The Quirks of Remaining in Google AdGrants Compliance

Last year, Google implemented wide-sweeping changes for Google AdGrants accounts. Initially, those changes transformed some Grants accounts and hurt others.

The account I manage was greatly helped by the changes since the CPCs for their keywords were simply more than the $2 manual bid threshold. Since I blogged about the changes last February, it’s been a roller coaster for the Grants account I manage, including remaining in compliance.

What is Google AdGrants Compliance?

Google has implemented rules for Google AdGrants accounts, which must be strictly adhered to or the account will be suspended. You might feel like you know them already, but they are worth taking a second look at, especially if your account uses smart bidding strategies.  Overall rules are:

  1. No single-word keywords, with a few exceptions such as your Brand name.
  2. No generic keywords
  3. No keywords with a low Quality Score
  4. 5% click-through rate
  5. At least 2 ads per ad group (responsive ads for search would count as one)
  6. At least 2 ad groups per campaign
  7. At least 2 sitelink ad extensions
  8. Valid conversion tracking if using smart bidding strategies
  9. Annual survey completion

Google provides a full description of each of these and even some guidelines on how to implement each one, such as how to create an automated rule to automatically pause low quality score keywords.

How Do I Know if My Account is Not Compliant?

If your account is not compliant, you will receive an email notification that looks like this:

Note that you have two weeks to make the required changes or your account will be deactivated. It can be reactivated once you’re back in compliance, but that can be a hassle.  Here is what a non-compliance report looks like:

 

Some changes are very easy to implement, such as pausing keywords with low quality score. Some others, mostly those dealing with CTR or conversion tracking, can be tough to turn-around in two weeks. For the latter, smaller non-profits often lack the resources or skill sets to understand conversion tracking issues and what to do to fix them.

What Can You Do?

I personally have been doing a weekly check-in with my account for CTR, low quality score keywords, etc. By checking in on your account regularly, you can stay ahead of the potential of becoming non-compliant.

However, I had neglected checking the conversion actions regularly. I knew they were set-up correctly in Google Analytics and imported into Google Ads. Big mistake.

My Conversion Non-Compliance Issues

Conversion Tracking Issue #1

After the non-profit made some changes to their website and didn’t notify me (it happens), I received my first non-compliance email last October. The website changes they made impacted every conversion action, making them all inactive. So, it was fair that we got dinged. We were able to get everything fixed. I called support and received verification that everything looked ok on their end.

Conversion Tracking Issue #2

The next month, in November, I once again received an email that the account was not compliant for conversion tracking. I called support and was told that the account couldn’t only have imported conversion actions from Google Analytics, but must also have one website based conversion action.

What?!? That made no sense WHATSOEVER.

Personally, I think I was given bad information based on poor training (since AdGrants accounts are not high priority) and that possibly we were getting flagged for having a conversion action with a conversion rate over 15% instead.

So, I changed my conversion action settings to bring down the conversion rates as suggested in the AdGrants compliance guide AND added some conversion actions from the website to now have six total conversion actions. Called support again and once again, received confirmation that everything looked ok on their end.

Conversion Tracking Issue #3

I received another notification this month.

I couldn’t figure out why. Five of the conversion actions were recording conversions. One was inactive, with the last conversion action taking place on 11/29/18 and the action last seen on 1/5/19. A quick check using the Google Tag Manager preview tool confirmed that this conversion action was still firing properly.

After another call to support, I learned that there cannot be any inactive tags for Grants accounts. Two items to note:

  • It didn’t matter that this action was set-up and tracking correctly; it mattered that someone hadn’t taken the action in over 30 days.
  • It also didn’t matter that I have five other conversion actions recording conversions. Having just one inactive conversion action triggered non-compliance.

Just by checking the conversion action changed the status from “inactive” to “no recent conversions.” However, you know that I’ve already added “Check conversion action status” to my weekly account review list for this Grants account.

Takeaways

If you are using smart bidding in a Google AdGrants account, your conversion actions really matter. It’s not enough for them to be tracking properly.

On one hand, you can’t have a conversion action that over-performs as that would impact the number of conversions. By changing my conversion actions to move closer to the 15% conversion rate goal, the account has tanked.

You can see conversions nose dive and then impressions plummet right afterward. I’m trying to figure out the right balance of meaningful, valid conversion actions needed to get impressions back up. On the other hand, you can’t have valid conversion actions that don’t convert at least once every 30 days.

Have you had difficulty keeping your Google AdGrants account in compliance? Faced similar conversion tracking issues? Comment below to share your experience.