What is AdWords Express?

Google AdWords Express, formerly Google Boost, is a stripped down and simplified version of Google AdWords. It allows advertisers to quickly display text ads to Google searchers based on the their keyword searches.

Google was pretty shrewd to create AdWords Express which provides an on-ramp to Google advertising that has a much shallower learning curve than launching into a full-blown Google AdWords account! At first glance, it all sounds fine and dandy. Who doesn’t love a simpler option?  The fact is – AdWords Express probably is giving thousands of businesses access to Google search that didn’t have it before, and many of them are growing because of it. But at what cost? And could they be doing even better? Or worse – is it hurting more people than it is helping?

Check out my video above to see how simple and time-efficient it is to setup AdWords Express. (You’ll also see some of the features of a full AdWords account that you’re missing out on by using AdWords Express.)


AdWords Express Setup In 10 Minutes?

With AdWords Express, you can literally create a campaign and have your ads displaying in Google searches in as little as 10 minutes by going through the steps of writing an ad, customizing settings like budget and target area, and submitting payment info. Compare this to Google AdWords where you could easily spend an hour or two learning the interface and setting up your initial campaigns. AdWords Express wins when it comes to pure speed and ease.

Create Ad - Adwords Express


AdWords Express vs Regular AdWords

So why does anyone use regular AdWords if AdWords Express is so easy to setup and use? Well, that’s what the rest of this post is really about…

Benefits of AdWords Express

  • You actually can create an ad campaign in 10 minutes!
  • Little or no ongoing management time needed
  • You can advertise without a website by directing people to your Google My Business page
Disadvantages of AdWords Express

  • No ability to organize account into campaigns and ad groups
  • Scant control of keywords – You can turn off keywords, but AdWords will choose which keywords to target
  • You set your budget, but cannot control cost per click directly. (Read more about setting AdWords budgets here.)
  • No access to advanced AdWords features like bid modification by device, AdWords experiments, automated bid strategies

Stats - Adwords Express


What is AdWords Express Costing You?

As you can tell, the list of benefits of AdWords Express is pretty short. As with anything that is designed to be quick and fast, quality suffers. Even though managing a regular AdWords account can seem daunting, it’s almost guaranteed to get you better results. This is especially true if you’re spending $300+ in an AdWords Express account.

The main opportunity for cost savings is due to the loose keyword targeting employed by AdWords Express. During the setup of your ads in AdWords Express, you’re asked to enter your product or service and link to your Google My Business page. Google then uses this info to target your ads to specific keywords searched in the Google search engine and other networks.

For instance, a local golf course may be getting clicks for people searching for golf products like gloves, clubs and balls, when what they really desire is golfers looking to play a round. If the golf course has a $300 per month spend, there’s a good chance that $100 was wasted on undesirable keywords. I’ve seen this myself in many accounts I’ve taken over.


Negative Keywords in AdWords Express? The All-Powerful Toggle Switches

It’s important to note that AdWords Express does give you some retrospective control of keywords. After search phrases generate views and clicks on your ad, you can view the stats as shown in the image below by clicking on “Manage All” in the Search Phrases box. AdWords Express advertisers should view this report at least monthly and disable keywords in the list that are generating clicks but are very vague one-word phrases or phrases that are not extremely relevant. Making this a monthly priority can improve your efficiency and get you better results from your ad budget.

In my own observations of AdWords Express accounts that are left unmanaged, it’s usually pretty easy to cut out 30% of wasted spend right off the bat.

Adwords Express Keyword Search Terms

Those ever-so-powerful toggle switches are enticing aren’t they? You want to click one but you can’t. It’s just a screenshot 😉 And it’s too bad, because turning those off can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars!

With a regular AdWords Account, you have much greater control use keyword match types and negative keyword lists to refine your keyword targeting and ultimately make sure you are not wasting money. Plus there’s a lot more you can do with a full AdWords account that I can’t cover in this post – things like adding negative keywords, organizing keywords into campaigns and ad groups, creating multiple ad variations, and so much more. You can see a few examples in my video above.


More AdWords Features You DON’T Get With AdWords Express

  • Remarketing – Have you heard about remarketing? It’s the much heralded feature in AdWords that lets you show display ads to people who have already visited your website. It’s a little annoying as Google user to be followed around the internet by targeted ads, but it’s much more enjoyable to be on the other side of it as an advertiser. As a re-marketer, it’s amazing to be able to get extra impressions with the people that have already had one contact. I’ve used it in many client accounts and found the cost per conversion often to be much lower. Interested in remarketing? If you’re using AdWords Express, you’re outta luck because it’s not included
  • Conversion Tracking – If you don’t know what conversion tracking is, check out my video overview here. Conversions are positive actions taken on your site by visitors like sales, phone calls, contact form submissions, etc. Tracking conversions is crucial to leveling up your success with AdWords. AdWords Express will track click-to-call phones calls directly through your ads, but you won’t be able to track much more than that. You’ll need to upgrade to regular AdWords to kick your conversion tracking up a notch.
  • Network Control – Google ads can show on different networks including google.com searches (called Search Network), other search partners, youtube.com, and the Google Display Network. Controlling where your ad is shown is critical to your success and with a full AdWords account you can create separate campaigns and budgets for each network. With AdWords Express, it’s all automated so Google will show your ads on any of these networks (except YouTube). In my experience, a lot of the clicks from AdWords express come from the Display Network which is typically cheaper per click, but often produces lower quality results as well.


Don’t Want to Manage Your Own Full AdWords Account?

If you’re convinced that you need to use a full AdWords account but know you don’t have the time or expertise to manage it, you might be interested in my PPC Management Service. Check it out now because I’m only accepting a limited number of clients.

No matter what option you choose, I wish you the best in selecting and utilizing the right AdWords account for you and your business! Comment below and let me know what version of AdWords you’re using, how it’s going, and any questions you might have.

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