Why advertise on Google? First and foremost, Google is where your customers are. Need pizza? Just Google, “Pizza near me.” Need a hair transplant? Just Google, “Why is my hair falling out?” Need an industrial fan? A lawyer? Car insurance? A cage for your pet iguana? Just google, google, google – Google is so important that the verb, “to google,” has even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. Not surprisingly, smart businesses fish where the fish are. They advertise on Google because that’s where their customers are. Secondarily, Google owns YouTube (the world’s largest video site) and Gmail (the world’s largest email system). So by advertising on Google’s network you can reach people on YouTube and on Gmail as they watch Taylor Swift’s latest video or email Aunt Martha about their upcoming Disney Cruise. Third, Google runs the largest advertising network across independent sites (blogs, portals, media sites, etc.), allowing you to reach customers when they’re on blogs, reading the newspaper, or chatting with their friends on many subsites across the Internet. It’s called the Google Display Network or GDN, and it’s massive. Indeed, Google even allows you to remarket to your customers; turning a single click on your website into a multitude of opportunities to build your brand, acquire sales leads, and sell more stuff. And Google Play is the world’s biggest marketplace for app downloads. What does Google say about its ad platform? According to the official Google Ads website (https://ads.google.com/), “Get in front of customers when they’re searching for businesses like yours on Google Search and Maps. Only pay for results, like clicks to your website or calls to your business.” Google has worked hard to make Google Ads an easy self-serve experience, and if that’s not easy enough, it offers support by real human Googlers.
What’s not to like? Well, as the old adage goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” There’s plenty not to like in the Google Ads platform. Confusing terminology for one. A user interface that makes a Greek labyrinth, the plan of a nuclear power plant, or the American electoral system look easy to navigate for two. So many options that you often don’t know when, where, or why your ads are showing, for three. And most importantly, a huge conflict of interest between you and Google. Google Ads is a pay-per-click system. That means advertisers bid against each other in the Google Auction, and they pay if – and only if – there’s a click from Google (YouTube, Gmail, Google Play, the GDN) to their website. This sounds great, but there’s a dark secret inherent in pay-per-click; it’s pay-per-click, not pay-per-sale. And that creates a tension between you as the advertiser and Google as the advertising platform. Let me explain. Google gets paid by the click; that is, Google makes money when someone clicks (or calls) on a Google ad. (And, conversely, advertisers pay Google when someone clicks or calls on an ad). You as the business, however, get paid by the conversion, that is you make money if – and only if – that click ultimately converts to a sale. A click is not a conversion, however, yet you pay for the former and not the latter. Google gets paid whether you make a sale or not.
To be cynical, Google “rigs” its platform to obfuscate this point, “obfuscate” being a fancy word to mean that Google misleads, hides, obliterates, subterfuges, and plays many linguistic tricks to encourage you to buy lots and lots of clicks and not realize that, ultimately, clicks don’t make you money. Conversions do. (To be fair, Google does explain the importance of conversions though much of the Google Ads system is really designed to emphasize clicks). We’ll circle back to the contradictions and tensions between you and Google in Google Ads in the next Chapter, but for now just keep in mind that Google is a for-profit corporation, not a charity and, understandably, it rigs Google Ads to maximize clicks and thus its profits.
Zig from the Negative, Back to the Positive One of the things you’ll learn in Google Ads is that it is non-linear. You can’t explain it or understand it in a straight line; rather, you have to zig, and zag, to understand its power and its complexities. Leaving aside the skepticism about Google, Google Ads, and any conflicts of interest, let’s review five ways that Google Ads is a powerful advertising tool:
Google Ads can:
1. Get your company, product, or service to the top of Google at the precise moment, for the precise keywords that your customers are searching for, just as they’re ready to buy a product or service.
2. Get your company, product, or service onto thousands of websites and blogs that participate in the Google Display Network, allowing you to reach customers as they browse the Web for information.
3. Follow your customers “around the Internet” through remarketing, showing them your ads on Google, YouTube, and thousands upon thousands of independent websites in the Google Display Network.
4. Follow your customers “around the Internet” through remarketing, showing them your ads on Google, YouTube, and thousands upon thousands of independent websites in the Google Display Network.
5. Get your company, product, or service onto YouTube, the #1 video site on the Internet, and Gmail, the #1 free email service.
6. Market your App to interested consumers through in-App advertising.
If you know what you’re doing, Google Ads can be an incredibly effective tool in your advertising and marketing toolbox!