The Google Ads network has faced increasing competition from Amazon, Snapchat, and other networks over the last few years but it still controls the largest piece of the US digital ad market. It's estimated that Google Ads will receive more than 36 cents out of every dollar spent on digital advertising in 2020.
If you're advertising on the internet, you're not reaching a big chunk of your potential customers if you're not using Google Ads. Let's look at how to use Google Ads most effectively for your digital marketing campaigns.
An Introduction to the Google Ads Network
The Google Ads network, formerly known as Google Adwords, has been around for nearly 20 years. It places ads in four places:
The Google search network
Google's display network
The search network is the Google website itself. When you search for something on Google, the ads you see above and beside the search results are coming from the search network.
The display network places ads on other websites like CNN and Fox News. These ads can be either text- or image-based. YouTube ads offer similar options, text and image ads that are displayed at the bottom of videos. You can also place video ads on YouTube though.
These are the "pre-roll" ads that you see before other videos.
App-based ads are ads that show up in apps on iPhones and Android devices. They can be text- or image-based as well.
Benefits of Using Google Ads
One of the biggest benefits of Google Ads over most other digital advertising networks is the fact that your ads can be shown to people who are actively looking for the solution you have to offer. When someone searches for something on Google, you know they have some degree of interest in it so when your ad gets displayed, it's not an interruption like so many other forms of advertising.
Compare this to Facebook, the second-largest digital ad network. Most people aren't on Facebook to research solutions to their problems, they're there to stay in touch with friends and be entertained. If your ad shows up in their news feed, it's an interruption to what they're doing at that moment.
The other big benefit of Google Ads is how easy (and inexpensive) it is to use for testing. You can set up a small campaign with a $5-$10 a day budget to test the market for new products, product names, special offers, or anything else you want to try out.
There aren't many other places you have access to millions of people who are putting their hand up to show they're interested in what you have to offer, let alone set up a fast, inexpensive market research campaign.
Setting Up Your Google Ads Campaign
Google Ads has three levels of organisation for your ads:
Each campaign can contain multiple groups and each group can contain multiple ads. This lets you look at your ads from various perspectives. You can get detailed information about how specific ads are performing, bigger-picture information about a group of related ads, or the overall picture of your campaign.
Setting Your Budget
The first step when you create a new campaign is to set your budget. This can be changed at any time so don't worry if you aren't sure how much you want to spend immediately.
The campaign budget lets you limit how much you'll spend so you don't end up spending far more than you expected if you either target an audience that shows a lot of interest in your ad or you misjudge something and end up getting a lot of clicks but not many conversions.
Targeting the Right Audience
After you set your initial budget, you can choose how you want to target your audience. You can opt to have your ads shown anywhere in the world or you can choose specific countries.
If you only sell to certain regions, make sure you limit your ads to those countries. The same applies if you only do business in certain languages. Showing your ads in places you aren't able to do business will hurt your bottom line. You'll still pay for clicks on those ads but it's unlikely you'll convert any of those searchers into paying customers.
Regional targeting is only part of the equation though. You can also target people based on affinity groups and intent.
Affinity group targeting lets you reach people who are interested in certain topics, have visited certain websites, use certain apps, and have been to certain places. This lets you narrow your audience down to a much more specific group of people than regional targeting alone.
You can combine the two to get really specific. For example, if you sell handbags in Australia, you could create an audience of people from Australia who are interested in fashion and have visited a few of the most popular fashion websites.
Intent audiences are created based on what people are searching for. Google can easily log this information since all their Google searches can be tracked. Over time, they can build a thorough profile of their visitors' intent.
Keywords are the foundation of every ad on the Google Ads network. When you create an ad, you identify one or more keywords that will trigger your ad to be shown. When someone searches for that keyword on Google, your ad shows up in the results.
You can get as wide-ranging or specific as you want with your keywords. The best strategy is to target a small, highly relevant group of keywords for each ad. Instead of building a large list of keywords for one ad, you're better to run several ads that will each be triggered by different keywords. This lets you adjust your ad to be as relevant as possible to the specific keyword someone is searching for.
he Google Keyword Planner tool helps you identify keywords to target. You enter a keyword or phrase that's related to your product or service and it will give you a list of related keywords that people search for on Google. It also gives you the relative volume of each of the words in the list so you can see which ones get the most traffic.
One of the most important components of the Google Ads system is what's known as the quality score of your ad. This is Google's way of "grading" your ad and determining how good or bad it is.
The quality score is based on several things:
The quality of your landing page
The expected click-through-rate (CTR)
Your ad's relevance
Optimising Your Google Ads Digital Marketing Campaigns
To get the most click on your ad, at the lowest prices, you should always be working on optimising your ads. The first version of any ads you run should never be the only version.
Optimising will help to increase your quality score, for one thing.
The landing page component of your ad's quality score isn't about the ad itself, it's about the page on your website that people end up on when they click your ad. That landing page needs to load quickly and be tightly-related to the ad they clicked to get there.
If people click your ad and almost immediately click back to Google and click a different one (known as a bounce), it will hurt your quality score.
The expected CTR component is based on the historic performance of your ads. If you're just starting with Google Ads, you won't have much history so you want to optimize things as quickly as possible and start building a solid foundation.
Relevance is how well targeted your ads are. This is where it helps to split up your keyword list into separate, more targeted ads. If the ad is too vague to be relevant to the keyword that triggered it, your quality score will suffer.
Remarketing is another way to target audiences through Google Ads but you need to accumulate some data through your ads and website before you can use it effectively.
Remarketing lets you show ads to people you've already had a connection with in some way. For example, you can choose to show an ad to people who have visited a specific page on your website but have not yet bought something from you.
This lets you create highly targeted ads that can make special offers to particular groups of people. For example, you could offer a discount to people who checked out your products but didn't buy for some reason.
How to Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Creating your digital marketing campaigns takes some time and effort but that's only half the process. Once your campaigns are up and running, you need to manage them as time goes on. Without effective management, you could be spending money on ads that aren't working or you could be leaving money on the table by not improving the ones that are.
While anyone can learn how to launch and manage marketing campaigns on Google Ads, you might not want to invest the time needed to learn all the ins and outs of the system. After all, you have a business to run.
If you'd rather focus on what your business does well and leave the digital marketing strategy to experts, Amy Who? can help. We offer several digital marketing services including Google Ads management and SEO audits.
Get in touch today to find out what we can do to help you reach your business goals.