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Google Grants Changes – Initial Results

6 Feb 2013

Google Grants Changes – Initial Results

On January 28th, two major changes were made to the Google Grants program. The first change was an increase in the maximum bid allowed for grant recipients from $1 to $2. The second being a new policy stating that Google Grants ads may now only be placed below the ads of traditional advertisers. In my post Google Grants Program Faces Major Changes I expressed initial excitement at the increase in the maximum bid and concern over Google Grants ads being placed below paid advertisements.

 

What is the Effect On Google Grants Recipients

A week has now passed and the initial data is in. Rather than take the aggregate data from all clients that I manage, I have decided to compare the data from three individual accounts. As each account has a different reach and monthly ad spend, it provides a good cross section of how the changes to the Google Grants program may impact different organizations.

 

Client Profiles

Client A – large regional audience, large international audience, entire $10,000 grant is spent monthly.

Client B – small regional audience, large international audience,  approximately half of the grant is spent monthly.

Client C – small regional audience, no international audience, less than one third of the grant is spent each month.

 

Percentage Changes by Client 

Comparing data from the first 6 days after the changes were made, January 29th – February 3rd, to the previous period of January 22nd – 27th.

Clicks Impressions CTR CPC Position
Client A -53% -57% +10.1% +112% -5%
Client B +145% +195% -25.8% +167% -6.25%
Client C +125% +295% -23.2% +7.8% +24%

 

The Breakdown

Increase in Maximum Bid to $2

For the accounts that aren’t spending their entire budget, this looks to be a very positive change. Clients B and C have had the number of impressions double and triple respectively. Based on this huge increase in impressions, they both have had an increase of well over 100% in the number of clicks they received for this time period.

Client A has had a different result. This account bids on competitive keywords and has seen the cost per click double. Because this account was already spending the $10,000 per month, the doubling of the cost per click has resulted in a reduction in total clicks by more than 50%. For this client, we will be testing lower bid levels to see if we can get additional clicks within our budget while maintaining an effective ad position.

Ad Position Being Dropped Below Traditional Advertisers

This change was of major concern for many Google Grants managers. Having Google Grants ads displayed below all paid advertisers was a potentially crippling change to the program. It turns out that this fear has been unfounded to date. While Clients A and B have had minor drops in ad position, Client C has had an increase of 24%.

There are a few possible reasons why this change hasn’t had any effect on ad position:

  1. Google may have not rolled out this change in policy yet.
  2. These accounts could be bidding against other Google Grants recipients and not paid advertisers.
  3. The policy change may not have been as black and white as it first appeared.

Whatever the case, ad position has remained stable for these accounts which is great news.

 

What Does All Of This Mean?

Although it is too early for definitive answers, it appears that the changes to the Google Grants program have had both positive and negative effects on different organizations. It is also important to keep in mind that these changes are new and may not be fully rolled out by Google yet. Organizations should continue to monitor their accounts for any unexpected changes in the form of increased cost-per-click, drops in their ad position, and any decrease in goal conversion.

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