Google Adwords is often the joy or the frustration of many a marketing conversation. In this article, I will break down some of the key metrics behind Google Ads, how it came onto the scene, and why it stormed the playing field to become the Monolith of PPC.
Google Ads statistics
Google Ads (previously Adwords) is singly the largest, most dominant PPC platform in the world.
Google Adwords processes more than 250 million clicks per day and over 300 billion impressions per week.
The average conversion rate for Search Ads across all industries with Google Ads is 4% and for Display and YouTube Ads the average conversion rate is 1.5%.
Google Ads has consistently outranked all other self-serving advertising platforms in terms of share, revenue, volume of traffic, and users.
Here is a comparison of the market share of Amazon, Facebook, and Google in net digital ad revenue in the United States from 2019 to 2023
When did Google Ads first start?
Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, first started on October 23, 2000. This date marked a line in the sand for digital marketers around the world, as this was the birth of the first ever self-serve online advertising platform – Google AdWords. Advertisers can access the platform online and use it to set up advertising campaigns on various channels, such as search engines, social media platforms, and display networks. It was initially launched with 350 advertisers and was designed to allow businesses to place text ads on the Google search engine results page. The platform quickly gained popularity due to its ability to target ads to specific keywords and demographics, as well as its pay-per-click pricing model.
How did Google Ads attract such a large user base?
Google Ads attracted a large number of advertisers and publishers due to the volume of traffic in the search engine. Adwords practically piggybacked onto the search engines' success.
Google technically did a few things very very well. This attracted a large user base due to several reasons:
- Accuracy and Relevance: Google's search algorithms are designed to provide accurate and relevant search results to users. This helped users find the information they were looking for quickly and easily, which led to a high level of user satisfaction.
- Simplicity: Google's simple and easy-to-use interface was another factor that attracted users. The search bar and the uncluttered interface made it easy for users to perform searches and find what they were looking for.
- Speed: Google's search engine was known for its speed and efficiency. Users could perform searches quickly, and the search results would be returned in a matter of seconds.
- Innovation: Google has always been at the forefront of innovation, introducing new features and services that have kept users engaged and loyal to the platform. For example, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Assistant are some of the innovative products and services that have helped Google retain and expand its user base.
- Trust: Google has earned the trust of users by maintaining a high level of data privacy and security. This has made users feel comfortable sharing their personal information with Google and using its services.
Thanks to the amassed volume of users this created data that was the fuel for the perfect self-serve pay-per-click advertising platform.Jason Pittock, Founder @ Yugo Media
Google Adwords exploded thanks to the volume of data points Google provided and the quality of results.
Over the years, the quality of data has been questioned and hijacked some of the initial outsets, but overall Google has retained its user base and feeds the advertising machine with more and more data.
Why did Google grow faster than Facebook (Meta) Ads?
Google still outranks Facebook Ads (Meta), Bing, Amazon, and others. Although Google has suffered a churn rate through the last few years, specifically during the pandemic, Google has remained ahead of Facebook (Meta).
Timing: Google Ads was launched in 2000, much earlier than Facebook Ads, which was launched in 2007. As a result, Google Ads had a head start in building its user base and expanding its platform.
Search Ads vs Social Ads
Search vs. Social: Google's platform is primarily focused on search advertising, which is based on user intent and targeting specific keywords. This makes it easier for advertisers to reach users who are actively looking for their products or services. On the other hand, Facebook Ads is focused on social advertising, which is based on user behavior and interests. This can make it more difficult for advertisers to target users who are likely to be interested in their products or services.
Ad Formats: Google Ads offers a wide range of ad formats, including text ads, display ads, video ads, and shopping ads. This gives advertisers more flexibility in terms of how they can promote their products or services. Facebook Ads, on the other hand, primarily offers display ads and sponsored posts, which may not be as effective for all types of businesses.
The “Monolith” Advertising machine
The word Monolith comes from a large vertical rock. According to Webster “a single great stone often in the form of an obelisk or column” or “an organized whole that acts as a single unified powerful or influential force”.
I feel the latter describes very well Google Ads as the most powerful and influential PPC platform that has ever existed.
Frustration With Google Ads
Google has been committed to growing its PPC platform at all costs. This has come with collateral, and many Google advertisers often express their frustration in relation to customer experience, user interface changes, and even campaign nuances (bidding, targeting, etc) that continually evolve.
Google has shown very little compassion to advertisers when changes happen, “they just roll out” knowing that the platform users will stay, and if they churn, they most likely will be replaced.
I have been part of a respected but elusive PPC group for the last 3 years (contact me if you want to access) and in December 2022 I ran a poll of the top reasons that users are frustrated with the platform:
- Cost: Google Ads can be expensive when compared to other platforms (Meta, Amazon, Reddit), and the cost per click for some keywords can be high. Especially in industries related to Software, Healthcare, and others. This can make it difficult for small or emerging enterprises with limited budgets to compete with larger advertisers.
- Competition Density: Google Ads is a highly competitive platform, and advertisers may find it challenging to get their ads in front of their target audience. This can lead to lower ad impressions and click-through rates, which can negatively impact ad performance.
- Changes to the platform: Google Ads is constantly evolving, and advertisers may find it challenging to keep up with the changes. This can lead to confusion and frustration, particularly if the changes negatively impact ad performance.
- Limited control: Despite offering a self-serve platform and a Google Ad editor which acts with advanced rules and scripts, Google Ads still has limitations in terms of the level of control advertisers have over their campaigns. For example, advertisers may not be able to target specific placements on the Google Display Network or may not have access to certain targeting options. Google has recently changed its contextual targeting strategy which will also limit users with their targeting strategy.
- Ad fraud: Ad fraud is a growing problem in the digital advertising industry, and Google Ads is not immune to it. Advertisers may be frustrated with Google's efforts to combat ad fraud and may feel that their ad spend is not being used effectively.
Overall, while Google Ads is a powerful advertising platform, it is not without its challenges, and advertisers may become frustrated with the platform over time. Scalability is the largest challenge and having the right account structure, clear goals and defined roadmap will help reduce the volatility and bumps in the road.
If you are interested in talking with me or the Yugo Media team about your Paid Media management, reach out and request a free PPC audit