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Google Ads: For Direct Sales or Branding?

Google Ads: For Direct Sales or Branding?

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords is Google’s web spanning ad network.

Arguably one of the most sophisticated ad network ever to be developed, text, image and video ads can be put in front of a targeted audience based on their search intent and sites they have visited.

Google Ads goes one step further and can put a sales and branding message in the palm of a potential customer or client’s hand via their phone. Google’s ad network is a powerful business tool.

With this power at your fingertips, there is much debate by marketers as to whether Google Ads should be used for direct sales or branding?  Without a doubt, there is a case for both, we use this article to explore these.

Google Ads and Direct Sales

The Google Search Network is arguably best leveraged for sales focused businesses.

Here, ads are served based on keywords the user types and sometimes speaks into their phone, tablets, laptops, or desktop PCs. If a business has their ad and landing pages set up correctly, there is potential that they could see high conversion rates and drive sales.

This is because the user has expressed search intent, or if you prefer an intent to buy.

For example, a user searches for ‘large refrigerators, silver, UK’. Google will determine which ads to show based on keyword phrases selected by the advertisers. They factor in the searcher’s location or their expressed location, the UK in our case, and how much the advertiser is bidding to show their ad.

Once Google has brought this data together it either shows the most competitive three text ads at the top of their search result, or where applicable a collection of Google Shopping ads.

Following these paid ads, Google also shows organic search results for the same search term.

The advantage is that before a user can reach an organic result and see competition from a giant such as Amazon, there is the potential for them to see your ad, click it and buy from you.

Understanding Cost Per Click (CPC)

Cost Per Click or ‘CPC ‘ is how Google charges to use the Google Search Network. You pay when your ad is clicked. A significant factor in determining whether your ad appears in the top three is determined by the maximum price you are willing to pay for an ad click.

Take for example, that you are prepared to pay £10 per click, your ad has a far greater chance of appearing in the top three results than if you’re willing to pay £5.

Your maximum CPC price is not the only factor in determining when your ad appears but is highly significant. Where your ad appears and how much you pay for a bid is determined by Google’s Quality Score. This takes into a range of factors to determine your ad position and how much you pay for an ad click.

CPC is a very important factor when it comes to successful sales. If you can work out the profit made on each product or service, you can set your bid amount for CPC lower than this, effectively mitigating any risk of losing money in the process.

Are Google Ads good for Direct Selling?

The simple answer is yes. If you have the right Google Ad strategy you can put your offering in front of your target audience with great ease.

Furthermore, it is in front of a target audience specifically searching terms relevant to your product or service. This makes it potentially a powerful way to drive sales. According to the Guardian newspaper, online ad spend hit £10bn in the UK in 2016.  It is practised extensively across markets, from large enterprise businesses to the entrepreneur looking to launch ‘the next big thing’.

Google Ads responds quickly to changes and it is easy to get your ad up and running in a few hours. A stark contrast to long term search engine optimisation campaigns to rank your site organically. To get noticed by your customers and clients, and to drive sales, Google Ads take a lot of beating.

This is especially if you utilise relevant features for your offering.

Google Ads and Branding

Now we have covered direct sales let’s turn our attention to branding.

Branding in the right way builds trust with customers and clients. Trusted brands are the go-to for most consumers as it saves research time; they know they are getting the right product or service for them and it fits with their budget. Branding is important.

So can Google Ads get your brand out there?

As well as the Google Search Network, Google uses the Google Display Network. Here, you can put your brand on millions of websites across the web. Clicks are fewer, arguably greatly reduced but your brand will be seen by at least a semi relevant target audience.

The display network features a host of website owners who have signed up to show Google Ads.  Google, places your ad on relevant sites to your offering. If you sell women’s clothes your ad could appear on a fashion blog for example.

Moreover, the ad placement works at the visitor level and is used to utilise Google’s remarketing options. So a visitor visits your site, leaves, and then visits a related site, Google will identify this and show your display ad to the visitor.

Google places a lot of emphasis on remarketing and it is not alone. Facebook and other social networks have similar remarketing system in place.

Clicks on the Google Display Network are generally cheaper than on Search Network. Therefore you can get a lot of reach for a comparatively small budget. This gets your brand out there and in front of as many people as possible for a relatively small business.

Google Ads vs Other Branding Tools

Google Ads is arguably the first step to successful branding. It can get your name out in the world and in front of your target audience with great ease, putting your name in the minds of potential customers.

Despite sophisticated targeting options Google provides, including the relatively new audience target options, your brand will be seen whilst attention could be focused elsewhere.

This is in stark contrast with other promotion mediums such as TV or radio ads where everything stops for the ad to play. This commands attention from the viewer or listener even if they have no intention of buying the offering.

How many people have heard of Dyson or BMW compared to how many people own a Dyson or a BMW? Most have heard of these brands and hold them in high regard even though they may not own one of their products.

Trust in your brand happens when you deliver on your promises. When you can show that your products are worth somebody parting with their hard earned cash or when your services plug gaps that make your client’s industry thrive or lives easier.

Word of mouth recommendations are still invaluable. Testimonials are still trusted. Once you start achieving this level of trust, brand loyalty and all the good things they bring will happen for your business.

Given the low cost of utilising Google Ads as a branding tool, however, it is a good first step to put your offering in the minds of future customer and clients. There is also another reason why Google Ads is a powerful marketing tool: marketing attribution.

Understanding Marketing Attribution

Attribution in marketing circles is kind of a holy grail. As sales and marketing work on a subconscious level one of the main goals of marketing attribution is to determine which factors lead to a conversion whatever that may be.

This brings together many factors and gives a greater emphasis on utilising Google Ad’s display network.

For example, a visitor sees your Facebook Ad. Then a little while later they search for your offering and see your search ad on Google. Later still, they see your Google Display Network ad on one of their favourite blogs. Finally, they buy the product.

From an attribution perspective, it would be argued that all those touch points led to the sale.

This makes a greater case for utilising the Google Display Network to establish your brand. Although it has limitations it is still a credible factor in making a sale.

There are numerous online attribution models that use touch points to try and determine which are the most valuable marketing channels to a business. For example, Google Analytics tries to shed some light on attribution in its daily reports.

Direct Sales or Branding

In terms of both direct sales and branding, Google Ads provides good opportunities for both. Their networks are arguably budget friendly and have good targeted reach. Once you are familiar with how they work you can determine what works and what does not, allowing you to make changes easily and quickly.

The other reason to use the Google Ads for both direct sales and branding is that they are under continuous development and improving all the time. Google Ads spend a significant budget on developing competitive advantage for their users, such as the latest introduction of AI and machine learning into the platform.

If you are a business owner of any size, Google Ads when set up properly and underpinned by the right strategy, will increase both your return on investment and increase brand awareness. With the right business practices, it is arguable that Google Ads could underpin your success and help you expand your business driving it forward.


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Peter Johnson
Peter is a Google AdWords specialist, with associated skills in Bing Ads, Twitter Ads and Facebook Advertising.