New to the Google Ads platform? You’ve come to the right place.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What Google Ads is
  • How to create your own Google Ads account
  • How these ads can fit into your marketing strategy
  • Expert tips on creating effective Google Ads campaigns

Few companies can say they’re so well-known that their brand name has become an official verb in the dictionary. Google can.

So it makes sense that, when it comes to your digital marketing budget, Google is one of the best places to invest your ad spend. But if you’re just starting out with the advertising platform, it can feel overwhelming.

Below, our SEM Manager Nina Breece walks us through a look at the Google Ads platform, why it deserves a place in your digital marketing plan, and how to start creating your own Google Ads in a snap.

Google Ads homepage


What is Google Ads?

Simply put, Google Ads is the platform used to set-up and launch marketing campaigns across Google, the world’s most popular search engine. These campaign types include:

  • Pay-per-click (also called PPC or paid search)
  • Shopping
  • App
  • Local
  • Display
  • Video

How is Google Ads different from other paid search platforms?

Google Ads often leads the charge when it comes to new technology and adaptations within the search, video, and programmatic display landscape. With more than 3.5 billion searches each day, it’s safe to say the search engine also dominates the digital advertising space. 

If you’re looking to get ads out to the masses and have useful audience segments and targeting information at your fingertips, Google is the place to advertise. Plus, since Google owns YouTube, they have a monopoly for any ads on the video platform as well. 

How does Google Ads fit into a well-rounded digital marketing strategy?

Google Ads provides critical components of a complete digital marketing strategy poised for success. Being able to put paid search and Shopping ads directly in front of a searcher when they’re looking for a product, service, solution, or answer is one of the most successful ways to convert someone — or at least get them to engage with your brand. 

Not only that, but the ability to support multiple ad types, from PPC to video, through one platform means your users’ journeys can be even more connected. This also allows you to tap into additional opportunities and data you may not have access to otherwise.  

Google Ads advertising goals

During setup, select Expert Mode if you’re experienced with Google Ads or are working with a Google Ads agency. (Image via Google Ads)

How do I set up a Google Ads account? 

Unsurprisingly, Google has made it easy to set up a Google Ads account and create your first ad. To start, all you need is an email address and company name. (Ideally, you also have a website for your business, but if you don’t, you can still advertise via the platform’s Smart campaigns.) 

Once you enter this info, you can tell Google what your advertising goals are. From there, you’ll set up billing. Next, you’ll be able to start your first campaign.

Pro tip: During setup, select Expert Mode if you’re experienced with Google Ads or are working with a Google Ads agency

How do I create a Google Ads campaign?

After your account setup is complete, you can hit the ground running to create your first campaign. Google recommends starting out with a PPC search ad (aka text ad), which is their simplest ad type.

Before you start building the campaign itself, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. These include:

  • How much, on average, am I willing to spend per day on this campaign?
  • Who is my audience for this campaign?
  • In what locations do I want my ad to show?
  • What keywords do I want to tie to this campaign?

Once you’ve determined these parameters, you can move forward with setting your bid. This, as Google describes, is “the highest price you’re willing to pay when a potential customer clicks your ad.” Lastly, you can get to work on the copy for the text ad itself. 

Audience targeting setup

What elements make up an effective Google Ads campaign?

Your campaigns’ effectiveness will depend on factors like your budget, timeline, goals, and bandwidth, along with your site’s quality and speed.

With that in mind, these are a few factors that generally make up a successful Google Ads campaign:

  • Launch initial campaigns strategically, with a solid structure in place that can be carried on as the account expands
  • Research driven keywords and targeting
  • Set up location targeting and negative keywords (negate irrelevant search terms that your ads could match to)
  • Create thematic ad groups within PPC campaigns
  • Leverage audience information being used in observation or targeting mode, based on campaign type and goal
  • Set up competitive bids
  • Create concise and compelling copy
  • Conduct frequent account reviews and optimizations based on accrued data

Need more help with Google Ads? Let’s chat. 

What are the different Google Ads campaign and ad types?

As mentioned above, there are a variety of ad and campaign options you can leverage in Google’s advertising platform. Here’s a quick-and-dirty breakdown.

a look at Google Shopping ads for headphones

A look at Google Shopping ads on the search engine results page. (Image via Google)

PPC ads

Where they show: On the Google search engine results page (SERP) and across partner networks, if enabled. (These text ads look similar to organic search results.)

Payment model: Advertisers only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

How they work: PPC ads are run based on keywords you set in your account. If someone searches something relevant to your keywords, your ad might be eligible to show. A key component of PPC ads is Quality Score, which is made up of ad relevance, expected clickthrough rate (CTR), and landing page relevance.

Shopping ads

Where they show: On the Google SERP, the Shopping tab, and across partner networks, if enabled. These ads feature a product image and show at the top of the SERP.

Payment model: Advertisers only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

How they work: Shopping ads are exclusive for brands that are selling items. Unlike PPC ads, you don’t need keywords. Shopping ads are fueled from a feed (imagine a data spreadsheet) containing relevant info about each product including headlines and descriptions from which Google matches search terms. The feed, along with bids and budgets, will determine whether or not your products will show when someone searches. 

Pro tip: If you’re running Shopping ads, you’ll need a Google Merchant Center account. This is where your feed will be uploaded and monitored to ensure things are working correctly. 

Display ads

Where they show: Display ads serve across websites, YouTube, Gmail, and apps associated with the Google Display Network that your users are already visiting. 

Payment model: You can decide if you want to pay on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis or cost per 1,000 impressions model (CPM).

How they work: Using audience and placement targeting advertisers can narrow down where ads will appear, so that they show in relevant places to the right audiences. 

Video ads

Where they show: Video ads appear on YouTube and across the Google Video Partners networks.

Payment model: There are multiple payment and showing options — pay per view, click, interaction, or per thousand impressions. Other options include paying when someone watches at least 30 seconds, the full video, or interacts with the video. 

How they work: Using audience and placement targeting, advertisers can narrow down where ads will appear. A variety of Video Ad formats can help you find the right solution for your goals. 

Local ads

Where they show: Local campaigns show across the Google Search network, Google Maps, the Google Display Network, and YouTube.

Payment model: Depending on where the ad is shown, advertisers pay for clicks, views, or impressions.

How they work: Using a variety of ad assets, Google displays Local ads to searchers who are near or are planning to be near your brick-and-mortar locations. The purpose of these campaigns is to drive incremental foot traffic.

App campaigns

Where do they show: App campaigns can appear across the Google Search network, Google Play, YouTube, and the Google Display Network.

Payment model: Depending on where the ad is shown, advertisers pay for clicks, views, or impressions.

How they work: App campaigns encourage searchers to download your app seamlessly or focus on in-app actions for new or existing users. They are shown across a variety of places, but will deep-link to your app. 

What are the Google Ads targeting options?

Google knows as well as we do that proper, robust targeting can make or break an ad’s success and reach. That’s why they offer a handful of targeting options to ensure your ads are showing to the proper viewers.

  • Retargeting: Using audiences from Google Ads or Google Analytics, reach users who have interacted with your ads or business in some way. Google can retarget all users who have interacted with your website or mobile app
  • Customer match: Reach people directly from your CRM data and find lookalike audiences based on these lists
  • In-market: Reach people who are actively in the market for a product or service
  • Affinity: People who are interested in a specific theme, which could encompass habits, hobbies, and interests
  • Detailed demographics: Those who fall into certain age, gender, household income, homeownership, employment, parental status, marital status or education background breakdowns
  • Life events: People who are doing things like moving, buying a home, getting married, changing jobs, retiring, creating a new business, or graduating college
  • Similar audiences: Audiences who are similar to people that have interacted with your ads, site, or app
  • Custom audiences: Create a custom audience that targets multiple of the above aspects to hyper-focus your targeting

The takeaway

It’s clear that there are a ton of reasons to explore advertising on the Google Ads platform. As the leading search engine by far, it’s basically a sure-fire way to reach your target audience.

Once you know how the platform works and how to properly set up your account, you’ll be ready to launch your first campaign, start gathering data, optimize your ads, and grow your ROI. 

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