Contextual Advertising · Tools

Is Google AdWords Advertising Itself Honestly?

I’ve been working on PPC for my dad’s dental seminars business, and I have to admit that while I like a challenge, the system is really overwhelming. It makes me wonder whether Google AdWords – the PPC traffic/platform we’re buying/using – is honest in how it promotes itself.

Consider these two claims that AdWords makes:

1) Get started in minutes.

2) “You specify how much you’re willing to pay per click or impression. There are no minimum spend requirements.”

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The first claim is obviously nonsense.

There’s a load of workflow to be done before you get your first click!

First, you need to have your landing page’s graphics designed.

Then you need to have the pics sliced and coded into html, which takes at least a day for even the highest volume shops at their most expensive. Otherwise it’s a few days.

Next you have to do keyword research and plan out how you’re going to organize the campaigns thematically. Yes, campaigns is plural, because everyone knows that to manage AdWords efficiently you have to make liberal use of campaigns in your account structure.

Assuming you want a good quality score, you’ll probably want to further organize campaigns by match type, and subdivide adgroups into plurals and singulars.

Then, naturally, you’ll need to brainstorm ad copy that matches the particular nuances of each campaign’s keywords and match types.

That copy has to be reflected back on the landing pages, which will also need additional copy.

Note: If the landing pages do anything but simply email you the form, or funnel traffic deeper with a click, you’ll need to tie the landing page to an email marketing program or to a CRM system.

Web analytics have to be integrated, and you’ll likely want to use a split-testing solution immediately to increase your conversions

The second claim also is laughable.

First, Google has this arbitrary algorithm known as Quality Score.

With landing pages, ads and keywords that the system all rated as fine, along with decent CTRs between 1-4%, Google still decided that my dad’s Quality Score on some keywords should be 4/10.

Second, Google has a ‘minimum first page bid.’
That’s a variant that also plays with these and other factors.

How in the world is that not a minimum spend requirement?

On PPC Blog’s private forum, people are calling it price gouging.

And in all this, there’s of course the auction system which is ridiculously more advanced than most of us realize, let alone have even time to understand.

Which is all, naturally, assuming you’re not mislead by common PPC myths.

This is a system small business people can just hop into??

This black box of a system is bloody hard to deal with. What have your experiences been?

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21 thoughts on “Is Google AdWords Advertising Itself Honestly?

  1. Hi, Gab. Great post! Thanks also for the link to my “23 strategic factors in search” article. It never ceases to amaze just how much brainpower is required to really optimize PPC. If Google made everything truly transparent that would help a lot. Then again, if pigs could fly, I wouldn't have to drive to the store for bacon.

    1. Haha that's a great point Scott :D. I'll bet you really wish they could cross pigs with eagles… kinda like JK Rowling's hyppogriffs, only here you'd have piggogriffs :).

  2. Well, Google just says you can get started in minutes, not that your start will be successful. And for most folks, that's all the farther they'll get — started. But yes, like everything worth doing, it takes a lot of work to do it well. </cliche>

    1. Exactly – Sure you can get started and give us your money. Whether you'll get any results is another story. It reminds me of all the 'Get Rich Quick' scams out there

    2. Jill is right. You CAN get started in 5 minutes and you CAN bid any amount you want, but it doesn't mean that anything good will happen. Either you get no clicks (or impressions for that matter) because your bids are too low or QS sucks or Google runs away with your budget and you get jack squat.

    3. yes, you can get started in few minutes but in order to make any good ROI with Adwords, you will need to play with it throughout the day. However, i can say the person with most ROI in Adwords advertising is Google itself :)

  3. Good points it always takes so much longer than you estimate and that doesn't include the insane amount of time to create some dynamic display ads and getting them approved using Google's own tool.

    Haha even Google is not really sure how long it takes, from a few minutes to 3 minutes upto 5 minutes… i wonder if that depends on language?

    1. Ha! Good catch David- I just spotted the word minutes and didn't notice the variations :D. Maybe they're insulting the French as being a little slow and saying German efficiency lets em blitz it out ;).

  4. Exactly – Sure you can get started and give us your money. Whether you'll get any results is another story. It reminds me of all the 'Get Rich Quick' scams out there

  5. Haha that's a great point Scott :D. I'll bet you really wish they could cross pigs with eagles… kinda like JK Rowling's hyppogriffs, only here you'd have piggogriffs :).

  6. Haha that's a great point Scott :D. I'll bet you really wish they could cross pigs with eagles… kinda like JK Rowling's hyppogriffs, only here you'd have piggogriffs :).

  7. Great points, never thought about their advertising messages on this way.
    It's clever because it's basically saying anyone can do and you don't need an expert to help. Similar in fact to brain surgery, anyone can do it…

  8. As always have been, advertising is hoping for best results. There is no guarantee of success especially on sales. We might generate traffic and exposure but in terms of sales, we migh get a little disappointed.

  9. Gab this is off topic, but I recommend throwing a hyperlink footer navigation on your dad's site along with converting the site map to html hyperlinks as well.

    On topic, you're absolutely right. Google leads novices like business owners to believe that anyone can effectively manage an AdWords account with zero experience. What they usually end up doing is effectively burning a bunch of money and turning around and saying “I tried pay-per-click, it was just a waste of money”.

    And to think the default setting is to have the Content Network turned on AND it's preset to share the same bids as you use on search. I can't count the number of times we've had client managed accounts handed over to us with more than half the spend flying out the back door through the Content Network.

    1. “On topic, you're absolutely right. Google leads novices like business owners to believe that anyone can effectively manage an AdWords account with zero experience.”

      That's my point. My buddy is having a pro manage AdWords for his dad, and he thinks it's so easy he could do it. I had him try to just create a campaign and he failed by leaving the content network on…

  10. … and before you do everything you mentioned you need to learn how to use a computer. Get an internet connection. Electricity. Learn to write/speak a language. And have a card… Oh. forgot that you need a service/product to sell. So open a business as well…

    You can continue like this forever. Truth is you can start in minutes and decide how much to spend.

    Also true that if you want to pay 1c/click you get no clicks. And if you spend no time learning the system you might lose your budget. But this is common sense in my opinion.

    1. The examples you give, Mihai, are external to AdWords. They're assumed. You can't say the same about 'learning the system' – that in itself proves that you can't “get started” in 5 minutes. Because getting started means learning the system, which takes a loooooot of time.

      1. For me 'getting started' means 'start learning how to use the system'. Like getting into the car and starting the engine to go on a trip. Different from 'getting there' (arriving at the destination) which could happen a long time after getting started.

        PS: Creating/slicing graphics and html are also external to Adwords :)

  11. Hi Gab :-)
    You're not supposed to be an intelligent small business owner (or the Son of one) ;-)
    I am led to believe G prefers small business owners who stumble around choosing broad match “suggested” keywords while continuously raising their bids to 'compete' with other similarly confused small business owners… or, experienced PPC firms who have taken the time (and a lot of time that is btw) to keep up with the constant “upgrading”. G doesn't really offer support, as they recently laid most of their support staff off. I could go on and on – LOL – however I think your article does a great job of explaining the frustration many new (and current) users of AdWords share.

    1. I'm curious to survey SMB AdWords advertisers and see what their satisfaction rate is – I'm guessing it's not very high.

  12. We might generate traffic and exposure but in terms of sales, we migh get a little disappointed.