For better or worse, Google exerts a lot of control over our personal lives and marketing strategies. We let it inform our consumer choices and important life decisions – we even ask it questions about our health and seek relationship advice through it. With every use it collects data about us and our behaviour, allowing us to be served with ads and search results that are deemed relevant to our interests. But from a business standpoint, is it actually worth sinking your marketing budget on Google Ads?
Given the ubiquitous nature of Google, logic would have us believe yes. But based on our experience at Year13, and our supporting research, we recommend that businesses direct their budget towards other avenues such as Facebook, Instagram, and EDMs. Here’s why.
You’re not using it right
One of the biggest selling points of Google Ads is the sheer size of its network and its potential reach. But just how you should use the right kind of bait to catch the fish you want, you need to make sure the ads you serve are suited to its format. However, one of the biggest downfalls of Google Ads is getting your head around the different ad formats that are at your disposal.
While we’re all familiar with search ads, where your business is promoted at the top of search result page, there’s also the display network, where your ads are displayed across the web. Consumers are at distinct stages and have different intents when they see these ads vs when they see them after a deliberate search enquiry, so serving the same creative can turn off potential customers and hurt your CPC. Unless you have a dedicated marketer on your team that’s well-versed in these nuances, you’re better off turning off Google Ads.
Bidding system favours bigger companies
Google Ad placements are based on a bidding system where you compete with other companies for your ad to show up on people’s screens. Large companies with a huge marketing budget that are able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their monthly spend lock up crucial keywords which raises the average bidding price. This means that new or smaller companies in that space will have to fork out more per click than what’s feasible for their budgets.
Limitations within the creative
The crux of advertising through Google is the ability to put your ads at the top of search results, however, these are text ads which have limitations to how engaging they can be. Recently they have made changes to the system that allows for a third headline and a second description, though at the end of the day there are still strict character limits for each field. This makes it extremely difficult for your marketing team to come up with relatable copy. Furthermore, the lack of visual imagery means you’re missing out on a highly engaging kind of advertising, making it difficult to get the most value from your ads.
Organic search is more trustworthy
Look back on your own behaviour: how often do you actually click on the promoted links at the top of a search result page? More often than not it feels like consumers are scrolling straight past these ads and clicking on the organic results instead. This is actually backed up by research, and though it’s quite dated, it still raises questions over more effective ways to spend your marketing budget.
Gen Z aren’t buying it
The above reasons are to do with the inherent problems of Google Ads across a wide range of consumers, but the most important thing to pay attention to is how your actual audience responds to them. As it turns out, youth are extremely averse to these forms of advertising, with only 25% of Gen Z displaying a positive attitude towards online search ads. The data also shows that they don’t respond well to other forms of digital advertising including video ads, which seems counterintuitive since most of their media consumption is online and video-based.
However, what this disconnect shows is that Gen Z are naturally overall distrusting of advertising and that your marketing efforts need to be catered to their distinct needs and preferences. Storytelling in content marketing is crucial to this, as well as using a youthful voice and relatable imagery. These strategies, supplemented by more efficient CPC channels such as Facebook, will be far more effective than using Google Ads.