In checking search term reports, I occasionally saw a query labeled as “Broad (session-based)” under match type. I knew the official definition, but honestly never gave it much thought until I saw it in action. I was looking for a new pair of shoes. My first search included a brand name: “asics running shoes,” then my next search was the more general “running shoes.” What I noticed was several ads not just for running shoes, but specifically for Asics running shoes. Google was taking into account my preceding query and tailoring the results of the second search accordingly.
Not really that amazing, I suppose, but it does bring up a question: Does the session-match expansion make Broad Match a more attractive option for advertisers? Most of us approach Broad Match with a level of trepidation, and Google’s last attempt to expand Broad Match – Advanced Broad Match – seemed to do more harm than good (at least until they gave us Modified Broad Match).
But, if the expansion is directly tied to a searcher’s immediate search history, the danger of getting off-topic is perhaps a little less. And more importantly, without session-based matching, when I searched for “running shoes,” that advertiser had no way to know that I was probably interested in Asics over Adidas or Nike. As a result, he/she got to automatically serve me a more targeted ad than the words in my search query would normally allow.
Knowing now exactly how “Broad (session-based)” match works, what can we do with it? Every time it shows up in a search term report, take a second to think about why — it could yield valuable clues about your customers’ search behavior and how brand names and other modifiers float in and out of multiple searches as they move closer to a purchasing decision.