You can select from one of five campaign types on Google Ads. Let’s cover the optimal uses for each and why you might choose one over the other.
1. Search Ad Campaigns
Search ads are text ads that are displayed on Google results pages. As an example, a search for “pocket squares” returns sponsored results:
The benefit of search ads is that you’re displaying your ad in the place where most searchers look for information first — on Google. And Google shows your ad in the same format as other results (except for denoting it as an “Ad”) so users are accustomed to seeing and clicking on results.
Responsive Search Ads
Responsive search ads allow you to enter multiple versions of headlines and ad copy (15 and four variations, respectively) for Google to select the best performers to display to users. With traditional ads, create one static version of your ad, using the same headline and description each time.
Responsive ads allow for a dynamic ad that is auto-tested until you arrive at the version that is best suited for your target audience — for Google, that means until you get the most clicks.
2. Display Ad Campaigns
Google has a network of websites in various industries and with an array of audiences that opt in to display Google Ads, known as the Google Display Network. The benefit to the website owner is that they’re paid per click or impression on the ads. The benefit to advertisers is that they can get their content in front of audiences that are aligned with their personas.
These are typically image ads that draw users attention away from the content on the webpage:
3. Video Ad Campaigns
Video ads are displayed before or after (and sometimes in the middle of) YouTube videos. Remember, YouTube is a search engine, too. The right keywords will place you in front of a video, disrupting the user’s behavior just enough to grab their attention.
Here's a video advertisement that pops up in the middle of another video on how to tie a tie:
4. App Ad Campaigns
Google App Campaigns promote your mobile application through an ad displayed on Google Search Network, YouTube, Google Play, Google Display Network, and more. You can run ads that encourage your audience to install your app or, if they already use it, to take a certain action within your app.
Unlike other ad types, you don't design an App ad campaign. Instead, provide Google with your app's information and audience, and place a bid. Google does the rest to get your app in front of the right eyes:
5. Shopping Ad Campaigns
Another type of Google Ad is Google Shopping Ad Campaigns. Shopping campaigns, like these other types of ads, are displayed on SERPs and include detailed product information such as price and product imagery. You can run a Shopping campaign through Google Merchant Center, where you input specific product information that Google pulls from to create your shopping ads.
Instead of marketing your brand as a whole, Shopping Ads allow you to promote specific products and product lines. That's why, when you search for a particular product on Google, you'll see ads for different brands pop up along the top and/or side. This is what I see when I search "running shoes." The ads at the top are Google Search ads, but the specific products advertised on the side are Shopping ads optimized for the keyword "running shoes":
How to Use and Create Google Ads
Setting up your paid campaigns on Google is relatively easy (and quick), mostly because the platform takes you through the setup and provides helpful hints along the way. Once you visit the Google Ads site and click “Start Now,” you’ll be taken through a series of steps to get your ads up and running. If you have your ad copy and/or images created, set up should take you no more than 10 minutes.
What may be less obvious are all the additional things you need to do to make sure your ads are optimally set up and easily trackable. Let’s cover these together. These are the steps you’ll take once your ads are submitted for review.
1. Link Google Analytics.
You likely have Google Analytics set up on your website so you can track traffic, conversions, goals, and any unique metrics. You also need to link your Analytics account to Google Ads. Linking these accounts will make tracking, analyzing, and reporting between channels and campaigns much easier because you can view these events in one place.
2. Add UTM codes.
Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes are used by Google to track any activity associated with a specific link. You’ve probably seen them before — it’s the part of a URL that follows a question mark (“?”). UTM codes will tell you which offer or ad led to a conversion so you can track the most effective parts of your campaign. UTM codes make it easier to optimize your Google Ads since you know exactly what’s working.
The trick, though, is to add your UTM codes at the campaign level when you set up your Google Ads so you don’t have to do so manually for each ad URL. Otherwise, you can add them manually with Google’s UTM builder.
3. Set up conversion tracking.
Conversion tracking tells you exactly how many customers or leads you’ve acquired from your ad campaigns. It’s not mandatory to set up but, without it, you’ll be guessing the ROI of your ads. Conversion tracking allows you to track sales (or other activities) on your website, app installs, or calls from your ads.
4. Integrate your Google Ads with your CRM.
There is something to be said about keeping all of your data in one place where you can track, analyze, and report on it. You already use your CRM to track contact data and lead flows. Integrating Google Ads with your CRM gives you the ability to track which ad campaigns are working for your audience so you can continue marketing to them with offers that are relevant.
Google Ads Bidding Strategies
Once you’ve set up your ad campaigns and have tracking in place, it’s time to start bidding. Remember, your ability to rank in Google Ads depends on how you bid. While your bid amount will depend on your budget and goals, there are a few strategies and bid settings you should be aware of when launching your paid campaign.
Automated vs. Manual Bidding
You have two options when it comes to bidding on your keywords — automated and manual. Here’s how they work:
- Automated Bidding puts Google in the driver’s seat and allows the platform to adjust your bid based on your competitors. You can still set a maximum budget, and Google will work within a range to give you the best chance at winning the bid within those constraints.
- Manual Bidding let’s you set the bid amounts for your ad groups and keywords, giving you the chance to reduce spending on low-performing ads.
Bidding on Branded Search Terms
Branded terms are those with your company or unique product name in them, like “HubSpot CRM.” There is much debate on whether to bid on your branded terms or not. On one side of the debate, bidding on terms that will likely yield organic results could be seen as a waste of money.
On the other side, bidding on these terms gives you domain over these search results pages and helps you convert prospects that are further along the flywheel. For instance, if I’ve been doing research on live chat tools and am heavily considering HubSpot’s Live Chat, then a simple search for “HubSpot live chat software” will yield exactly the result I’m looking for without the effort of scrolling.
The other argument in favor of bidding on your branded terms is that competitors may bid on them if you don’t, thereby taking up valuable real estate that should belong to you.
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
If the idea of spending money to convert prospects into leads makes you uneasy, then you can set a CPA instead and only pay when a user converts into a customer. While this bidding strategy could cost more, you can take comfort in knowing that you only pay when you acquire a paying customer. This strategy makes it easy to track and justify your ad spend.
Additional Resources to Optimize Your Google Ads
Your ad copy and headline is not the only component that will make your paid campaign successful. Getting a user to click is only the beginning … they should arrive on a landing page that’s optimized for conversion and then be taken to a Thank You page that tells them what to do next.
If you want your Google Ads to produce qualified leads and customers, then check out these additional resources and use them as guidelines as you set up your Google Ads campaign.
- Landing Page Best Practices will teach you how to set up a landing page that’s prime for conversions so you don’t waste those precious clicks.
- Optimized “Thank You” Pages shows you what to do with your new lead post-conversion, how to keep them on your site, and ways to maintain their attention.
- Tips for Mobile Google Ads teaches you the key differences between desktop and mobile ads and how to optimize both.
- Optimizing Google Ads Costs will show you how we, at HubSpot, maximize our Google Ads spend to get the best ROI.
- Quality Google Ads Examples That Convert shares examples of Google advertising campaigns that got it right.
Start Your Campaign
Given its reach and authority, Google Ads should be a part of your paid strategy. Use the tips we covered to get started, and remember to refine and iterate as you go.
There’s no such thing as a Google Ads campaign that doesn’t work — there are only ones that need a bit more work. Using the strategy and information provided above, you have what you need to create a successful Google Ad campaign that drives clicks and converts leads.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Sep 23, 2020 6:30:00 AM, updated January 19 2021