AdWords Tips

Google AdWords Express Review: Is Google Express (AWExpress) Right for Your Small Business?

By Tom Demers August 11, 2011 Posted In: AdWords Tips Comments: 25

Table of Contents:

I’ve been somewhat wary of new AdWords features in the past here on the blog, and have warned that sometimes what Google labels as a panacea answer to a longstanding pain point is either more of an opportunity for Google than for you or not as complete of an answer as it seems at first blush. It probably shouldn’t be any surprise that – like most people who make their living optimizing paid search accounts, among other things – I have a healthy amount of skepticism when Google offers to just make everything super easy! So we thought we’d do a deep dive into the product formerly known as Boost: Google AdWords Express.

What is Google AdWords Express?

Google Express is the next step in a natural progression by Google to try to simplify AdWords for smaller advertisers:

  • CPC bids allowed you to designate what you wanted to pay for a click – Google would figure out your actual cost, but you could tell them the most you wanted to pay for each click by keyword.
  • CPA bidding via conversion optimizer and bidding options such as enhanced CPC were the next step in this evolution – rather than simply setting a bid at the keyword level, you were ceding a bit more control to Google to move bids around and go over or under your designated CPC if it looked like it made sense based on Google’s data.
  • AdWords Express – Rather than saying you’ll pay X for a click or you’ll pay Y for a conversion, just tell Google what you have to spend every month and they’ll figure out the rest. Paid search without keywords for small businesses is finally here!

How does Google AdWords Express work

The general idea is that you set up an incredibly simple campaign that includes nothing but:

  • Your category
  • Your ad headline
  • Your ad description
  • Where to send people (send them to your site, or better yet: send them to Google’s site!)
  • A maximum monthly budget (don’t worry: Google will even give you a highlighted recommendation if you’re unsure. It’s in green, so you know it’s the good one.)

Here’s how this looks as you walk through the sign in:

AdWords Express Sign-In

The sign-up process is actually somewhat un-Google-esque in that despite the fact that you need a places page to use Google Express, it’s actually a fairly smooth process to get started whether you have a places page or not. (The standard Google login issues persist otherwise, though – if you’re an agency or just use some combination of Webmaster Tools/AdWords/Google Analytics/Gmail for multiple sites with multiple people you know how maddening and confounding the account permissions can be.)

Once you’ve created your ad and designated how much you want to spend, that’s pretty much it. You can monitor activity on your places account in your places dashboard, and you can look at your standard AdWords billing set up in the billing tab of your places account:

AdWords Express Billing

If you want to actually do a deep dive to figure out where your money’s going, that’s where things get a little clunky. You can click the link to edit or deactivate the ad shown above and scroll down to the bottom of your ad and deactivate, or you can jump over into AdWords to view billing and more specific activity in your account. This will open up your AdWords account, but it’s basically “read only” and you can see the keywords being bid on but can’t make any changes (sort of like a shady PPC agency that won’t let you see your actual account but sends you reports every month):

AdWords Express Ad Groups

Here are the segmentations being created for our Arlington-based SEM agency. We have business name, business name Arlington, business name Wellington and Harrington (a local neighborhood), business name internet marketing, etc.

We’ve only created one ad but Google has assured us that they will “create other versions using content you provide in Google Places,” though of course it’s not really clear what that means.

So Is AdWords Express a Bad Idea for SMBs?

Obviously I’m not as bullish on the execution as Google is, but believe it or not this may actually make sense for some small businesses, particularly local ones. Some things to note about the campaign above:

  • This is pretty poorly constructed. If a PPC campaign manager created these keyword combinations and ad groups, applied the same generic ad that he or she asked you to write to all of them, and just ran an algorithm to manage bids (and refused to let you make any changes or additions, and did his or her best to keep you from getting too much actual insight into what was going on in the campaign) they would be labeled by most (and probably even Google) as shady at best.
  • This work isn’t done by a competent PPC campaign manager, because by and large competent PPC campaign managers don’t work on $50-$750 per month PPC spends.

The economics of percent-of-spend pricing, pay-for-performance PPC pricing, and charging a fair flat rate for your expertise make it generally impossible for a PPC expert to work on micro-sized accounts. Even software and services companies like WordStream that offer affordably priced PPC management software and pay-per-click management services aimed at small to medium-sized businesses have service offerings that start at 50-100% of those budgets, because to get a competent PPC consultant to work on your account you simply can’t charge any less.

So if you’re a small, local business that can’t afford more than a few hundred dollars a month you need to evaluate the following:

  • Do you know enough about AdWords to “do it yourself”? If not, can you invest a sum of money to have someone perform a PPC audit? If that’s something you can afford, it might be worth it to invest a month or two (or even more) of spend in getting a professional to take a deep dive into your account, set it up using best practices, and hand you some specific instructions for self-maintenance over time. Alternatively if you can invest time in learning AdWords and managing the account yourself (and then evaluate your performance with the free AdWords Grader tool), that may also be an option, but be careful not to over-invest with your own sweat-equity when you could be better leveraging your time in other areas of your business.
  • Can you afford to run Google Express as a test? If yes and you’re spending only a couple hundred a month, this might be worth it. If you set the campaign up and it does better than you were doing yourself or if you set it up and with no intervention on your part it performs profitably for you and does better than other marketing channels, you very well may be better off letting Google manage your small spend and focusing on other responsibilities.

Ultimately, whether to use Google Express or not is a business decision: does the time savings from Google Express, the results it generates, and the savings on paying someone to manage your account add up to a net win for your business? On monthly spends anywhere in the thousands I think this will rarely (if ever) be the case as the product is currently constituted, but if you spend a couple hundred bucks a month it may actually be a viable option.

AdWords Performance Grader




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Comments

Thursday August 11, 2011

Adam Kreitman (not verified) Said:

Good overview, Tom. I'm very hesitant to recommend AdWords Express for any small business owner willing to spend more than a few hundred dollars per month. The algorithm just isn't that good and SMBs using AdWords Express are bidding on a lot of irrelevant keywords and often overpaying for relevant ones. It's a step in the right direction...Google needs to make AdWords easier and more accessible for the SMB. But they need to align the algorithm more closely with the SMBs interests or they risk creating a lot of ill will toward Google AdWords in general.

Thursday August 11, 2011

Kathy Alice (not verified) Said:

Great post. While I agree with you that leaving it up to Google to manage seems a bit scary, it does seem that it's a good solution for those smaller spends as you point out. Of course if you have a crappy landing page (or do what many SMB do and just point PPC to their home page which has no compelling call to action) then having Google manage it for you doesn't really help.

Tuesday August 16, 2011

Scott Harvey (not verified) Said:

Sounds like a good deal for Google, and a bad, or at least very risky deal for the advertiser. Writing effective PPC ads isn't easy. Giving Google control of my keyword selection and matching, and my bidding, could get expensive and maybe not very productive. I've spent, and wasted, a lot of money learning PPC. Just throwing out a budget, and leaving the rest to Google just doesn't sound wise. It's early, but does anybody have any success stories yet?

Thursday August 18, 2011

Nigel (not verified) Said:

Now I am a big fan of Local Geo-targeted Adwords for small business as the low competition can drive relatively low priced clicks to a local business owner. I do implement Google Adwords to compliment Local SEO campaigns. However, this service by Google looks like they are taking advantage of clueless business owners. The idea of driving paid traffic to a Google places page is a waste of money. That and no control over keywords, ad groups, landing page - And letting Google manage your bid price is a very scary thought, shady is an understatement. I would love anyone to give me a link to stats to prove me wrong. I strongly believe that this is not in the best interest of local business owners and will be recommending my clients against trying it. The money you would waste on Adwords using this tool would be better spent on SEO for Local Maps or building yourself a decent website on wordpress optimized for Organic Search.

Sunday September 18, 2011

Rod (not verified) Said:

Hi.  Nice article.  Thanks you. 

I’m a sole proprietor consultant operating a construction industry consulting business. 
My business is a small niche in a very big pond.  None of the standard Google Keywords fit what I do
and a client wouldn’t search for me using any the keywords Google provides.   I think Adwords would
be a fairly good tool if you’re operating a mainstream business of some sort, but for a niche business
like mine, it can’t be fine-tuned enough to be useful.

Thanks, Rod 

Friday November 18, 2011

Nicholas (not verified) Said:

Having played around with normal adwords i expect this adwords express to be similar to creating an ad on normal adwords of very low quality and setting it to broad match. To me, it looks as if google are keen to get people signed up depositing money, but they don't seem to comprehend that they are close to pricing themselves out of the market. Lets say you are a local plumber and you set up adwords express in five minutes, you deposit the minimum of £100.00 (which is quite a high minimum £50 would be better) your ad is going to have a lesser quality score than the people using proper adwords because it will be appearing for broad match, thus eating your budget in no time and delivering visitors who are not really as targeted as they should be to a site being promoted intentionally. People looking for jobs will most likely trigger your ads, people looking for cheap, free, all the negatives you would apply to a normal campaign will be costing you click budget. To me this is literally something to entice people who already tweak around with a google places listing, who have yet to use real adwords. Waste of money as far as i can see, i shall be giving it a miss.

Monday January 16, 2012

Adrian Cameron (not verified) Said:

I have an adwords account targetted for my business and I thought relevant keywords. I bolted on adwords express to see if there was any value added. I'm frustrated that there is no ability to alter keywords (why do I want my postcode targeted???), but one real plus was the opportunities results linked to my adwords express campaign. The results I got back were very relevant and useful and I have adopted them into my main adwords a/c. What is slightly strange is that Google's estimate of price paid and clicks likely to be generated over a timeframe is way off the mark. I have received very few clicks, emphasising the inadequacies of centrally managed, unwieldy ppc campaigns... my budget looks like it will last months.... I'm trying it to see what it brings back... so far the suggested keywords have been immensely useful, don't think click results will match, but at least I've tried it!

Saturday February 11, 2012

Fresh Web Seo (not verified) Said:

Great article on Adwords Express. I know Google is quick to hand out the coupons for the free hundred dollars for it.

So I  was kind of wary of it at first also. Still not quite sure if it is a good thing either, but I appreciate the post.

Wednesday February 29, 2012

James (not verified) Said:

As tired as I was right now and how quickly I scanned the info, Ithought this was pretty Dammn Informing.

 

Thanks I'll check it out more later

Saturday April 21, 2012

Ian (not verified) Said:

 Google launched AdWords Express earlier this year and said it was the easiest way to advertise on Google.

The sell was simple; everything is managed automatically, which ensures your ads are only being shown to people who are looking for what you have to offer.

To explain the concept, Google AdWords Express let use the example of a flower business in Birmingham, citing that if a user were to perform a search for “flowers in Birmingham or simply “flowers,” and that person happened to be located in Birmingham, your ad would be displayed.

Sounds great, a breath of fresh air maybe.

Google AdWords Express differs from traditional Google AdWords in the sense that it's specifically tailored to local business that don't have a lot of time to invest in PPC but see the value of advertising on Google.

As a PPC enthusiast, there are some significant concerns that local businesses need to take into consideration to ensure their budgets are being spent efficiently with Express.

There are some great benefits to using Adwords Express, but be sure to consider the pros and the cons as they relate to your specific business and industry. If you need to launch a PPC campaign within your local region quickly and are more concerned with reach and speed to market, then Express has the ability to drive local searches for your business without much time and effort. If you are concerned with quality, efficiency, and optimization though, ask yourself if traditional AdWords is the better option. In the end, it’s you who defines your business, so it should be you who defines your ad campaign, not an assumptive based algorithm.

Monday September 24, 2012

Jared (not verified) Said:

Yes. Google AdWords is no doubt a scam.  You place trust in a respected provider only to have them steal money from your bank account after shortly setting up your information.  Worst business ethic ever.  I wouldn't ever consider using an AdWords Express account anytime in the future.  Terrible support service, and two faced business dealings give them a a ingestive number on the rating scale.

Regards,

Dissatisfied Client

Tuesday March 25, 2014

Mike (not verified) Said:

Google Ad Words Express is flawed and they owe us Money!!!

Express creates a cash grab at the end of the month for Google to line Google’s pockets with leftover budget money.

Example and my scenario:

I set up google Ad Word Express to a daily average budget around $8 plus a max of $200 monthly. Google starts to charge around $8.88 a click until the end of the month when it’s servers go into a money grab and start to outbid each other for an average of $20.66 a click in the last five days to yield all of my budget?!?!?!

I got 7 clicks for 8.88 each and 3 click at the end of the month of $20.66. I caught it before it took more the $124.00.

This can’t be just me because the system is designed to work automatically and outbid itself. This is controlled by google, for google, at the expense of us, the small business owner.

Sunday December 02, 2012

Serge - House Cleaning Fort Lauderdale (not verified) Said:

Great post I'm thinking about using adwords express for my cleaning business, but it might be better to learn adwords and do it by myself and will be cost effective in the long run.  Thanks for sharing great post.

Sunday December 02, 2012

Serge - House Cleaning Fort Lauderdale (not verified) Said:

Jared thanks for the heads up I just saw ur comment.  I'll keep away from adwords express.

Sunday December 16, 2012

Ann Druce (not verified) Said:

Very helpful, thanks.  

I'd also like to point out that it would be naive to assume that Google Ad Words is going to have a clear understanding of your objectives!  They are not offering a full strategic analysis of your business objectives – unsurprising if you look at their rates.  They are, however, very likely to have a clear understanding of their own,

It is in their interests to supply a good service and grow the Ad Words revenues.  But each advertiser will have to take responsibility for their own campaign parameters and costs.  Caveat emptor.

It is in their interests to supply a good service and grow the Ad Words revenues.  But each advertiser will have to take responsibility for their own campaign parameters and costs.  Buyer  beware!

Sunday January 13, 2013

Wayne (not verified) Said:

Dont bother with adwords expess  !they have not support, iIMO opion the made adword (the one you do yourself intentionally slow ) to make you use expess. Got a few clients but get more from letter box drops !! Use your brain and use other things like gumtree ect with cleaver wording to get yourself seen. They constantly put me in catorgries i'm not associate with, if you get a click and it cost you say 86 cents then have 40 other views in yours field or other because you got a click that day they will use this as an excuse to charge you another 40 cents time about 4 cents = $1.60 so you get a bill for $2.40 odd. Not happy, their is no way to control anyone else (your competion) from clicking and wiping you off the map for the day, no support to stop word being used, word close but in a completly differnt service/shop. You cant directly email them, you just a number. You cant call end up in a call centre in india, they cant help you, dont know anything, cant call a real person even in your own country, cant email, cant do anthing to contact them. It's a complete joke. If you want to be successful your better off buying a domain name tha match exacts those word you think they will search, eg. Brisbane gold shops use BRISBANEGOLFSHOP.COM.AU for a few dollars and set up a new website and direct traffic from your current  site to there IMO. Wont ever use them again, waste of time, made a few clients but just be sure of what your getting yourself infor, a $200 dollar bill to get $200 of sales and no support at all, use Google adwords if you have to use anything but NEVER adword express !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Wednesday February 13, 2013

I was scammed (not verified) Said:

Just like the above users stated - Google Adwords Express is a SCAM!! I cannot believe Google engages in such SHADY BUSINESS PRACTICES as this type of "advertisement". They only allow specific, generic keywords. These keywords are some of the highest-costing keywords there are. They then put small businesses up against very large business to compete for the same advertising space - whether those other businesses are in your area or not! This drives up the cost of each click. We were paying over $19 PER CLICK on Adwords Express. I just saw it, and they do not want to give any money back, of course. Note: Regular Adwords DOES work well. It allows you to be very specific with what you do, and if you're local you can put the name of your city with your service. We asked for a $3.33 per day maximum. Google took that as an indication that we WANTED to get one click at $19 every 6 days.... Do NOT be fooled by Google. Do NOT trust them to "do it for you" with Adwords Express! They WILL scam you and waste your money.

Sunday March 03, 2013

Patrick Murphy (not verified) Said:

Is Mrs. Obama paying for the ad on the google search engine page, or are the taxpayers? If she is paying fine, if the taxpayers are supporting an agenda whithout thier permission then NO.

Monday March 04, 2013

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Actually you are paying for it.

Thursday August 29, 2013

pete (not verified) Said:

Don't use adwords express unless you want to get burnt! You have no way to control/limit how much google charges you per click. one click might be $3 the next $12, and no, you can't stop the $12 dollar click from happening, (i.e. there is no upper per click spend limit)

You can't choose a per day spend even though the setup makes you think there is a limit, you can only set the monthly spend, so google can spend your money when it likes, such as making sure everyone bids on the same crap keyword on the same day to up the keyword competition amount. I also find it hard to believe that such fluctuations happen on the per day basis when you have to take a monthly spend out which would indicate that the biding should be fairly stable.

If you take the $100 free spend, you have to go on automatic payments, and this is where they get you. All of a sudden your per click cost goes up and you owe google your monthly spend for something that sudden blows your ROI (return on investment)

If you have any issues with your billing, there is no easy way to talk to someone. There are no email addresses, phone numbers, no contact details at all if you have a complaint. It took me 2 weeks to get to someone who was sort of responsible for accounting. I emailed the google sales-person who roped me into the account, and they said it wasn't their department. I just spent 55 minutes talking to someone at google (Indian call centre) who basically said "sorry, too bad, you have to pay the money, there is nothing I can do"

Google has had a massive FAIL on adwords express. Stick to adwords if you HAVE to advertise with google is my 2 cents worth.

 

Wednesday September 11, 2013

Wally Wong (not verified) Said:

I sure wish I had read this before signing up with Adwords Express! Just a heads up, when removing your campains to "no" campains does not stop Google from not charging you. You must first delete any billing information and delete your account and hopefully that will work. I hate my six month experience with Google Ad-words!

Wednesday November 20, 2013

Rob (not verified) Said:

Been running for just over a week  over 10.000 views approx 45 clicks.

Any new business? NO!!.I t was the same with normal adwords lots of views and clicks but hardly any business.I don't think I will

I will contiue with it after the first month.We have even had those who "Guarentee top of first page on Google which they did but to no avail.

Thursday February 13, 2014

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

I signed up for an adwords express campaign because I received a coupon from google saying that if I bought 25 bucks of advertising they would give me 100 dollars of advertising.

This sounded like a great deal so I did it.  A week later: Google has deemed my site as violating its policies and have threatened me with suspension of my account.

The bad part is that I cannot simply cancel my account, they say I must fix my site to adhere to their standards, resubmit and resume paying them or my account will be suspended indefinitely and all other accounts I own or open for the rest of my life will be suspended.  

Google did not do a good job of making their strict guidelines known to the people who do business with them and frankly I feel like I was phished into working with them through the coupon they sent me, and now I feel like I'm being blackmailed into paying them to do something I no longer want them to do. 

My business is legitimate but I face a nightmare of reworking my website.  I have been working on this for a couple of days while receiving harrassing emails that continue to threaten me with suspension and remind me that canceling my service will most likely result in my account being suspended.

It's bad enough that this corporate monster is the NSA's little b****, but to bully your customers is just f***ed up.  I will never advertise my business with google again.  I fear suspension because I have other businesses that could benefit from other services that google provides, but be careful when working with google, and unless you've got some serious knowledge and training on their policies, lawyer up before you pay a cent to these f***s.

Obviously I'm infuriated with this situation.  I just can't believe it and I'm just wondering if there is anyone else out there who has had this kind of experience with this service.

Wednesday March 05, 2014

Alex Lee (not verified) Said:

There is little doubt that Google's goal with this low-rate card is to induce AdWords advertisers to spend more, while collecting the associated finance charges will be a welcome additional source of revenue. While there is no denying that an 8.99 percent APR is a very low one, a card with a rewards program will still be a better option for advertisers who pay their balance off at the end of each month. 

Sunday April 20, 2014

AnonymousPaul (not verified) Said:

Have been so frustrate with Adwords Express ----- Have no control over the cost of each click so I pay manually and when it gives out  don't add more especially at the end of the month when the CCP see to skyrocket.

I also have a problem with "phantom" clicks. I use Google analytics and seem to always get more clicks that I "pay" for than analytics says I actually get. Seems like if they are going to steal from you they would make their programs coincide. Maybe that's the reason that now they want you to link your analytics account with express.

I find it hard to believe that anyone in my line of work would pay $4 per clack for this service but that's what express calculates the "bids" are.

IMO its a rippoff and they are DIRECTLY stealing by overcharging AND charging for clicks that did not happen.

Bunch of F---ing crooks.

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