Getting AdWords Straight

There are hundreds of tutorials out there dealing with the development and management of Google AdWords campaigns. Some are more lacking, while others are complete. The main issue with these tutorials is that they are designed with two audiences in mind – one being those who wish to become AdWords specialists themselves, and the other being entrepreneurs who wish to create and manage their own campaigns. The more complete and complex study guides are directed at those striving to become specialists, while entrepreneurs are often left with various incomplete guides. This is simply due to the fact that business owners rarely have enough time on their hands to embark on a lengthy process of study, trial and error. Incomplete guides and tutorials however, can cause serious issues if someone wishes to develop campaigns for themselves.

In this series of articles, we will be tackling the most important aspects of AdWords campaigns – search campaigns in particular – that are often omitted from incomplete tutorials. The goal in this case is not to provide you with the skills needed to develop your own campaigns, but with the insight to understand how these campaigns work, and the most common pitfalls one needs to keep a sharp eye on, no matter who is in charge of managing their campaigns.

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Pushing and Pulling Success

What you’re reading is going to become a series on understanding Google’s advertising system AdWords. But not from the common tutorial perspective, as startups and entrepreneurs, engaged in a variety of activities, have little use for it – that is of course, they have three-to-four hours a day to spare. We’ll be concentrating on a different, more systematic approach that will provide context on the strategic pros and cons of using AdWords. We’ll be focusing on Search Campaigns in particular, as they are by far the most common, yet most misunderstood tool. But what’s the point? There’s so much information already available, tutorials by the hundreds. How will this article change the world?

Simple Reasons, Simple Answers

It won’t change the world. But if it changes your views, or at least provides you with an understanding, that’s already good enough. You see, we’ve been working with AdWords for many years now, and we found that most of the tutorials, articles on this subject are only more-or-less honest, and for that matter, useful.

More Honest Material

Consider study guides and exam binders directly from Google, for example. They are highly detailed and very specific, but let’s face it, they are useless for providing an overall perspective. That is, unless you want to dedicate a significant portion of your time to a single marketing tool, these just won’t cut it. And if you’re an entrepreneur busy keeping your head above the ground, you’re bound to fall into this category.

Less Honest Material

Then there’s the less honest learning material. Over the past years it’s become common business practice for agencies providing campaign management to serve tutorials and courses that teach you the nuisances of managing campaigns yourself – only to forget about the basics, so you’ll end up asking for their help anyway.

Wait a sec.. did we just say we build and manage campaigns just as well? What’s the difference? Well, what these articles won’t do is teach you to build campaigns yourself. What they will do however is give you insight on the bits of information most commonly omitted in other articles.

The Manager’s Role

But it’s not just the study material that counts. You, dear reader, are equally important. Think about yourself for a moment. Are you hard at work managing your business, engaged in multiple fields of work at once? So you are a…

“Jack-of-all-trades, Master of None,
Often better than a Master of one.”
— Traditional saying

…or is it? The answer is entirely up to you. Think about it. You are now seeking to expand your already vast skillset with one of the largest online advertising platforms. Is it really worth spending your valuable time learning the complete ins and outs of the system, or is learning about the most important aspects sufficient – and let someone else put everything else together. Maybe you can strive to become a true Master of All. However, this series will only focus on helping you understand the logic and dynamics of AdWords, so you can find its correct place in that business plan you have lined up. And I’m hopeful it can still provide some new bits of info valuable to the occasional Master of All.

Setting the Subject

This time, we will be talking about AdWords Search Campaigns, with some other tools, like Facebook Ads for comparison. So what exactly are search campaigns? Well, they look something like this:


They are essentially the paid listings that typically appear as the first four hits on a search result page. You have great control over what they appear for and what they appear as, along with factual, precise information on the number of impressions, clicks and other information we will tackle later.

Now, how does this fit into your business plan? What is its role? What is it good for and when is it useless?

About Pushing and Pulling

Let’s get down to business. Search ads, much like facebook ads, billboards, business cards and the ever so annoying cold calls are a form of marketing communication. When trying to understand these forms, or tools of communication, you should try and group them in some way. There are many dimensions to choose from, but for now, we will categorize these as push and pull tools.


Make your choice, but don’t get hit. The same applies to the door above and your choice for marketing communications tools.

The Basic Difference

The difference is fairly obvious. Push based communications tools are designed to – literally – push your message onto the unsuspecting person (or, more pragmatically, the potential customer). Most of the tools do exactly this. Ads on TV, billboards by the highway, that flag on your burger telling you to get extra fries at 10% off. It’s like saying “Hey, we now serve extra portions of spaghetti, care to take a look?”

Pull based tools are meant to pull a person with a pre-existing will to buy into your shop. The keyword here is ‘pre-existing’. This is more like saying “You seem to be looking for a wine glass. Let me show you our assortment of wine glasses.”

Of course, the sliding scale of annoyance is a dimension completely independent of the type of marketing tool. One would argue that pull-based tools are more subtle, but then again, remember how the waiters stand by the entrance of their restaurants (cafés, cantinas) at the beach resort, urging you to take a seat right here, right now?

Push Mediums in Practice

Imagine walking by a number of shops without an intention to buy anything. You will probably see a number of different offers, all meant to catch your attention. For example, let’s say you are walking by a number of fast food stalls, and for some awkward reason, they’re all selling spaghetti.


This is push marketing. Initially, there is no consumer-side demand – or to be more precise, none that we have information of – and so these tools are hard at work trying to convince your average joe to give in and buy your product.

Push marketing, therefore, is used to create and drive new demand, forging new customers from the gray mass of people. The online equivalents for push marketing techniques are, for example, Facebook Ads, the Google Display Network, In-Stream Video Ads on YouTube – and the list goes on.

There are a number of things to consider when using push marketing techniques:

  • – When used online, they are good at reaching masses in a cost-effective manner
  • – But they do not drive sales, and their reach-to-purchase conversion rates are low
  • – Ideal for driving your brand, usually horrible for driving sales.

Pull Mediums in Practice

Now, let’s twist the aforementioned scenario a little. Let’s say that – oh joy – we can see into the minds of people, or at the very least filter them somehow and only show our message to those we pick based on their thoughts. Sure, this does sound crazy, but we will clear this up in a minute.


The main difference compared to push marketing here is that restaurant #4 knows that the potential customer is specifically looking for spaghetti bolognese. No matter what the other restaurants will offer, spaghetti bolognese will be the obvious winner, as that is what matches our customer’s specific demand the most. Of course, one could argue that this has more to do with the asymmetry of information availability, but the end result will be the same even if we assume that the other three restaurants have access to this very same information – but are simply lazy to alter their message accordingly. And as you will see, in terms of online advertising, especially AdWords, advertisers indeed are… lazy.

This is pull marketing. Notice that if you compare the two scenarios, in this case, we have a set, specific demand to begin with. Pull marketing works on this existing demand and builds on it – what you do, is raise your hand and volunteer to fulfill that demand as precisely as possible. Once again, notice that in this case, you are not driving to create new demand. You leverage existing demand. Pull marketing techniques are:

  • – More effective at reach to purchase conversion rates
  • – Are not effective for reaching masses, as cost per reach is typically much higher
  • – Effective for driving sales, but has little to offer in terms of brand awareness

Implications for Google AdWords

As you might have guessed, AdWords search campaigns are a form of pull marketing communication. The paid listings on a Google search result page include four slots at the top of the page, and we are targeting these positions in an attempt to make our online store appear. We have very good control on what we appear for, and as you can see in our previous example, relevancy is of paramount importance. If we build our campaigns to take details like “spaghetti bolognese” into account, and not just display some common text for “spaghetti”, our relevancy will improve greatly. This is particularly effective at countering any promotional message others might have to offer.

But the most important implication here is not about relevancy. It is about demand, and how search campaigns do not create new demand, but leverage existing consumer needs.

Search campaigns, when done right, are exactly as effective as your products and your store in general.

This stems from the fact that we are working with pre-existing demand. If your restaurant has a positive image, your potential customers will stand a better chance of buying spaghetti bolognese from you if they are looking for just that. However, if your meat sauce is known to be bad, consumers will not buy their spaghetti from you, even if you are the most relevant to their needs. If you are driving new demand, you can get people to try something for novelty’s sake, but working with existing demand is different. In the latter case, your product, your prices and customer experience all have to be just the right level. AdWords search campaigns are excellent at selling your products and services if they are already sought after, but can do precious little to revive a dead product – this is because pulling in customers to your storefront is not enough by itself, for that is where you will need to convince them. And in online terms, your storefront is essentially your website or e-commerce store – which school of thought should lead you straight into the realm of UX specialists.

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Of Money and Managers

Coming right up is a subject as dry as last year’s champagne – little room for illustration, many hard facts and trivial bits of info. One might wonder why such a common topic makes it into an article like this, but experience has shown time and time again that this is easily one of the top 5 reasons for… well, not failure, per se, but a great deal of grievances.

Managing access to one’s account is of prime importance, yet well over half of your common entrepreneurs have no idea they are in full charge of their AdWords account; let alone knowing how to manage user access. Needless to say, you can claim a house as yours without knowing where the key is, but then again, little good does that do to you, right?

Another common moot point is understanding how and when you pay. Simple, right? Well, not as much as one might think. There are a number of options to pick from; each of them requiring a different kind of attention to keep your campaigns running. The most common breaks in campaign continuity are caused by fund inadequacy, a common, yet simple administrative mistake.

The Keys to Your Houses

Imagine that every AdWords account is a house. A house with floors and rooms; some houses have a lot of these, we call them hotels, palaces or skyscrapers. Others have a single floor and only a few rooms. But then again, does that really have an effect on how comfortable the building is? You can own an old, derelict, abandoned hotel or a top-of-the-line bungalow as well. Which option suits you is entirely down to your needs.

Most people only need one house. Others need five. Again, others need a bungalow and a skyscraper, for different purposes. Remember, these are all AdWords accounts of varying size and detailedness.


Obviously, you will want the key to all of your estates – this should never be a question in the first place – but what exactly does that key look like? A separate key for all of them? Maybe a one-size-fits-all solution? Or something in-between? Let’s explore our options.

Client Level Access – Keys to the Houses

Client Level Access is the most basic level of access. Originally, this meant having an AdWords account tied to your Google account. A Google account can be registered for any e-mail address you have, but if you happen to use one of those ubiquitous inboxes ending with, you are automatically set to go.

Your Google account used to be the key to your AdWords account – that is, your house. You had one key, and you could use it for one house. If you wanted another house, you had to get another key, and made sure you never misplaced either of them.

Things had changed recently though, with Google adding multi-account support at the client level. Basically, this means that the metaphorical key you had is now a keychain. Harder to misplace and much more convenient to use. In practice, this means that while logging in to AdWords, you will get an option to pick the account you want. Easy enough, but this also implies that you can only access one account at a time; comparing and contrasting them, getting a quick overview and making modifications at scale is going to be time-consuming at best. Irritating at worst.

Manager Level Access – Keys to the Park

Now, imagine that all your houses and hotels and whatnot are located in the same park. A manager account is essentially a key which allows you to enter this park, and at the same time, it works for all your estates as well. The important difference here is that a manager account is always one step above the common AdWords – or client – accounts, tying them together in one neat package.

Let’s assume you advertise in five different countries – ideally, you should have five different AdWords accounts for all of them. Of course, there will be individual keys – client accounts – to access each of these individually, but you should also create a manager account that ties them all together, so you can check and manage them easily, without hassle.

For agencies like OurAdWords, manager accounts provide the ability to manage all our clients from a single access point. This yields a great many advantages and unparalleled synergy for effective campaign management.

The Keys You Need

As you can see, everything begins with a plan. If you need serious differentiation at a higher level – for example, in order to keep different countries and subsidiaries separate, you will need a manager account that you will use to access all the different client accounts. In this case, take that extra step, and go for the park – use your primary e-mail address to access the manager account, and thus, access all your client accounts at the same time. However, if you are a local entity and a single account is far enough for your needs, just go for that option. Remember, large or small, size does not matter – it’s all about your level of detail. The most important thing is to make sure the house you have is tailored exactly to your needs.


A word of advice to keep in mind when dealing with agencies offering campaign management services. Agencies should always, without exception, ask for manager level access to your account. You can tell this easily – if they ask for your 10-digit client ID, the request is for manager level access. If they ask you to add a particular e-mail address as a user, they are asking for client level access. The issue here is that agencies who manage a number of clients are – de facto – obliged to use manager accounts in order to execute proper work. Client level access requests can easily be signs for a lack of experience.

Pay and Play

With a clear idea on how you can access your account, the next and most important question is payment. Obviously, AdWords campaigns cost money to run – exactly how much, now that depends entirely on you and your goals. The greatest hindrances to stable campaign management however, stem from simple administrative mistakes related to payment methods.

Google AdWords campaigns – search campaigns in particular – are based on existing demand. This means that they are directly tied to the behavior of your to-be customers – and as we all know, these customers can get rather hectic over time. Search volume and levels of competition change every day, along with search habits as well. AdWords campaigns, when done right, adjust to these changes automatically. Unexpected pauses – most commonly caused by an inability to pay Google – have a detrimental effect on this process, however. After a pause of barely a few days, the system will need to pick up the pace again and re-adjust itself to the market. This can take as long as a day or two, but sometimes even a week. During this period, you can expect a temporary increase in costs per click, which will have a negative effect on your profitability.

The best solution is simply staying on top of your finances. AdWords has a number of payment options you can choose from – selecting the one that best suits your business is of paramount importance.

Pre-Paid a.k.a. Manual Payments

Manual payments are easily the most straightforward way of keeping tabs on your AdWords account. In this case, all you do is basically transfer Google a certain amount of money, either via credit card or bank transfer. This amount is then added to your account balance.

This is easily the best solution if you are – in any sense – paranoid about spending and wish to have near-full control on the maximum amount of money your AdWords campaigns can spend. Naturally, nothing is ever more reassuring than knowing that Google is physically unable to spend more money than that you send.

On the other hand, manual payments are more often than not the worst offenders against campaign continuity. Staying on top of your spending requires continuous attention. Your balance is slowly being eaten away, and you will have to top it up sooner, or later. The sooner, the better. If you wish to run on manual payments, you will need to consider the effort required to monitor your balance, for even a single mistake can lead to an unexpected halt of your campaigns.

Of course, AdWords does have e-mail notifications readily available for the occasion when your account balance might be running low. But busy entrepreneurs will more often than not just click through these e-mails without much notice – and do make sure you are not the next one to miss out on a lucrative period just because you missed an e-mail.

Post-Pay a.k.a. Automatic Payments

Automatic payments are essentially the default payment option, and for a good reason. This option is basically a trade-off between your ability to put an exact control on your spend and the time it takes to do so. In the case of automatic payments, Google gives you a small bit of credit to begin advertising with. Once your credit is all used up, Google will automatically charge your credit card for payment.

Payments are triggered by two factors. Obviously, one is reaching the credit limit Google has provided you. Initially, this is a relatively small amount, but over time, if your payments are processed properly and arrive at Google without any issues, this amount will be increased gradually. At the same time, there is also a 30-day limit for payments – this means that if 30 days have passed and you still haven’t reached your credit limit, Google will charge your credit card nevertheless.

Automatic payments are a great time saver, as they are technically administration-free. However, one thing you should always look out for is the balance available on your credit card. If by any chance your credit card does not have sufficient balance to pay for Google’s services, your campaigns will be stopped. This puts you at the same risks as with manual payments.

Going for automatic payments is highly recommended, but you will still need to keep an eye on one thing – the availability of proper balance on your credit card account.

Why Such a Big Deal?

AdWords search campaigns are designed to drive conversions – that is, sales – by leveraging existing demand. They are meant to be run indefinitely as long as they provide acceptable returns on investment. However, there is a certain level of volatility in every market, and your campaigns are doing their level best to optimize themselves accordingly. If a campaign’s continuity is broken, you face two issues that may prove most troubling:

  • – The break restarts the campaign’s learning process, resulting in temporarily increased costs per click
  • – You might fail to notice this break, which will result in a loss of revenue over this period

Avoiding these pitfalls is of paramount importance. However, the easiest way to do so is by making proactive measures and precautions. Keeping an eye on your AdWords (for pre-pay) and credit card (for post-pay) balance will help mitigate these risks.

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