What the data tells us about the death of exact match and its impact

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On March 17, Google announced an adjustment to the functionality of our beloved match types, effectively changing exact match into semantic match. For example, [new york flights] could potentially show for flights to new york, since the presumed intent is the same.

The change affects two major parts of what we advertisers have historically loved about exact match: preserving word order and keeping out filler, or “function,” words.

I won’t go in-depth as to how the change works, as it’s been outlined by a dozen folks already (reading list to follow). Rather, I’ll dive into the data to assess exactly what’s going on. I looked into a trio of accounts in varying industries that should’ve been affected by the change and outlined the findings below.

For some context, the three accounts we looked at were:

  • a home services company. A huge account, broadly built out including geospecific terms and every possible name for each service.
  • a national media company. Another massive one, including names of artists for the media that’s being sold and every filler term (e.g., All Out of Love by Air Supply).
  • a luxury travel company. A smaller account that has a rock-solid foundation, but plagued by the dreaded Low Search Volume tag when exact match builds are extended.

Here are the four fears I had surrounding the change — let’s see if the data dispels them.

[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Aaron has been in the industry for the better part of a decade, leading paid media campaigns with clients ranging from Fortune 50 companies to startups and local businesses. In his role of Manager of Client Strategy at Elite SEM, Aaron oversees a group of account leads & analysts across the northeast. In addition to Elite SEM, Aaron’s a frequent industry speaker and instructor at Drexel & University of Vermont, working to grow the next generation of great marketers. He moonlights as a brewer, hockey player, slow cyclist and claims to be the industry’s top chef.


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