Crash Course On Google Ad Grant Rules

As part of Google’s philanthropic initiatives, Ad Grants offer non-profit organisations around the world with up to $10,000 USD in ad spend each month. Yes, straight up free money. However, as in every other “free” scenario, there are stipulations. Google have a range of rules accompanying the privilege of having an Ad Grant. For example, ad spend is only eligible across Search campaigns (so any Display or YouTube activity you’ll be paying out of your own pocket in a separate account).

Other rules have been added over time - a significant number of stipulations were implemented in 2018 as Google attempted to weed out “lazy” advertisers who weren’t managing their Google Ads account in any meaningful way. These stipulations will impact the way you run your account, and in some cases, they actually stifle campaign performance. Over the years, we’ve jumped many a hurdle to help our Google Ads Grant accounts succeed within the confines of the many rules.

Today we’d like to share some helpful tips and tricks that should help make your Ad Grant work for you.

google grants budget

Budget limits

What’s this about?

All Grant accounts are capped with a monthly budget ceiling of $10,000 USD. Practically speaking, this isn’t an issue in New Zealand. We promise you won’t be able to spend this full amount - for context, we seldom see Grant accounts spend more than $1,000 of that budget.

What should you be doing?

For each campaign, set your daily budgets absurdly high to give all your keywords the most opportunity in each auction.

Keyword bid limits

What’s this about?

All targeted keywords within a Grant account are typically restricted to a bid ceiling of $2.00 USD. This is a major pain point for Grant accounts. Say for example there are three advertisers with Grant accounts bidding on the term mental health for $2.00 - it’s suddenly a very level playing field. Beyond that, if a normal advertiser with a non-Grant account is also targeting mental health with $3.00 or higher, your ad is almost certainly not going to serve.

What should you be doing?

If your campaigns are currently using a Manual CPC bid strategy, we highly recommend changing to Maximise Conversions. Using the Maximise Conversions bid strategy allows your keywords to circumvent the $2.00 keyword bid limit in the auctions. To utilise this bid strategy, you’ll need Google Analytics conversion tracking on your website (hopefully you’ll already have this in place to track online donations and sign-ups, etc).

Alternatively, Target ROAS and Target CPA bid strategies also circumvent the $2.00 limit. However, these target-based strategies are restrictive by nature which can stifle performance; the Target ROAS/CPA strategies will automate in a with a more conservative approach of cost-effectiveness, but in this case you’ve got plenty of free budget to spend.

Single-word keywords not allowed

What’s this about?

To stop advertisers having free reign over any and every broad keyword term (e.g. children) single-word keywords are not permitted, save for a few exceptions. Your brand name, if a single word, is exempt.

What should you be doing?

Google’s automated system will email you to notify of any breach of this, so hopefully, you should be aware already. If not, you can quickly check by pulling up the Keywords tab with All Campaigns in view, and then filtering out keywords that do not contain a space. This will return a list of all single-word keywords, which you can cross reference with the exception list above to check if you are currently in compliance.

Unfortunately, single-word keywords tend to have the highest search volume, which restricts nonprofit advertisers from enjoying the reach of so many high traffic terms. As such, we’d suggest getting creative with long-tail keywords. For example, instead of going for a keyword such as addiction, try going for a term such as alcohol addiction or drug addiction.

google grants non compliance report

Google will drop you and email if you are non-compliant in any way.

Keywords must be quality score 3 or higher

What’s this about?

All keywords with quality score 1 or 2 must be paused or removed. Google uses this in order to help prevent advertisers from bidding on overly generic terms that aren’t relevant to their organisation.

What should you be doing?

The Google Ads system should automatically email you to notify you of any breaches in terms of this - it will actually outline the exact offending keywords as well. If needing to check manually, pull up the list of all keywords in your account and then sort the Quality Score column in ascending order to quickly identify any keywords with a 1 or 2 quality score. Make it a part of your regular activity to check for these low-quality keywords.

Overall click-through rate (CTR) must be 5% or higher

What’s this about?

Across all campaigns in your account, the average click-through rate must be maintained at 5% or higher. If CTR dips below 5% for two consecutive months, this can lead to your Google Ads account being temporarily deactivated.

What should you be doing?

Firstly, run a brand campaign. Your brand keywords should easily accrue click-through rates well into the 20 - 50% region; this alone should be enough to anchor the overall click-through rate above the 5% average requirement. In terms of generic keywords, we highly recommend regularly sitting down to research & target as many long-tail keywords as you can. While it can be difficult to crack a 5% CTR on broad generic terms alone, the more time you can dedicate to researching keywords that are highly relevant to your niche, the more success you’re likely to find with their click-through rates.

Campaigns must have 2 ad groups, 2 ads in each, and 2 sitelink extensions

What’s this about?

Characteristic of best practices, these basic requirements are a seriously low bar to use in any campaign.

  1. Every ad group needs at least 2 active ads
  2. Every campaign must contain at least two active ad groups
  3. Account must use at least 2 active sitelink extensions

What should you be doing?

All are very easy to comply with:

  1. Ads: We recommend using at least 3 ads in each ad group so that you can split test different messaging across ad copy.
  2. Ad groups: Be conscious whenever creating a new campaign that you feature at least two ad groups in the campaign. In scenarios where this might be difficult (e.g. your Brand campaign) consider using different keyword match types in different ad groups.
  3. Sitelink extensions: Incorporate at least two sitelink extensions to your campaigns, so that users seeing your ad have more options of which webpages they can click through on your ads to.

If you have a question about any of the above, or just want a fresh pair of eyes on your Google Ads account, don’t hesitate to get in touch!