At Razorfish Search we’re wincing in anticipation of the day Larry Page snuffs out Exact Match, a beautiful bit of engineering that delivers EXACTLY what we paid for. If yesterday’s post on the Google Blog — announcing the new default option of including misspellings and plurals with exact match — is any indication, Google is going to slide into evil with a level of transparency and a sense of history that would make an oil company blush.
The post didn’t mention that Google’s new matching is exactly the same as Yahoo’s unlamented “Match Driver,” a factor in advertisers’ preference for Google back in the days when the two companies competed in search. The post also didn’t mention the likely impetus for this change: a surprising 8% year-over-year CPC decline that put a damper on GOOG’s Q4 earnings call. Seems a few too many Google customers found out you can get more conversions for less money with a smart keyword strategy of multiple-match-type buys of the same keywords. (Razorfish didn’t see the 2011 CPC decline – presumably because our clients have been enjoying these discounts for years.)
Rolling back the glorious precision of exact match is one way to “earn” more per click. If Google were our client, though, we’d point out angering your best customers and being less than straightforward about the decision is a tough way to win Likes and Friends. Oh, right — we mean +1s. Whatever.