Three years ago this month, Google introduced a streamlined version of its famous AdWords advertising program. Called AdWords Express, the advertising program made it easier for small businesses unfamiliar with pay-per-click advertising to get started. AdWords Express also cut down on the time commitment with running AdWords campaigns.
Small businesses had long expressed concerns that AdWords had gotten too complex for non-marketers and required too much time — time that busy business owners couldn’t afford to devote. AdWords Express was Google’s way of addressing that concern.
Fast forward to today. The program must be working, because Google has invested in improving AdWords Express. The company is also implementing changes to make AdWords Express more visible to small businesses.
Today Google announced that it is giving Express advertisers more control over defining and reaching their exact target audience. In a post on the official Inside AdWords blog, Engineering Director Xuefu Wang writes:
“Now advertisers can choose exactly where to promote their business — in their zip code, city, state or others around the country (currently in English-speaking countries). When customers search from their phone, they can get driving directions, call your business, or visit your website in one tap.”
He goes on to add:
“When you select your business category, AdWords Express makes sure that customers searching for related topics see your ad. To improve the targeting of your ad, products and services that are mentioned on your website can now be used as keywords if they are related to your ad. We’ve also added more negative keywords on the backend to exclude unwanted searches, which improves the click-through rates of ads and means a lower cost for advertisers.”
Wang also says at the end of the article to look for more improvements in the coming months.
This follows on the heels of an announcement this past March making AdWords Express more accessible on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.
And just last month Google made another move that put AdWords Express front and center. Google launched “My Business,” a new dashboard that makes it more convenient to manage your business presence on Google properties. On that dashboard there’s a prominent link to AdWords Express — making it clear that Google is committed to the Express program.
Deciding: Adwords Express vs Adwords
We reached out to Robert Brady of Righteous Marketing, a specialist and expert in the field of AdWords and pay-per-click advertising for his impressions. He has a favorable impression of AdWords Express, for the right businesses. “For businesses with a physical address, AdWords Express can be a good option. It’s also best for advertisers with smaller budgets that don’t demand high levels of control.”
Although today’s announcement gives advertisers additional control options they’ve not had before with their Express campaigns, there’s still less control than the standard version of AdWords. Less control is the trade-off you make for a program that doesn’t require a lot of time to set up or manage.
An example of a local small business using Google Adwords Express is Nick’s Towing, mentioned in Google’s announcement today. The owner manages campaigns on a smartphone on the go.
And when is it time to graduate from Express to the regular AdWords program? According to Brady, it’s when you have a larger campaign budget to work with, or your needs get more sophisticated. Brady says, “When advertisers want to conduct more extensive ad copy testing or want to advertise in a larger geographic area they should consider regular AdWords. I would also recommend professional management for click budgets over $2,000 per month.” See more of his tips for using Google AdWords programs.
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