I wanted to write the post below to share with you the most important things you need to know in order to avoid getting your Google Ad Grant canceled in the coming year.  But before I do that, I’ll give you a quick summary on what a Google Ad Grant is, who it is useful for, and how the program has changed in the last twelve months.

What Is A Google Ad Grant?

First of all, a Google Ad Grant (formerly known as a Google AdWords Grant) is a program exclusively available for 501c3 nonprofits (not limited the United States), and through which Google offers $10,000 per month (every month) in free advertising to the nonprofits that qualify.

The $10,000 per month is “use-it-or-lose-it” money, which means that it re-sets every month that the grant is renewed. If you only spend $300 in March, then the rest of the money does NOT roll over into April. Which is why we like to be as aggressive as possible in spending the money each month.  Furthermore, the $10,000 is spent on a daily basis, and in order to spend the full amount, you’ll need to max out your daily budget at approximately $330/day.

It is important to note that the entire grant is reserved for keyword targeted ads.  No remarketing or display ads, and no Google Shopping campaigns.

Who Qualifies for a Google Ad Grant?

Almost any nonprofit in the United States qualifies.  Of course, Google reserves the right to reject anyone who applies, but in our experience almost any 501c3 in good standing is likely to get approved.

How Do You Prevent Your Google Ad Grant from Getting Canceled

Until 2018, Google Grants were almost never canceled, but last year Google implemented some new rules that you need to be aware of, and if you follow our recommendations below, you are likely to keep your grant in good standing month over month:

  1. First, you need to make sure that someone is in charge of your grant. And this person needs to be monitoring the Google Grant alerts that are emailed once a month (usually by the 19th or 20th) to indicate which parts of the Google Ad Grant are out of compliance. For instance, if you have keywords with quality scores that are too low, then this report will flag them and you’ll be able to correct them. If your click-through-rate is below the minimum required 5%, this will let you know.
  2. Second, don’t just rely on the automated grant report to let you know when something is out of compliance. We recommend setting up alerts to tell you if quality scores dip too low.
  3. Third, be very careful with branded keywords. You are not allowed to use “one-word” keywords in Google Grants, but they make exceptions for branded phrases. That said, we have found that Google will often make mistakes with branded keywords, and they MAY erroneously cancel your grant based on misinterpreting which keywords are branded and which are not. If you care deeply about targeting one-word branded keywords, then you need to make sure you have a Google rep who can help you flag which ones are branded, and can quickly fix any accidental cancelations if they cause trouble.
  4. Fourth, we recommend taking an “ad first” approach to managing your account, and we also recommend planning out a 12-month strategy that involves new ad writing every month — this will help you satisfy the requirement that you actively manage your account each month, and that you only adopt keywords that are highly relevant to your campaigns. Before 2018, you might have been able to take a “keyword first” approach, whereby you quickly expand your keyword targeting in huge ways and pair those keywords a top performing static ad, or perhaps a dynamic keyword ad, and then optimize your keywords only after the volume increases. We don’t recommend this approach for Google Grants, because Google will cancel your grant if you don’t maintain a tight alignment between keyword and ad text relevance, and if you force yourself to write the ads first, and then pick keywords second you’ll be likely to ensure that you stay aligned with Google’s requirements.

I hope these tips are helpful as you utilize your Google Ad Grants in 2019, and if you have any additional tips or questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Dubravka Vasiljevic, Ad Platform Manager at the Will Marlow Agency, is a data-driven marketing professional with multiple Google Ad certifications. And she loves managing Google Grants

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