Debunking the Hype: Do Google’s New Brand Settings Truly Measure Up?

Blog | General | Debunking the Hype: Do Google’s New Brand Settings Truly Measure Up?

Photo of Austin LeClear by Austin LeClear on August 23, 2023

Unmasking Google’s Update: What You Thought vs. Reality

The digital advertising world was abuzz with anticipation as whispers grew louder about Google’s impending update related to brand settings. Then it dropped: Google Brand Restrictions and Brand Exclusions in Performance Max campaigns. These changes were billed as the game changers, promising advertisers an upper hand in controlling where and how their ads appear, especially in the context of search and shopping inventory.

As we dove into the core of these brand settings, two features stood out: Brand Restrictions for broad match in search campaigns and Brand Exclusions in Performance Max. The former promised more precise control, allowing advertisers to hone in on relevant brand traffic, while the latter promised to shield ads from undesired branded queries. But, as with many things in life, the devil is in the details.

Broad match has always been a double-edged sword. On one side, it offers the widest net to cast, potentially capturing a diverse array of brand traffic. But on the flip side, it can sometimes cast too wide, catching unrelated or undesired queries. Google’s solution? The introduction of Brand Restrictions to this broad match offering. The intent? To help advertisers focus their brand campaigns more sharply, ensuring their ads appeared only for the most relevant brand traffic.

However, as many seasoned advertisers know, the journey from promise to practice isn’t always straightforward. Google, with its vast Google Ads platform, had hinted at giving advertisers more control. Yet, the real question was: did these new brand settings truly measure up to the lofty expectations they set? Did they genuinely offer the anticipated brand controls or were they just a repackaging of old ideas?

There’s no denying that Google’s update aimed to elevate brand campaigns to new heights, with tools like broad match keywords and mechanisms to ensure ads don’t veer off the brand guidelines. But, as our in-depth exploration will reveal, there’s more beneath the surface. And that’s what we’re here to unravel.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll explore how the rubber meets the road, diving deep into the nuances of Performance Max and Brand Exclusions, understanding the practical implications of these brand settings, and gauging whether Google truly offered the much-touted more control to its vast advertiser base.

The Nuances of Broad Match and Performance Max: Not All That Glitters Is Gold

As digital marketers, we often face a conundrum when crafting our brand campaigns. Balancing reach with relevance is a tightrope walk. And Google, in its bid to help advertisers navigate this, introduced two key features: Brand Restrictions for broad match in search campaigns and Brand Exclusions in Performance Max campaigns. Both, in theory, promise a better grip on the reins of brand representation. But how do they fare in practice?

Broad match, for the uninitiated, is one of the match types in Google Ads. It’s designed to capture a wide net of traffic, including variations of your keywords, related searches, and more. However, this expansive reach often came with its pitfalls. Enter google Brand Restrictions. This feature promises advertisers the ability to fine-tune their broad match keywords to serve ads only to the relevant brand traffic. This means if you have specific brands in mind, the restrictions for broad match will ensure your ad doesn’t pop up for unrelated search terms.

For instance, imagine running a campaign for a specific sneaker brand. With the traditional broad match, your ads could potentially show up for other sneaker brands or even unrelated shoe types. With the Brand Restrictions click save feature, you’re theoretically fine-tuning this to only cater to the specified brand you want.

But then we hit the first snag. While the intent is commendable, the implementation is, at times, lacking. Even with these restrictions, we found instances of ads appearing for slightly off-target queries. It begs the question: does the Brand Restrictions for broad truly offer the precision it claims?

Shifting gears to Performance Max campaigns, another highlight of Google’s new brand settings is the Brand Exclusions feature. Unlike the Brand Restrictions, which focus on whom you want to target, Brand Exclusions let you specify who you don’t want to target. It gives you the tools to ensure your ads don’t serve for certain branded queries or brand searches that aren’t in line with your campaign goals. This could be especially handy if you wish to increase your advertising efforts on google through PMax without just taking credit for brand related conversions.

Yet again, the gap between promise and delivery was evident. The Brand Exclusion functionality, while functional on the surface, showed hiccups when put to the test. Some branded queries, especially those with brand misspellings or terms in foreign languages, occasionally slipped through the cracks.

Lastly, while Google’s efforts to hand more control back to advertisers are commendable, the question remains: is it enough? Or is it merely a shiny veneer masking underlying issues? As we drill down further, we’ll uncover more about the efficacy of these features and whether they truly elevate your brand campaigns or if they’re just old wine in a new bottle.

Google Ads Brand Restrictions campaign setting

Behind the Curtain: Where Google’s Brand Controls Falter

The ideal scenario painted by Google Brand Restrictions and Brand Exclusions in Performance Max campaigns sounds like a marketer’s dream come true. A world where brand campaigns can be minutely adjusted, where you serve ads only to the most relevant brand traffic, and where you can exclude undesirable queries with finesse. Yet, as with all dreams, waking up often brings a splash of cold reality.

When we dive deep into Google Ads with Brand Restrictions for broad match, the allure starts to fade. It’s crucial for advertisers to be able to direct their broad match keywords towards their desired audience. But our internal tests, consistent with the observations we shared earlier, reveal that these brand settings don’t always stand up to scrutiny.

Here’s the thing: if you’re running search campaigns and you’ve set Brand Restrictions, you’d expect a heightened accuracy in your ad placements. You’d assume that when you click Brand Restrictions and select your specified brands, you’ve added a layer of precision to your broad match traffic. However, many times, what we noticed was a surprising amount of “noise” amidst our desired brand traffic. Queries that should have been filtered out occasionally made the cut. This inconsistency chips away at the trust in the new brand settings Google launched.

On the flip side, Performance Max campaigns promise a robust Brand Exclusion functionality. But there’s a catch. The idea is to give advertisers more power by allowing them to exclude branded queries or brand searches that they’d rather not target. This could be to sidestep competitor brands or avoid brand terms that might be already optimized in another campaign. Yet, in practice, the mechanism isn’t foolproof. Especially when it comes to shopping inventory, there are instances where the exclusions seem porous.

One would assume that when you click Brand Exclusions, the settings are concrete. But our teams found that ads occasionally popped up in places they shouldn’t – tarnishing the very premise of brand controls. It’s almost like setting a sieve under a faucet and finding that more water slips through than stays behind.

What’s also intriguing is how Google’s Brand Exclusions in Performance Max interface with an existing search campaign or an existing Performance Max campaign. While you might exclude certain brands in one, cross-campaign nuances can sometimes result in overlaps – undermining the exclusions you set.

In conclusion, while Google’s attempts to offer more control to advertisers are commendable, the execution leaves something to be desired. The cracks in the system are evident, and for those investing heavily in their brand campaigns, these inconsistencies can be costly. As we move forward, the question to ponder is: Can Google fine-tune its brand controls to truly match its promises?

Unwrapping the Enigma: How Do Google’s Brand Settings Work?

When first introduced, the concept behind google Brand Restrictions and Brand Exclusions seemed groundbreaking. Let’s delve into the intricacies of these tools to understand their core function and potential pitfalls.

Starting with Brand Restrictions for broad match, the idea is simple at its core. Google’s vision was to provide advertisers with more granular control over their brand campaigns. By specifying which brands or terms the ads should be associated with, businesses could theoretically harness the power of broad match keywords while still ensuring they target the most relevant brand traffic. And while the intent is admirable, it’s the execution that our team, among others, has found lacking.

Navigating to the Google Ads account, one can easily click Brand Restrictions to set up the desired parameters. But, as our earlier discussions indicated, there’s more to it than meets the eye. The expectation is that when you add Brand Restrictions, your broad match traffic becomes more refined, more in tune with your specific brand needs. Yet, anomalies abound, showing the gap between promise and delivery.

On the other hand, the Brand Exclusions in Performance Max campaigns aim to offer another layer of control. Imagine running a campaign and wanting to exclude specific branded queries or brand searches. With the Brand Exclusion functionality, the power to do so should be just a few clicks away in the Google Ads account. Whether you’re excluding competitor brands, your own brand terms that may not fit a particular campaign, or terms that don’t align with your brand guidelines, the utility of this tool can’t be denied. However, as we’ve highlighted, its infallibility can.

Boosting Brand Visibility: Steps to Outshine the Competition

The ultimate goal for any advertiser using Google Ads is to increase visibility. Given the new tools at our disposal, the question arises: “How do I increase my brand visibility on Google?”

Firstly, while broad match Brand Restrictions offer a mixed bag, they can still be useful when applied judiciously. Combining them with other keyword strategies, like phrase match, can help create a more robust net to capture your desired brand traffic. While our critique is valid, it doesn’t imply the tools are entirely ineffective. It’s about understanding their limitations and working within them.

Furthermore, capitalizing on Performance Max campaigns can indeed yield results, especially when the Brand Exclusion functionality is employed with precision. By actively monitoring and adjusting your settings, especially with shopping inventory, the chances of reaching a more targeted audience increase. Remember, it’s not about entirely sidelining the new tools Google launched, but rather harnessing them optimally and proving their value with small tests before you leap head first into these types of campaign changes.

One strategy might be to periodically review your brand settings and exclusions, cross-referencing with the results they generate. If you find that certain branded queries are slipping through the cracks, make adjustments as needed. Regular audits of your existing search campaign or existing Performance Max campaign can be instrumental in ensuring you’re always a step ahead.

Lastly, remain engaged with the broader digital marketing community. With many advertisers navigating the same waters, collective knowledge can be a treasure trove. Sharing experiences and strategies can lead to innovative solutions that outpace and outperform the competition.

Conclusion: Navigating Google’s Brand Settings with Prudence

Google’s continuous efforts to refine and redefine its advertising ecosystem is emblematic of its commitment to both marketers and end-users. The introduction of Brand Restrictions and exclusions, as we’ve explored, offers tantalizing prospects for advertisers to finetune their campaigns. Yet, as with any tool, its potency is determined not just by its intrinsic qualities, but by the expertise of the wielder.

It’s imperative to approach these tools with a judicious blend of optimism and skepticism. While they open doors to more targeted advertising and finer control, they are not without challenges. The key lies in continuously experimenting, learning, and iterating on strategies.

For a more in-depth dive into this topic and to hear our firsthand experiences and insights, we invite you to watch our team’s discussion on the subject on YouTube. As always, staying informed and engaging in meaningful dialogue can turn challenges into opportunities in the dynamic world of digital advertising.

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