** This article was originally published on EContent on October 5, 2018.

As the world’s leading search engine today, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second, translating to upwards of 3.5 billion searches per day. And that number continues to grow. Google owns over 75% of all search engine traffic worldwide, making it the clear market leader and impossible to ignore when it comes to your ad strategy.

However, small business and enterprise customers alike have shared a common frustration with Google’s overly complex interface and left many marketers scratching their heads. Compared to the newer, sexier advertising platforms like Facebook which branded itself as the “easiest to use online advertising platform,” Adwords has been described as complicated, outdated and expensive. And yet, to compete with the roughly 5,000 ads per day your audience is exposed to, you must understand and satisfy consumer intent and no one does that better than Google.

Time for a Rebrand

Google made headlines earlier this summer when they announced the rebranding of longtime Google AdWords to Google Ads at their annual Marketing Live Innovations 2018 Keynote.

Why the change? The name Google Ads better represents the full range of advertising options they offer. Makes sense. Google Adwords was launched 15 years ago, and much has changed since then in advertising. Successful ads today focus on interactive content such as moving images and videos, as opposed to text or “words.”
Another major rebranding announcement: DoubleClick and the Google Analytics 360 Suite will be combined into a single solution called the Google Marketing Platform.

By combining its enterprise advertising and analytics platforms to create the Google Marketing Platform, Google aims to provide a complete set of tools to help you plan, buy, measure and optimize digital media and customer experiences all in one place. The simplified advertising platform increases usability and provides a more cohesive ad buying experience across Google properties (Search, YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Play). A welcome change for many marketers using the tools today, but the improvements don’t stop there. Google also wanted their product offerings to be just as user-friendly.

How Google is making it “Easy”

The biggest reaction from the audience at Google’s Marketing Live Innovations Keynote came after Kim Spalding, GM and Product Management Director for Small Business Ads, shared a case study video on the impact of Google’s new Smart Campaigns on small businesses.

Smart Campaigns use machine learning to help small businesses create and launch a Google Ads campaign in just minutes. They’re designed to be simple and save time for those small and local businesses that do not have dedicated marketing staff or who may not even have a website. Based on the product or service being offered and the advertiser’s goal (phone calls, website visits or requests for directions), Google automates the ad creation, audience targeting and ad delivery, and will even be able to create landing pages later this year. Google claims its new Smart Campaigns are 3x better at getting your ads in front of the right audience.

Since the Keynote, Google has continued to announce exciting improvements to make running ads easier, including:

  • Google video partners to expand your audience reach for video ads beyond YouTube.
  • Responsive display ads (RDA) using machine learning to test different combinations of images, headlines, descriptions and logos to show the most relevant and engaging ads across the web, at scale.
  • Smarter than ever exact match keyword targeting and close variants, which has expanded to include variations that share the same meaning and intent as the keyword, including implied words and paraphrases.

Pro Tip: People increasingly use longer and more natural language search. Searchers want answers to their questions, not keywords. Your ads should reflect this trend.

Why Easy is not Always Better

This all may sound incredible to many small business owners that have been too overwhelmed or intimidated to try Google Ads previously, but is it too good to be true?

With so many options and settings within the Google Ads platform, it’s impossible to know what they all mean when you’re just getting started. So many marketers and small businesses will opt to go with the defaults assuming they’re what’s best until they know better.

Smart Campaigns are premised on the idea that you don’t need to do any work as an advertiser and that Google will use its full suite of services to create the very best campaign for you. This is a misconception. Many Google Ads defaults may not necessarily be optimized for you. You can’t put it on autopilot and expect great results. In fact, more automation means digital advertising will be even more competitive and you need to know exactly what levers to pull, how much and when, to win.

To make an impact with your marketing and increase the efficiency of your ad spend, I recommend leveraging cross-channel performance marketing software. All-in-one platforms offer marketers the best tools at every stage of a campaign from creative concept to production, bidding and 24/7 testing and optimization. You’ll no longer be limited by a single advertising platform. You can optimize your marketing spend across all digital channels including Facebook, Google, Instagram, YouTube, Bing, Snap, Display, and Amazon, to help you gain the right customers at the lowest cost. Brands need a partner that knows how to navigate the ever-changing advertising landscape and will optimize to their unique needs.

Google Ads is a valuable and powerful tool that needs to be closely managed with the proper toolset to harness its full potential and meet your digital marketing objectives.

So to win in digital advertising, manage Google Ads wisely. Don’t let it manage you.