Evaluating Google Ad Grants Changes In the First 6 Weeks

There was a large outcry in the Google Ad Grants community when big changes were announced last December. A look at the announcement thread in the forum gives you an insiders view. If you’re not familiar, with the changes, most of them weren’t anything alarming. The one which was a new requirement for an account wide 5% CTR over 2 months. If that isn’t meant, your non-profit would no longer be eligible for a Google Ad Grants account.

In December, I was especially paranoid because the Grants account I manage was nowhere near the 5% threshold. In fact, due to the sensitive nature of the non-profit, none of my campaigns really had any traction. I figured it was a crapshoot for how long I had until the account I managed would be disabled.

6 Weeks Prior to the Ad Grants Changes


Yup.  Not impressive. No conversions. Barely any clicks (60). Only $107 spent with all my best efforts for reliable keywords.  The only campaign with a CTR over 5% is the brand campaign.

In what you see above, I have what we typically follow here at Clix for best practice campaign structure with campaign themes, broken down by tight ad groups limited to one keyword with all 3 match types. This account was plagued with low quality score issues. As with many non-profits, they don’t have the money to invest in a high-quality website or landing pages, so there wasn’t anything I could do to improve that component.

Preparing for the Google Ad Grants Changes

To prepare for the shift to CPA bidding, I went against our traditional set-up and placed multiple keywords, along with their multiple match types, into two ad groups per campaign. I also limited this to the top quality score keywords and those with an impression threshold. I knew there needed to be enough impressions to for Google to gain any learnings.

Lastly, I switched all pure broad terms to modified broad match. I also didn’t switch everything over at once but half of the campaigns on January 2 so I could get an initial feel of the switchover to CPA. That’s the only change I made to the campaign structure. Same ads, sitelinks, etc. After initial positive results, the remaining campaigns were switched over to CPA bidding a few weeks in.

Six Weeks After the Changes

Some conversions, finally! Lots of traffic. Overall CTR over 5%. Win overall.  Check out the differences:

6 Weeks Prior 1/1/186 Weeks After 1/1/18% Difference
Conv. Rate0%1.28%


Granted, a lot of the increase in impressions and spend was due to Google trying to gain enough learnings to make these work, but that’s still a huge difference.

Change in CPCs

One thing that stood out to me was the change in CPC. Without the ability to bid by CPA, there would be no way this Grants account would ever have had any traction under the old $2 CPC threshold. Let me show you the highest CPCs for this account:

Next Steps

Here are some plans I have to further this account:

  1. Try Dynamic Search Ads – I’m excited to see what additional traffic and insights these might pick up.
  2. Continue to Pause Low CTR Keywords – There is no room for these in a Grants Account.
  3. Constantly Examine Search Term Reports –  Some new hidden gems are bound to materialize.
  4. Re-introduce Broad Match Keywords – I think it’s worth testing some of these out again to try to get towards $330 daily ad spend. However, I’m going to shift them into new campaigns and keep them under the Manual CPC bidding (adding the exact match as negatives). This approach allows extra traffic to still come in and we’ll see what happens.
  5. Bid Modifiers – Keep tweaking these, keeping CTR in mind.

Now, I know everyone has not had such a turn-around in their grants accounts, but all I can do is share experience and some tips to try.

How have your Google Ad Grants accounts faired? Comment below to share your experience.