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Hello Digital looks at the highlights from the week that was.

Google Ads users are about to see a shift on the platform, with big changes on the way for phrase match and broad match modifier keywords. Take a look at our run-down of this news, as well as other highlights in digital from the week, including Bing’s plans for the Australian search market and Spotify’s hints towards monetising podcasts.

Read on for the latest digital news. 


Google Ads is making big changes to phrase match and broad match modifier keywords

Google Ads announced yesterday that they will be phasing out broad match modifier keywords and changing phrase match modifier keywords. Essentially the two match types will now be combined to produce the same matching behaviour.

According to Google, they’ve seen that “phrase match and broad match modifier often serve the same use cases, and that you can reach more of the right customers through a combination of the two.” So that’s what they’re doing, with the changes rolling out from mid-February. 

Both phrase match and broad match modifier keywords will begin to transition to this new matching behaviour slowly, so Google is assuring users that they won’t have to take immediate action. However, it’s a significant change so we’d suggest starting to make adjustments now. 

By July, once the change is rolled out across the globe, you won’t be able to create any new broad match modifier keywords and existing broad match keywords will take on the behaviour of the new-look phrase match modifier keywords.

We’re yet to see how it will play out and what effect it will have on campaigns, but changes at this level will have implications on campaign structures, keyword strategies, and potentially the effectiveness of some campaigns if you don’t do anything. To be proactive, consider changing any existing broad match keywords to phrase match keywords to preempt the change. Being proactive will help to ensure that negative effects are minimal and the transition is as smooth as possible. 

The announcement is another indicator of Google’s slow march towards automation. They highlight that the new iteration of phrase match modifier keywords works most effectively with Smart Bidding, which is an automated bidding strategy. The strategy uses machine learning in the ad auction process and according to Google, it optimises the bidding for conversions or conversion value at every ad auction. While many ads users find this to be an effective bidding option, others have argued that Smart Bidding takes away control and visibility from the user and Google’s broad data might not reflect your target audience. 

Mid-February is not that far away, so now’s the time to start looking at your campaigns and making sure you’re ready for the changes. 

Bing is ready to step up if Google leaves Australia

Given the looming threat of Google pulling their search platform from Australian users, Microsoft’s Bing has said they are ready to swoop in and replace them. The Australian communications minister, Paul Fletcher, said that Microsoft’s CEO reached out to the prime minister in regards to the evolving situation:

“The Microsoft CEO reached out to the prime minister and proposed a meeting, accompanied by senior executives, I was able to join that meeting, and we had a very informative discussion about Microsoft’s interest in the Australian market. At the moment they have a small market share in search, but they’re interested in expanding that, they’re interested in developing the presence of Bing here.”

Google dominates the search market share in Australia, making up around 93% of the market, while others like Bing and DuckDuckGo have always been there on the sidelines.

Fletcher played down Google’s threat, saying that they “don’t always follow through”, while reiterating that the government would not back down on the proposed news code. 

According to the latest Guardian poll, people are starting to become concerned about the prospect of not being able to use Google search if it is removed. Around 57% of poll participants said they were worried, while 43% said they were unconcerned with the prospect. 

Spotify makes plans for podcast subscriptions & à la carte payments

As more and more people are using Spotify for podcasts and more podcasts are being added to the streaming platform, there have been hints that Spotify is planning to create new ways to monetise podcasts.

Spotify’s chief executive Daniel Ek suggested that they foresee a future where there will be multiple business models for podcasts, including the potential for both ad-supported subscriptions and à la carte options. TechCrunch believes the plans for these new models around podcasts could be introduced in some capacity later in February at Spotify’s forthcoming “Stream On” livestream event.

It’s been suggested that company investors have wanted to know what Spotify is thinking when it comes to recouping its sizable investments in podcasts. This signals a possible solution. 

Spotify has a key advantage with podcasts, as there is the ability to monetise them in multiple ways at once. They have the possibility to use ads and subscriptions or direct payments, if they chose. And, of course, there aren’t any licensing fees or royalties to contend with, as with streaming music.