I think it’s fair to say that if your business is going to be a success in the 21st century, then advertising online is going to be crucial. However, for startups with no experience in digital marketing, it can be incredibly difficult to know where to start. If this sounds like you, then you may be tempted by Google’s AdWords Express advertising platform. However, it is important that you don’t. So, we are going to look at standard AdWords vs. AdWords Express. More importantly, we are going to make sure you know why to avoid AdWords Express at all costs.
Campaign Setup Time
The difference in campaign setup time on AdWords vs. AdWords Express is significant. In fact, it’s greater than that; it’s absolutely enormous. On AdWords Express, you can have your PPC Campaign live in under 15 minutes. Whereas on standard AdWords, you are more likely looking at days, or possibly even weeks to have your first campaign properly set up.
It is this outrageously quick setup time that makes AdWords Express so tempting. But unfortunately, whilst Google are incredibly clever, they’re not that clever that they can automatically generate a perfect online advertising campaign for your business in 15 minutes. If this was possible, people wouldn’t spend weeks on creating the perfect AdWords campaign when Google could do it in about 1/1400ths of the time.
All of the reasons that follow explain how and why AdWords Express doesn’t come close to AdWords.
Managing Your Campaigns
Standard Adwords allows you to setup your campaign exactly the way you want to. It also allows you to make any changes you wish whilst your campaign is active. This means, when your ad campaign is running, you can change things such as your bid per click, add new locations for where you want your ads to show and target new search terms you hadn’t thought of before. In a nutshell, AdWords gives you more, well, actually A LOT more control over the management of your campaigns. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy to manage your campaigns in the early days. There are so many different settings and features to learn about. But don’t worry, the best campaigns take time to build and grow.
AdWords Express on the other hand, is much easier as everything is automated. Once you have provided the absolute basics to Google during the initial campaign setup, the dawn of the robots begins. The ‘Google machine’ starts to optimise your adverts by adjusting your bids, keywords and ads automatically. You may be thinking this sounds amazing, but it really isn’t.
But why? It sounds so easy! Well, the main reason is;
Control… Or the Lack Of It!
On Standard AdWords, you call the shots on everything. Whether we’re talking about campaign setup or a live campaign, you can make any changes you want and at any point. So, if you think you are spending too much on certain search terms or you want to add a special offer to a few ads, then you can do that!
As for AdWords Express, you wouldn’t be able to do any of that. Not having control over your campaign essentially means that you don’t have control over how your money is being spent. With AdWords Express, you can’t control your ads or your settings. After you click that button to make your campaign live, Google basically says; “Go and put your feet up. Relax. We have your whole campaign under control. We’re analysing data and making tiny little tweaks every second of the day.” But can you see what data they are analysing and what tweaks they are making? Nope. Not one.
When you set up an AdWords campaign, you can choose where Google shows your ads. By this, we don’t just mean geographically (although, that is also the case), I mean whether it is on the Search Network, the Display Network or both! This is important because you lose a lot of control over exactly who is seeing and clicking on your ad on the Display Network. Although, there are still targeting options you can use on the Display Network to specify the type of websites or even the exact websites where your ads are shown. The joy of AdWords is that you can choose to just have ads that only display on the Search Network anyway.
But yet another one of the problems with Adwords Express, is the fact that Google automatically places your ads on both the search and display network. They will do so based on a general representation of your business. What we mean by this is; you choose a category for your business, give Google a couple of sentences you want to be shown on your ad and they do the rest.
If you sell vintage acoustic guitars for example, the category that you can choose for your business is guitar shop. Whilst this is close to what your business is about, it doesn’t truly represent your business. Consequently, someone searching for the latest and loudest amps for their guitar could be shown your ad. They could click on your ad and it cost you £3.00 and be off your site in a second, because they weren’t looking for vintage guitars.
Quick few words of advice; In online advertising, ‘close’ isn’t enough.
Time for yet another area where AdWords Express falls short…
As the goal of Adwords Express is simplicity, there are many tools available in Standard AdWords that are not present in AdWords Express. One of these is negative keywords. Negative keywords allow you to select keywords that you don’t want to compete for in the AdWords auction. This means that you can filter out clicks that aren’t leading to conversions and save yourself come cash! Unfortunately, with AdWords Express you can’t do this.
As you should have realised by now, AdWords and AdWords Express use the same Google advertising networks. Despite this, the ad formats are completely different. Google AdWords allows you to use; animated and/or static banners, engaging video adverts and text ads on Google and Google’s partner websites. You can also conduct A/B tests on standard AdWords to see which adverts or banners work best for your business.
In stark contrast…
Adwords Express is limited to display only the most basic text ads on Google’s websites and partner websites. This can have an enormous impact on the Click-Trough-Rate (CTR) of your ads. Think about it, would you click an all singing all dancing add with an attractive design or a few lines off text? AdWords express will also not let you use advanced ad formats such as video adverts on YouTube.
Whilst we’re on the subject of ad appearance, yet another limitation that you come across when using AdWords Express, is the fact you can’t implement ‘Ad Extensions’. Now, you may be sat there thinking you haven’t got a clue what an ad extension but I can almost guarantee you have seen ad extensions on Google. The example below shows you several different types of ad extensions (these are not the only ones, there are many more). Ad extensions can increase your CTR by allowing you to take up more space on Google’s search results. According to Google, having ad extensions can increase your CTR by 15%!
Remember: You can only have ad extensions if you use Standard AdWords.
These are extra lines of text that follow the description you use in your ad. They are great for including extra Unique Selling Points in your ad, without taking up more characters in your Ad headline or description.
These are additional links that you can put onto your ad to direct customers to certain pages on your website. You can have 2 – 6 sitelinks on each ad, which may include a short description. These can reap huge benefits for your ad as the more links back to your site, to more opportunities to gain clicks.
Seller Rating Extensions
These extensions represent 3rd party reviews with a star rating out of 5. These can be a beneficial addition to your ad, especially if you have a good seller rating. People may be swayed to click your ad if they feel that others hold your business in high regard.
Structured Snippet Extensions
These non-clickable extensions used to be automated by Google. Now you are able to choose what you would like to be displayed. This means you can tell your customer exactly what products/ services you offer. Thus, increasing the chance of you getting clicks if they are looking for what you are promoting.
So, that’s yet another disappointment for AdWords Express. As we’re coming towards the end now, there’s got to be another positive for the Express platform… Even just one?
Sadly not. It’s more bad news for the Express platform. And this time, it’s to do with the small issue of not being able to work out what Return On Investment you are getting from your AdWords campaign.
In simple terms, a conversion is when someone performs an action that is of value to your business as a result of clicking on your ad. This could be anything from filling in a sign up form, to purchasing your product. Think about it if you had 1000 clicks but no conversions, is that advert as useful as it could be? Probably not… You can achieve conversions through AdWords Express, however there is no way of tracking them. Whereas, on standard AdWords, you can implement ‘conversion tracking’. This means you can calculate the exact Return On Investment on your PPC campaign.
AdWords vs. AdWords Express in Summary
As you may have guessed from reading this post, AdWords and AdWords Express are similar in the sense you can get ads on Google. But that’s as far as the similarities go. AdWords Express is an over-simplified version of AdWords. We would absolutely always recommend AdWords over AdWords express, regardless of your situation.
But, if you’re struck for time, new to AdWords and feel that you need an online presence quickly, we would advise you to ask yourself this…
Would you rather; wait a few weeks and maybe fall slightly behind schedule with what you had planned and learn the basics of AdWords? Or, go for a quick fix, plump for AdWords Express and spend hundreds of pounds for possibly no customers at all?
We hope this post will help you to make the right decision for your business!