Google’s Automatic Matching – Money Grab or Useful PPC Tool?

Earlier this week Google sent out notice to a select group of AdWords advertisers that they had been selected to participate in an upcoming beta for a feature called Automatic Matching. This is how Google explains it:

Automatic Matching automatically extends your campaign’s reach by using surplus budget to serve your ads on relevant search queries that are not already triggered by your keyword lists. By analyzing the structure and content of your website and AdWords campaigns, we deliver more impressions and clicks while maintaining your current CTRs and CPCs.

For example, If you sold Adidas shoes on your website, Automatic Matching would automatically crawl your landing page and target your campaigns to queries such as: “shoes” “adidas” “athletic”, etc., and less obvious ones such as “slippers” that our system has determined will benefit you and likely lead to a conversion on your site.

This announcement comes in the same week that a ComScore report says Google’s paid click growth was flat for the month of January compared to a year ago. Many analysts suggest this lack of growth is due to measures Google has taken internally to improve click quality and reduce accidental clicks.

If relevance is the name of the game then I don’t think a new feature like Automatic Matching, which will spend an advertiser’s surplus budget by making educated guesses about what a searcher may be looking for, keeps inline with improving click quality.

Most PPC marketers try to target their ads to very specific phrase/exact keywords so they can keep costs down and relevant traffic high. Automatic matching might work for businesses that have little or no time to effectively build out proper keyword lists and manage a paid campaign but I can’t ever see it becoming a tool of the professional PPC marketer.

The question you have to ask yourself is would you rather have your “surplus budget” in the hands of Google or a real person that knows your business and the customers you are trying to reach?