Here are a couple of my thoughts and opinions about managing your Google Ad Grant in 2024.
A new Google Ads interface but you probably can’t see it yet!
Google Ads started rolling out its new interface to some accounts in early 2023. I am only able to access it through one of the Ad Grant accounts I set up from scratch last year, none of my existing clients or my Managers account has access to it yet. For that reason, I haven’t spent much time using it but at first glance, it looks like a nice refresh. The “better” reorganising of content does make it a bit more difficult to find the information you need but I'm sure that in time this will no longer be a challenge.
Google says the new interface elevates Goals in the navigation to make it clear how important setting goals is. I think this is a good move, although I wish they labelled it Conversions so there is consistency across Google Ads and Google Analytics.
AI sticking its nose in
For years Google Ads has been coming up with suggestions for ad copy but it’s always been a bit crap. In the last 6 months, this has changed, it’s gotten a lot better at it. I think it was because it only used the copy found on the landing page to generate suggested ad copy and if the page copy was poor, so were the suggestions. This still happens now but something called “Google AI-powered solutions” is making it offer up better ad copy, along with some useless copy and keyword suggestions too.
The Recommendations and Insights section in Google Ads also appears to be getting better at the job but I would still advise caution when accepting these suggestions. Make sure you fully understand what's been recommended and have fully sense-checked it first.
AI is also supposed to be behind bidding strategies such as Maximise Conversions, however, the data used by AI to make decisions about when to raise your bid from £2 to £10 is not available. Not a big issue for Ad Grantees but for those using their own money to pay for Google Ads, letting Google decide how much you should bid sounds a bit crazy!
Broad Match + Maximise Conversions = ?
Using Broad Match keywords in combination with Maximise Conversions is the strategy that Google recommends. At first, I was sceptical because this sounds very high risk. It means you need to be more relaxed about what searches you will match with and you also haven’t got a maximum price for what you’re willing to pay for those clicks. A casino mob boss would say “The house always wins” However, I have been experiencing some success with this combo.
Campaigns need more time to flower
Google Ads uses complex algorithms to optimise your bids in real-time based on various factors like user intent, keyword competition, and historical data. This initial data-gathering and learning process can take a while, especially for Smart Bidding strategies.
During the initial stage, the platform gathers data on your ad impressions, clicks, and conversions. This data helps Google understand which targeting options, keywords, and ad variants are working best and how to allocate your budget efficiently. This takes time, particularly for campaigns with low search volume.
Start paying for Google Search Ads
Google Ad Grants is a great tool for every nonprofit to have and is the perfect introduction to Search advertising however, it does have limitations. Last year, several nonprofits took my advice to be more competitive, they created an additional Ads account with some cash behind achieving their key objectives.
One of them spent just £1400 to achieve a £150,000 return in new business. Another charity used paid search ads to double their sales at Christmas time. Allocating a paid budget to Google Ads can be a game-changer but you really need to be careful, as it's just as easy to get no return on your spend.
That's probably enough food for thought for this year...