Ad Grant Requirements
As you may already be aware, Google offers charities and not-for-profit organisations the opportunity to apply for a Google Ad Grant account which comes with $10,000 of monthly ad spend, absolutely free! This is a great way for many nonprofits to increase awareness and drive traffic to their site.
An ad grant account runs very much like a normal Google Ads account, however there are some restrictions, such as a $2 bid cap when using manual CPCs and you can only run ads on the Google Search network. At the beginning of 2018, Google then introduced a list of requirements that all ad grant accounts must meet otherwise they risk their account being suspended. With this update, they also allowed you to bid higher than $2 providing you use a conversion-based bid strategy, such as maximise conversions.
The full list of requirements for the ad grant account can be found here.
The most alarming, and likely the most difficult to achieve, requirement is that your account must maintain a minimum of a 5% CTR (click-through rate) otherwise you risk it being suspended. It’s important to note that this requirement is at the account level – it’s fine to have some keywords with a CTR below 5%, as long as the overall account average is above the 5% threshold.
You must also ensure that no keywords have their Quality Score drop to below 3. This should be a fairly easy policy to maintain as a well written ad ensures a Quality Score of at least 3 – it’s just something you need to keep a close eye on.
You must maintain a well structured account at all times. This statement is a little vague as everyone has their own preference for how to structure an account, however Google helpfully breaks this down into specific requirements:
You must have specific geo-targeting in place, for most accounts this will likely be the country in which you operate, although more local charities may need to restrict to the city/area in which they are based.
You then must also have at least two active ad groups per campaign, and two active ads per ad group. On top of this you need a minimum of two sitelinks. Easy.
Correctly implemented conversion tracking is another requirement for all ad grant accounts set up since January 1, 2018, and those who wish to use a conversion-based bid strategy (which you’ll need to if you want to bid higher than the $2 limit). Conversions can be anything from making a donation to signing up for a newsletter – it will depend on the goals of your organisation and campaigns. Implementing Google Ads conversion tracking and creating a measurement framework can be tough if you’re not experienced in this field. Get in touch if you require help.
There is then a requirement to not have any non-brand single-word keywords, apart from those listed here. You’re also not permitted to bid on any ‘overly generic’ keywords. Now this is a bit ambiguous but the examples given by Google of “best videos”, “cool apps”, “e-books”, “today’s news”, “easy yoga”, “download games”, “things to do”, “job alert” give an indication of their thinking.
Managing your account
So with all of these restrictions in place, how should you go about managing your Google Ad Grant account? Here are our tips:
A very useful feature within Google Ads is how it allows you to automate tasks via automated rules. As an example you could create an automated rule to pause any keyword whose Quality Score falls to 2 or below.
At aip we have built a custom tool (ALERT) for monitoring campaigns and websites. ALERT has many features including monitoring for website downtime, and alerting when important campaigns have zero impressions for the day so far.
We have built a specific entity of ALERT to monitor adherence to the requirements of Google Ad Grant campaigns. If an account breaches the Google Ads policies then ALERT can automatically take action to correct it, or for the more ambiguous requirements it will message our team with a warning so they can investigate.
Look at CTR impact
The most difficult requirement to meet will likely be the account CTR of at least 5%. If you fall below this level for two consecutive months your account will be suspended. When looking at areas to pause it is important to consider more than just a keywords CTR. As an example a keyword with 10,000 impressions and a CTR of 3% will be having a much bigger negative impact on your account CTR than one with 100 impressions and a CTR of 2%.
Our ALERT tool automatically creates a report which compares the accounts CTR to what the accounts CTR would have been if that keyword wasn’t running – this gives a clear view on the best terms to pause to immediately achieve the required CTR.
Spend time building your account
It would be worth dedicating as much time as you can to initially building out your account. This will be a lot of work in one go but will be worth it in the long run. Don’t just conform to the minimum requirements either, try and include more than 2 ad groups per campaign, and definitely aim for a minimum of 3 ads per ad group. Between 4 and 6 would be better and set the ad rotation to optimise for clicks to ensure Google picks the ad variation that is most likely to result in a click.
Add as many extensions into the account as possible, and not just sitelinks. Use as many options as you can to ensure you’re maximising your ad rank and more likely to appear prominently on the results page.
Use Google Ads Editor
If you’re not familiar with Google Ads Editor then it’s time to change that. Editor makes it much easier to make bulk changes, such as uploading new campaigns, than it is within the Google Ads user interface. It will save you a lot of time.
Implement conversion tracking
With a $2 bid cap it can be very difficult to spend anywhere near the full $10,000 monthly budget. It’s therefore vital to set up conversion tracking (and ensure it’s working correctly!) so that you can implement a maximise conversions bid strategy to help you make the most of your budget.
Of course, a bid strategy isn’t the only reason you should be tracking conversions. It’s important to understand what the traffic you are sending to your site is doing – otherwise, what is the point in sending it there? If you are in a position where you are fully utilising the budget then you’ll want to start pulling back in lesser performing areas, and without conversion tracking you won’t be able to identify these areas.
There may also be a selection of keywords that are performing well for you but you’re unable to maximise your impression share for them due to the ad grant restrictions. If performance is strong enough then there could be a business case for pulling these out into a separate, paid for, ad account.
If you’re struggling to make the most of your ad grant budget then seek expert help.
Want to know how we can help with managing your Google Ad Grant account? Get in touch.