Does AdWords Express Sabotage Small Business Owners Before They Even Get Started?

White Shark Media

8 years ago



AdWords Express is yet another effort from Google to ease AdWords management for SMB’s – to the point where it is all automated.

Sound too good to be true? It is.

The idea of having an automated AdWords account that runs its own and produces passive income every month sounds enticing to all of us, but as far as I’m concerned it’s not possible.

After receiving a number of Google Ads Express campaigns during the last couple of years, I’ve decided to gather our experiences with them in this blog post.


Selling AdWords Express

The benefits presented by AdWords Express are enticing to any small business owner. The official selling points are:

Let us do the work: Select a business category, write an ad, and set your budget. AdWords Express will automatically manage where and when your ads will appear.

No website required: Send customers to your free Google+ business page, or have them call you directly with one click on your ad.

Only pay for results: You are only charged when users click on your ad for more information. Set a budget that can be adjusted at any time.

These three benefits are perfectly crafted to make the platform of interest for business owners who don’t have time to manage their own AdWords campaign, who have already tried to run a campaign and given up, or who don’t trust getting help from a third party.

In my experience, AdWords Express is essentially the same old AdWords platform but with less flexibility. It reminds me of the Yellow Pages phenomena from years back. Everybody wanted their business on the Yellow Pages, but when the numbers began to drop those same businesses jumped on board with any new directory selling them a spot. Whether they or not they had tested this directory was irrelevant, they just hoped it would work this time.

It’s the same with AdWords Express. Advertisers who paused their regular AdWords campaigns due to lack of results are now trying out AdWords Express because it promises what they’ve always wanted: automatic AdWords optimizations for free.


The Reasons Why your AdWords Express Campaign Is Failing

I’ve observed four main reasons why most AdWords Express campaigns fail miserably and they all tie back to basic best practices for successful AdWords advertising:

1) Keywords Are Chosen Automatically Based on the Selected Industry

AdWords Express states that you don’t have to choose any keywords if you don’t want to because the platform bases its selection off the Google Places categories you’ve chosen.

Here at White Shark Media, we run both AdWords campaigns and SEO campaigns, so we know the keyword selection for the two campaigns is very different.

It would be great if we were in the top 3 positions for the SEO keyword “learn AdWords”. However, I would never pay for clicks on these keywords, because White Shark’s services extend beyond that. The same occurs with your Google Places account. You will most likely have chosen a few categories that match your company, but it is not certain they will fully match the services you offer.

What is certain is that you will experience plenty of irrelevant clicks AdWords Express.

2) All “Keywords” Are Broad Match

In AdWords, there are four different keywords match types:

  • Broad Match
  • Broad Match Modified
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match

According to AdWords best practices, you should only use Broad Match if you have experience managing this type and have a specific strategy for optimization in place. In AdWords Express, all keywords are set to Broad Match, which causes your ads to appear on a number of irrelevant search queries.

To give you an idea of how bad the irrelevance level can be, we invite you to review this list of search queries compiled from our clients’ accounts. All search queries resulted in a click on an ad and some of the clicks had a cost of up to $20 per click.

Bottom line: Broad Match is the only match type that all AdWords experts routinely recommend new advertisers not to use. At the same time, this is the only match type that AdWords Express campaigns utilize.

3) No Option for Negative Keywords

Right after only offering Broad Match keywords comes the fact that you can’t exclude any keywords. Without the possibility to exclude searches you’re basically paying for a bag of groceries from Google, that can be filled up with everything they want – whether you want it or not.

4) No Tracking Options

Being an AdWords agency that is extremely focused on track, a lack of this feature is one of the biggest flaws that currently exist within AdWords Express.

While you can normally enable Conversion Tracking or call tracking in your AdWords campaign, AdWords Express campaigns only rely on impressions and clicks to let you judge the performance.

You always have the option to ask your customers where they found you, but a vague response like “I found you on Google” is rarely enough to really find out how they came to find your company.


Who Can Squeeze the Juice: An AdWords Professional, AdWords Express, or You?

A final word of advice is that if you have a high budget of $500 a month or more, I would recommend you go with an agency or attend a course on  AdWords management. If you are spending under $500-$600 per month on AdWords Express I would recommend you stick with that.

It all comes down to finding the person who can get the most out of the budget available to them. Is it you, an AdWords professional, or AdWords Express?

So that’s my advice to you! As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns write them in the comments section below or shoot us an email.

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