If you have been running or considering Google Ads for your small business take note that they are changing.

2021 has seen another significant shift for Google Ads towards automated campaigns run by AI. The ‘Smart Campaigns’ are now being pushed as their main offering, with the gradual phasing out of all options for manual campaign control.

Is Google Ads an option for your Business?

While Google suggests this is good news for small business – making it easy for anyone to set up an automated campaign – it is likely to mean reduced results on small budgets and the need to increase Ad spend (some agencies suggest campaigns under $3000 per month are already seeing reduced results1).

It’s possible that many small businesses won’t even be able to effectively participate, for a number of reasons:

  1. Need Input: the AI system requires large amounts of existing click and conversion data to establish a campaign (a minimum of 100 conversions per month, every month2), this immediately disadvantages users with smaller budgets.
  2. Long-term Commitment – The longer your campaign runs, the better the AI can fine-tune your ads. Starting and stopping, or editing campaigns will interrupt the machine-learning and seriously reduce performance.
  3. Big Business Competition – The more data you generate, the more efficient your campaign, meaning the higher your ROI – essentially, the more you spend, the more effective the campaign, which gives big business clear opportunity to dominate.
  4. Conversions – Smart campaigns are set up to target ‘conversions’, which means you can’t just aim for clicks any more but must use conversion metrics.
  5. Larger Spend – More campaign data essentially means more spend. To compete, small businesses will need to increase budgets across the board, not just in total spend but also accept higher cost per action rates.
  6. No Freedom – For some niche businesses, specific customisation or differentiation is a key aspect or their marketing, however, with no manual control, this will no longer be possible via Google Ads.
  7. Hidden Data – While Google wants more data about your campaigns, they’re not going to give it to you. The platform continues to reduce the data available to the user, for example, you’ll no longer see all search terms related to your ads, just the most searched.

This ‘black box’ approach from Google: ‘pay us to run your ads, and we will… without showing you what we are doing or how we are doing it’ sounds a little like a conflict of interest to us, after all, Google’s business decisions are going to be focused on profits not on helping your small business.

If you’re using Google Ads make sure you’re informed, explore other options and re-evaluate your marketing objectives.

Wholistic Marketing

So, Google Ads might not be a viable option for your business, there are plenty more opportunities to run successful online campaigns.

The best way to approach digital marketing is actually not to think ‘I want to run Google Ads’ or ‘I want to run Facebook campaigns’, but to start from the beginning:

  1. what do you want to achieve?
  2. who is your target audience?
  3. what is your budget?

By forming a basic strategy, you can evaluate all marketing channels and find activities that will give you the best return on the budget you can afford to spend.

Want to explore your options for digital marketing? Talk to us today. Contact Us