What You Need to Know About Google Automatic Matching


Some of you may have noticed an alert within your Google AdWords account that says, “New! Automatic matching has been enabled in your account.” What is “automatic matching”? The one-sentence summary from Google states, “Your ads will now show for additional relevant search queries based on the keywords, ad text, and landing pages in your ad groups.” I’m certain we’ll be writing on this new match type in the future, but here some initial observations that could save you some headaches.

First, if you have seen the pre-mentioned alert in your campaign, then automatic matching has already been activated within your account. Most announcements in Adwords are optional tools or general updates, but you need to heed their warning, especially if you are not certain how this new feature works.

Second, if you leave automatic matching enabled within your account, here is a quick description of what you’re in for:

Automatic matching is an optional feature that helps your ads reach targeted traffic missed by your keyword lists. It works by analyzing the ads, keywords, and landing pages in your ad group. It then shows your ads on search queries relevant to this information.

This means that automatic matching will find “similar” phrases for your keywords that are “relevant” according to Google. Basically, you’re ads are going to start showing to a wider breadth of search terms. Right now, the best way to monitor your campaign’s performance is to run your search query report frequently. This report will tell you which search queries actually triggered your ads. If you find that irrelevant search queries are triggering your ads, you should begin adding those terms to your negative keyword list.

Third, this is completely speculative, but I was wondering how Google will determine what is “similar” to your keyword/landing page. I was conducting some keyword search this morning and if Adwords’ keyword tool is any indication on how they find “synonyms” for your keywords, then you need to be extremely vigilant when monitoring your performance, especially your conversion rate and cost-per-conversion.

Again, this is speculative, but here are some results from the Adwords keyword tool when you search for “synonyms”:

Keyword: pay per click management


adult affiliate
affiliate project x
affiliate sales
casino affiliate
credit card affiliate
definition of affiliate
ebay affiliate
pay per click affiliate
pay per click campaigns
super affiliate
travel affiliate
wealthy affiliate

Keyword: email marketing

business marketing
direct mail
direct mail marketing
ezine advertising
internet advertising
marketing leads
small business
web design
website design
work from home

Automatic matching may be more targeted than these results (they probably will be), but I just want everyone to be aware that you may start seeing increased traffic from irrelevant, or not-so-relevant, search queries. Be cautious.

Fourth, if you haven’t checked out the Adwords help section to get additional information on how automatic matching will affect your campaign as a whole, here is their laundry list of answers:

  • Opting in and out: Automatic matching is applied at the campaign level. You can opt your campaign in and out of automatic matching on your Campaign Settings page.
  • Google Network: Automatic matching does not affect your ad delivery on the content network. It does affect your ad delivery on Google and the search network.
  • Quality Score: The traffic accrued by automatic matching won’t affect your keywords’ Quality Scores or minimum bids.
  • Ad position: When ranking your ads on search queries acquired through automatic matching, the cost-per-click (CPC) bid will approximate the current average CPC of your ad group. Learn more about ad rank for automatic matching.
  • Performance statistics: Aggregated performance statistics for automatic matching will appear in each ad group’s Keywords tab, in a line item labeled Automatic Matching Total.

Fifth, on a more positive note, automatic matching may work great for you! There may be phrases, keywords, or keyword variations that you haven’t dreamed of that Google will match to your ads! Then you can load those keywords directly into your campaign. See, that one was positive!

I’m happy to see that Google is always innovating and looking for new ways to serve advertisements, but it’s on the PPC manger’s shoulders to make sure that this new feature is best for your campaign.