Google Broke All Our Campaigns

  • Matt Lambert
  • June 07, 2022

We are very proud of our Ad Campaigns; we put a lot of effort in. Recently, Google made changes to the way Ad Campaigns worked and made existing campaigns perform worse.

Here is what they have done and what we are doing about it.

What have they done ‘exactly’?

They made their keyword targeting fuzzy.

Before, we could specify a precise phrase and trigger the ads and measure the results. Now, we can no longer isolate words and measure the value in this way.

>> If we are not really careful, Google will show any ad to any keyword

The short version is that we now have to rebuild all campaigns, for all customers. We have to double down on all factors.

Dangers of Cost Per Lead AVERAGING by EXAMPLE:

Most things you see in Google Ads are averages, not reality.

The campaign figures show that the AVERAGE cost per lead is £57.60 below (for a highly lucrative product)

But for very closely related keywords

  • KEYWORD A is £94.79
  • Now KEYWORD B is £39.33

Unless we stop it, we are not measuring anything properly, and results are ‘averaged’ on our behalf.

The water is getting back into the sponge!

The above chart is for very very closely related keywords, the difference in cost per lead can be 300%

Why does it matter?

If we couldn’t measure things precisely, we would end up paying for high and lower-performing keywords.

To be clear, we still have the power to avoid keywords we don’t want.

But, if we can’t separate ‘ok value’ from ‘great value’ because we can’t measure it, we will slip backwards. Google call these new campaigns Smart. It wouldn’t be what we call them.


This change means Google can match any search phrase they like to any of our ‘exact’ keyword phrases. It makes it way harder to manage and control campaigns.

We can’t easily switch off poorly performing keywords (we can still do it, it just takes longer)

Rather like the ‘frog in the saucepan’** Google ‘seem’ to be turning up the heat and hoping we didn’t notice. We first properly felt the effects in April and May, they continue to turn up the fuzziness.

You have to be kidding?

You would think so, but no.

“Exact” is now the biggest ever misnomer. It’s a bit like saying Google make “quite a lot” of money.

It actually means – ‘we can show whatever we want’.

What’s the Answer?

Do we actually need to redo everything? Yes!

Let’s do it. Roll up your sleeves! After a bit of complaining and moping around, we can counter the effects of this change. Make the sites fast. Make a more comprehensive set of content, organise it better, get more clicks.

In fact, the only thing that makes sense is being more specific and detailed with everything.

What does it mean for you?

We hope it means you will be more competitive once we have worked on it for you.

Is there a silver lining?

Yes. Many linings.

There is always so much opportunity to improve. We believe wholeheartedly in the aggregation of marginal gains.

The Brits used this philosophy to completely dominate the Tour de France for the last few years. Lift lots of things by 1%, and you drastically improve and compound the results.

The Future

What happens if Google changes it again?

Every couple of years the goal posts change. And so will we. It’s not just the traffic that gives us the results. It’s the analytics, decision making, product strategy and messaging. We will never run out of marginal gains.

We have to start looking at other elements that give ‘our clients’ Competitive Advantage – and start plugging the leaks in the bucket.

The tale of the frog in the saucepan is an urban myth. That is not true, but it shows the point.

It says that if you drop a frog in hot water, it will jump out right away. But if you instead put it in cool water and slowly heat it up, then it will sit there till it cooks.

Perhaps we weren’t supposed to notice Google cooking our Frog (Goose).