Does Google Ads really work?


We here this question a lot and the answer must be “yes”, right? How else could Google be generating billions in revenue from ads every year? However, dive into the details and things aren’t as black and white as they initially seem. In fact there are multiple shades of grey that blur the answer to become a less sexy “it depends”.

The truth is that with the right strategy and time, Google Ads can be a valuable part of your marketing mix, but it’s not easy to get to this stage. Google Ads is ultimately an auction system and you will be competing in this auction with highly experienced professionals and agencies with years of experience and advanced (read: expensive) tools to help them. Without good planning you can quickly burn through your budget with little or nothing to show for it.

To make Google Ads work for you it’s vital to consider the whole advertising funnel and where you are in the process of advertising your product.

At the top of the funnel you need activity to build trust and awareness of your brand (think Coca-Cola, Nike, Red Bull or Mercedes ads that often don’t focus on a specific product but rather aim to create an emotional reaction to their brand). Online in the Google universe these usually take the form of Google Display Network (GDN) banner ads and YouTube TrueView video ads. They are generally targeted at people that fall into categories relevant to your business. The main goal at this level is to create awareness of your brand through repeating messages and high visibility. Success is often measured based on the reach and views of the ads on relevant platforms by relevant audiences.

Next in the funnel is the interest level, here you want to start engaging more with people that have an interest in your product(s) by driving them to your site. This is where you can start using Google Ads (previously called AdWords) to target keywords used by people searching for your product. These would be fairly generic like “men’s print tees” or “t shirts for men”. With Google Ads, the more generic the keywords the higher the competition = the higher the cost, so you need to be careful to find the right balance between being generic enough to attract a good volume of traffic but not so generic that the traffic is not relevant. For example, don’t use “t shirts” if you only stock men’s t-shirts.

Further down the funnel we enter the desire stage. These are people that want to buy your product but haven’t yet decided to buy it from you. Here you can also use keywords to capture the traffic searching for relevant keywords but you can address them with a more sales focussed message focussing on your USPs or price. You can do this by mirroring your interest level campaigns but then additionally only targeting people that have taken a specific action on your site, like viewing at least 3 different pages or have looked at your “contact us” page. As these people are more likely to buy from you, you can again increase your bids to be highly visible to them.

Finally we get to the business end of the funnel - action. These are the people that are ready to make a purchase but just need that final push to make it on your site. This is where you can use brand keywords to ensure that you are top of the results when people search for your brand. Dynamic remarketing is also a good idea at this point in the GDN network. You need to entice people that were on your site and have shown interest in your products to come back and complete the purchase. With dynamic remarketing you can show people dynamically created ads that contain the exact products they have looked at on your site. When the product in the ad is clicked, they land directly on the product and have only a few steps to complete the purchase.

So coming back to the original question, yes, Google Ads works but to work well it’s no longer a case of using a few keywords, setting bids and watching the sales roll in. You need a thought out strategy on how you will guide people through the marketing funnel and be present in the right place, at the right time, with the right message.

This is of course a simplified example of how to approach a Google Ads campaign. For every business there will be a variation that works best, some simple, many highly complex. Remember, Google Ads isn’t the only platform available. For a really joined-up marketing strategy you should also consider adding Social Media, email, and other display networks in to the mix. But that’s something for another day.

Have questions? Want to know more, or simply run your marketing strategy by one of our experts? Drop us a line today - we’d love to guide you through the process of creating a joined-up, full-funnel digital campaign that will really work!