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Why the world is wrong about Google AdWords

It never seems to fail. When I find myself discussing Google AdWords with customers and prospects as a means to drive targeted traffic to their site, I always hear, “I never click on those ads.” Based on these conversations, I’ve come up with an insignificant sampling of worldwide perceptions regarding Google AdWords.  And from this data, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that nobody clicks on AdWords ads.  After all if everyone I meet doesn’t click on the ads, then no one must click on the ads.

If you aren’t familiar with AdWords, arrows in the screen shot below point out what I’m talking about.


Those are ads managed through Google’s AdWords program.  Businesses pay Google based on auction prices each time an ad is clicked.  The problem is that from my insignificant sampling above, nobody clicks on these ads.  I know I don’t click on them unless I’m doing research and it seems most people I talk to don’t.  But here is the flaw in that conclusion, billions of people do click on these ads.  And there is proof to that point.  In 2014 Google reported $55 billion in revenue from those ads.  Those ads represent 91% of Google’s total revenue.  If nobody clicks those ads, Google as a business (as of today the second largest business in the world behind Apple), does not exist.  In the last 3 years Google’s revenue from those ads has increased 29%, 20% and 16% respectively while ad costs per click have been decreasing.  This shows that businesses are buying more ad clicks each year.

So who is funneling all this cash to Google?  Larry Kim from the blog gives us this breakdown by industry from 2012.

  • Finance — State Farm, Geico, Quicken Loans, Capital One, Bank of America
  • Travel — Expedia,,,, Kayak
  • Shopping — Amazon, eBay, JC Penney, Walmart, Sears
  • Jobs & Education — University of Phoenix,, ITT-Tech, Devry, Kaplan
  • Internet & Telecom — AT&T, Sprint, T-mobile, Verizon, Comcast
  • Computers & Electronics — Bestbuy, Apple, HP, Microsoft,
  • Business & Industrial — Yellowpages, Staples, uline,  Vistaprint, Office Depot
  • Home & Garden — Lowes, Home Depot, Servicemagic, Kohls, Pottery Barn
  • Autos & Vehicles — Edmunds, KBB, Autotrader, Ford,
  • Beauty & Fitness — QVC, Walgreens, Sephora, Underarmor, Maybelline

Do any of those brands sound like successful businesses?  You’ll notice they are not all ecommerce businesses either.  AdWords isn’t just for ecommerce.  In fact you’ll be hard pressed to find an industry that is not using Google AdWords today.

Obviously the world can’t be completely wrong about AdWords.  The $55 billion in AdWords revenue Google reported last year proves the ads do get clicked.  And every time an ad is clicked, that means 1 new visitor came to your site after searching for your products or services.  The businesses above have found value in this increased visibility for their brands.  Chances are leveraging that same visibility for your business will help you meet your goals.

Do you have any experiences with Google AdWords?  Let us know in the comments below.


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About Marc
Marc Ohmann is president of Digital Solutions, Inc in Minneapolis. Digital Solutions is the company behind the MDWebPro blog and tool set. Marc was a computer science and engineering student at the University of Minnesota in 1999 when he started Digital Solutions. Marc, now a husband and father of 3, greatly enjoys the clients and creativity he is involved in each day through Digital Solutions. Follow Marc on Twitter @marcohmann and @MDWebPro and also on Google Plus

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