Google Ads: what it is and how it works

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Google Ads (AdWords) is the most popular and used advertising platform in the world. Over the years, Google has turned into a real ecosystem ranging from YouTube to Android. Therefore, advertising on Google means having an incredible amount of opportunities available that every company should be able to seize.

How Google Ads works

The idea behind the advertisements displayed in the search engine is the functioning by auction. Unlike traditional auctions, where only the highest bidder wins, the quality of the advertainment and relevance are taken into account in Google Ads. Thanks to this fair approach it is possible to guarantee even to advertisers with low budget to display their ads.

Types of Google Ads campaigns

Google is a platform that makes various types of advertising campaigns available to its advertisers. Each one has specific characteristics that make it more suitable for certain marketing objectives. Let’s see the different type of campaigns.

Search Network Campaign

Advertising campaigns on the Google search network allow you to display ads in the SERP of a specific research done by users. The advantage of this kind of campaign consists in displaying the announcement of your company above all organic search results, immediately attracting the attention of potential Customers. This type of campaign is called PPC (pay per click) because the advertiser pays only when his/her advertisement receives the clicks.

Display network campaigns

Advertising campaigns on the Google display network show banners on websites that are part of the Google AdSense circuit. In these campaigns the CPM (cost per thousand, also called cost per mille) is used, the cost is determined by the number of views. Display ads are available in various formats:

Video campaign

Despite the fact that it is well known that videos attract more attention than images, Google video advertising campaigns are an opportunity that companies often miss out on. A video in a few seconds can tell a product or stimulate the curiosity of a potential customer. By launching this type of campaign, it is possible to have advertisements displayed within the videos on YouTube and on the Google Display network. For this kind of campaign the cost is calculated using the CPM.

Google shopping campaign

Google shopping advertising campaigns are probably the best option for e-commerce sites. The typology is PPC, but the displayed ads are the product sheets made up of images, title, supplier and price. The adverts are shown in the SERP, in the shopping search item on Google and on the search partner sites.

Campaigns on Google Play Store

Google Play Store advertising campaigns show ads from sponsored apps. These are very specific campaigns that show ads when users search the Play Store.

How to advertise on Google Ads

Advertising on Google can lead to a considerable increase in both the number of customers and the products or services sold, but if the advertising campaigns are set up incorrectly, they will only lead to an unnecessary expense. Let’s see what are the 10 essential points to advertise on Google:

1. Set the goals

Goals must be set following a good marketing strategy. If the goal is to improve the brand awareness of your company, it will be more convenient and effective to focus on display and video campaigns.
If, on the other hand, the objective is to acquire leads or generate sales then it is essential to set up a campaign with the following objectives.

2. Find the right keyword

The pursuit of the right keywords is one of the most complex aspects and requires continuous optimisation work. Within the Google Ads platform there is a tool to do this analysis: the keyword planning tool. With this tool it is possible to have estimates and forecasts on search volumes and identify new keywords.

3. Find your target audience

To get the maximum return from advertising campaigns, it is necessary to put at the centre of the marketing strategy the potential customers: what they do, what they are interested in, what their explicit or latent needs are. On Google it is possible to set segments audience based on certain parameters:
To these parameters it is necessary to add:

4. Define the budget

One approach that can be followed in defining the daily budget is to know the average conversion rate by industry. According to a study conducted by ShippyPro, one of the sectors in which the highest conversion rates were recorded in 2019 was the animal care (2.53%). Obviously, these are average values, but in general it is possible to say that, out of 100 visitors, less than 3 have purchased a product for their pet. These data are useful for balancing the daily budget and choosing the products to focus on for a good return on advertising investment. In this scenario, for example, over 97% of clicks did not lead to a conversion.

5. Organise your ad groups well

Every advertising campaign on Google can have different ads bunch within which the actual ads are located. To make the most of this type of organisation, it is helpful to create ad groups for consistent keywords. Let’s take an example: if you sell sports equipment, the best practice to follow is to create different ad groups based on the different types of sports (diving equipment, trekking equipment, etc.). Specific keywords are entered for each ad group.

6. Write adds that work well

Up to now we have seen campaign analysis and organization operations. To beat the competition, however, you need to be very creative and effective in writing ads. It is not easy to condense in a few characters a captivating message that is at the same time informative. Pay attention in drafting the title because it is the first text that the user reads. The descriptive part can have different styles according to the message to be transmitted and should include a clear CTA (call to action).

7. Use optimised landing pages

Landing pages are not only used to acquire leads, but also to convey the corporate image to Customers. A curated landing page, both from a graphic and UX point of view, will surely have a much more positive impact than a confused and difficult to read page. A golden rule of marketing is to conduct A / B tests to optimize performance. This also applies to the landing page, but it is good to remember that, in order to have significant tests, a few dozen clicks within a few days are not enough.

8. Track your conversions

The conversion must always be tracked, regardless of the objectives of the campaign, because it is the only way to determine to what extent clicks generate profit. For a physical store, for example, it can be useful to track the number of calls received. In other cases, it will be good to track the newsletter subscription or the download of an app. These are the numbers that help to optimise future campaigns and also to understand if it is necessary to undertake other experiments.

9. Take advantage of remarketing or retargeting

Dozens of articles have been written to explain the difference between remarketing and retargeting. With the first one we generally mean the ability to interact with users for whom at least one personal data is known (e-mail for example), with the second instead users are anonymous but segmented according to the actions they performed on a website. The official Google Ads guide uses both terms as synonyms. Considering the amount of data that can be collected with Google Analytics, it is easy to imagine how many remarketing audiences’ segments can be created, such as:
How does the remarketing process work? Users search and visit your website without shopping. Thanks to the remarketing code, the user is entered anonymously within a personalised audience. Google will then be able to display specific ads to users who perform a new search or visit websites that are part of the advertising network.

10. Optimise your campaigns

Optimising advertising campaigns on Google is an ongoing process that requires: dedication and patience. Google has been using sophisticated machine learning algorithms for some years to automatically optimise campaigns. To see significant improvements, however, it is necessary to provide a lot of data and then set up substantial daily budgets or plan long-lasting campaigns.

What is better: advertising on Google or Amazon?

The question is not trivial and there cannot be a definitive or valid answer for all sectors. Of course, it is necessary to understand what the differences are, but before going into this analysis it is useful to remember the words of Eric Schmidt, former Google administrator: “Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon”. This statement released to the Financial Times dates back to the end of 2014 and looking at Amazon‘s steadily growing profits we can say that Schmidt had foreseen well. Google does not sell products and earns on advertisements. Amazon, on the other hand, profits from sales on products. The more the number of users who search for products within the Amazon grows, the more sellers will be encouraged to use the marketplace. It is important to remember that user behaviour is not predetermined and that Google always remains the first point of contact between user needs and what can be found on the web.
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