Have your Google Ads stopped working for you?

Are your Google Ads still contributing to your bottom line the way they used to?  If sales are down, maybe it is the economy, maybe it is seasonal or the re-bound from an online focused covid era.  

However, there have been changes to the Google Ads Eco-system that could have undermined the effectiveness of your ads as well. Here are some possibilities

 

1) The change to Google Analytics 4

In the spring of 2023, Google changed its main website analytics program. Google Analytics is intimately tied to Google Ads.  It provides the data on how valuable a click is to Google Ads so that Google can Optimize the campaign to target what the advertiser finds most valuable – particularly sales, phone calls, or other leads.  Implementing Google Analytics 4 properly required advertisers to re-do all of their conversion tracking in order for Google Ads to continue to bring in there right data. 

In an interesting exercise, in many cases – whether you set up GA 4 yourself or not, Google tried to add conversion tracking to Google Analytics 4 itself, and often got it very wrong or doubled up what had already been done.  This resulted in inaccurate data being sent to Google Ads.  

Assuming you are targeting “Conversions” (Sales, Phone calls, form submissions, contact page visits or similar) with your Google Ads campaign, if your website is not sending dependable data to Google Ads, your campaigns will be less effective.  Making decisions on bad data is worse than making decisions on no data.

 

2) Google’s relentless push for flexibility with your budget

For the last year, Google has relentlessly pushed advertisers, mainly through their “Recommendations”, to give Google more flexibility with their budget and where to show their ads.   From “Add Broad Match Keywords” to “Display Expansion” or the black box known as “Performance Max”, Google constantly tells advertisers they will benefit from giving Google more flexibility.  

Google even employed an army of off-shore “Advisors” to relentlessly call advertisers to persuade them to make the changes that are supposed to help their account, but as we have seen, often are set up to help Google more than the advertiser.  We could believe that Google’s altruistic urge to help advertisers on its platform is behind this campaign. Or it could be the need to “shake the cushions” to keep Wall Street happy.    

Will giving Google more flexibility really improve your campaigns?  Maybe, but more often than not, it is Google trying to solve its biggest problem: There are a limited number of clicks that are worth good money, and an infinite number of searches with little to no immediate monetary value. If Google can have more flexibility they can show a greater variety of ads on the good searches, and also place ads on the lower quality searches or on the display network where there is an almost infinite inventory of placements available. While Google may argue that the broader placements on low quality websites can help your ad campaigns do better overall, their relentless push for flexibility make it more likely that it is all about their bottom line, not yours.      

But often these changes will lead to very low-quality display placements, or spending most of your Google Ads budget on unrelated or (Google’s favourite) your competitor brand searches.    Google always makes it sound like a good idea to do whatever it is suggesting, but the recent revelations that Google is pushing to keep it stock price up confirms what many Google Ads experts have suspected for a long time:  Google wants flexibility to boost its bottom line and solve the problem of a limited number of truly valuable searches.  

 

3) Google Ads Algorithm Changes

Sometimes campaign performance changes due to the way that Google is running the auction. Just like there are search engine algorithm changes, sometimes the way Google serves up the ads, categorizes keywords, or runs the auction changes, and your campaign performance on campaigns that were running well suddenly deteriorates. Google can unilaterally change the rules around how it runs the auction, or how it allocated credit for conversions that take multiple clicks (attribution models). These changes will impact your campaigns – sometimes for the better, sometimes not.  

 

4) Your competitors are more competitive than you

Advertisers compete for eyeballs and clicks in their market.  The subset of people looking for a widget may be small or large, but there will be a limited number of widget suppliers competing for their clicks and eyeballs.  Those who spent their advertising dollars more efficiently can get Infront of more of their potential customers, and keep interest high until they turn the interested into buyers. If they can spend less to obtain a customer, they will spend more efficiently.  

Has the performance of your Google Ads campaigns dropped over the last few months or year? Do you wonder whether it is the economy or the way your campaigns are set up? 

Call our dedicated PPC specialists today, and let’s dig in, together.

Gord Addison
LinkedIn

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