How does AdWords Express (Now Known as Smart Campaigns) work?

There comes a time for any business owner where they need to start advertising in several different ways to increase sales for their business, such as printed banners, TV Ads, Online Marketing and more. One of the most complex options is Online Marketing, although it’s definitely not something that should deter any business owner who is looking to grow their business.

As of today, there are many ways to market your business online through different platforms such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook & more. All of them with very similar interfaces and complicated options (for any newbie in the online marketing world) to advertise at the lowest cost and at the same time with positive results.

Gladly, Google does offer a different option to advertise through the Google Network that is actually not complicated at all and might give you some good results without the need of having any special knowledge in Online Marketing. The answer to your situation may well be Google Ads Express (previously known as Google AdWords Express).

As of January 2019, Google Ads Express stopped being an independent platform and it is now integrated with the Google Ads interface, under a new name: “Smart Campaigns”.

For the purpose of this document, I will keep on calling it Google Ads Express.

What Is Google Ads Express?

Before we go into details of how Google Ads Express works, we need to know first what it is.

Google Ads Express is an attempt at simplifying Google Ads for advertisers with smaller budgets. Instead of spending hours conducting keyword research, crafting ad copy, and optimizing your bidding strategy, all you need to do to get started is to tell Google about your business (what you do and where you do it), your goals, targeting, and they take care of the rest.

In Google Ads (previously known as Google AdWords), you’ve got a variety of budgeting strategies at your disposal, including CPC bidding (how much you’re willing to pay for a click) and CPA bidding (how much you’re willing to spend per conversions, in such cases Google controls the CPC based on your criteria).

On the other hand, Google Ads Express is much easier for any new advertiser.

Rather than selecting how much you want to pay per clicks or conversions, you just tell Google the total amount you want to spend on a monthly basis and they will do the rest, even the keyword selection!

The general idea is that you set up an incredibly simple campaign that includes nothing but:

    • Your business category.
    • Ad copy (just three lines about your business will do!).
    • Where to send people (send them to your website or a special Google My Business page).
    • A maximum monthly budget (Google will give you a recommended budget if you’re not sure how much you want to spend. It’s super easy to find).

Compared to Google Ads, this is literally a much easier process to get your Ads running. It might take you no more than 15 minutes to have it ready!

How to Create a Google Ads Express Account?

The signup and account creation process is rather easy compared to the Google Ads (Expert Mode) creation process.

First things first. As a business owner, it is a must to have a Google My Business account so people know how to get to your business without calling you asking for directions over the phone. Also, this is important due to the high amount of traffic on Google of people searching for services related to your business in your area.

Why do I mention Google My Business? Well, because it is necessary for the Google Ads Express campaign creation process, and even if you do not have it, don’t worry, you will still go through the creation process when setting up your Google Ads Express account. It is actually a fairly smooth process to get started whether you have Google My Business or not.

The steps go as follows:

      • Tell Google what your Goal is, whether it’s getting more calls to your business, increasing the visits to your store or driving people to your website.
      • Decide where to advertise by selecting a radius targeting or individual locations where you want to reach people that can potentially be interested in your products or services.
      • Create your message to highlight what is best about your business in simple, easy to understand words. You can also create compelling banner ads by adding images to your campaign.
      • Set your budget cap to let Google know how much you are willing to spend on a monthly basis.
      • Go live. Google will display your ads when people search for products or services like yours. Your ads can appear on Google Search and Maps, and across the network of partner sites.

Once you’ve created your ad and designated how much you want to spend, that is pretty much it. You can monitor activity on your Places account in your Places dashboard, and you can look at your standard Google Ads billing set up in the billing tab of your Places account.

Once you get a little familiarized and decide that you want to start doing some optimizations to your Ads and Keywords to figure out where your money is being spent on, that’s where things get a bit complicated.

You can deactivate the ads, pause search terms (phrases that people have used to find products or services related to your business) and change the budget. Other than that, there is not much else you can do or change on Google Ads Express. It is basically like running a read-only campaign. This means that you will be very limited when it comes to changes or optimizations compared to the Google Ads platform.

While you have only created one ad and you are unable to control your bids after assigning a monthly budget, Google will assure you that they will “create other versions using the content you provide in Google My Business”. The issue is that it is a little murky in terms of knowing exactly what that means.

Google Ads vs. Google Ads Express

To be clear, while both platforms allow you to advertise on Google and Google properties, Google Ads and Google Ads Express are very different. Google Ads is a robust platform that offers you a lot of control, but with that higher level of control comes a fair amount of complexity, which is often intimidating for small or newer advertisers and agencies.

Google Ads Express offers a simplified UI with fewer options and less control over how exactly your budget is spent, but you can get the ball rolling in minutes.

Here are some Pros and Cons that might help you decide whether you want to use Google Ads Express or Google Ads:

Pros:

  1. Ease of Use:
    • You can have your campaign up and running after 10 to 15 minutes of creating the account. Just follow the five steps mentioned above and you are done. This makes it a lot easier for anyone that does not have any type of experience with the Google Ads Platform.
  2. Targeting:
    • Just select your target audience and Google will do the rest. You will not have to worry about segmenting the targeted area into countries, region or states. Additionally, Google will target your ads to the category you specify, so if your category is musical instrument store, you’ll only show up for those categorized queries.
  3. Automation:
    • Say goodbye to manual keyword analysis. You won’t even need to worry about changing a bid because Google will automatically place your ad based on category selection and ensure that your ads are being displayed when relevant.

Cons:

  1. Ease of Use:
    • Most Pay Per Click Managers will tell you that managing Google Ads is very complicated and that it takes a lot of time to know how the platform works, as well as all the necessary optimizations to improve the performance of the campaign, but it is because of this that the overall performance can be way better than on Google Ads Express due to the full control you will have.
  2. Targeting:
    • Why let Google manage your targeted locations when you can do that yourself? You can actually bid accordingly by region, state, even zip code and control even further the money you are spending to make sure your campaign performs best by targeting the locations that, based on the results you’ve gotten.
  3. Automation:
    • Bid automation sounds like such a reassuring and comprehensive approach to running a search engine marketing campaign. But remember, Google is predicated upon keywords, and with Express, you don’t have access to keywords. Why is that? With Express, it’s all about time-saving via assumptions, hence the categories option. Be very careful here, because what if Google is optimizing your campaign based on search queries that actually aren’t qualified for your business? This can, in fact, be the reason why you spend a lot of money and not get relevant results. With Google Ads you can work on the keywords you selected and the search terms people use when looking for your products or services. You have full control of when to show your ads, and when to not.

Conclusion

There are some great benefits to using Google Ads Express, but be sure to consider the pros and cons as they relate to your specific business and industry. If you need to launch a PPC campaign within your local region quickly and are more concerned with reach and speed to market, then Express has the ability to drive local searches for your business without much time and effort. If you are concerned with quality, efficiency, and optimization though, you will need to consider using the Google Ads platform instead.

Top Floor Marketing has extremely well trained, certified and qualified Google PPC Managers that will help you create and manage campaigns for you (if you don’t have the time to go through all the complexity of Google Ads and wish your campaign to perform great). We will be more than glad to help you out, simply contact us through our website or give us a call and we’ll happily help you develop and implement an efficient strategy for your business objectives.

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