What happened to the SKAGs? | JumpFly Digital Marketing Blog


PPC in 2010 was a different world. Match types meant something, algorithmic learning was in its infancy, and the whole industry was angry at Google’s new Quality Score metric. The idea was (and still is) that Google would give extra weight to unique ads and copy that matched well with keyword and landing page content, thereby reducing the cost of a click compared to your ads. competitors. The intention was to make the ads more relevant and therefore generate more clicks for Google (never mind competitors doing this too, creating a race to the bottom for every industry).

Everyone wanted to maximize their level of quality over their competitors. So everyone started wondering how to match keyword content with ad content when ad content was kept at the ad group level.

Enter SKAGs, shorthand for single keyword ad groups. Advertisers would create an ad group for each keyword in their campaign (sometimes all match types together, and sometimes even each match type in a separate ad group) and saturate ad content with the respective keyword for each ad group. In theory, this would increase the Quality Score and Google would “reduce” ad purchases.

Did it work? To some extent, yes.

Google smartly never went so far as to publish how much the Quality Score adjusted the final click cost, so we’ll never know for sure, but there was a hint of a change in the overall data that indicated that it was worth doing, if not overdoing it. .

So what happened to this major trend that has taken the industry by storm? In a word, automation. Google began releasing bidding algorithms that handled keyword bidding at the ad group level or even at the campaign level, which meant that keyword segmentation was inefficient. The more keywords and ads grouped together, the more efficient and faster the value generated by the machine learning.

Then Google released responsive search ads (RSA), which effectively did the job of automatically matching ad copy to keyword content. With RSAs, we still write ad copy (in fact, even more than before), but it’s more piecemeal now. Google takes the best ad copy match for each individual search term that triggers the display of an ad.

And the nail in the coffin was the dissolution of keyword-to-search term mapping. When exact match really meant exact match, it made sense to divide keywords into their own siled ad groups so that keywords could be matched directly to ad content. Now, match types and keyword mapping have been fuzzy to the point of almost irrelevance, and it’s no longer possible to match ad copy to all possible “variations” of a word. -key. Since every keyword is effectively a broad match, ad content relevance has become a function of RSAs alone.

Finally, after all these changes, the industry was simply overwhelmed. Manually creating an ad group for each keyword was consuming hours of work across the industry. Automation was welcomed as a benefit.

It’s now 2022 and SKAGs are a thing of the past. Automation is increasingly handled at the campaign level, gradually making split ad groups more of an organization thing than a performance thing.

However, there has been a lot of talk in the industry about new strategies to take full advantage of the new Performance Max (PMax) campaign type. Instead of single keyword ad groups, could the next trend be single product campaigns for PMax? Single keyword campaigns?

This will depend on what Google does with PMax campaigns and the data provided to advertisers on this type of campaign. Where automation was once a welcome change, many industry experts are beginning to balk at the lack of valuable data in the highly automated PMax type of campaign and are beginning to break those campaigns down into these granular strategies for data clarity. .

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