Businesses, advertisers, and marketers everywhere celebrated watched the death of Bing Ads Express back in July 2014. Yet while Bing Ads Express is resting in peace, Google AdWords Express—essentially Google’s version of the late Bing tool—continues to pitch itself as the cheap, easy advertising alternative for small business owners who just don’t “get” pay per click advertising (PPC).
In case you’re late to the party, Google launched AdWords Express in 2011, and it still describes itself as “the simplest way to advertise your business online.” (We would like to point out now, for the record, that Google calls it the simplest way. Not the best way, or the most effective way. Just the simplest way.) The tool allows small businesses who don’t understand AdWords, or who don’t have enough time to invest in PPC, to set up automated advertising campaigns. All a business has to do is input their ad, set a budget, and select an industry category for their company, more or less.
Sadly, what sounds like a dream come true is actually a bit of a nightmare. And, by a bit, we mean a complete freaking nightmare.
Okay, we get it. You don’t like AdWords Express. What’s the deal?
Alright, you got us! And we thought we were subtle.
The folks at Blue Corona, particularly the PPC Specialists, are pretty anti-AdWords Express. We, do believe whole-heartedly in the power of Google AdWords, when operated by an expert. Unfortunately, AdWords Express offers a fraction of the features available in AdWords, yet it claims to yield equal results.
One of our PPC Specialists, Spencer Chang, describes it like this: “It’s like they’re saying, ‘we’ll let you set a campaign up quickly, but we’re not going to give you the features to run it properly.’”
For shame, Google. The main features AdWords Express lacks are the ability to…
Select specific keywords: While you can select a category to define your business, Google will pick keywords for you in what is known as a broad match. If you run a limo service, AdWords Express will pick generic keywords like transport, taxi, cab, shuttle, etc. The audience looking for a free shuttle is not the same audience you want to see your ads for fancy, luxury limos.
Select negative keywords: Negative keywords are those keywords you don’t want your ad to show for. In the example above, you would want to list those four words as negative keywords, but this isn’t an option in AdWords Express.
Track conversions from campaign ads: In AdWords Express, if someone clicks on your ad and lands on your website or Google + page (I say this because with AdWords Express, you don’t need a website to run ads), you have no way of tracking that they were led to your site through that ad. So, you have zero insight into the effectiveness of those campaigns. Utter nonsense!
As Chang says, “You’re just throwing money at advertising. Some things may hit, but mostly you’re just wasting money.”
Can you give us a real-life example of an AdWords Express #fail?
In case the brief limo service example above isn’t giving you a solid picture of how AdWords Express can completely miss the mark with their campaigns, I’ll share Chang’s recent experience with a Blue Corona client.
While Chang has never set up an AdWords Express campaign (duh—it’s basically against the PPC Specialist code), he has taken over the PPC work on an account after they have run their own AdWords Express ads. Recently, he started managing the PPC account for a new HVAC client, and when he looked at the data for their AdWords Express campaigns, he noticed something quite unfortunate.
“A big problem for HVAC companies is, if you can’t set up negative keywords, your ads will show for everyone looking for air conditioning, including car air conditioning,” explains Chang. “You can’t track conversions, but you can see the clicks on each ad. When I looked at the keywords for the campaigns, I saw that a lot of their ads showed for car air conditioning, and a lot of people clicked on those ads.”
So, this HVAC company basically paid for a big fat pile of erroneous clicks and unqualified leads. Yikes.
Really? You don’t think AdWords Express has any redeeming qualities?
Nope. AdWords Express claims to be the solution for businesses who don’t understand how to use AdWords to run a legitimate PPC campaign, but this “quick fix” conveniently leaves out one important reminder:
“These businesses are competing on the same platform against people who DO understand how to use AdWords and who ARE using it,” says Chang. “It’s all in the same system, so by not using all of the features, you’re just handicapping yourself.”
Chang makes another important point that AdWords Express also prides itself on being “affordable” and “cost effective” for these small business.
“It pitches itself as a minor investment, saying you can spend only $300 a month to get leads fast,” explains Chang. “Well, a bigger company can afford to waste that. But, can a smaller company afford to throw that much money at advertising and just hope it works?”
We think not. While Google continues to test its new home services ads program, it recently opened the door for those ads to run in AdWords Express. Thus, we ask the owners of home services companies to approach AdWords Express with caution, as it may not prove to have the ROI you need to make your business grow. If you want to win the game, you need the best equipment, and you have to know the score!
PPC Campaigns Done Right
Thankfully, the whizzes at Blue Corona know what it takes to run an effective PPC campaign. And, we know that AdWords can be effective for small businesses. If you’re not entirely sure how well your PPC efforts are working for your company, let our PPC experts figure out where you have room to improve:
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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