Microsoft Ads Follows Google by Expanding ‘Phrase Match’ Features
For the first time, both Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) will offer expanded phrase match features to their advertisers.
In February, Google announced that it would be removing its broad match modifier feature and instead integrating it with their phrase match feature. Microsoft Advertising has now followed suit, announcing this month that they will make the same transition.
All of that may sound a little confusing, so lets break down what exactly is happening and what it means for you and other affiliates if you use these platforms as traffic sources.
What is Phrase Match?
Phrase Match is a matching behaviour available on both ad platforms that allows you to match your ads against keywords that include a phrase you designate.
Prior to this change, if you created a phrase match of “fitness equipment”, your ad would show against the following queries on both Google and Microsoft Ads:
- “fitness equipment”
- “best fitness equipment”
- “new fitness equipment”
However, your ad would not show against these queries:
- “equipment for fitness”
- “workout equipment”
- “best equipment for fitness”
If you wanted your keywords to cover searches that are still relevant but in the same exact order, you would have to use the Broad Match Modifier matching behaviour. However, with this option your ad could also show against queries that were irrelevant.
For example, if you set your keywords as Travel + US + Mexico you would still match against queries like “traveling from Mexico to the US” which is not ideal.
Both Google and Microsoft have decided to essentially combine phrase match and broad match to streamline the way advertisers manage keywords.
In addition to still being able to match against a phrase you determine, Phrase Match will also now let you match against non-exact queries like Broad Match Modifier once allowed. However, unlike that feature, you will no longer need to worry about being matched against irrelevant queries.
This image from Google should help to further clarify the change.
As for why both companies are combining these two features, Google had this to say:
We’ve seen that phrase match and broad match modifier often serve the same use cases, and that you can reach more of the right customers through a combination of the two.
That’s why, starting in two weeks, we’re rolling out changes to phrase match and broad match modifier that make it easier for you to reach your customers, no matter how they’re searching.
Ultimately the goal here seems to be to save advertisers time while simplifying their matching behaviour offering. Whether that’s your experience or not will depend on a number of factors, including if you Phrase Match even suits your strategy.
This change also continues the trend of advertising companies like Google and Microsoft increasing their platform’s automation. Do not expect that trend to lose momentum anytime soon.