Is Google Out Of Touch With Small Advertisers?

Based on a recent “AdWords survey” conducted of pay-per-click (PPC) professionals and the ensuing conversations it has led to, I believe that Google is out of touch with small advertisers using their AdWords advertising platform. And here is why I think that.

But more importantly, this piece is not to complain – but to try to get action. At the end I have a concrete suggestion.

First let’s take a look at what the recent (admittedly informal) AdWords survey showed.

What PPC Professionals Think “Small” Means

I decided to ask my fellow PPC professionals what they considered a “small” PPC advertiser to be. I asked the question, “Which amount below would you say is the largest monthly budget you would consider a ‘small’ PPC advertiser?”

Here are the results:

adwords survey

If you do the math, you’ll see that the average “small” advertiser would be spending $6,783 per month on their PPC efforts. that’s according to the pay-per-click professionals who took this survey.

But what does Google think?

What Google Thinks “Small” Means

Obviously, this is a tough question since Google is a huge company with thousands of employees. However, I had the chance to hear from 2 Google representatives at a recent meeting of the Salt Lake City Search Engine Marketers group (SLC|SEM).

The first rep worked as a dedicated account manager for companies advertising with Google. During the Q&A she repeatedly referenced her “smaller clients,” so I asked her what kind of monthly budget these smaller clients have. She deferred to the other Google rep (who had been her boss before) and he proceeded to dance all around the question so as to not give any number. Not even a range.

So Google won’t tell you how much a “smaller client” would need to spend in order to merit a dedicated account manager.

How else might we get an idea?

What Justifies A Google Rep

Fortunately, I know a few advertisers with large enough budgets to merit an account rep. They all spend over $75,000 per month with AdWords and feel like they’re on the smaller end of the spectrum.

After posting the results, I did hear of some accounts at the $30,000 month level with account reps, but I also heard this:

So what could Google do to help smaller advertisers?

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Let’s acknowledge that Google is making a sizable effort already. Here are 3 things Google already is doing to connect with and support small business AdWords advertisers:

(1) They have the 866-2-GOOGLE number that is available to any advertiser.

(2) The online help is quite thorough (though it gets out-of-date at times with all the changes).

(3) The Google AdWords Forum has some very helpful people who are giving out great advice and solutions to the pressing questions of the day.

However, my primary suggestion for Google would be to put some of their best & brightest reps on these “micro” accounts around $5,000  per month or lower. Let them see how differently this size advertiser behaves to compete with such large competitors. Then have these top reps come back to the product team 6 months later and give input.

This first-hand experience will help the platform become more friendly to small advertisers. If you’re a small advertiser, do you think this would help you?

More in: 12 Comments ▼

Robert Brady


Robert Brady Robert Brady is the owner and head PPC wizard at Righteous Marketing, a Google AdWord Certified Partner. Robert helps small business owners and large companies just getting started with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) get better results from their PPC management.

12 Reactions

  1. Anita Campbell

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for surfacing this issue. It’s interesting to see everyone’s idea of a “small” advertising budget.

    For a few years we ran a monthly AdWords campaign. Eventually Google’s smart pricing made it too expensive and time-consuming to bother, for the small amount we could budget (under $1K monthly).

    - Anita

    PS, I appreciate the fact that you included a concrete suggestion, and didn’t just complain and leave it at that. Maybe someone from Google will see it and take action on it.

    • I work with several “micro” accounts and don’t feel much love or empathy from Google. I’m actually developing a software that will help smaller advertisers know what to do to optimize their accounts, with easy step-by-step instructions, so that even the small advertiser can be actively & consistently improving their account.

  2. The average account on Google is spending approx $1200/month – the same as it did 8 or 10 years ago (source: Google, emarketer, and a ton of market research). While their revenues and numbers of accounts have scaled significantly, most advertisers are still out there spending a little bit and not really sure what it is buying them.

    We created our product (Addion.com) for this group of very under-served advertisers who couldn’t afford to spend another $300-$500 a month for management software when they might only be spending a little more than that on Google. Our free platform brings Google, Bing and Google Analytics (or SEO) together into one interface, tells you what you need to pay attention to, and even offers a robust management platform if you don’t want to do it yourself. http://www.addion.com.

    Free to use, might be worth trying out. Meanwhile, Google will still continue to call “small” advertisers spending $50k a month or more. That isn’t small in the minds of most businesses I know.

    If Google won’t help us, then we’ll just help ourselves.

    • Going to give your Addion service a shot- we’ve used a few different things to try and get some value out of PPC ads for our websites, but nothing has really paid off that I can see.

      I guess we would still be considered ‘micro’ in the google ads realm

      • Thanks Adam. We have more features rolling out in the next week. If you have any questions about how we might help, feel free to reach out to us in support(at)addion.com. All the best!

  3. As a startup company, I just find it to difficult to advertise on Google and its discouraging because Google can really help a small business grow. I hope they implement a small business friendly package sometime in the near future.

    • Biziby – things are getting even more complicated next week when Google releases their new Enhanced Campaigns platform. This change forces advertisers to display their ads on all devices (desktop, mobile, tablet) while taking away the ability to bid separately for each on a keyword level.

      Adding to that the rising costs on Google companies are starting to look at other options like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

      We at JUST Results Marketing are taking a more wholesale approach to PPC marketing where the focus for small businesses is on many different platforms not just Google.

  4. I am a small business owner and have recently switched my PPC campaigns to another so-called leader in this field. I feel disconnected from PPC. I would consider myself a very small organization based on PPC expenses.

    • Anna – PPC can be very scary especially when you are putting your dollars on the line. I do it everyday and it can be really successful when done right. Don’t give up on it.

  5. Thats a great suggestion for Google to have account reps work with ‘micro’ accounts, though its hard to believe that a ‘small’ account is still in the thousands of dollars per month range.

  6. I am very glad to know so many things about PPC campaigns in this article. I appreciate Robert’s analysis and points raised. Being a small business owner, I am planning to start PPC campaign but after reading this article, I must say that I have learned a lot and now need to rethink about my monthly budget.

    But is there anyone to share any fixed information on how much minimum amount a small business should spend for PPC advertising per month?

    • Adwords has become way too complicated for the everyday business owner. When I see accounts that Google Reps set up for clients its hit or miss (with 85% on the miss).

      Nothing to do with “conspiracy” or “evil” but Google is not accountable for small business failure. Businesses are continuously convinced that they HAVE TO BE ON GOOGLE and thats probably the case. Their choices are companies who promise page one ranking and never deliver or mediocre results with Adwords.

      If everyone is mediocre then Google makes money because of the inefficiency (like tennis racquet companies paying money for visitors looking for images of equipment).

      My advise is to speak to a reputable Adwords Professional and understand exactly how they will help you. If they guarantee you specific results that sound mind-blowing and tempting then RUN, if they explain their system and it sounds logical then proceed with caution – many of the “fake experts” made squeezed their money, lost reputation and closed shop… look for those who have been around for 3+ years

      Always start each engagement with a FREE CONSULTATION.

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