Google Ads: what is it and how to use it?

Google Ads is Google’s advertising platform designed to help brands promote their products and services on the SERP and other services offered by Google by reaching a specific target of users. Read the article to find out how to create a campaign and the types of ads available.

Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is the advertising platform developed by Google to manage advertisements within the most used search engine in the world, its services, including Gmail and YouTube, or on partner sites. Launched on the market in 2000, Google Ads offers a wide variety of formats and types of advertisement, giving companies the opportunity to promote their services and products in the best possible way to a specific target of users.

Through Google Ads, companies can create relevant ads by offering users what they are looking for at a given time or based on the interests or recent searches carried out by them. As the following example shows, when a user searches for a keyword (in this case an iPhone), they will see a series of relevant ads before the organic results.

In its first twenty years, Google Ads has made great strides, becoming the main source of revenue for Google as well as the world’s leading platform with the largest number of advertisers. In fact, any business, regardless of its size or budget, has the opportunity to take advantage of this platform.


How the Google Ads auction works

When we create an advertising campaign, it is up to Google Ads to determine when and according to which ranking to show our ad. The platform is based, in fact, on an automatic system similar to a real auction: whenever a user searches on Google or visits a website where ads are shown, Google Ads decides which ads should be shown to that user and their placement. The three factors on which the auction is based are:

  • Budget: when we set up an ad, Google Ads asks us to select the maximum amount we are willing to spend per campaign.
  • Quality: Google Ads takes into account the relevance and usefulness of our ad and the website it links to. The quality rating of our campaign can be monitored in the “quality score” section of the platform.
  • The expected impact of ad extensions: when we create an ad, we have the ability to add extensions, i.e., additional information, such as phone number, or other links to specific pages on our site. Google Ads evaluates the impact that the extensions inserted will have on users, deciding where to show our campaign.

Therefore, it is essential to create an effective and relevant ad, capable of capturing the attention of our target.

How to create an advertising campaign on Google Ads

Creating an advertising campaign with Google Ads is a very easy and intuitive process, as the platform allows us to design an ad following a guided path. This includes choosing the goal we want to achieve, the type of campaign to carry out, the most appropriate format for the message we want to convey, the keywords for which we want our ads to appear, as well as the most appropriate budget for individual needs.

Let’s see step by step how to create an advertising campaign.

Select the goal

The first step to creating an ad on Google Ads is to identify our goal. This way the platform will personalize the ads to help us achieve the desired results. The selectable objectives are:

• Receive calls, for example to book appointments or obtain further information;

Example of personalized ad according to the selected goal.
  • Increase shop visits;
  • Call to action on the website (subscription to the newsletter, e-commerce, fill out a form, etc…);
  • Increase sales;
  • Increase leads;
  • Increase the traffic on the website;
  • Increase brand awareness.

Choose the ad coverage

In order for our campaign to be successful, it is advisable to select the right target of users, who may be interested in our products and services. Google Ads offers companies to choose the place in which to show our ad: we can set the distance radius from our store if we want, for example, to attract a greater number of potential customers, or a wider geographical area, or select entire countries.

Choose the right keywords

This is one of the basic steps in creating an effective ad. Often, the success or failure of a campaign depends on the keywords we have chosen and their relevance to our business and the selected target. To create a successful campaign, the keywords must match the terms that potential customers might use when searching for the products or services offered.

Identifying with the customer is the main step to take to understand the terms and phrases that our customers could type in the search bar. If our company sells women’s sports shoes, we will need to identify all the expressions that users might be looking for. We will then choose generic categories such as “women’s shoes” and “women’s sports shoes” and then move on to more specific word strings. An example, along the lines of the previous one, could be “casual shoes for women”, reaching a more targeted audience.

It is a good rule to find the right balance between the two types of categories: choosing very generic keywords could make it difficult to intercept our potential customers, as the ad could be shown in searches not related to our business. Furthermore, the more general keywords are often the most competitive and therefore have a higher cost. At the same time, using only extremely specific and niche keywords could be counterproductive, as the user does not always start with such a specific search intent or type in the exact keywords we have chosen for our ad.

Google also offers several match options, determining how well the keyword must match the user’s search query in order for the ad to be considered for auction.

Broad match is when ads are shown for searches that are related to our keywords, but which may not include those terms. This type is set by default and is designed to show the ad to a larger number of people with the aim of increasing the traffic on the landing page as much as possible.

Using phrase match, the ad will be displayed when searches include the meaning of the keyword. With this type of match we can achieve fewer searches than with broad match. However, these will be more relevant to what we offer.

With exact match, ads that have the identical meaning to one of our keywords will be shown. Exact match gives us the most control over who sees our ad, but reaches fewer users than previous matches.

Google also offers the ability to spot negative keywords match. When we choose to use this type of keyword, we tell Google to exclude the terms or phrases that we do not want to associate with our ads. Returning to the previous example, if we sell women’s sports shoes, we may not be interested in showing our ad to those looking for “men’s sports shoes”.

Finally, we further complete our keyword list by entering the names of our brands and products. A common practice among companies, but often frowned upon, is also to insert the name of the brand or the products of the competitors.

Choose the right advertising format

Google Ads allows us to create effective advertising texts and eye-catching images, supporting us in creating the best possible advertisement based on our advertising and marketing goals. Here are the main types of Google Ads campaigns:

Search campaigns

These are only-text advertising campaigns, which appear at the top of the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). To differentiate sponsored content from organic results, the former features the “ad” label. Therefore, when a user searches on Google, if there are active advertising campaigns with keywords related to what the user is looking for, the sponsored results will be shown first, followed by the organic ones.

This type of text ad consists of a maximum of 3 lines and a clearly visible URL that shows the domain of our site. In the short teaser it is advisable to insert the most relevant keywords in order to increase the quality and ranking of our ad. It is also possible to insert a call to action to invite the user to perform a certain action.

Display campaigns

Display ads are another type of advertising campaign that is very popular among advertisers as they reach 90% of Internet users worldwide. This type of ad is displayed on affiliate portals through the Google AdSense program and its services (for example, Gmail and YouTube).

Display advertisements include a wide range of formats (leaderboard, large rectangle, medium rectangle, skyscraper, etc.). The advertiser can choose the type of website on which to show their ad or even select a specific website from those affiliated with Google.

Example of banner on a Google affiliate website.

Google Shopping

Shown both in the SERP and in the Shopping section, Google Shopping campaigns consist of an image of the advertised product and a short string of text that provides users with information about the product model, cost and seller.

Product sheet displayed within the SERP.

Gmail Ads

These are advertisements that can be viewed in the Gmail inbox of a selected user based on different targeting criteria. If the user clicks on the ad, a page very similar to a real email will open, complete with text, images or videos.

YouTube ads

The video format is becoming increasingly popular thanks to its ability to attract the attention of users and convey a message to them in a more direct and captivating way thanks to the combination of images, text and sound effects.

These ads are typically shown on YouTube before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or at the end (post-roll) of an organic content.

Set a limit for our budget

Google’s advertising platform allows us to set our daily and monthly spending limit in order to choose how much we want to spend. During the progress of the campaign, it is possible to monitor performance and make real-time changes to the budget according to the performance of the campaign.

However, even before proceeding with the publication of the campaign, Google Ads will show a forecast of the results we will obtain based on the budget, the number of users to reach and the type of campaign.

Google Ads uses three costing systems. The most famous is the pay per click (PPC) system, i.e., the advertiser pays only when the user performs a certain action, for example, if they click on our ad to visit the website, call our store or view directions to reach it. However, there is the possibility of setting campaigns based on the cost per mille (CPM) system, which determines a fixed cost per one thousand impressions, and on the smart bidding, a system based on machine learning that tries to predict the trend of each auction.

Monitor the results

Last but not least, it is very important to monitor the progress of the campaign through the reports that can be viewed within the platform. This information is extremely useful both during the campaign, to check if there are changes to be made to improve the performance, and at the end of the campaign to see if the ad has achieved the results we wanted and draw conclusions create even better ads in the future. If we realize that the campaign is not giving the desired results, it is even possible to stop it permanently or pause it for a certain period of time.


Now that we know how it works and what types of ads Google Ads offers, all we have to do is put theory into practice and start creating our first advertising campaign on Google.

As we have repeated many times, in marketing there is no perfect recipe: we need to experiment to understand what our target is most interested in, which are the most captivating formats for our potential customers and how to best manage the budget to reach the right target.

EOS can help you achieve your goal by creating the advertising campaign that best suits your needs. Discover our digital marketing services and contact us for more information.

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Since I was a child, my school career has been driven by a passion for what I wanted to do when I was grown up. So I graduated in modern languages and cultures at the University of Pavia and now I'm studying journalism and communication at the University of Bergamo. Today I do what I like most: I work in the technical publishing industry dedicating myself in particular to social media and digital marketing at Eos Mktg&Communication, the publishing house of the international ipcm® magazines. If I had to describe myself in three words according to my hobbies and interests, I would say: globetrotter, shopaholic and motorsport-addicted.

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