Over the past several years we have been increasingly using both sides of Google's Pay Per Click advertising programmes - AdWords (for advertisers) and AdSense (for publishers). Their usefulness is matched only by their subtlety and endless configuration possibilities. As with many good ideas it takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.
Advertising Your Site, Your Brand and Your Products and Services
Google AdWords allows you to create and place adverts on Google's search pages, and on websites that accept Google's ads through the AdSense system. In a nutshell you write your ad, select a budget that you're prepared to pay for a click and how much in total you're prepared to pay for each day, and then configure a set of keywords and phrases that you'd like to appear on when someone searches for them. Once set up, Google does its magic and puts your bid into the melting pot with everyone else's bids for the same keywords and phrases. The one who bids most (and has funds to pay for it) is listed first, and then everyone else is placed below them depending on their relative bids. When your day's funds are exhausted your ad is no longer considered in the bidding competition and is removed from display.
AdWords accounts are quick and easy to set up. A nominal set of contact details are required along with a payment to credit your account with funds. You then create the ad and turn it on. It will usually begin to be served within a couple of hours, if not sooner. The easy way in which this all happens means that your budget can disappear very quickly. Knowing whether it has given you any benefit is a different matter.
Reasons For Running Google AdWords Campaigns
In our experience there are three different reasons to put together an AdWords campaign. Two are about driving traffic, and the third is about brand development and brand awareness. This latter option is important to market leaders who aren't necessarily bothered about driving traffic to their website, but are keen to be seen in the mix for their particular market sector. An example would be a search for booksellers, which as you'd imagine would probably return Amazon, but also possibly Waterstones or WH Smith. These high street retailers need to keep their brand presence on the web as well as relying on their high street outlets, to show they are significant players in the market. Competition from the likes of Tesco for these slots shows how important it is just to be seen and associated with these keywords and phrases.
The other two types of advert are concerned with bringing additional visitors to your website and the traffic can be split into two types - those that seek sales leads from the traffic and those that want to promote information and ideas about their business or services.
Lead generation is the most straightforward to understand. You have products to sell on your website and you want to entice buyers to visit and purchase. This can be through an ecommerce store, or could equally be encouraging them to email or pick up the phone to discuss using doing business with you.
The third and final reason for running an AdWords campaign is to bring people to your site to tell them something that you want them to know. This could be a public service announcement (like a health and safety message) or it might be informing people about your brand repositioning; letting people know about a new service or area of expertise you've developed.
These three types of purpose require different approaches to building a campaign. They also each have different success criteria and need different measures for calculating their effectiveness.
These adverts are highly competitve in nature. They require a high visibility and high position in the ad display pecking order. There is kudos attached to the top positions and people will pay significant sums of money to win them and keep them. They are usually focused on mainstream search terms rather than niche ones - so will compete for "bookstore" more than "second hand books on sheep farming". It is important that for bookstore searches the company is highly visible and highly placed than for specific terms. Often the brand name will be mentioned more than once in the ad along with a quality statement - "Bookstore - best for books".
These are used to grab attention and bring people to visit your site with the sole purpose of selling your products or services to them. The adverts are usually typified by "special offer" phrases and concepts. "250 business cards for £5" or "Free consultation" and are overtly designed to grab attention and drag people onto a site to make a purchase - maybe one they'd not considered before they saw your ad.
The key with these is rarely to mention brand (unless that's a component of the offering) but will usually be more concerned with out-competing the other advertisers on price or value for money. The name of the business is not even mentioned except in the URL of the link at the foot of the advert.
Information / Service Adverts
These adverts can be quite subtle and varied in their appearance and purpose. They are keen to attract visitors to the advertiser's website, but not necessarily for the purpose of making a sale. They are often more concerned with giving information, either information that is "useful" to the visitor, or information tells something new about the advertiser. Occasionally public service adverts will appear in this category - talking about healthcare issues, or offering public advice. Other adverts might be about repositioning the advertiser in his or her sector. In these ads the brand name can be important and will probably appear in the advert text. Other ads in this category might tempt visitors by talking about special interests or issues like changing legislation - employment and health and safety issues - that the advertiser wishes to become seen as an authority on. The destination of the advert on the advertisers site will usually be a specific and highly targetted page of information about this topic, setting the advertiser up as an authority or expert in the field. Of course, tangentially this might lead to sales leads, but in the first instance it's about bringing brand association to the particular topic.
Setting Up AdWords Ads
Each of these ads types has a different purpose and so needs a different strategy for its design and deployment. Markers that can be spotted within the text include those that mention the advertiser's name and those that put forward special offers and so on. Less easy to see are the keywords, budgets and bidding strategies that are being employed, although some can be inferred. The brand positioning adverts will undoubtedly be expensive to run, and attached to broad search terms. Lead generation adverts will be a big budget affair too as a rule as usually they will be directly attached to sales; with the more ads shown leading to more sales. In theory at least the cost of advertising should scale with the value of the sales revenue generated. Aside from the consideration of margins and profitability, the ads should pay for themselves.
In most cases the informational adverts will not be concerned with revenue generation and so advertising spend may vary widely. The ad duration may also be very specific and time-limited; associated with a phase of rebranding or repositioning marketing that is being done across many different media at the same time. It will probably be highly focused too, just concerned with a small number of keywords and phrases that relate to the new sector that is being promoted.
Measuring The Results Of AdWords Campaigns
Each of these three ad types has a different focus and will have a consequently different measure of success.
The brand adverts' performance will be measured mainly in terms of numbers of advert impressions as the more eyes that see the message (even subliminally) the more the brand message is being communicated.
The lead generating advert will be measured in terms of sales conversions, and the information ad will be largely measured by clicks-through to the website and possibly the number of additional pages visited once landing on the advertiser's website.
Maintaining AdWords Campaigns
The hallmark of any good and effective Adwords campaign is firstly the clear identification of its purpose, and then then ongoing and regular monitoring of the advert against your success criteria. Your competitors will be changing their ads regularly to compete against your advert, and you will normally need to tweak and change your advert to keep your market position. This can include changing both the advert wording and the keywords being bidded on. And of course, sometimes you may need to increase your default bid amounts to stay in the game.
These changes can happen minute by minute, and so a daily monitoring strategy will be essential, especially for high value and highly competitive markets. Budgeting for a Google AdWords campaign should include covering the costs in time, money and effort of monitoring and actively managing your campaign too. A once-and-for-all-time approach to developing an advert will inevitably lead to missed opportunities and underperforming adverts with their associated waste of investment.
Google AdWords In Conclusion
The phenomenal scope and flexibility of Google's AdWords system brings enormous commercial and marketing opportunities for any business but, as with all marketing, clear planning, budgeting, montoring and reporting are critical to acheiving success. With new competitors entering the fray all the time and new advertising opportunities being developed by Google (using placed advertising on specific sites for instance), the market is highly volatile and needs constant attention and review, but the rewards can be tangible and lucrative and make a real difference to your business.
If you are thinking about running a campaign and would like to discuss the options available, do ring 01305 753769 or email firstname.lastname@example.org