Are You Ready for Google Ads Display Network Keyword Migration?

Late last year, Google announced it would be migrating audience keywords to Custom Intent targeting for Display Network campaigns. You may have noticed the ‘self-migration flow,’ as Google calls it, in your keyword-targeted Display campaigns since December 2018.

Now, the deadline for migration is upon us, with Google stating that all ad groups currently using audience keywords will be automatically upgraded next month. Previous communication regarding this migration stated that March 2019 would be the deadline, but we’ve confirmed with a Google rep that the upgrade date is now April 2019.

Why this Change?

Custom Intent audiences are similar to keyword targeting, but, according to Google, Custom Intent audiences offer increased scale, easier management, and improved performance, not to mention the option to choose auto-created recommendations from Google. Due to the similarities between these two, it makes sense for them to be rolled into one.

The Migration Process

To make this transition, the algorithm will review your existing audience keywords and find Custom Intent audiences that are similar. The process is the same whether you choose the self-migration route or to let Google make the changes automatically next month.

Although Google began rolling out the self-migration options last December, we have yet to see most of these in our accounts. Here is a list of self-migration options our rep sent over:

– email notification
– hedwig alert (notification under the bell sign in the upper right corner, in the UI)
– keywords tab (a message will pop up in that section of the UI)
– if a user tries to edit their audience keyword display ad group, a dialog will appear, notifying them that this feature will soon be deprecated
– if a user tried to add KWs to a new ad group targeting, a dialog will appear notifying that this feature will soon be deprecated

In the UI, we’re seeing that while it is still possible to create keyword targeted ad groups, Google is steering you toward Custom Intent audiences. If you choose to create a new ad group in a Display campaign and scroll down to the Content section and click on Content Targeting, then choose Keywords:


you’ll see the following:

You can choose the Not Now option and still create a keyword targeted ad group, but Google is recommending that no new keyword targeted campaigns be created since the switchover to Custom Intent audiences will be done by next month.

Important Notes

If you currently have Observation audience layers in your keyword-targeted ad groups, these layers will only carry over when your ad groups are automatically migrated to Custom Intent if you have bid modifiers in place. This means that you’ll need to re-add any of your Observation audience layers if you want to stick with simply observing their behavior without bid modifiers yet.

Additionally, if you have individual keyword level bids in your keyword-targeted ad groups, Google will calculate an average effective audience bid to apply to your migrated ad groups.

Ultimately, this change from Google makes sense for targeting consolidation purposes and hopefully steady or improved performance will follow for migrated ad groups. As with any change, it will be important that you monitor your campaigns regularly for their migration and any subsequent performance changes and optimize accordingly.