Google to further dilute exact match in AdWords; will ignore word order & function words

In the good old days, “exact” meant exact. Then things got fuzzier. Now they’re about to get downright blurry.

On Friday afternoon, Google announced another change to the way exact match targeting works in AdWords. Matching for close variants — plurals, typos, abbreviations, adverbs and so on —  will be broadened to include variations in word order and function words in the coming months. With this change, Google may ignore word order and function words when determining whether an ad should trigger for an exact match keyword.

Google introduced close variants in 2012 as a way to capture plurals, misspellings, typos and other versions of exact match and phrase match keywords to broaden reach and coverage and save time building out keyword lists. Advertisers that wanted tighter control were able to opt out of close variant matching until 2014, when Google removed the ability to opt out of close variants for exact match and phrase match. Bing followed suit shortly the following year. The latest blurring of what exact match means is Google’s increasing trust in its machine learning and the belief that it’s now at the point where advertisers can let the algorithms take over and focus on other things. Google says early tests indicate advertisers could see up to 3 percent more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable click-through and conversion rates.

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