Google Ads (or Google AdWords as it was branded until July 2018) is a tremendous opportunity for businesses looking to advertise effectively to consumers who are actively searching for their products or services. However, as Google Ads has grown to include an increasing number of products and potential ad placements, it can easily become overwhelming.
For our purposes, let’s categorize Google Ads offerings into three primary types: search, display and video.
Search network ads are the typical ad type that most people identify with Google Ads. When you search Google for a particular term, such as tax preparation, you’ll typically see listings marked with an “Ad” designation in bold at the top and sometimes at the bottom of your screen. With traditional “cost per click” or CPC bidding, advertisers only pay a fee when someone clicks on their ad to then visit their website. As an auction-based platform, what the company pays for that click is determined by many factors, including the competitiveness of the keyword they’re bidding on and how Google ranks the quality of their specific ad.
Relevance is critical to Google Ads in general, but especially with search-based ads. Spend significant time upfront considering the types of keywords you want your ads to appear for and equally as important, the keywords you don’t want your ads to show for, which you could designate as “negative keywords.” Keyword match types assist Google in determining how closely a user’s query should be to your keyword to trigger an ad being displayed. In addition to targeting ads to users’ search terms, also consider additional targeting to further narrow your audience including location, demographics, interests and behavior (as allowed by Google with current advertising policies.)
Many people are also familiar with display or “banner” ads. These typically appear interspersed in or beside of a website’s or app’s content and are often purchased on a cost per thousand ad displays or “CPM” basis. Though these types of ads typically convert less often than others, they are effective in capturing users’ interest given their ability to include visual and animated creative assets. Targeting is highly important with display ads as well to ensure you’re only showing ads to shoppers within your market and with interests representative of your typical consumer.
Many companies also utilize remarketing in order to only show ads to recent visitors of their website who left without completing a desired action such as a purchase. Think of the last time you shopped for a product and then started seeing ads for it as you browsed other websites. These are effective “follow-up” ads, especially when combined with an offer to encourage the visitor to return and complete the desired conversion.
Google Ads also allows you to place ads on YouTube, after acquiring the platform back in 2006. Video ads offer eye-catching awareness over other advertising types and are also traditionally purchased on a CPM basis like display ads. Video ads have expanded to include both skippable and non-skippable ads, as well as Smart Bidding methods expanding beyond the traditional CPM cost basis.
As with the other Google Ads offerings, targeting is essential to ensure you’re only showing video ads to shoppers within your market and with interests representative of your typical consumer.
Google Ads continues to evolve in an attempt to better meet advertisers’ needs and leverage machine learning. New tools such as Smart Bidding and dynamic ads attempt to lessen the amount of manual effort required to manage campaigns; however, it’s important to choose the bidding strategy that works best for your organization. Similarly, Optimization Score suggestions offer insights into campaign performance optimizations but should be considered on an individual basis for relevancy before applying unquestioningly.
Automated elements may reduce time required to actively manage campaigns, but can lead to undesired effects on performance metrics such as cost per click and ad dollars being spent on irrelevant search terms or products/services that are not your primary focus as a company.
Google Ads serves as a critical component of many businesses’ marketing plans. With transparent data and scalability for organizations of all sizes, it should be considered for any company seeking growth. However, Google Ads campaigns perform best with careful consideration during initial campaign setup as well as ongoing monitoring and refinement. Proper integration with website analytics tools, call tracking and other resources will only provide more insight into translating your campaigns’ performance into results for your business.