Match and Game! Google Automatic Keyword Match

by The Doug September 25th, 2008 

So there I was, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I had a conversion on one of my campaigns (ALWAYS exciting) but I couldn't attribute it to any of the keywords in the adgroup it was showing up for.  "Well!  How can THAT be?!", says I.

After running a search query to investigate further, I found the little miracle keyword that so silently and wonderfully threw a conversion my way.  I found it, and it was not a broad, exact, or even phrase match.  It was Automatic.  That's right!  It's not an option that you just choose like the others, but in fact a beta that Google inserted on various accounts with the "you need to do nothing in order for this feature to be turned on" type of message.


Of course, I remember getting the email, and seeing the message in account, but this was the first conversion that it actually sent along, showing it's potential value.

Now you gotta love those folks over at Google.  It's an optional beta that you can opt in and out of at will, so if you are the type who likes to forever have your hands deep in your accounts, like a heart surgeon rhythmically massaging the life through your campaigns, then this is actually a pretty cool tool that will allow you to see some of the keywords you are missing.  It also presents you with an amazing opportunity to build out your negative keyword lists extensively.  If you are the type that gets excited to get in and run through your accounts to see what they did yesterday, then you can catch a lot of info in the search query report.

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Of course, nothing is for free.  If you are the type who prefers to set up your stuff, let it run for a while, and check on it intermittently or further down the road, well then you had better opt out of this beta option if it is active on any of your campaigns.  The implications can be costly if you let it roam freely.  Be sure to treat it like your child.  Always be aware of what it is up to on the net.

Although Google tries to approximate the performance that you have developed for your accounts, like any child, this new option has the potential to get into quite a bit of mischief.  You see, when automatic matching is first enabled, it takes a little bit of time to get info about your campaigns such as which ads deliver the best results, what your average CPC is, your average CTR, and how much budget is available for it to play with aside from the budget YOUR work is currently using.  "Automatic matching will continue to improve indefinitely as long as your campaign is accruing clicks and impressions."  If you aren't going to be there to help it learn, what bad habits might it pick up all on it's own?  How much of your budget might it decide belongs to Automatic match if you don't watch?  What if your business is seasonally driven?  What if you are accountable to conversions over all else?

Personally, I LOVE that Google has built this new option in, but by no means am I prepared to let it roam freely without checking in on it and ensuring it is behaving itself regularly, and teaching it right from wrong in each campaign.

Here is a link in AdWords so that you can learn a bit more about what Google has to say about it.  It is worth checking out.

As always, all comments are welcome!


Doug Gebhardt
aka The Doug

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18 Responses to “Match and Game! Google Automatic Keyword Match”

  1. Seems like a great feature, as long as they had let you known about it before activating it! Go Google!

  2. The Doug says:

    Yes, and particularly if you are paying attention to what's happening in the account. If you aren't paying attention to performance, it could run amok.

  3. alex rothaus says:

    Great Analogy. I've been against this feature since it first came out, but I see you've created a silver lining for this feature.

  4. Searchquant says:

    Historically well over 50% of the AdWords features Google makes 'opt out' are features advertisers never opt out of. That and the fact that few advertisers or agencies have the manpower to watch their baby the way you and I do, and you have a recipe for large swaths of the AdWords advertiser community to learn the hard way that this baby's been sucking from your bank account while you sleep…

  5. Would certainly appear to be a cool feature but I would prefer to let more capable people handle it first before I indulge!

  6. The Doug says:

    Hey Alex. Thanks for your comment. I was actually with you at first too, so I sat down and had a little conversation with myself to weigh out the pros and cons of the feature. If we are going to be accountable to our results, we gotta be sure of where they are coming from, so that means monitor monitor monitor as a constant step thoughout the process, LOL.

  7. The Doug says:

    Searchquant, I SO have to agree with you that there are too many things that get released that people don't opt out of. As frustrating as it can be we always have to keep in mind that it's a business model developed to not only to help, but also to generate more Google revenue. So, as long as we always approach it that way, we can keep things under control. Alas, there will always be a huge number of folks who will not measure the implications of what free for all service might end up costing them in the long run. Even advertisers and agencies low on manpower should at the very least switch off the opt ins if they can't get to the account enough to take advantage of them properly.

  8. The Doug says:

    Thanks for your comment, Comparison Shopping, and I think you raise an important point by simply stating that you would let more capable people handle it first. I think it's important to still see what options are on the account and then ask questions of the people handling it to ensure that they are in fact more capable 😉

  9. Cathy Banks says:

    I wonder what affect this will have on those magical keywords that you're the first to find and don't want your competition to see?

  10. The Doug says:

    HA! Good question, Cathy! I'd say that's an excellent time to use the AdWords IP Exclusion tool, but that's a whole other ballgame 😉

  11. Thanks for the tip Doug. Cathy actually beat me to the question that was forming in my mind while I was reading this. This feature actually makes me think of a new 'learning' feature I recently started playing around with: iTunes new Genius feature. Over time the system learns and improves upon your selections and choices – seems like adwords will be doing the same. I guess in the end it comes down to 'how much flex can I give the budget to allow for this learning curve?'

  12. Utah SEO says:

    Valid points about automatic matching continuing to improve as your campaign gathers data.

  13. The Doug says:

    Nicely put, Microtransaction, and re the iTunes new Genius feature, I too am about a week and a half in on using it, LOL.

  14. It improves your campaign click thrus, however it increases the campaign cost too. Without monitoring it, your campaign can easily go beyond your budget.
    Rif Chia

  15. Surveys says:

    Some of Google's new features on Adwords have been great recently. Their upgraded 'keyword tool' even telly you how many times a term is searched each month; and that comes in surprisingly handy when setting up a new site with popular keywords.

  16. The Doug says:

    Absolutely, Singapore SEO. That's why it has to be watched or turned off. Take advantage of it to update your keywords and negatives, or turn it off so that it doesn't eat your budget.

  17. The Doug says:

    Thanks Surveys, for your comment. I have to agree with you. Loving the features I'm seeing and how they can make life easier across the board.

  18. I love the keyword tool, try searching "pro 2008" that has millions of searches but no competition? I suppose its a bti of a vague term?