Are you running Display (Content) ads in Google AdWords?

If so you might want to read this:

If you haven’t been monitoring your placements report, you might want to pour yourself a stiff drink first…

I don’t normally post links to blog posts, except in response to questions from others. But this might be important for some people.

Great post. I have for now abandoned adwords (yet again). It’s just soo much time and risk at this point. I feel like you really need guru status these days to make a go of it.

It is definitely getting more complicated and more competitive every year. Better to abandon your campaign than not monitor it.

And a budget to match, right?

Given that SEO is basically GO at this point, I think social media represents the best opportunity for the little guy to gain traction.

But it seems like an ever-changing landscape. As one channel gets crowded out, a new one opens up. In that sense, this is a great time to be in business.

If you can show that you are getting >$1 in for every dollar you spend, then budget isn’t really an issue.

Even $100 a month can bring in a useful amount of traffic for a small business (assuming your niche isn’t super competitive).

I think social media doesn’t work very well for most software products. How are you going to ‘engage’ users of analytics, barcoding or inventory control software through social media? Rule of thumb: if it is the sort of things that friends might talk about down the pub, then social media might work.

True. See:

Thanks Andy, that was useful.

Your article solved another mystery for me. I have an app that has slightly naughty jokes. Not the type you’d share with your family :wink:

And yet I see ads for eBay, the Army, and even Christian organisations on it! And I’m like, don’t you know where you are advertising? But reading your article, it seems they really don’t know where they are advertising. In addition to the cost (that you mention), it also opens you to reputational damage.

Is there no way to switch off mobile ads completely, ie, only advertise on the Google search bar?

That’s hilarious. Please do post that in the comments to my blog post!

You can choose to only advertise on the search network. That is what I do. Also, if you follow the link I posted in the comments it tells you how to turn off display ads in mobile apps.

If you are in a competitive market it does take a lot of time (and money) to get Adwords working, but if you follow a couple of best practices (e.g. highly focused ad groups and landing pages) it can still be very profitable. We are competing with a lot of companies with bigger ad budgets but they aren’t doing a good job of optimizing their ads, so it’s still worth it.

That said, even if Google search ads don’t work for you, I would recommend taking a look at Adwords Remarketing. It lets you tag visitors on your website, regardless of where they came from, and show ads to them on other sites that use Google Adsense. It’s a great way to remind visitors that they should give your product a try even if they didn’t sign up on the first visit.

I recently had my site suspended from Adwords after five years advertising.

Truth be told, I never had great success with it, a majority of my sales coming from referral and organic traffic. But I was always minded to persist with it to lower the impact risk of my other channels being blocked.

However, this ban will just create more work for me. Google sent me a very general huge long list of things I-may-or-may-not-have-done-wrong… I’ve found a few things I’m probably not 100% on but I really have a lot of other pressing things to do.

I just hope they don’t start lowering my organic ranking. I was interested in trying remarketing but this has probably stopped that.

Andy - thanks for your advice on Adwords down the years. Early doors, I implemented your basic suggestions (stop traffic from certain countries etc) and all your advice worked nicely.

What sort of sins did you commit to get banned?

One or more of these sins: (that’s the list they sent me).

The ones I don’t follow are:

  • The ToS are not actually embedded on the download page (they’re in the installer though)
  • There’s not an uninstaller walkthrough on the site
  • The fact that it is a limited trial isn’t incredibly explicit

At least, that’s all I can see. Who knows, I may re-submit and be refused again.

They should be relatively easy to fix, shouldn’t they?


My reticence originates from the fact I never really got Adwords making good returns for me.

It is certainly easier to get AdWords profitable for some products than others. Ideally you want:
-a high ticket price product
-phrases that unambiguously describe what your product does that people are searching on
-not too many competitors bidding against you

But I think the main issue is that most people advertising on AdWords don’t take the time to understand and get the basics right:
-campaign settings
-match types
-negative keywords

I have looked at quite a few other people’s AdWords, and a lot of them were not well set up and not properly monitored.

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Hi guys, I’ve been thinking about giving AdWords a try for a while now. I have a free $150 that Google gave me to try it out, but I really wanted to start as an “informed” user, so I was wondering if any of you have any links to good articles or online courses on getting started with AdWords. I see a few courses on Udemy, but I don’t know about their quality. Any suggestions/links would be appreciated.

I started with Perry Marshall’s ebook. But that was about 9 years ago.

I just wanted to follow up on this for those in the same boat.

I made a few changes and re-submitted. I was rebuffed again BUT at least this time they specifically said what the problems were. I’m hoping I will now be allowed back in, once the problems are fixed.

So it might be worth doing what-you-can then trying again.

What are some good tools / books / templates / workflows /services for creating display (retargeting) ads that you have used to set up the display ads. I want to get more systematic about my ad creation. I do not like the Google Adwords display ads builder. I had my designer create a few ads with a PSD template. This was more of an artistic effort than a well thought out and structured ad. I briefly checked out Perry Marschall’s site, but I guess there other resources out there that have come up

Thanx Roland