The Google Grants program that provides over 35,000 non-profits the ability to place up to $10,000 in free monthly ad spend has recently updated their policies. These changes can greatly impact recipients, and even cause them to lose their grant if mismanaged. Among the changes includes the new minimum click-through-rate (CTR) non-profits must maintain to keep their account active. This new minimum CTR is now at a relatively high 5 percent, which may be difficult for busy non-profits to manage.
If new requirements were not met by January 1, 2018, grant recipients will start seeing non-compliance alerts, and eventually accounts will be deactivated. According to Google, “if the CTR requirement isn’t met for 2 consecutive months, your account will be cancelled.” The announcement was sent to Ad Grant recipients in mid-December, giving them a short time-frame to adjust their accounts to conform with new policies.
In addition to the new minimum click-through-rate, changes include keyword related restrictions. Now, keywords must have a quality score of at least 2. Additionally, non-profits cannot purchase branded keywords they do not own. What’s more is that broad single-word keywords are restricted, except for a select list.
Further, non-profits will need to maintain at least two ad groups in their account, each with two active ads. Within those ad groups, non-profits will need to incorporate at least two sitelink ad extensions, a change which may actually improve ad CTR as they provide a strong call to action for the individual who was served the ad.
If a non-profit isn’t already doing geotargeting in their campaign, they will need to start including this targeting feature in all of their campaigns. Geo-targeting helps an ad get served to the most relevant group of people, as the need for a non-profit’s services will vary by region. This may force non-profits to do more extensive market research to ensure their services are being offered in the right areas.
Though these updates may come as a shock to non-profits who benefit from the Google Ad Grants program, these policies will encourage advertisers to take a closer look at their ads, and even create higher quality, more relevant ads. Non-profits who are nervous about meeting these new strict requirements, should strongly consider seeking the help of a third-party account manager with extensive experience maintaining and optimizing ads. The danger of losing what adds up to a $120,000 yearly grant should be taken seriously with these updates (or $480,000 annually for Grantspro accounts, which was put on hiatus in September of 2016).
Google Grants was developed to enable non-profits with a limited budget to reach volunteers, donors and more for free. Non-profits are granted $10,000 in in-kind advertising on the extensive Google Search Ad network. Eligible non-profits must have current 501(c)(3) status and substantial content on their website to which ads can be linked, though there are several other restrictions. Many non-profits use third-party agencies to optimize the grant for better-performing ads.