There are constantly changes in Google Ads and sometimes specifically in Google Ad Grants, but many organizations don’t know about those changes.
There are even consultants and agencies that don’t seem to know them, because they mention on their websites requirements and features that haven’t been active for years. For example, the $2 CPC limit.
To avoid these mistakes, here is a quick compilation of the most relevant changes in recent years (especially 2020 and 2021):
1. There is no longer a CPC limit
In Google Ad Grants you could only bid up to $2 per click (max. CPC). But that limit was already removed in 2017 for campaigns that use “Smart Bidding” (bids based on conversions).
You should use Smart Bidding in your campaigns (it gives better results and is also mandatory in new Google Ad Grants accounts since 2018), so that CPC limit has ceased to apply at a practical level.
2. No new Grantspro are granted
Grantspro was a higher tier of Google Ad Grants. Google gave a budget of $40,000/month instead of the usual $10,000.
New Grantspro accounts stopped being granted many years ago (2016), but I mention it because you still see many articles talking about Grantspro as if they were still being granted.
3. You can use audiences and remarketing
The use of audiences in Google Ad Grants was not allowed until 2021.
Keep in mind that it’s still only for search ads (not Display campaigns), so audience targeting and keyword targeting are applied at the same time. You can’t show ads to an entire audience, it depends also on what they search for on Google.
You can use both predefined audiences offered by Google (built on the online behaviors of users) and your own audiences (web visitors or customers).
4. It is not mandatory to make frequent logins or changes
It’s obviously recommended to check your campaigns frequently and make changes whenever is appropriate, but there is no longer any requirement to log in to your account or make changes to it every X days.
5. The official Google Ad Grants dashboard no longer works
Google offered an official dashboard (created with Google Data Studio) that was very useful for checking quickly if a Google Ad Grants account complied with the main policies and recommendations.
That dashboard no longer works (nor is it expected to be offered again), apparently because it gave many technical problems and Google decided to stop maintaining it.
6. You can use image extensions
We start with the new features that apply to all Google Ads accounts (not just Google Ad Grants).
Google adds and changes ad extensions with some frequency. If you haven’t reviewed the “Extensions” section in several years, you’ll probably see several options you didn’t know about.
The latest relevant addition for Google Ad Grants is image extensions.
Image extensions will probably increase the CTR of your ads and can make a significant difference in the results of campaigns in which the visual element is important.
At the end of 2021, Google added new features for the image extensions:
- They are also shown on desktop computers (not only mobile)
- They allow dynamic extensions (the image is chosen and added automatically from the contents of the page)
- You can choose between a database of stock images (and use them for free)
7. Expanded text ads will not be an option
As of June 2022, you will not be able to create or edit Expanded Text Ads. The only option will be Responsive Search Ads.
On a practical level is not really a big change, because you could create basically the same ad with both formats (putting all the texts in certain positions in a Responsive Search Ad you can replicate an Expanded Text Ad).
But it shows that the future lies in knowing how to optimize Responsive Search Ads and forget about Expanded Text Ads.
8. New Insights report
At the end of 2020, the “Insights” report was launched within the Google Ads dashboard.
It shows prominent trends in your campaigns that might go unnoticed if it weren’t for this report.
For example, it may alert you that certain words or locations have brought in much more traffic than usual.
Not all the data is useful, but every now and then you’ll discover something relevant to improve results or avoid wasting budget.
9. The modified broad match no longer exists
Previously, you could use the broad match modifier (put the “+” symbol before a word) to indicate that you wanted to show your ad only if that word appeared in the search (the rest of the words were optional, but the word with the “+” had to appear).
This possibility has been eliminated by Google in 2021.
Keywords with modifier (+keyword) are now automatically interpreted by Google as a phrase match (“keyword”).
Related to this, it is worth mentioning that the exact match is less exact now: It is also activated with keywords that Google considers very close (“close variants”).
In general, there is a trend (which Google itself recommends and facilitates) towards using broad match and letting Google’s AI test and decide which keywords produce better results.
10. Google automatically applies recommendations
By default, Google has started to make automatic changes to your campaigns.
Some of these automatic changes are useful (for example, pausing keywords with a low Quality Score), but you have to be careful because others can be harmful to your results.
There is a page within the “Recommendations” section where you can select in a granular way which kind of automatic changes you want to allow.
If you leave the automatic changes active, you should check the “Change history” section frequently to review all the automatic changes made by Google and evaluate if you really want to keep them all.
BONUS: Check the requirements and official news
Finally, I recommend checking the Ad Grants Policy Compliance Guide. Especially if you haven’t done it for years, because these requirements changed a lot in 2018.
If you want to be up to date with Google Ads new features and announcements, you can check this official page (unfortunately, that page don’t always mention the specific changes for Google Ad Grants).