What Everyone Needs to Know About Google Ad Grants In 2018

What Everyone Needs to Know About Google Ad Grants In 2018

14 Jun 2018, by Camilla Pettica


In the lead up to Refugee Week, I'm delighted to have been able to help a school for refugees outside of Jakarta called the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC) gain access to the Google Ad Grant’s program and launch their first paid search campaign.

The Ad Grant’s program for those who don’t know, offers up to $10,000 USD/month AdWords credit to select non-profit organisations to promote themselves and advance their missions. This has been an instrumental marketing budget for non-profit organisations to build awareness about their cause, drive donations, round up volunteers, sell merchandise and many other actions. 

At the start of this year Google made a number of changes to the Ad Grants program aimed at making it more efficient. While improving the program's efficiency is a good thing, these new requirements are difficult to comply with unless non-profits have access to a marketing team or consultant with AdWords knowledge.

Key Changes & Challenges

5% Click-Through-Rate (CTR): Or Risk Temporary Suspension

Rolling out on 1 March 2018, accounts that miss the new 5% CTR hurdle for 2 consecutive months will be suspended. This hurdle is challenging. A study by WordStream, highlights the average CTR for Advocacy (which includes most of the world’s non-profits) sits at 1.72%. Google’s view is the 5% CTR is lower than the current program average (8.5%) and the mix of new requirements for ad grant holders should help most accounts easily maintain the 5% average (see keyword & account structure requirements below).

Removal of the $2 USD Cost-Per-Click (CPC)  

The big catch here is that you need to move your bidding structure to one of the following three smart bidding strategies Maximise Conversions, Target ROAS or Target CPA.

As these three bidding strategies use advanced machine learning algorithms, to maximise results there needs to be enough data for the system to make informed decisions. Recommendation is at least 15 conversions in the past 30 days. It also helps if your campaign has received conversion values at a similar rate for at least a few days. This is a tough hurdle for new, small non-profit accounts. Even if the conversion is a small action like an email sign-up. But if you can achieve it, you will be able to bid on more competitive and highly likely relevant keywords which will help you achieve the 5% CTR hurdle.

For those smaller non-profit accounts, who can’t move to a smart bidding strategy, your maximum bid will remain $2 USD and you will be faced with the challenge of finding relevant keywords within this limit that achieve a 5% CTR.

New Keyword & Account Structure Requirements 

Historically, the average monthly ad grant spend was $330 USD/month despite the $10,000 USD/month limit. This was largely due to the $2 USD bidding cap. To overcome, the challenge of the bidding cap a number of non-profits tried to spend more of their budget by bidding on generic keywords and expanding location targeting. To mitigate these tactics, the new ad grant requirements state campaigns must be relevant to the location(s) of the non-profit, you can no longer use single keywords, keywords cannot be overly generic and need to maintain a Quality Score of 3 or higher.

Furthermore, account structures must now have at least 2 Ad Groups per campaign and each Ad Group must have at least 2 active sitelinks.

My Experience

A couple of weeks into the campaign for CRLC, the campaign is tracking over the 5% CTR. The conversions are not yet where they need to be to move to a smart bidding strategy so we’re still stuck with the $2 USD CPC cap. We are testing new keywords and ad groups. Fortunately, we understand the new requirements but there’s a lot of non-profits who have access to the funds who are likely to be getting hit with suspension notes. 

If you have any queries about the new ad grant program you’d like to discuss, get in touch with us today. Our team at Angelic Digital is always ready to help you or you can contact us via our website.

Also, if you’ve got a couple of minutes, check out Jolyon Hoff & Khadim Dai’s awesome documentary trailer, The Staging Post. The documentary follows the two Afghan Hazara refugees that built a community and started the CRLC which inspired a refugee education revolution.