Google’s Breakup with Modified Keyword Match (BMM).

Melanie Katz

If you keep an eye on Google’s Search Ad updates (which, as a savvy marketer reading our blog right now, of course, you do!), you may have heard the recent announcement that they have begun the process of pairing down the kinds of keywords made available in their campaigns. With PLENTY of time and notice (yes, that is a hint of sarcasm), Google is rolling out this new and important update to how keywords function in PPC campaigns. Starting February 18th with a full launch in July, they’ll be updating their matching behavior to make Broad Match Modified (BMM) and Phrase Match keywords serve in a similar capacity, effectively retiring BMM keywords.

If at this point you have no idea what we’re talking about, scroll down to our quick “101” section below. Or, go to our YouTube channel and just enjoy some great video content. My personal favorite is our Reputation Management Theatre series. — Have you seen it?!


ANYWAY, circling back to those new changes we mentioned above, this recent update is on track with Google’s overall push toward platform simplification and increased feature automation.

As anyone in the paid advertising field can tell you, however, we are still a ways away from a completely driverless PPC experience. And there are sure to be some bumps in the road (like the occasional contextually awkward smart display ads that stand out like a Hawaiian shirt at a wedding).

That said, we have been preparing for a change like this for a while now. With updates already made to our accounts, we expect this process to be relatively painless. We also promise that these changes typically end up having a much less disruptive impact than we may initially assume.

If you are currently running a campaign with us on Google Ads for your business with us or on your own, you may be wondering how this update will affect your account performance. If you are brand new to the world of PPC, you might be wondering what the importance of this update is at all!

No matter where you are in your PPC journey, we have some answers to your questions, concerns, and qualms:

If You Are a Newbie to the World of PPC, Here is a Quick 101:

At the moment, Google Ads accounts have options for several keyword types, which allow PPC marketers to target search queries with varying levels of specificity. While some keywords are more precise, others are more open-ended and allow queries that are not exact but similar. 

Additionally, some keywords enable ads to show up on searches that tend to be more, shall we say, creative. Let me explain. Your search results for red sneakers may display an advertisement for red sandals. This is because Google thinks, “Hey, these are both styles of red shoes!” While these are not practical in many campaigns, they do have their uses.

One of the most common types of keywords used is Broad Match Modified (BMM). These allow us to target search terms that are close enough to our intended keyword but leave some room for creativity. Like a middle ground between those approximates and everything goes keywords we mentioned before.

However, BMM has booked a lavish tropical vacation and plans to stay there for good starting July 2021 (only a little bit jealous). That now leaves us with three kinds of keywords:

  • Broad Match
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match

If You Are More Experienced with Google Ads, Start Here:

If you have been working with GTMA, we have some fantastic news for you. Our media strategy team has been watching the slow convergence and increasing similarities between Phrase Match and BMM for a while now. As we alluded to earlier, this change is nothing unexpected. We already made adjustments within our campaigns to help weed out irrelevant search terms to ensure our ads serve in the most applicable search results possible.

In fact, we noticed that shifting our campaigns away from using BMM has resulted in improved conversion CPC costs. When looking at data from 100 of our accounts (12,140 keywords), broad search terms have a higher average cost-per-click.

For transparency, BMM keywords only makeup about 2,200 of our total keywords across the campaign and are relatively expensive to run.

OK… But What Happens to My Existing BMM Keyword Campaigns?

According to Google, existing BMM keywords will be grandfathered into this update and continue to work as-is. Additionally, Google states in their help section about the update that converting your BMM to Phrase Match will not actually add any performance benefits to your campaign. 

However, it is important to note that if you copy your old BMM keywords after the rollout completes in April 2021, your performance data will not carry over. Instead, it will be stuck back in time with your old BMM keywords. At that point, you would need to find a Delorean to travel back a year to get copies, and honestly, who wants to go back to 2020?

Staying Ahead of The Curve.

We have communicated everything we know so far about the Google Ads update in this blog post. But in terms of preparing our accounts, we are already ahead of the curve. We have even started beta testing some semi-automated ad types that will replace more manual-driven display ad styles (but more on that later)!

All of that now said, no matter what changes or updates get thrown our way, we are still all about that “get more clicks for your buck” game, so you know we are on it.

Do you have any questions we did not answer here? Or are you thinking about adding a PPC campaign for your business? We would love to hear from you! Click the link below to drop us a line!

Let’s Talk!

Melanie Katz

DIY Branding: A Designer Perspective.

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