the complete announcement made by Google:
“Starting in March 2023, all content targeting will be simplified into a single “Content” page in Google Ads, so you can manage all your content targeting in a single view.
Also, to help you reach more potential customers, your ads will now show on content that matches any of the topics, placements, or display and video keywords you target. For example, an ad targeting a topic and a placement will be eligible for impressions which match either.
Currently, your ads can only show on content that simultaneously matches all of the topics, placements, and display and video keywords you target.
To learn more about Google Ads targeting and content targeting, please visit the Help Center. To discuss these changes further, please contact your Google Sales representative directly.
Sincerely, The Google Ads Team”
What this update boils down to is a change in the targeting logic applied to ads and the audience.
That change in logic is a switch from “and” logic to “or” logic for display ad targeting. Rather than taking a keyword phrase as a unique set string for targeting, now each keyword in the phrase will be subject to a targeting match on its own standing. For example, the keyword of “video production” will also be possibly matched to targets that fit either “video” or “production” rather than holistically “video production”.
This then has implications of content targeting and keyword strategy. Topic and keyword phrases will need to be thoroughly analyzed to ensure maximum efficiency and accuracy of desired target impressions. So while this opens the advertiser up to a broader audience, it also risks losing the potency of precision (resulting in a higher ad spend to win keyword bids).
Of course, Google is the big winner in this update. With less specific targeting and opening advertisers up to broader audiences, advertisers will have to work harder and spend more to maintain their precise target audience.
Simplified User Interface
One beneficial part of this update on the user side is in the changes to the user interface. Currently content targeting inside the Google Ads platform is managed in multiple different areas causing the user to navigate to different views in order to change different aspects of the targeting.
Moving forward, Google has decided to simplify all content targeting into a “single” view. In theory, this should make editing your content targeting easier. Which will be important given the changes to the targeting logic.
But the biggest implication of the update is really…
Who Is Going To See Your Ads Now?
In Google’s own words, “Currently, your ads can only show on content that simultaneously matches all of the topics, placements, and display and video keywords you target.”
The vital word here is “simultaneously”. Right now, ads only show on content that matches all of the topics, placements, and display and video keywords… simultaneously. With this new update coming in March 2023, your ads will now show on content that matches any of the topics, placements, or display and video keywords you target.
This is a crucial change to keep in mind as this will cause your ads to show a higher variety of content than it used to (if you don’t make any changes to your existing content).
According to Google this should “…help you reach more potential customers”, but as pointed out earlier, not everyone searching “production” will be interested in your ad for “video production”. The strategy will now need to shift to understanding and deducing your target audience’s search habits to ensure a high efficiency of successful ad impressions.
Consider tracking ad spend the week leading up to the changes on March 1st and compare them to the week after the change is made. If you see a rise in ad spend with little (or diminishing) returns, you will likely need to make adjustments to keywords, phrases and topics to ensure you are more accurately reaching your target audience. Also consider decreasing ad spend budgets in case ad spend balloons without bringing revenue back in through these new audiences reaches.
But remember, don’t get too settled! Google might just change everything up again in a few months time…
If this targeting change has you rattled and you’re unsure how to pivot your targeting strategy, or if you have other questions about how to carry out an efficient advertising campaign, let’s talk!