If you’ve used Google, (and let’s face it – who hasn’t) you’ll have seen adverts.   Advertising is how Google makes the majority of its money.   In 2018, Google’s revenue was $27.7 billion, of which $24.1 billion was from advertising alone!

These adverts are an amazing way for businesses to reach customers, but also have a dark side to them.   I’ll start off with the benefits!

Consider a traditional marketing campaign where you might advertise with a poster in the local post office.   You spend money designing the poster, and then on printing it, but does anyone actually read it?   The poster might be seen by 1000 people, but only a handful may be interested in your product or service.

Online advertising solves this problem.

Firstly, you only pay for the advert if someone reads it “and” clicks on it.   This is called Pay-Per-Click or PPC and typically costs a few bucks per click.   Because of this approach, you want to try and be as targeted as possible as you’ll be paying a small amount every time someone clicks on your ad.    This is where the vast amount of knowledge that Google is collecting comes to your advantage.   It’s quite scary just how much Google knows about you when you click on one of those adverts!

Take the example of someone who’s been searching for a new car on Google.   They might have watched some YouTube (owned by Google) videos on car reviews.   Maybe they’ve applied for loan approvals through online services.    Google is piecing all of this together and building an advertising profile about you.   You’re now considered “In-Market” for a purchase.   In-Market means you’re actively looking to buy something, and they know that the “something” in this case is a new vehicle.   A bank who’s running an online Ad campaign for loans can then only target users who are “in the market” for a new car.   The chances are pretty high that anyone clicking on the ad will be interested in (and ready to sign up for) a new car loan!

You might find this a little creepy, but you could look at it a different way.   You’re seeing adverts to products and services that are of interest to you.   Is this better than seeing adverts for something completely irrelevant and of no interest?   It benefits both you and the advertiser.

Now I mentioned there’s a dark side to these adverts.   Google ads are effectively a way to reach the top of the search page.   A lot of people blindly click on these top results expecting them to be the most relevant without realising someone has paid to get there.   Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of this too.    Search for “Microsoft Support” and the chances are that one of the top results is for a scammer who’s all too ready to take your money!   Watch out for these adverts and use your judgement to see if they seem legitimate.   If you’re searching for Microsoft and the top link isn’t from Microsoft – chances are it’s a scam.

If you’re running a business that would benefit from advertising, I’d highly recommend looking into running a Google AdWords campaign.    If you have a website, it works hand-in-hand with Google Analytics (a free service) to track your online visitors.   The two services work well together to bring new customers and make sure that you’re giving them what they’re looking for.