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Google Ad Grants changes for NFPs: Here’s how to get ahead of the competition

The Google Grants program, which offers eligible NFPs (Not For Profits) a $10,000 (USD) free advertising spend on AdWords, has recently updated its policies – raising the requirements to maintain Google Grand funding.

This has been an eye-opener for many NFPs, who are now at risk of losing their $120,000/Year in Google Grants funding – and even having their accounts deactivated.  

What are the changes?

  1. Google Ad Grant accounts must now maintain a minimum click-through rate (CTR) of 5% at the account level, or else risk account deactivation.  Failing to meet the 5% CTR for one-month results in a warning, but failing for two months in a row will result in instant deactivation.
  2. Bidding on single word keywords (in most cases) is now prohibited.
    If your campaigns heavily relied on single word keywords in the past, their performance will likely suffer.  Single words like ‘donation’ or ‘charity’ don’t actually give much of an idea of what a user wants. While terms like this used to be used to cast a broad net to attract visitors, Google doesn’t want this – they want to lead users to exactly what they’re looking for.  Of course, the point is to stop people from bidding on irrelevant keywords – if your organisation’s name is a single word, fear not, that won’t be penalised.
  3. All campaigns must now have a minimum of 2 ad groups with at least 2 live ads.
    This has always been good practice, but now Google is enforcing it.  This is a great incentive to improve the relevance of your ads, if you haven’t already met this criteria.
  4. All Campaigns must now include geotargeting.
    This isn’t all bad news, but is just about enforcing good practice.  In forcing NFPs to target by location, Google is trying to encourage NFPs to focus on getting more relevant clicks.
  5. All keywords must keep keyword quality scores above 2.
    This isn’t a huge imposition, however.  With an ad score this low, it’s likely that these ads wouldn’t be showing up in the first place.  As long as you’re filling out all the needed sections of your AdWords ads, and as long as you’re not trying to rank for another brand’s audience, you’ll almost definitely be in the clear.
  6. It’ll now be more difficult to bid for branded keywords other than your own.
    A lot of NFPs used their excess budget to bid on competing brand’s names, in order to catch their competitors audience.  Because Google wants to bring people to the sites they’re looking for as effectively as possible, this’ll no longer be a viable strategy.

However, the good news is that your account won’t be reviewed until it is 90 days old, so if you’ve just started using AdWords, you’ve got more time to respond.

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