AdWords vs AdWords Express for Auto Dealers
You’ve probably gotten one of these in the mail. You finally verified your Google Places listing (via 2-3 week postcard [damn you auto-attendant!]) and you received this Google AdWords coupon in the mail teasing you with $100 in free advertising. What’s to lose? It’s free money! Right? The intent behind these promotional gift cards is to get you hooked into Google AdWords Express (formally Boost), which is affectionately known by SEM Professionals as “AdWords for Dummies.” For many auto dealerships getting started with automotive SEM
, AdWords Express is a great way to test the waters. However, before you stick your toe in, it’s a good idea to understand the differences, benefits and weaknesses of both AdWords and AdWords Express.
- Easy Set-Up: Four steps. 10 minutes. That’s all it takes. There is no search term analysis, no KEI calculations, no keyword research. You don’t even have to worry about starting bid prices. Google does all the critical-thinking for you by calculating a monthly budget based on search volume. Just commit to how much you want to spend and Google will do the rest for you.
- Automatic Targeting: Google will take the categories you have specified on your Google Places page and automatically show your ad for those searches in your geographic location. Simple.
- Automatic Bidding: Google will also automatically adjust bid prices so there is no more examining specific keywords to see which ones you are willing to spend some more dough on. You get a 30,000 foot view of budget control, but, unfortunately, don’t get the granular control you may want over cost per click.
In addition to these benefits, AdWords Express also allows you to edit your ad titles from the business name (default setting) to whatever you want, assuming it adheres to Google’s Editorial Guidelines. You also have the ability to create multiple ads for each business category. Even more convenient is that all of the metrics can be seen from the Places dashboard.
Though offering certain benefits, AdWords Express also has severe limitations. For instance, your ads only show up in the business categories you select for your Google Place, which is limited to five. You won’t be able to run a variety of model-specific ad campaigns. Google, unlike a PPC manager, takes the Ron Popeil method of “Set it and forget it!” They make assumptions about your business and let it run its course. They are the ones in the driver seat of your campaigns. There isn’t a rep overseeing the monthly changes and patterns and adjusting settings accordingly. Even though Google automatically geo-targets searchers, you don’t have the ability to target customers in other geographic regions, a huge negative for an exotic car dealer who ships worldwide. The biggest bummer, however, has to be the fact that you don’t have the ability to add negative keywords to block your ad from showing up in unwanted searches.
- More Targeted: AdWords allows you to control which landing page your visitors will see based on what keyword they searched, Express does not. This is a huge factor when looking at your conversion rate and ROI. With AdWords Express, you have to assume that your homepage has a strong enough call-to-action to convert.
- Ad Extensions: Ad extensions, an AdWords exclusive, give your ad additional lines of text and the ability to stand out or offer more links. Four types of ad extensions exist in AdWords: Location Extensions, Call Extensions, Ad Sitelinks and Product Extensions. Sitelinks, shown in the photo below, allow you to display additional areas of your site that might be relevant to the user’s search query. A good sitelink extension for the search “2012 Honda Accord Greenville, SC,” might include a link straight to the inventory, a page with Accord specials and a research page. In our findings, Ads with Ad Extensions get clicked on four times more often than those without them.
- Conversion Tracking: AdWords allows you to track conversions, Express does not. Sure, it’s great to be able to say “Wow, we received 500 clicks this month,” but unless you can pinpoint how many visitors actually turned into leads, those numbers are just for vanity. Thankfully, AdWords lets you do just that, even letting you see which specific keyword is generating the most conversions. This is, without a doubt, the biggest advantage that AdWords has over AdWords Express.
- Display Network/Remarketing: You’ve seen them: the image ads that follow you around the Internet based on your search history. That’s Google’s Display Network, and it’s not available to Express users. The advantage of the Display Network is that not only can you target people on the websites they most frequently visit, but you can also target people who have visited your site. Known as remarketing, this tactic allows you to target a user who viewed your Camry inventory page with Camry-specific ads, keeping your dealership’s name in front of the customer while they continue their shopping process. Automotive remarketing campaigns are a very powerful tool, and it is only available to AdWords users.
Because AdWords gives you total control of your campaigns, it doesn’t lend itself well to pay-per-click (PPC) neophytes. It’s very easy for beginners or DIYers to become overwhelmed with keyword lists and various campaign settings (not to mention burning through funds from choosing too many broad keywords). For the best ROI, having a PPC professional or SEM company set-up your AdWords campaigns and oversee it is the best option, which also happens to cost money (usually through a management fee).
AdWords Express is a kiddie pool and AdWords is the deep-end. If you want to execute a triple Lindy
and make a huge splash, you’re gonna have to shed the swimmies and head to the deep-end. Whether you choose AdWords Express or AdWords, a search engine marketing campaign can supplement your website’s organic traffic and increase unique visitor traffic to your site, which only leads to more leads and sales. If you aren’t currently running any PPC campaigns, we suggest you start. Choose wisely. March 21, 2012