Earlier this year, Google made substantial changes to the Google Grants program. Google Grants is essentially a “free” version of AdWords offered to select non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) status.
In late January, Google enacted a change that allowed Google Grant campaign managers to bid up to $2 for the maximum cost-per-click bid, doubling the previous $1 bid limit. With this increase, there was also a new limitation enacted which would push all Google Grant ads below paid advertisements for all queries.
When the change was announced, it was unclear if the increased cost-per-click bid limit would offset the new requirement for Grant ads to appear below all paid AdWords ads. Would the net effect lead to more or less traffic for Google Grants campaigns? We decided to find out by running a test in which no other changes were made to the account during this period; the only change was increasing all keyword bids to the new $2.00 threshold.
After running a Grant campaign for one month after increasing the bids to $2, the results are in. We can say without a doubt that the changes to the program lead to much higher traffic levels!
Now this could certainly differ by keyword category, or based on the keyword types driving traffic to a Grants program. Campaigns using a lot of long-tail terms with little or no advertiser competition might see more of a net gain than an account that was using competitive terms that were still attainable with a $1 bid. Another factor that could lead to more traffic would be the ability to serve ads against previously unattainable keywords that required more than a $1 CPC bid in order to be eligible for the auction.
In our experience, we noticed a small drop in average position and click-through-rate which makes sense, as ads from paid accounts would be placed on top of ads from Google Grant campaigns by default. Click-through-rate is highly correlated with Average position, as ads with higher positions tend to get more clicks with all other factors remaining equal.
That being said, the positives outweighed the negatives by a landslide in our case!
With the ability to double bids up to $2 maximum cost-per-click, the Google Grant campaign noticed a massive spike in impressions, clicks, and “costs” (“costs” staying in quotes, as Google Grant campaigns do not have actual costs, but for our purposes this would be the value of the program traffic).
So the jury is no longer out on this one- the changes Google made to the Grants program has had an extremely positive impact on this program! In fact, this is the closest this account has ever come to hitting the $10,000 monthly cap.