Google Ad Grant Hits The Mark At Christmas
Extra Ad Grant Funding available from Google.
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.
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:
- Conversion tracking set up optimally to measure all the site’s goals
- Smart bidding being utilised (eg. maximise conversions)
- 90-day conversion windows
- Use of an attribution model other than Last Click
- 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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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