This is a cross-post of an article appearing here in PPC.org blog too.
Yes, Adwords is dead, but not for all the players. Adwords is Dead for small players, small businesses, but Adwords still is a terrific money making machine for the Big Players.
Recently, I was entrenched into hot a discussion with few friends about online advertising. Each person’s experience was different in many many ways, however when it comes to Google Adwords, it seems that there was a large consensus over how complicated and intimidating Adwords has become for Joe.
I’m like Joe. I have no Adwords certification, and I have no experience with search engine optimization. I run a small business, and I want to get more clients and make profit. I have heard stories after stories of people who have used Adwords to successfully launch their business and drive constant traffic to their store. Personally I’ve tried Adwords with a small budget, and my results were fairly good, but I’ve hear horror stories too. Like a real estate broker in Paris who has to spend more than 30% of his revenue in Adwords to survive. The day, he stops Adwords, he is out of business. His business depends all on Adwords performance. Kind of Adwords prison.
Is a prison break possible?
I decided to investigate the issue and went on the Internet to look for comments and feedback of people who are not my friends and have a personal stories to share about Adwords. Here below are few of my discoveries.
“I believe that AdWords has become too complicated and intimidating for a lot of small business owners.
I’ve taken over accounts for small businesses who just couldn’t afford the time it takes to learn how to do it right, and the various nuances of the search network, the content network, quality scores, etc.
Sure, Google offers that ‘starter edition’ – but basically that’s just Budget Optimizer, and that lumps Search in with Content, no geo targeting, and sets an absurd maximum CPC amount.
Small businesses are *desperate* to be able to join the party. But I think Google has made it too difficult, costly, and intimidating for them to join, or keep going with their accounts. Not all of them can afford people like me to help out.
AdWords is hard enough to keep up with when it’s *working*.”
“I was back home in Louisiana with old high school friends who started up a small business that sells school uniforms.
They loved the idea of advertising online. When I set up their account eyes glossed over – it was too much data to take in.”
“AdWords is too complicated.. Been saying it for a while. AWA pointed out the link to the starter edition last time I said that, but that is quite bad as netmeg pointed out.
Adwords needs to ease thing for the genuine small advertiser. To do so will involve a less complicated ‘small business inteface’ with a easy to approach customer service ( humans) who can guide and help with the QS stuff..Small business a/c need to be flagged as such and some QS leniency needs to be shown..maybe with a spend limit in force..the QS can be applied with more flexibility to small accounts making it easier for small guys to advertise.
Google must get good quality small advertisers on board. That will be beneficial for them and also for the content network.
If they keep waiting for someone else to show the way.. That is not their style… I think.”
“I think that beyond the technical complications many smaller businesses are being priced out of the market by big brand bidders. These bigger brands are (at least in the UK) finally cottoning on to the benefits that online marketing can provide to their whole business, beyond direct online sales. I wouldn’t like to be a small company that depends on PPC these days – I think their positions are going to go down and down as more and more larger organisations jump on the bandwagon and start funding online marketing with massive brand budgets and multichannel targets.
in the sectors that I am involved in the big guys are taking over where the pureplay online retailers used to dominate. Market share is rapidly moving from the SME to the Corporate. Maybe its just that my markets don’t have such a huge opportunity for long tail activity – I hope so.
It feels like another form of globalisation! ”
“I think this game is fundamentally not small business friendly – only a handful of ads can show on one page, so if 2-3 big companies compete then its okay for them, but ultimately small businesses number many times that number, but only handful of them can get their ads shown in competitive areas. Perhaps if we talk about small business in a specific geographical location then in this case it might be great, but otherwise I think this system of advertising, just like casino, has just one ultimate winner – the house and some big pro players.”
“Adwords has to work on the immediate $1, $5 and $10 min cpcs. The tool being too complicated for a new sme owner is only one factor. I understand the need to weed out the irrelevant/arbitrage businesses, but I’ve seen a lot of legit small businesses almost bail because of this as they think its hopeless after a month or two. They simply believe that “Google hates me.” I have to constantly remind them that they don’t hate you, they just hate new accounts and you just happen to be a new account right now. Then I have to say it again a month later. The ones that have hung there, woke up one day to Great Quality scores and .04 min cpcs. The others will probably never know.
IMO, they should at least tailor the min cpc’s better. Blanketing $1, $5 or $10 over an entire account comes across as unscientific and careless and simply screams “pay us an entrance fee regardless of your relevancy.” This has been going on for years. With all of the other amazing features that have been added, I find it hard to believe that this couldn’t happen. Maybe it is being fixed and I don’t know about it.
By the way, this is the case not only for sme’s with smaller budgets, but larger companies starting new accounts, with really large budgets.”
“Having used Adwords myself for several years I have decided to set up accounts for local Realtors as I am familiar with the keywords.
I soon discovered that quite a lot of Realtors had already tried Adwords but given up, no doubt because of all the reasons mentioned in this thread.
My own ads are not showing for dozens of totally relevant keywords that I have bid on above minimum bid (and the account is several years old).”
“… The system although features-rich but it is too complicated for a starter and data grabbed from keywords suggestions, traffic estimator, maximum budget, etc.. make small business starters very frustrated that they would give up the system in a couple of hours.
My adwords account is a few years old and I never used it but one time, a couple of years ago, with a few dollars budget over a couple of months and yes I managed to make a few conversions and the overall result was a success.
But the thing is back then all I had to do is to pick up a couple of very highly targeted keywords, setting CPC to the lowest I can get and daily budget to the maximum suggested one and starting the campaign.
Now when you try to be a serious advertiser, picking hundreds of suggested relevant keywords you get absurd CPCs and daily budget. You try to go with a reasonable daily investment to start with but you find out that this investment will get you no where to appear or to compete with other professional advertisers. Eventually you will think “I am not good enough for this”.
I know my market is one of the most competitive markets, but the idea is the same; no matter what your market is you will still be beaten by the deep pockets professional advertisers when you are a small business starter advertiser.”
“i’m a small business owner and i’m really about to give up on adwords. i guess i’ve been silly in playing the adwords game and i have wasted tons of my time. i’m thinking of hiring some experienced adwords professional to manage my account and i really hope this will bring me a better position to win this game. i hate adwords because they don’t bring me a good roi and their cpc system’s too complicated.moreover, as a starter, how could they expect me to set a minimum bid like $5 just in the effort to make my ads appear on the 1st search result page and then to compete with my gaint competitors? i know i should blame myself for being stupid to manage my own account tho. i do tend to think that adwords hates me.”
“Remember back in 2001, during the good old days (of the internet) when you could actually use Google Adwords as a means to drive quality traffic to your website, at an extremely low investment to the advertiser? Back when niche keywords cost .05 – .20 per click and if you really wanted to open up your pockets and bid on broader terms, you would pay .25 – .75 per click.
Now days you would be so lucky to find a niche where you can pay under $1.00/click. What I am saying is that the days when small advertisers could gain visibility (at least in the paid results) on Google are over. Small advertisers don’t have a budget to “test” keywords, landing pages, offers, etc… For a small, local businesses, $250/month is a lot of money!
The problem is that over the past 10 years, the competitive landscape has gotten much more saturated. There are bidding wars between advertisers to push their ads towards the top. I know, I know…Ad Quality Score plays a factor in how much you pay per click, but I’ll tell you something, if you have deep pockets and are willing to pay a lot per click…Google will put you at the top. So when push comes to shove, the big brands and large corporations with the bigger budgets, are the ads that are still going to be showing.”
“Adwords is too expensive by any stretch of the imagination. You need to spend at least $700 a month to get some return on investment. Google imposes minimum bids – that means it makes sure it gets a minimum out of bids. And I think if Google increases prices by 20% – they will start to lose customers. It is simple economics. If Advertisers can’t make a ROI – they go to places where they are. I also think Google underestimates the volume of traffic that is required to make a sale. Often it is hundreds of clicks before a single person buys.”
Most of Joes who have ever tried Adwords will agree with the above comments and frustration. Now, is there any prison break possible?
Google is a big player, and can’t be completely ignored, however there is new and innovative way of advertising. Facebook Ads is a good alternative to Adwords. It offers more control and a higher level of targeting.
Also, it works very well to contact directly small to medium blogs and websites owners that your target audience visits and reads, and then advertise with them without a middle man.
At the end of the day, the truth is that a small business which can’t grow in the long term with referrals and word of mouth from its current or past customers, won’t survive and thrive. Providing a great product and service, and building relationship with prospects and clients are the best advertising strategy for any successful small businesses.
This guest post was written by Mawuna R. Koutonin, Founder of GoodBuzz, A brand new way form of online Advertising. out of office, Mawuna Koutonin is a world peace activist who relentlessly works to empower people to express their full potential and pursue their dreams, regardless of their background.