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Updating Your B2B Playbook: How Google Ads’ Latest Update Necessitates a Fresh B2B Approach

Business-to-business (B2B) campaigns have always come with their own set of ever-present complications, from adapting to new trends to choosing the right marketing channel for the job. Even something as simple as choosing the right set of keywords for your next campaign can turn into an endless loop of analyzing, reporting and implementing as the whims of the marketplace shift from quarter to quarter.

Google Ads, the preferred ads platform for 80% of global businesses, is in the business of smoothing out these complications for advertisers. As part of their frequent updates to the platform, Google takes pains to listen to users’ most common complaints and adjust the platform’s backend to ensure a smooth, seamless advertising experience.

Recently, however, Google Ads rolled out an update that may have had unintended consequences: by sunsetting certain types of keywords, Google may have put B2B advertisers at a disadvantage.

While Google is undoubtedly the authority on their own platform and is constantly changing to meet users’ needs, our digital marketing experts have identified several strategies that allow B2B-centric brands to preserve their competitive edge and stay adaptive as Google Ads continues to evolve.

 

Understanding the Update

Google Ads has recently introduced significant updates aimed at enhancing the digital marketing experience, particularly for business-to-consumer (B2C) campaigns. While these changes have broadly streamlined processes and improved the efficiency of targeting and tracking for B2C marketers, the adjustments have not equally benefited B2B campaigns. This disparity has left many in the B2B sector searching for new ways to maintain visibility and effectiveness.

Before diving into the impacts of the recent Google Ads update, it’s essential to clarify the different types of keyword match options that have historically structured the backbone of Google Ads campaigns:

 

  • Broad Match: The least restrictive keyword type, broad match keywords enable ads to show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations.
  • Phrase Match: Allows ads to appear for searches that match a phrase, or close variations of that phrase, with additional words before or after. Phrase match offers more control than broad match, ensuring that the keyword phrase is included in the search query.
  • Exact Match: The most restrictive type, requiring the search query to match the keyword exactly or very closely, including the same meaning or intent, for the ad to show.
  • Broad Match Modified (BMM) Keywords: Previously allowed advertisers to specify certain words that must be included in a user’s search query for the ad to show. These keywords, which were marked by a plus sign (+) prefix, offered a balance between reach and relevance. However, this type has been sunset by Google Ads in the latest update.

 

So how have these keywords changed as part of Google’s update? Long story short: The recent update has phased out BMM keywords, integrating their functionality into broad match keywords. This shift was primarily intended to streamline operations and deliver more personalized, relevant results for B2C audiences.

But what does this mean for B2B advertisers?

 

Challenges for B2B Marketers

While effective in enhancing B2C campaign performance through improved keyword matching technologies and smarter, context-based targeting, this update has had an unintended consequence for B2B advertisers.

Based on our own preliminary research and recent campaign experience, the quality of conversions for B2B campaigns using broad match keywords has significantly declined following this update. This can be attributed in part to broad keywords not aligning as well with the specific, often niche query characteristics of B2B interactions. B2B strategies typically hinge on long-tail and highly specific keyword campaigns; the loss of BMM keywords gives these campaigns less flexibility than we’ve seen in the past and, in turn, may reduce the quality of conversions among prospective B2B customers.

The sunsetting of Broad Match Modified keywords and the shift towards more generalized broad match keywords mean that B2B campaigns may now trigger ads for less relevant searches, leading to poorer match quality and less efficient use of advertising budgets. This can dilute the effectiveness of campaigns aimed at very specific professional services or products, where precision in targeting is key.

Nonetheless, advertisers still have plenty of paths to B2B success through Google Ads. By adapting strategies and embracing existing tools within the Google Ads ecosystem, B2B marketers can refine their approach to reach their target audiences effectively.

 

Adapting to Phrase and Exact Match Keywords

Now that Google has phased out BMM keywords, advertisers need to revamp their keyword strategies to maintain precision and efficiency in their B2B campaigns. A central strategy in navigating this update is the transition from BMM keywords into phrase and exact match keywords. This shift allows for more controlled targeting, ensuring that ads are triggered by searches that closely align with the specified terms, thereby maintaining relevance and reducing wastage in ad spend. Phrase match in particular offers a balanced approach, capturing the intent of the search while still providing some flexibility for additional context around the phrases.

Our digital marketing experts have tested several new keyword structures on our existing B2B campaigns. One effective strategy involves dissecting previous BMM campaigns to identify core phrases that consistently resulted in high-quality leads. These phrases would then be reconfigured into phrase match keywords, adding necessary qualifiers and contextual modifiers that align with the common search behaviors observed in our target B2B audiences. By carefully crafting these keywords, we can maintain the specificity required for B2B success, even amidst broader Google Ads updates.

You may also be asking yourself: what about broad match keywords? Seeing as BMM was a permutation of the broad match keyword type it only makes sense to remove the “modified” and be on your merry B2B way, right? Well, in our experience, broad match B2B campaigns didn’t produce nearly the volume of qualified leads that phrase and exact match keywords did following the Google Ads update. This, once again, can be attributed to the highly specific nature of B2B customer leads, requiring a more deliberate research and campaign planning approach than broad match keywords can typically accommodate.

While this is far from the only solution for B2B advertisers looking to bolster their post-update campaigns, we’ve found that the shift towards phrase and exact match keywords in a post-BMM world is an excellent way for advertisers to stay competitive and reach their target audiences while circumventing the pitfalls we described earlier.

 

Expand Your B2B Playbook

Despite the challenges posed by the recent updates to Google Ads, B2B campaigns continue to hold a vital position across Google’s platforms. While the sunsetting of Broad Match Modified keywords has necessitated a shift in strategy, it’s important to remember that future updates may reintroduce or enhance features that are more favorable to B2B marketers. In the meantime, brands can rest easy knowing that the loss of BMM keywords doesn’t mean that their B2B campaigns need to be sunset as well.

While converting BMM keywords into phrase and exact match campaigns is an excellent start, further B2B strategy refinements are highly dependent on the specific nature of a brand’s industry, target audience, and previous campaign experiences.

If you’re looking to build out your B2B playbook and boost high-quality conversions in the ever-shifting B2B digital marketplace, contact our experts at leverinteractive.com/contact. Our proactive approach and adaptive strategies ensure that B2B marketing remains strong, even as digital platforms evolve.

Let us tailor your B2B campaigns to leverage the full potential of Google Ads and ensure that your marketing efforts continue to yield the high-quality leads and conversions your business depends on.

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