Dan Thies reported that some Google AdWords advertisers are beta testing a new AdWords feature named “Automatic Matching.”
Automatic Matching is a way for Google to help the advertiser utilize their full budget towards keywords that they may have not been targeting. If they have used only 50% of their ad budget, Google can detect that, and expand the advertisers’ keyword lists based on their current keyword list and past history.
There has been a lot of heated debate about this beta product. Many feel Google doesn’t have the right to automatically expand one’s keyword list just to deplete an advertiser’s budget. But it can be a useful and profitable feature for many advertisers who don’t have the time or talent to expand their own list.
When I asked Google for a statement, they said:
As part of our ongoing commitment to provide advertisers with innovative ways to reach users online, Google is currently testing a feature known as ‘Automatic Matching.’ This feature is currently in a limited beta with a small number of advertisers. We have no news to announce at this time regarding developments in our AdWords product offering.
To be fair, they wanted to chat with me on the phone, but I just didn’t have the time. Luckily, I found a more comprehensive statement from AdWordsAdvisor at WebmasterWorld that explains this from Google’s perspective.
In short, this is an extremely limited beta. Those in the beta can opt out. Feedback from the forums and the industry will be used in deciding if or how to launch such a feature in the future. All the data will be present in the reports in AdWords.
All in all, I don’t think this is such a bad thing. Give the advertiser the option to opt in or out of this and everyone should be happy.