An Improved Google AdWords Express?

Google’s pitching their AdWords Express program to small business owners again. They’d been kinda quiet on that front for a while, but they recently made some enhancements to the program. And now they’re out trying to get business owners to sign up.

According to Local Search expert Mike Blumenthal, the new features include:

  • Business owners can now choose a radius (of up to 40 miles) where they want their ads displayed
  • They can now point their ad to a custom landing page (Google used to limit this to the home page)
  • More ad types including mobile ads and image ads

Those are some changes that seem to be in the right direction. BUT (you knew that was coming!), the fundamental issue with Google AdWords Express has not changed…

In exchange for ease of use, you give up A LOT of control over your AdWords campaign.

With “regular” AdWords, you can:

  • Get very precise in the geographic areas you target (you can do it by radius, city name, metro area and/or zip code)
  • Choose the keywords that you’re bidding on in the campaign
  • Control bid prices so you bid more for your most important keywords to ensure a better position in the rankings
  • Write multiple ads and split test them so you improve performance over time and learn what messages, offers, etc. get the best response
  • Decide whether your ads appear on Desktop/Laptops, Tablets and/or Smartphones

There’s another caution I have about the new options for AdWords Express. They’re offering image ads which only appear on Google’s Display Network (this is when your ads appear on websites that run Google ads like

Display Network is a very different beast from Search Network. It requires a different bid strategy. It requires different keywords. It requires different ads.

And the traffic from Display is often much less targeted than traffic from Search.

If, as it sounds is the case, Google is now showing AdWords Express ads on the Display Network, that’s a big red flag.

Lastly, Google’s also promoting AdWords Express as a way to grow your business’ followers on Google+. Unless you have a proven system for converting followers into customers, this is a BAD idea.

I’ve used FB ad campaigns in the past to get Likes on a FB page. It’s really hard to justify the costs of clicks for a campaign like that.

So, while I’m glad that Google has added some features that give advertisers a little more control over their AdWords Express campaigns, if you’re gonna use AdWords, just use AdWords. Skip the Express.