As the world migrated on digital platforms for news, socializing, business and beyond, advertisers have flocked to virtual spaces to grab our attention. With 3.5 billion social media users worldwide, companies are spotting obvious opportunities by creating content in a space that the majority of their customers already congregate. Facebook is still the obvious market leader for social media platforms, but YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok, LinkedIn and various others hold strong demographics that may better fit various brand niches. These free-to-use platforms are fully aware of their selling power, and as such there are powerful advertising tools available for businesses to bid for impressions such as views, clicks, likes, shares and sign ups.

If you open the Facebook App on your phone, you're likely to experience a 'sponsored' post after every 4 posts on your newsfeed. Switch to Instagram, it's roughly the same.  

We may even take interest in one of these adverts, and be directed to their website - where we spot yet more adverts within the webpage. Then, we might want an unbiased review of the company advertising to us, so we resort to google searching for peer based reviews; As we search the company name on google, more ads appear- perhaps both the company itself and their competitors.

For the consumer, we wonder how quickly we'll tire of ads, becoming desensitized to sponsored content and automatically mentally dismissing it. For the business, we constantly battle with data to analyze whether our advertising spends were good investments, which can be particularly difficult to assess in campaigns that don't have a return-on-investment conversation mechanism.

How then, do we decide where to advertise, and how much to spend?
And why, are we- at Mäd -championing Google Ads as a smart investment?


We'd certainly not suggest that every business, every decision and every scenario will benefit more from one universal form of advertising than others. Of course, it'd be logical for an engagement campaign to be ran through social media as you are narrowing focus purely to a particular piece of content.

However, this insight aims to offer digestible reasoning behind positive gains available from Google Search Ad campaigns.

The Information Highway.

Turning to an encyclopedia for information is now, largely, a method from a bygone era. If people need a piece of information, fast, the go-to route is the newly (2006) established verb of 'googling' it. Such is the adaption to speed and ease, that users will rarely scroll past the first page of google results for their information- instead opting to click one of the top options, or to consider changing their search. With this in mind, companies fiercely compete to have their website rank in the top spot for google searches, which is why SEO has become big business.

SEO Services, rank your website on the first page with our help.
Beautiful websites deserve traffic. Search Engine Optimization allows you to compete in a crowded online market and stand out on the first page of results among thousands of potential competitors.

In the year 2000, Google introduced a shortcut for businesses. Google Adwords (Now Google Ads). This platform allowed advertisers to list a website at the top of a page of search results, with their own custom information in the style of a regular search result. Whilst clearly labelled as an 'ad', the advertiser could set up the search result advert to offer the user an exact answer/match to their search query- therefore being relevant and helpful rather than a spam-like cold sale.

Add to this, that whether we like it or not, the digital data gathering boom of recent years has led to some companies claiming they can harvest up to 5000 data points on any individual. These data points can then access exactly how to advertise to someone most effectively, based on their interests and behaviors. You may have started your day thinking about buying new golf clubs, and before you know it, a golf-related advert appears when you're next using the internet.

If you're unfamiliar with how Google Ads work, the immediate bewilderment surrounding how advertisers appear to mind-read and predict what you're looking for may be overwhelming. If you have your own product or service, then Google Ads can act as a catalyst to a huge spike in sales, enquiries, engagement or whatever your end goal may be. It's a powerful, complex tool in it's full usage, but at it's core there are highly accessible options available to all marketers.

Getting Started with Google Search Ads.

Firstly, it's important to reinforce one common misconception about Google Ads, a truth that offers high value for your spend.

You don't pay for adverts to display.

Yes, this is correct.

We could take out an Ad and have it seen by 1000 people, without it costing us a penny. This is the power of pay-per-click.

Pay per click means literally you only pay for those that click on your adverts. If people view your advert but don't choose to click on it, it won't cost you a cent. We'd argue that a well optimized advert would have such engaging and relevant content that customers won't be able to resist checking it, and google also tries it's hardest to display your adverts in the most intelligent ways to give you meaningful conversions, but, it's worth acknowledging you have the power to be seen by your demographic for free.

What is a Google Search Ad?

A 'Search' Ad relates to appearing on search engine results.

With close to 4 million results available, a user is primed to seek the easy option and click the first result on a search engine to match their search effectively. The above screenshot shows that anyone searching for a 'marketing' service in 'Phnom Penh' will be given the suggestion of using Mäd, the agency based in Phnom Penh- with a list of marketing and creative services handily listed within the link description. To further convince the user, there are options to be directed to our services or clients page immediately. These extra links are called 'Ad extensions', and further options may include a clickable phone number, map (location), and a form to fill out directly from Google.

Optimizing your Search Ad.

The first, and most obvious, tool is using 'key words'. This is the foundation of your advert. You need to intelligently consider what your desired audience will be searching for. In our case, one such keyword was "Marketing Phnom Penh", however we considered that this could be any of the following variations:

  • Marketing Cambodia
  • Marketing Services in Phnom Penh
  • Marketing Agencies
  • Marketing Agencies near me
  • Services to help my brand

From a short brainstorming exercise, we could end up with over 200 potential searches that we'd wish to show for. The beauty of Google Search Ads, is that you can be as vague or meticulous as you like. You're able to add hundred of keywords to trigger your ad, or you could choose to limit it to purely one exact phrase. There are three usual distinctions in your keywords.

Broad match = Marketing agencies in Phnom Penh = your advert may show for 'Phnom Penh Markets', 'marketing agencies', 'top agencies'.

"Phrase match" = "Marketing agencies in Phnom Penh" = your advert may show for 'the best marketing agencies phnom penh', 'Phnom Penh marketing agencies' and 'agencies offering marketing in Phnom Penh'.

[Exact Match] = [Marketing agencies in Phnom Penh] = your advert may show for 'Marketing agencies in Phnom Penh', 'Marketing agency Phnom Penh', 'Phnom Penh Marketing Agency'.

Note: Typos are taken into consideration, so users typing Phmon Penh will still trigger you Ad.

We always recommend using Phrase (adding "quotation" marks) or Exact (adding [square] brackets)  as this is much more likely to show your adverts to the desired audience.

Once you've setup your keywords, we advise you consider negative keywords to help optimize your campaign. Negative keywords are defined words or phrases that will automatically prevent your advert from appearing. Common negative keywords could be "bad", "free" or "cheap". As a premium agency, we don't want to appear when people are looking for a quick, cheap and gritty project or indeed those looking for free services. If you don't define negative keywords, you may end up spending money from those least likely to show positive interest in your brand.

Google Search Ads not using Negative Search KeyWords for their Phnom Penh, Cambodia based Advertising
Examples of Campaigns set up hastily, not foreseeing the potential negative searches they can be associated with.

It's clear to see the trigger words, as google helpfully displays your search keywords in bold within the advert copy. In the above examples, the trigger word of 'Food' and the location of Cambodia are likely central to both Ads showing. The latter, being another excellent way to define who sees your Ads.

The Perfect Copy

Copywriting is a full time career for many for a good reason. Good copy is worth it's weight in gold. When writing your advert, you need to consider your customer at all times: What will they be looking for? What will excite them? What will put them off? What will they expect?

Think of the difference between an advert saying: 'We sell hats. Our hats are cheap.', and saying 'Custom tailored premium hats, at affordable prices you won't believe! As modeled by Victoria Beckham'.

It's a good practice to spend time googling relevant phrases, and finding out what competitors have already written. It may inspire you, and at the very least, let you know the competition.

Defining your Audience.

There are hundreds of ways to narrow your Ad Audience to as niche a result as you wish. The first ways are to filter locations, age groups and sex; allowing you to only only target 18-25 year old males in New York, for example, if that is your ideal target market. Many casual or inexperienced advertisers will stop here - barely scratching the surface of filters.

We can pinpoint a one kilometre radius within a city should we want to, and target 18-25 males using tablets, with a university degree, a keen interest in digital technology, a job within the banking sector and that have recently shown interest in luxury shopping yet not visited our website. We can equally disclude those belonging to any of those criteria if we so wished.

Multiple Ads within One Campaign.

We're still barely scratching the surface of the Google Search Ad features, but it's important to draw awareness to the ability to create multiple Ads within one account.

You are able to create multiple versions of the same Ad to test effectiveness. Perhaps you want to see if 18-45 or 25-30 gets more click-throughs, perhaps you want to change the wording to more eloquent phrases for those with university degrees to build trust in your quality, yet equally run an advert in laymen's terms for those that may be interested but less educated. By tweaking your copy for the expected search terms you'll make the Ad more likely to display, and the user more likely to show interest.

For example, if we are appearing for 'Web Design' searches, we want to include the UX/UI, graphic design, CMS and various corporate web features. Whereas, when appearing for 'Marketing', it'd be more advantageous to focus on various strategy more aligned to this field- cutting out unnecessary content about websites that a potential client doesn't need. There's no need to run two whole new bespoke campaigns, as Google Ads can neatly group the campaign per Ad set with keywords and audiences able to be shared - or bespoke - across the board.

Display Ads and how they differ.

When setting up your Search Ad campaigns, Google will try to encourage you to use their 'Display Ads'. These display across Google partner websites, such as any website that is verified via Google AdSense. There's undoubtedly lots of potential to reach your target market via intelligently sourced websites, or even from displaying on most websites that an intelligently sourced potential customer visits.

However, when running a Search Ad campaign we prefer to keep things simple to begin with (and stick to Search Ads until they're perfectly optimised). Our reasoning for this, is due to our ideal customer journey and brand awareness. When Display Ads target an individual based on demographics and behaviors, it's not uncommon or the Ads to appear on websites of little to no relevance to the Ad content; Whilst it's great to gain impressions, and get the brand cemented in the mind of users, we prefer not to 'spam' - and therefore try to only show our Ads when users may actively be ready for them. It's a simple difference between catching someone by surprise with a suggestion they had been mulling over, or by being there and ready when a user is actively searching for something.


It's useful to hammer home the point that it's pay-per-click, as even a budget of $1000 per month may only actually lead to $100 of costs. When setting up a Google Search Ads campaign, it's useful to imagine the customer journey through Google.

  1. Given your solutions/products, what might your target customer be searching for?
    E.g. If you sell customized football shirts, you may imagine some customers searching for 'custom soccer shirts', 'personalized football strips' or even capitalize on sports fans simply searching for 'cool football strips'.
  2. Once you have defined the search terms you want to appear for, you'll set up your budgets to compete with other advertisers, and begin crafting your advert. It's important that your copy is relevant and engaging, to ensure people want to click on the advert.
  3. When you've successfully managed to convince a potential customer to click on your advert, you'll need to make sure your website is set up to meet the expectations of the user.
    I.e. Do they land on a relevant page to their original search query? Is the page set up attractively, and easy to navigate?

    Hint: By using Google tracking tags, you'll be able to monitor the behavior of users that have followed your adverts. This may indicate areas to improve, such as easier navigation or purchase options.
  4. After running your adverts for a few weeks, you'll have good data that will help you optimize your adverts further. The perfect advert may outdate, or competitors may find new tactics to outbid you or steal potential custom, and perhaps trends will change and you'll need to adjust your content slightly to stay relevant. Always optimize!

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