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Google Ad Grant Hits The Mark At Christmas

Extra Funding for Google Ad Grants at Christmas

Extra Ad Grant Funding available from Google.

 

Uprise Up christmas eve 2019

The Google Ad Grants program hasn’t had such good PR in the last couple of years, following new policies in 2018, and even more restrictions placed on new accounts since then.

However, towards the end of last year, Google announced a program to give certain Ad Grant accounts extra funds for the last few months of 2019 (‘Giving Season’).

What a great Christmas present from Google! – the only catch was that your account needed to be invited to apply for this opportunity.

It was not clear which accounts were sent invites, but from looking at the accounts that we manage which were chosen, it seemed like a high usage of the available budget and adoption of advanced conversion metrics were two important factors in this.

 

Christmas edition of Google logo

 

How to apply?

 

Once the organisation received an invite, the application itself was a reasonably lengthy form, asking about what the non-profit in question would do with the funds. There were also five requirements listed that were needed before applying:

  1. Conversion tracking set up optimally to measure all the site’s goals
  2. Smart bidding being utilised (eg. maximise conversions)
  3. 90-day conversion windows
  4. Use of an attribution model other than Last Click
  5. Seasonality adjustments in place for Giving Tuesday

 

Overall, we were happy to implement these changes (with the agreement of our clients), as they were in line with best practices for paid search campaigns. We’d have preferred, however, fewer blanket rules being applied, because different accounts with different objectives may not always want to follow these rules. Quite likely the Google Ad Grant team is using this scheme to ensure its general take on Google Ad Grant ‘best practice’ is adhered to, but this feels a bit too much like a blanket approach.

Also, most of our UK based charity clients do not promote Giving Tuesday in any respect, meaning there was little to be gained by making adjustments for this date.

Then, it was a case of waiting. The original deadline was pushed back by Google, probably because they were overwhelmed with applications from enthusiastic charities!

Our final stats were:

  • 27 accounts invited
  • 17 accounts applied for
  • 6 accounts successful

 

What is slightly disappointing is that the program was closed quite abruptly, seemingly because the total funds allocated to this program had been exhausted. We also cannot find a trend that linked our unsuccessful applications. More feedback from Google would have been welcome, so that charities that were unsuccessful in their applications can analyse where they fell down and improve their application process for any future funding programs. When the program closed it was also revealed that Globally there was $25 million allocated to this opportunity. This sounds like quite a lot, but this meant accounts we manage were allocated 3.8% of the global total! While this is very much a positive, we can’t help feeling that it may have been fairer to limit the total amount a single charity could receive and instead allow this extra budget across more accounts.

 

Results

 

Across our charity clients, results were very positive.

We were able to make use of the extra funds well and drive relevant traffic to various pages which wouldn’t otherwise have been achieved.

For instance, YoungMinds were normally able to achieve up to 1,000 clicks a day from their Ad Grant on a normal weekday. The extra funding allowed this figure to increase by 25% for most of December, up to 1,250 clicks per day. In December we recorded just shy of £13,000 in donation revenue from the Ad Grant account – the highest donation month to date.

Breast Cancer Now were another charity who were able to make great use of the funds. As an organisation they’ve had an exciting year, having been formed by the merger of two charities. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the extra Ad Grant funds came at a perfect time to capitalise on the awareness raised until the end of the year.

On a typical day this account is able to achieve around 600 clicks per day and the extra funding was able to boost this consistently beyond 900 towards the end of 2019. We saw great improvements in conversions too, with £18,500 of revenue raised in Q4 2019, compared to £2,200 in Q4 2018.

 

As a bonus, we found the extra funding actually continued into the first week of January, despite being advertised to finish at the end of 2019 – a pleasant surprise!

 

 

The Future

 

It’s great to see a program like this being introduced by Google. It gives non-profits a bit more confidence that Google still wants to give them a helping hand.

Hopefully we see a program like this again. If so, next time, we’d like to hear more feedback on unsuccessful applications from Google themselves. We think this will spur on everyone to make further improvements to their campaigns and provide extra motivation to be successful. Otherwise, it may be that some organisations will be confused as to where they have gone wrong and will simply not bother in the future.

 

We would love to hear about your experiences, please email us at [email protected]

 

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Bouncing Back After the Christmas Slump

Maintaining Performance Over Christmas

 

The run up to Christmas can be a busy one for people; they have bigger priorities and responsibilities in terms of buying presents, decorating, and planning for the big day. Unless you’re marketing in retail this can lead to a drop in your online traffic. This slump will likely then continue onto new years and even beyond as people start to devote more of their time into their New Year’s resolutions – as unfeasible as some of them may be!

All together for such an extended period of time it can appear daunting or scary to see this drop in traffic. In most cases you can expect an improvement come January. As the population gets back to work, into typical routines and old habits, normality will usually be restored.

However, this is not always the case and you can’t always expect traffic to return to normal by itself or as quickly as you would like it – old setups may just not be as effective. Just as you adapt strategies from year to year, so you must when your traffic has stifled. With much lower traffic to your website for such a prolonged period your brand could be weakened. It’ll take more time and effort to re-engage with certain parts of your target audience.

 

Some things to look at for example on your AdWords accounts:

  • Search Terms – Possibly the most important factor when your ad shows up on someone’s screens is that they need to be relevant to what the user is actually looking for. People can be searching for completely different things over the holidays as opposed to the rest of the year and these irregular search terms can get caught in your keyword net. You could be getting unwanted impressions which yield little to no clicks affecting your CTR, so sift through and clear out some of your search terms!

 

  • CTR (Click Through Rate) – Due to your decrease in traffic your CTR could be effected and greatly decreased as a result. A good starting point is making sure your CTR hasn’t dipped massively, but if it has, why not revamp your ads for the new year? The more relevant and engaging your ads are, the higher your CTR will be. It’s also worth noting that CTR is a big factor when determining your quality score which can help improve your ad rank and bring down your CPC (Cost-Per-Click)

 

  • Quality Score – As mentioned, improving your CTR is one way of improving your quality score, however, this isn’t always so simple to do. Some of your keywords may just not be as relevant as before and as such keywords with a low quality score should be discarded. A low average quality score on just some of your campaigns can affect how all your ads are shown across the account. This is because quality score is a big factor in determining both your ad rank and CPC (Cost Per Click).

 

  • Ad Rank – A good ad rank is one of the most important things and why you keep track of everything else mentioned before. The two factors in ad rank are quality score and bid cost. So you can see now why improving quality score is so important if you want to keep to a budget of any kind.

 

These are some of the basic fundamentals, but some of these steps can be easily overlooked and forgotten over time. If campaigns have been going well for years, you may think “why change now?” Often neglecting these simple tricks can build up over time and problems only rear their heads after a catalyst situation. When your traffic has decreased, flaws in your account can be all that more visible and weighted toward how your ads are ranked.

This doesn’t just apply to Christmas, but Easter, summer and all holidays. You need to constantly be adapting and up to date with current events and social changes. This links to the eternal goal of marketing; to persistently stick in people’s minds, forever keeping up to date or risk losing relevance to your target market.

2017 is set to be an even bigger year for digital marketing and offers a great opportunity for companies and advertisers to really reap the benefits of a digital campaign, no matter what time of year!

 

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