Changes to Google’s Ad Grants Policy – What Charities Need to Know

Posted on 11/01/2018 by Team Hallam

This post will explore what the changes to the Ad Grants policy are from January 2018, and how they will affect charities who already use the programme, as well as those who are thinking of applying.

Google has recently announced a host of changes to Ad Grants and in typical Google style, there hasn’t been a huge amount of warning. This post will set out what Ad Grants is for the uninitiated, and what the new changes mean for existing users of the platform.

What Are Ad Grants and How Do They Work?

Ad Grants is Google’s charitable equivalent of an AdWords account. They provide $10,000 of free advertising per month to charities who meet their eligibility criteria, which include:

  • Being registered in an eligible country
  • Holding a valid charity status
  • “Acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding non-discrimination and donation receipt and use”
  • Have an active website with “substantial content”

If you think you are eligible and would like to apply, you can check the full eligibility criteria here.

What Does the Updated Ad Grants Policy Say?

Ad Grants accounts have always been regulated by the standard AdWords policies, but as of January 2018 all Ad Grants accounts must abide by an updated policy, aimed only at the non-profit programme.

You Must Maintain a 5% Click Through Rate (CTR) or Risk Losing Your Account

Click through rate

Arguably one of the more controversial points of the new policy, however, there are two sides of this story. Charities by their very nature are trying to make the most of every penny and may have members of staff “wearing different hats” in the organisation. It is a tall order to expect a non-specialist to be able to maintain an Ad Grants account to a 5% CTR when they may have other duties to perform.

Google wants to make sure that their money is being well spent. They will view a 5% CTR as a minimum standard to ensure that the end users are being well served with compelling ads that are relevant to the searcher.

You will receive a notification if your account becomes at risk, and you will have two consecutive months to ensure compliance.

You Cannot Target “Overly Generic” Keywords

The official stance is that your ads and target phrases must reflect your charity’s overarching mission. Again, this comes back to relevancy and ensuring that your free budget is being spent wisely. “Overly generic” will likely be open to interpretation, but some examples are given as:

  • Keywords with a poor Quality Score (2 or less)
  • Branded terms you don’t own
  • Single word keywords with some exceptions

How Your Website Must Comply

There are certain requirements for your website which you must adhere to as part of the changes to Ad Grants, such as:

  • You must own your domain
  • Your website must be free of errors and adequately describe your mission
  • It must not promise results for using your services
  • You must not have broken links and you must cite relevant sources

Structural Requirements

This is another clear indicator that Google is looking for quality advertising and ensures that your account has all the features active that make your ads as targeted as possible. You must:

  • Target your ads to the location you operate in
  • Have two active ad groups per campaign with two active text ads
  • Include two sitelink ad extensions

It’s Not All Bad News!

Google has lifted the infuriating $2 bid limit when you use the maximise conversions bid type.

This is great news for any advertisers who have been working in a competitive niche and have struggled to compete due to the restrictive $2 bid limit.

What Are the Consequences If You Don’t Comply?

The best way to phrase this is to quote the source:

Any account found in violation of programme policies is subject to automatic suspension without notification.”

There may be instances where you fall short of one requirement at some time or another for perfectly legitimate reasons. Google ultimately wants you to spend your budget on effective and compelling ads. They aren’t setting out to penalise anyone unnecessarily. You will, therefore, be notified of any compliance issues and you can submit a reconsideration request once you have had a chance to fix the problems they have outlined.

These new changes will be concerning for most non-profits. By just maintaining your account in-line with the above recommendations, you will remain compliant and you may find that your campaigns perform better.

If you’re struggling with the changes to Ad Grants or your account management, we can help. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.

If you need help with your Paid Search don't hesitate to contact us.

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Changes to Google’s Ad Grants Policy – What Charities Need to Know

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