Getting the word out about your business doesn't have to be some huge production of photo shoots and scripted commercials. It can be as easy as signing up for Google Ads.
When someone is looking for information on a business or a topic, where's the first place they go? It's usually Google.
Given that, it makes perfect sense to use Google Ads to show up as one of the first results for those searchers. But how does it all work for small businesses?
What is Google Ad Manager, and how do you sign up?
Alexa Kurtz, marketing strategist and paid ad specialist for WebTek, defined Google Ads as "a unique advertising platform that is geared toward small businesses, but is also effective for large corporations as well."
Google Ad Manager is a new service introduced in June 2018 that combines DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange, according to Sarkis Hakopdjanian, director of strategy and principal for The Business Clinic.
"It can be used as an ad server, but it also provides additional features for managing sales of online ads using a dedicated sales team," he said.
What this really does is enhance the user experience for mobile search, with people spending more time than ever on their phones. That was a whole channel of revenue that small businesses might have been losing out on through ads, because people weren't able to search and get immediate results on their phones. They would have to wait until they were near a desktop to make their searches. With Ad Manager, users can access your ads wherever they are engaging, including on televisions, YouTube and certain mobile apps.
Signing up for Google Ads is easy. You can do it right on the Google Ads website, which walks you through it step by step. If you want to step up your game with Google Search Ads 360, though, you'll have to go through a Google sales contact to sign up.
How does Google Ad Manager work?
"There are two schools of thought when it comes to managing your company's Google Ads," said Daniel Digiaimo, CEO of Baker Street Funding. "You can either hire outside firms to manage your ads for you, or have someone in-house that does it full time. We choose to keep it in-house for a few reasons. Our business has a high PPC rate and is constantly changing. We have someone monitoring our clicks, our pricing and the amount of leads that come into our firm, all in real time. In my business, we average around 10 clicks a day, with maybe two of those clicks being viable customers."
Digiaimo also noted how important it is to stay on top of his company's ad spending and the content. "If you just set it and forget it, you will end up with a mind-numbingly expensive bill and nothing to show for it."
Kurtz explained how easy the conversion tracking is in Google Ads. "[It] is a great way to track your return on investment. Google Ads Manager will allow you to enter specific details when setting up conversion tracking, like lead worth. Thanks to that information, once you start generating leads, it can project about just how much profit you can expect to earn from the ads."
Does Google Ad Manager really work for small businesses?
According to many who have used it, it really does.
Marketing and advertising expert Tiffany K. Schreane said it absolutely works. "Google Ads is a one-stop shop to tell the story of the impressions landing on your company website [and] the time on each page they are spending to measure engagement … and conversion rate of products and services."
While the general consensus is that it does work, it's important to have goals in mind and a matching strategy, according to Kate Bielinski, senior account manager at Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications.
"The ads, whether served on Google Ads or programmatic platforms, only bring users to the site," she said. "The advertiser needs to be prepared to convert the user with relevant and engaging content. This will also improve your conversion costs, since part of Google's bidding system ranks sites by Quality Score [and] relevance."
Kurtz noted that a lot of the clients she works with at her marketing agency are small, local businesses with modest budgets.
"While running PPC ads isn't in the wheelhouse for some, the ones that dive headfirst into the investment almost always see a return on investment and see it quickly," she said. "For these local service-providing companies, Google PPC ads work super well because of the specific targeting the advertising platform provides. Being able to narrow in on your demographics results in more qualified leads and, ultimately, more sales."
Should small businesses work with advertising professionals?
While small businesses can create, run and optimize their own ads, many recommend going with a professional to manage all digital advertising efforts. One of those proponents is Rhianna Taniguchi, digital marketing strategist at iQ 360.
"Why? Because you'll generally get better ROI and protect your brand," she said. "A professional digital marketer may also help you with recommendations on how to optimize your landing pages, teach you best practices and give you an edge against competitors."
Taniguchi also recommends looking for a certified Google Partner when choosing an agency to manage your ads, because Google Partners are constantly evaluated on the performance of the campaigns they manage. They also have experience trafficking ads and knowledge of Google's unique platform and promotions.
"Working with a certified Google Partner to manage your paid advertising campaign has a world of benefits," said Kurtz. "The one our clients tend to enjoy the most is simply the peace of mind in knowing that their PPC ads are in good hands. As a small business, or anyone choosing to partner with a company offering professional advertising services, you can rest assured knowing that while you manage your business, your partner is managing theirs. Being able to trust your PPC agency is a huge win."
What is programmatic advertising?
Programmatic advertising is the automated purchase or sale of digital ads. The team at Moz says that "it takes out the ponderous and inefficient human element, allowing advertisers to reach the right people at exactly the right place."
According to Riana Young, digital marketing consultant at Living Online, programmatic advertising is about driving efficiencies in spend and resources.
"Rather than having a marketer manually choose the targeting and placements for banner ads on the Google Display Network, programmatic advertising buys ad placements for you using machine intelligence," she said. "More than that, you can expand your reach out to more website placements than those that are only affiliated with Google advertising."
How does social media management come into play?
"Social media management is different than PPC, and one should be careful to draw a line here," said Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva. "A social media manager is going to engage with your audience in an appropriate manner at all times, not just throw out paid ads for high click-through rates."
However, that doesn't mean social media management and Google Ads are completely unrelated.
"Whether you're operating a small, local business or leading a global, enterprise-level effort, your customers are online [and] interacting via social channels with friends, colleagues and other brands," the Moz team says.