Late Friday afternoon, Google announced they are changing the behavior of how close variants works in Google AdWords. Google said "over the coming months we’re expanding close variant matching to include additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords." Advertisers, as a whole, are not happy about this change - which is why Google timed the announcement for a late Friday afternoon.
Google said "early tests show advertisers may see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable clickthrough and conversion rates," of course. But advertisers want more control, not less.
Function Words Ignoring
Function words are prepositions (in, to), conjunctions (for, but), articles (a, the) and other words, Google says "don't impact the intent behind a query." So now exact match will ignore these function words to match with similar queries. Here is the chart that explains what is going away:
Word Order Ignored
Google says that "two keywords can share the same meaning, even if the word order is slightly different." But is that the case always? Now, exact match will use that same logic to match with queries that are reordered variations of your keyword.
Christoph Hoffinger said on Twitter, "@adwords what about renaming the keyword options to "almost exact match", "somewhat phrase match" & "anything can happen broad match."
@adwords what about renaming the keyword options to "almost exact match", "somewhat phrase match" & "anything can happen broad match" 😉— Christoph Hoffinger (@choffinger) March 19, 2017
Mateusz Kitka said on Google+, "the worst change in adwords campaign management ever."
Ginny Marvin goes into these changes in detail at Search Engine Land. So if this impacts you, which is probably does, well worth a read.
Forum discussion at Google+.