Marketers are there to help increase brand visibility and generate sales, so it's understandable why questions like "do Google Ads work?" are so common, especially in when scandals like the Jedi Blue one emerge (if you want to learn more the details and ramifications of Jedi Blue, do read our last article in this series: “Google and the Jedi Blue Scandal: Why Marketers Can’t Trust the Platform”.)
Google commands a 29% share of the digital ad market spend globally, which makes them the leader. Facebook sits at under 24% and Alibaba is in 3rd place at around 9%. Despite its flaws, Google should still be one of the top advertising platforms to generate revenue. This article will also share a few strategies for mitigating the negatives Google Ads. It will help reduce the reliance on Google Ads and their commitment to providing a trustworthy platform.
Summary of Google Issues for Marketers
Let’s start by discussing a few of the problems Google poses for marketers. Understanding these sets the stage for structuring your marketing strategy to reduce its negative impact.
Customer privacy laws
Google has received fines from European regulatory bodies like the French Data Protection Watchdog for not being transparent about ad-tracking cookies and ignoring user consent. Customers have every right to be unhappy with how Google violated their user privacy. By extension, they might also be angry at the advertisers that are using their platform. Needless to say, marketers should use platforms and tools that don’t contribute to a negative public image.
The Jedi Blue scandal uncovered that header bidding on the Google Ads platform was not a fair playing field. Facebook got preferential treatment by receiving more time to bid and access to a wider audience. Who knows what other companies Google has provided this treatment. Perhaps corporations that you are in direct competition with are winning bids unfairly. There is no way to trust Google because it takes US states forcing Google to court for details to emerge.
You cannot trust Google to create a fair ads marketplace that will stick by the rules. It means you’ll need to second guess the implementation of their policies. For example, Google has recently released a 3 strike policy for breaking the Google Ads policies. However, marketers share that incorrect application of the policy is a problem. Since trust with Google is broken, they can’t be sure that penalties will be given fairly.
Google Smart Campaigns
Marketers fall into the trap of using Google Smart Campaigns because they don’t know any better. However, they are not the best way to use a revenue-generating stream. You’re forced to trust that the algorithms running the campaigns are optimal and giving you the best ROI. However, they present several problems for marketers such as no transparency or access to data, no A/B split testing and no control over where ads appear.
Click fraud and wasteful clicks are two of the major issues you'll encounter when running Google Ads. Invalid clicks can be generated by bot farms or human click farms, which makes them hard to distinguish at scale. If you think this is only a marginal problem, think again: 78% of advertisers are concerned about invalid clicks, which indicates the scale of the problem.
So, Do Google Ads Work?
Short answer is: yes, Google Ads work.
There is a lot of noise that Google is untrustworthy, breaks the rules and does not provide a level playing field. However, the only question that matters to your marketing efforts: “is Google Ads a positive ROI marketing channel”. If the answer is yes, then don’t stop using it unless you have other viable options.
That is especially true if the business is struggling to stay afloat or get traction in its marketplace. Giving up Google Ads is like shooting yourself in the foot and potentially contributing to the business going bankrupt.
You might be asking – is it ethical to use a platform like Google Ads when they are breaking the rules? We suggest that you let the regulatory bodies and lawmakers decide the fate of Google. Let them worry about handing out fines and getting the corporation to correct the execution of their policies. Don’t put your business at risk by boycotting their platform altogether.
Brands typically have fierce competition in any marketplace. If you decide to boycott Google, you can assume that some of your competitors will capitalize on that by doing the opposite. Therefore, they will access customers from Google Ads that might have been yours if you stuck around.
The average ROAS (return on ad spend) for Google Ads is 200%, which means that for every $1 spent the return is $2. This impressive number fully justifies marketers using the platform to generate revenue.
However, the ROAS number above is an average. Figure out the ROAS for your specific industry and marketing campaigns. It might be lower or higher, but it’s one of the highest performing marketing channels for most marketers.
The revelations of the Jedi Blue scandal may result in significant fines and force Google’s hand to be more transparent. You may see change coming within the next few years that gives marketers a reason to trust Google.
However, if you’re still skeptical and want to keep your distance from Google Ads, then consider changing the way your marketing efforts are organized. The next section will help you navigate the choppy waters so you aren’t too reliant on Google Ads.
How to Protect Your Marketing from Google’s Inadequacies
The revelations for Jedi Blue may rightly give you cause for concern. What if they engage in more rule breaking behavior that impacts your bottom line? We have established that boycotting Google is not the smartest move. Therefore, you should organize your marketing efforts to reduce the reliance on Google Ads and help safeguard against its negatives.
Here are good practices for Google Ads marketers:
Don’t rely on Google Ads for the majority of your revenue generation. Invest the time and resources to learn other marketing channels. This includes Facebook PPC, social media, video, content creation and influencer marketing. In the worst case scenario, if you had to stop using Google Ads, then your business can continue generating sales. More marketing channels are better and allows a business to operate on solid foundations.
Keep up to date with the latest Google Ads policies. Make sure that you use the platform without breaking its rules. For instance, understand the 3 strike policy mentioned earlier. However, don’t stop at reading the official set of guidelines. Get involved in the marketing community by researching what specific violations have resulted in bans. You can avoid these to stop your Google Ads marketing from coming to a halt.
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace. In the coming years Google Ads might become obsolete. If you don’t stay abreast of emerging trends, you won't know that. Look for new technologies and marketing platforms that can help you diversify away from Google Ads. For instance, voice search is growing in popularity and 71% of users share it’s preferred to typing.
Trust and transparency
Google has a rocky past with user privacy but you can try to mitigate this on your end. Your websites should contain information about how tracking technologies are used and why you may utilize customer data. Share details about what data is collected and why it’s beneficial to their experience. 71% of consumer want personalized ads, so they will not oppose data collection if you explain that it will improve offer relevancy.
Reduce invalid clicks
Invalid clicks are a constant leak of marketing dollars that reduces your ROI. Google has an automated system in place to detect invalid clicks, but it’s not enough. Far too many are left unaccounted for because invalid click strategies are sophisticated.
To reduce invalid clicks consider choosing ClickGUARD. We intelligently identify and block worthless clicks on your Google Ads campaigns on autopilot. The investment will save you the hassle of tracking down invalid clicks and save you money by boosting marketing ROI.
Whether you love or hate Google, there is still a lot of value to be had for generating revenue from Google Ads. The issues of invalid clicks, user privacy and the Jedi Blue scandal are concerns that you cannot ignore. However, opting for the best practices laid out above is better than boycotting the platform.
Google does have multiple flaws but who doesn’t? Their marketing features are still some of the best and the huge search volume is what sets them apart from the competition. Continue to use Google Ads cautiously and don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.