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Are fewer small businesses using AdWords?
annej

WebmasterWorld Senior Member annej us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 5:49 pm on Jul 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have a hobby related site and use AdSense. Ads from small online businesses were especially interesting to my visitors as they sell the hobby supplies. These small business ads have decreased.

I'm wondering if there is a reason. Have recent changes in AdWords affected small businesses? Or is the sinking economy the cause?

 

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 7:13 pm on Jul 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I believe that AdWords has become too complicated and intimidating for a lot of small business owners.

I've taken over accounts for small businesses who just couldn't afford the time it takes to learn how to do it right, and the various nuances of the search network, the content network, quality scores, etc.

Sure, Google offers that 'starter edition' - but basically that's just Budget Optimizer, and that lumps Search in with Content, no geo targeting, and sets an absurd maximum CPC amount. I recently took over two small business accounts that were 'starter editions' - one was for a local roofer, and the other for a small skydiving business. Both were on the verge of giving up AdWords completely, because they were racking up all these costs and didn't know how to set it up correctly, nor how to analyze the results and fine tune. In one case, I found the 'auto' generated bids set to $3.82 per click; when I took it out of starter edition, I was able to set all the bids to $.30 and maintain a #2 ad position with great quality scores. That's just irresponsible on Google's part - no wonder the clients give up on it.

I went to an AdWords seminar last year that was billed as an intermediate-to-advanced course, but it was filled to the brim with end users who knew it was going to be above their level, but it was the only seminar that's come to our area so far, and they were *desperate* to learn more about managing their AdWords accounts. All of them had regular jobs to do, and not enough time to devote to a system that just grows more and more complicated and that feels weighted against the small business person.

I ended up giving out more business cards and getting more business myself out of that one seminar just on the basis of the questions I was asking.

No, I don't think it's the economy at all. Small businesses are *desperate* to be able to join the party. But I think Google has made it too difficult, costly, and intimidating for them to join, or keep going with their accounts. Not all of them can afford people like me to help out.

(And I realize pointing this out is somewhat against my own interests, because it's for this very reason that I get clients, but on the other hand, I'm booked solid, and this is something Google really needs to pay attention to)

My opinion, anyway.

Lord Majestic

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 7:22 pm on Jul 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I tried AdWords 2 years ago and recently again and found the same problem - getting cheap clicks or even any decent number of clicks for much higher bids is not possible (for the niches I tried to cover). And when you throw into this quality score, inactivity of words etc then things get even worse.

KatieScott

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 1:19 am on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I was back home in Louisiana with old high school friends who started up a small business that sells school uniforms.

They loved the idea of advertising online. When I set up their account eyes glossed over - it was too much data to take in.

I showed them the possibilities on the iSpionage interface and their eyes lit up again.

re: cheap clicks - I was able to get my friends 'cheap clicks' on long tail regional keywords such as 'slidell high uniforms', position 1.2, CPC .50

Green_Grass

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 11:26 am on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

AdWords is too complicated.. Been saying it for a while. AWA pointed out the link to the starter edition last time I said that, but that is quite bad as netmeg pointed out.

Adwords needs to ease thing for the genuine small advertiser. To do so will involve a less complicated 'small business inteface' with a easy to approach customer service ( humans) who can guide and help with the QS stuff..Small business a/c need to be flagged as such and some QS leniency needs to be shown..maybe with a spend limit in force..the QS can be applied with more flexibility to small accounts making it easier for small guys to advertise.

Google must get good quality small advertisers on board. That will be beneficial for them and also for the content network.

If they keep waiting for someone else to show the way.. That is not their style... I think.


netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 12:58 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Actually, some well thought out changes to the way the starter edition works would probably cover a lot of it. Definitely should set the Content network to a separate campaign and optional. I know there are other things, but I've never set up a starter account, so I don't know what all's there. All I know is what gets passed on to me is a mess.

Also - the learning center is great for those of us who spend most of our days in AdWords, but they need a less detailed, more results-oriented version written for end users that are new to the game.

JamieBrown

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 1:22 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think that beyond the technical complications many smaller businesses are being priced out of the market by big brand bidders. These bigger brands are (at least in the UK) finally cottoning on to the benefits that online marketing can provide to their whole business, beyond direct online sales. I wouldn't like to be a small company that depends on PPC these days - I think their positions are going to go down and down as more and more larger organisations jump on the bandwagon and start funding online marketing with massive brand budgets and multichannel targets.

RhinoFish

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 3:28 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

"Both were on the verge of giving up AdWords completely, because they were racking up all these costs and didn't know how to set it up correctly, nor how to analyze the results and fine tune."

LOL, been my experience too. Some of my clients, ppc management and ppc consulting ones alike, don't understand how to track the source of their sales at all - I don't mean multi-touches or cross channel issues, I mean they have no idea where their sales are coming from at all. I often find them flushing huge tons down the Yahoo toilet and their AdWords efforts under utilized, like they started with overture a long time ago and then stopped learning or refining or even changing anything.

Consulting opportunities here are very deep.

And I think it's so easy to be done completely wrong, that many small biz's have trouble sorting it all out. Consider the noise that goes into the ears of the small biz owners - scammers calling them daily about seo and ppc "services"...

RhinoFish

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 3:31 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

"I think that beyond the technical complications many smaller businesses are being priced out of the market by big brand bidders."

The beauty of AdWords, to the small guy, is that relevancy, not size of company or pocketbook depth, largely determines your success. The opportunities for the small biz are larger than they have EVER been before.

And I absolutely love it! It is literally a dream come true.

JamieBrown

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 4:56 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

The opportunities for the small biz are larger than they have EVER been before.

I'm glad that you find it true in some industries. Certainly in the sectors that I am involved in the big guys are taking over where the pureplay online retailers used to dominate. Market share is rapidly moving from the SME to the Corporate. Maybe its just that my markets don't have such a huge opportunity for long tail activity - I hope so.

It feels like another form of globalisation!

Lord Majestic

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 5:11 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think this game is fundamentally not small business friendly - only a handful of ads can show on one page, so if 2-3 big companies compete then its okay for them, but ultimately small businesses number many times that number, but only handful of them can get their ads shown in competitive areas. Perhaps if we talk about small business in a specific geographical location then in this case it might be great, but otherwise I think this system of advertising, just like casino, has just one ultimate winner - the house and some big pro players.

fenway

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 5:26 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Adwords has to work on the immediate $1, $5 and $10 min cpcs. The tool being too complicated for a new sme owner is only one factor. I understand the need to weed out the irrelevant/arbitrage businesses, but I've seen a lot of legit small businesses almost bail because of this as they think its hopeless after a month or two. They simply believe that "Google hates me." I have to constantly remind them that they don't hate you, they just hate new accounts and you just happen to be a new account right now. Then I have to say it again a month later. The ones that have hung there, woke up one day to Great Quality scores and .04 min cpcs. The others will probably never know.

IMO, they should at least tailor the min cpc's better. Blanketing $1, $5 or $10 over an entire account comes across as unscientific and careless and simply screams "pay us an entrance fee regardless of your relevancy." This has been going on for years. With all of the other amazing features that have been added, I find it hard to believe that this couldn't happen. Maybe it is being fixed and I don't know about it.

By the way, this is the case not only for sme's with smaller budgets, but larger companies starting new accounts, with really large budgets.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 5:49 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think it's more that Google needs to specify more clearly what's causing these minimum bids - where is the quality/relevancy problem (landing page, ad, keywords, what?), why did these bids go to $1 while these other bids went to $10, etc, what do I work on first to get my account going again, and so on.

I know Google doesn't like to give out this information, and in many cases their document is either poorly written or deliberately vague, but if they don't address it, small business is out of the picture. They don't have time or patience for the frustrations of it, or the money to throw behind fixing it.

AdWords is hard enough to keep up with when it's *working*.

AdWordsAdvisor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member adwordsadvisor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 6:08 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is an outstanding thread.

Lots to consider and learn here - and I'll be passing these thoughts along to quite a number of folks here at Google, tomorrow.

Thanks to all for these thought-provoking posts, and I hope the comments continue for a while.

Best,

AWA

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 7:27 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, just consider. A year and a half ago, when I went to my seminar, it must have been obvious after a while that I was more advanced than the other 70 or so people, because I was the one asking slightly more advanced questions. At break time and lunch time, I had little clouds of people following me asking questions about AdWords - two followed me into the bathroom! I ran out of business cards by mid morning, and at one point when someone asked for my email address, I gave it and an entire row of people wrote it down. I sat down to lunch in the restaurant and we had to bring more tables around to accommodate everyone . Contrary to what you might think, it was *not* my scintillating personality that drew all this attention - these were all small businesses, usually 10 to 20 people in size - some of whom drove or flew hundreds if not thousands of miles to be there - all of whom were desperate to improve their AdWords presence, but didn't have a clue how to make it work, let alone work *well*.

If Google wants to attract these types of people in droves, they need

- more end user seminars

- better documentation written to the level of the clients, not the GAPs

- Improvements to the Budget Optimizer (options that are already *there* - they just need a switch flipped for Starter Edition!)

- Better transparency/troubleshooting help. Small businesses don't want to know about Quality Score. They want to know WHAT SPECIFICALLY they have to do to get their ads running again.

That's where I'd start, anyway. There's more could be done than that.

trinorthlighting

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 10:39 pm on Jul 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

The people in our niche who no longer advertise have either went out of business or their business is really hurting due to the economy.

I bet you will be suprised to see that some of the sites that used to advertise, are no longer in business.

annej

WebmasterWorld Senior Member annej us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 4:58 am on Jul 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm thinking that the people Nutmeg talked about at least went to a seminar. How many more small businesses don't even know such seminars exist much less could they afford to go to them? Those are the advertisers I want. Not because they will bring in a lot of money but they are the ones that will get the clicks. My visitors don't want to look at generalized ad from a well known department store chain nor to they want to "win" something or the other in some scheme. They want specific supplies, patterns and even workshops and retreats. So these are the ads they will click on. When I lose small businesses I lose clicks.

There is the added factor that it's better for the reputation of my site if I can avoid trashy ads no matter what they might earn for me.

I'm so glad to see that AWA is taking a look at this thread. AWA has Google ever considered having an ad system where niche websites could get niche small business ads? I hate to think everything could go big business and the little guys will all disappear.

RhinoFish

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 2:10 pm on Jul 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I nominate this Netmeg gem for post of the year:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I think it's more that Google needs to specify more clearly what's causing these minimum bids - where is the quality/relevancy problem (landing page, ad, keywords, what?), why did these bids go to $1 while these other bids went to $10, etc, what do I work on first to get my account going again, and so on.

I know Google doesn't like to give out this information, and in many cases their document is either poorly written or deliberately vague, but if they don't address it, small business is out of the picture. They don't have time or patience for the frustrations of it, or the money to throw behind fixing it.

AdWords is hard enough to keep up with when it's *working*.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

G has its reasons for being tight lipped, having been gamed by so many for so long, but the tight lipped approach is trading off policing for making their paying advertising customers frustrated.

I'm confident that I know the system very well (compared to the typical SME) and I get frustrated with the lack of feedback.

I have given examples here and they slough off into the ethershpere.

Perhaps once in a while, actual people from Google should have a face-to-face with someone like me or netmeg or give us a channel to submit specific examples that are SCREWY and are just EVIL, or at least appear to us unanswered folks here, to be that way. I appreciate the AWA channel here, I truly do, but my specific examples get input and I get no feedback on them and nothing changes - I understand why, but again, the frustration factor builds in me. It's safe to assume many others don't have the vested interest or drive or even learned tolerance for pain (I'm being funny here too, we're not saving lives) is much higher than the typical adwords client.

You've got to look at the effect that tight-lipped-ness has on your business and its customers.

[edited by: RhinoFish at 2:11 pm (utc) on July 24, 2008]

namniboose

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 9:27 pm on Jul 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is a very interesting thread to me. Having used Adwords myself for several years I have decided to set up accounts for local Realtors as I am familiar with the keywords.

I soon discovered that quite a lot of Realtors had already tried Adwords but given up, no doubt because of all the reasons mentioned in this thread.

My own ads are not showing for dozens of totally relevant keywords that I have bid on above minimum bid (and the account is several years old).

Customer service keeps referring to 'low volume keywords' but it REALLY DOESN'T MAKE SENSE for ads to not show when they are searched on just because they are not searched on often.

Why would 'bed and breakfasts on maui' not show my Maui Bed & Breakfast ad when someone searches on that? This is really screwed up.

To me this is Google malfunctioning and it makes me wonder how I am going to fare setting up accounts for other regional businesses where the search volume will be low for many keyword phrases.

For Realtors, one clickthrough can bring a big commission and the more specific the keyword the more likely the sale.

Most realtors here are not willing to pay $5 per click for generic phrases like 'Maui Real Estate'.

AdWordsAdvisor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member adwordsadvisor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 1:02 am on Jul 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yesterday, I said:

Lots to consider and learn here - and I'll be passing these thoughts along to quite a number of folks here at Google, tomorrow.

This is now done.

I've included a note about the value of reading this very thoughtful thread - along with the URL - in this evening's Advertiser Feedback Report. This report is read by a great many Googlers who are very interested in hearing verbatim feedback from advertisers - and who, as a result, have actively asked to be subscribed.

Many thanks.

AWA

namniboose

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 3:20 am on Jul 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

That's great AWA. I'm so glad you are listening!

Aline

AdWordsAdvisor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member adwordsadvisor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 3:37 am on Jul 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

That's great AWA. I'm so glad you are listening!

It is truly my pleasure, Aline. Thanks. ;)

AWA

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 2:34 pm on Jul 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

(I'm not sure why this thread wasn't promoted to the home page; I'd have thought more people might want to read and/or comment on it)

moftary

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 3:21 pm on Jul 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I was going to start a new thread asking for advices for AW starters but it was nice to find this thread.

Yes, the system although features-rich but it is too complicated for a starter and data grabbed from keywords suggestions, traffic estimator, maximum budget, etc.. make small business starters very frustrated that they would give up the system in a couple of hours.

My adwords account is a few years old and I never used it but one time, a couple of years ago, with a few dollars budget over a couple of months and yes I managed to make a few conversions and the overall result was a success.

But the thing is back then all I had to do is to pick up a couple of very highly targeted keywords, setting CPC to the lowest I can get and daily budget to the maximum suggested one and starting the campaign.

Now when you try to be a serious advertiser, picking hundreds of suggested relevant keywords you get absurd CPCs and daily budget. You try to go with a reasonable daily investment to start with but you find out that this investment will get you no where to appear or to compete with other professional advertisers. Eventually you will think "I am not good enough for this".

I know my market is one of the most competitive markets, but the idea is the same; no matter what your market is you will still be beaten by the deep pockets professional advertisers when you are a small business starter advertiser.

shorebreak

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 5:49 pm on Jul 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

A firm called AdGooroo put out an SEM research report last month (titled "Search Engine Advertiser Update - Q208") and which has some data that I think is relevant to this topic. Specifically, they have a couple charts showing month-to-month and year-over-year rates of change in # of advertisers on Google, Yahoo and MSN.

What's interesting about the data - other than it's the only data I've ever seen that attempts to quantify advertiser count in search - is that it shows that, among those three, Google's share of total advertisers peaked June '07 and then declined moderately until January '08; since then it's had only a slight recovery and has been stable through June '08. Back to annej's original post - this data is saying that G's growth rate in the SME market has at least stalled relative to Y! and MSN if not declined relative to them.

annej

WebmasterWorld Senior Member annej us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 12:22 am on Jul 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't care if it's Google, Yahoo or Microsoft but it would be great if some large company could come up with a ad system for small businesses and small websites. Maybe it's just not worth their time but it would be great if something like this could happen. It needs to be someone large to attract enough ads and advertisers for well matched ads to sites.

Surely these companies could easily tell which are small time content sites and businesses simply by the numbers of pages and numbers of ads. Small timers have neither the time nor resources to put out thousands of pages and run thousands of ads.

We could have a simple system that kept out spammers and poorly targeted ads. We don't have the time to block either spammy ads or spammy "content" sites. We just want something easy that will bring in some customers for our small businesses and some ad income for our content sites.

cryaya

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 7:49 pm on Jul 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

i haven't read the entire thread yet but to speak the truth i like this topic to bits. i'm a small business owner and i'm really about to give up on adwords. i guess i've been silly in playing the adwords game and i have wasted tons of my time. i'm thinking of hiring some experienced adwords professional to manage my account and i really hope this will bring me a better position to win this game. i hate adwords because they don't bring me a good roi and their cpc system's too complicated.moreover, as a starter, how could they expect me to set a minimum bid like $5 just in the effort to make my ads appear on the 1st search result page and then to compete with my gaint competitors? i know i should blame myself for being stupid to manage my own account tho. i do tend to think that adwords hates me.

moftary

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 2:49 pm on Jul 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, cryaya. I am in the same pair of shoes..
How do you intend to hire an Adwords professional?

I am not aware of any marketplaces for such.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 2:54 pm on Jul 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

There's a huge marketplace for such.

Do a search for "Google AdWords Professional" - there's a certification process for people who do this for a living. It's also known as 'search engine marketing' or 'SEM'.

But whomever you contact, get references, and google them to see if you can find anything out about them first. Be wary of anything that sounds like it's too good to be true. And don't let them talk you into spending more money than you're comfortable with, even to start off. Oh, and they should also be able to hook you up in Google Local Business if you're not there already. And I would also ask if they have any other clients in your industry. Personally, I won't take a client in a niche if I have an existing client in the same niche for conflict of interest reasons, but some customers like someone with experience in that niche, so it's up to you - but you should know what you're getting, either way.

(And no, I'm not trolling for business, I'm currently overbooked)

Hmm, this gives me an idea for a new post.

fenway

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3704692 posted 3:43 pm on Jul 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

ditto netmeg.

If you are going to hire an individual, self-employed Adwords Professional, simply ask for a resume, as well. Especially if you can't find anything on them from a search.

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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