What Are Google Ads?

What Are Google Ads?

Here we’ll explain what Google AdWords are, show their display possibilities, discuss their features and business applications. Also, we’ll present AdWords technical terms and describe the most popular types of campaigns.

Google AdWords is an advertising system by Google. The AdWords text ads are displayed on Google search results pages and image ads can be seen in the Display Network. And that’s the most general division of campaigns by types of advertising. However, according to Google typology, there are more of them: App Ads, Video Ads and product campaigns.

Ads campaign types

types of google adwords

AdWords was the first advertising business model assumed by Mountain View firm; originally it came as sponsored links displayed above the organic search results. Looking at the history, Google premiered in 1998 and paid search results kicked in 2000; the following screenshot shows how they initially looked like.

Old google adwords panel

Oddly enough, there was hardly any interest in, and consequently demand, for paid links service in the first period of the search engine activity. Back then no one would tell that Google will revolutionize online advertising soon.

The first Google AdWords dashboard looked like that:

First Google Adwords Panel

Constant AdWords system updates result in opportunities of creating technologically advanced advertising campaigns, enabling detailed ad targeting and various in-depth analyses. New features are being added, such as popular Google Shopping or Mobile Advertising. All for the sake of meeting all the more extreme business goals. In 2017 AdWords dashboard has undergone a total interface makeover – currently it looks like this:

New Google AdWords panel

Using AdWords is completely free. Setting up and configuring a basic account, allowing you to create your own Google Ads, is completely free. Additional account tweaks, allowing better optimization for more ambitious business goals, are however paid. For instance, ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) optimization could be one; in short, it’s getting better income to the costs generated ratio. The campaigns can be also optimized for conversion increase, sales boost or cost reduction. ROAS is one of the key metrics used for e-commerce ad campaign evaluation and optimization.

Ads quality score

To be displayed, AdWords ad needs to win a bidding with competing advertisers. Bidding strategy takes several factors into account, for instance maximum cost per click we can afford or the ad quality score. If quality score is low, the ad’s displaying may be limited, or it may not be displayed at all. Google declares itself dedicated to targeting an interested, relevant audience with relevant ads. Each advertisement, be it image or text, can be reported for being – for instance – not interesting, an obstacle in viewing a webpage or viewed too often. In the quality score is high, we can display our ad above our competitors’ even at a potentially lower cost per click. In Delante Essential AdWords Process the Client’s ad quality score optimization is constant, and achieved e.g. by unique know-how application, A/B landing pages, ads and keywords testing, and more. On top of that, all past A/B testing results are available for reviewing, and ad strategy decision making is evidence-based.

Google updates and develops AdWords system, handing us new tools for creating ever-more advanced campaigns, with intelligent automation and precise targeting.

Google Ads glossary:

  • Conversion: e.g. a transaction in an online store, newsletter subscription, filling out the form or clicking the button. Conversions come in two types – micro and macro, depending on whether only a direct business goal is accomplished in a conversion, such as sales, or whether side goals are accomplished, too, such as customer engagement building, increasing time users spends on the website or whether they subscribe to our newsletter.
  • Conversion rate: a conversions to page views percentage. Conversion rate can tell us about the quality of the offer presented on the website or about the website traffic quality. For more precise metrics, average website conversion rate and the average traffic sources conversion rate are available.
  • CTR: Click Through Rate – percentage ratio of the number of clicks to the number of website impressions. This metrics informs us about the ads efficacy, assuming their goal is to maximize clicks volume. For example, 100 (clicks) / 10000 (impressions) * 100% = 1% CTR
  • CPC: Cost Per Click – how much you pay for a single page view. In CPC Google AdWords payment model, an advertiser pays for every single click / page view. Maximum CPC can be customized as our final ad bidding offer. The end CPC – i.e. how much we actually pay per page view – is the minimum cost of outbidding the nearest competitor, whose ad is displayed directly under ours.
  • CPM: Cost Per Mille – how much you pay for a thousand ad impressions. CPM AdWord payment model, most commonly used in Google Display Network (GDN).
  • CPV: Cost Per View – how much you pay for a single video view. This AdWords payment model applies only to YouTube ads.
  • ROAS: Return On Ad Spend – ad return-to-cost ratio. Example: $4000 (revenue) / $1000 (AdWords) * 100% = 400% ROAS
  • ROI: Return On Investment – profit-to-investment-cost ratio. , after cost deduction. Example: [$4000 (revenue) $1000 (AdWords) – $2000 (costs)] / [$1000 (AdWords) + $2000 (costs)] * 100% = 33%
  • CPA: Cost Per Action – how much you pay for a single conversion. Example: if a campaign resulted in 10 transactions, $200 each, , then the CPA is $20.
  • GDN: Google Display Network – AdWords content advertising network; includes a wide range of content publishers, Google AdSense program participators (news feeds, other media, blogs or thematic pages) and Google-owned websites (YouTube, Blogger, Gmail).
  • PLA: Product Listing Ads – product campaigns in search engine (keep reading for more details on PLA).
  • GMC: Google Merchant Center – the product data feed management system used for PLA and dynamic remarketing.

Why invest in Ads?

  • Precise ads targeting
  • Strict ad costs control
  • Ad efficacy analytics
  • Precise ad campaign goals selection
  • AdWords reach – 90% Internet users
  • Conversion-rich traffic
  • Tangible effects faster than from SEO
  • Content personalization features
  • Additional extensions or formats
  • Advertisement displayed in the maps
  • Effective engagement-building due to many formats
  • Advertising in Google’s Gmail, YouTube, Blogger
  • Competition analytics tools

Campaign types

Higher up, a general campaign types classification was introduced. However, for a much more complex and accurate insight, see the following Google AdWords campaigns chart. We’ll briefly discuss each campaign type.

Google AdWords types

What are Google Search Network ads?

Search, paid search results, paid advertising links, paid links, sponsored links, search engine advertising – these are the most popular terms for this form of advertising. The text format for these ads include following sections: Headline, Description, Display URL, extensions. The ads are displayed on Google search results in response to predefined keywords; keyword customization is a dashboard feature.

Google AdWords Search Network

Ads can also be displayed by search partners – these include hundreds of websites, including their own search engines such YouTube, and more.

Why launch a Google Search Network Ads campaign:

  • Reaching users specifically searching for your products or services
  • Flexible budget
  • Payment model based on the cost of a single click
  • A comprehensive campaign optimization system
  • Ad extensions features
  • Call-only ads
  • Google maps ads
  • Ads displayed on search partners’ pages
  • Advanced keyword matching features
  • Advanced social media tools
  • Comprehensive scheduling features
  • A/B testing tools
  • Geolocalization
  • Location extensions
  • Call extensions
  • Prices, sales and bargains extensions
  • Automatic extensions
  • IP addresses filtering
  • RLSA remarketing lists support
  • Advanced text ads creation tools (IF function, KeyWord Insertion Tool, Countdown Function, external data support).

What are Google Product Listing Ads?

Product campaigns, product advertisements, PLA, GMC, merchant center are the most popular terms for this form of advertising. This ad format includes a product image, its name, shop contact details, price, shipping details. Product Listing Ads are displayed in Google Search Network, just like the aforementioned text ads. The difference here is that keyword triggering ads display are not customized manually – they are generated automatically based on the product data feed processed by a separate Google service – GMC (Google Merchant Center). The product data feed is made up of list of products, their names and descriptions, which serve as a basis on which the keywords are generated. Product Listing Ads are additionally displayed in the search partners network, including YouTube and Google Shopping.

Shopping campaign Google AdWords

As the ads display is triggered by automatically defined keywords, there is a need to optimize the campaign by applying filters or adjusting the product data feed accordingly. Professional product data feed optimization consists in adding custom, unique labels, optimizing descriptions or product names.

Why use Google Product Listing and Shopping Ads:

  • Increased ad reach within the Google Search Network
  • Evidence for higher efficiency, including often higher conversion, too
  • Your products are displayed in Google Shopping, YouTube and the Google partner network.
  • Easy campaign management and optimization
  • Advanced product data configuration features
  • Powerful ROAS optimization tools
  • Setting bidding limits for each product
  • IP addresses filtering
  • RLSA remarketing lists support
  • Advanced social media tools
  • Comprehensive scheduling features
  • Advanced reporting and competition analysis tools

What are Google Display Network Ads?

GDN Ads formats vary, ranging from text, image, video, to html5 ads; they’re displayed in the Google-own Network and on Google partner sites. Google-own network includes YouTube, Gmail, Blogger or Google Play. The Google partners network has means to reach over 90% of Internet users and includes not only the largest online publishers, but also the pages owned by anyone interested in monetizing traffic. Most often due to participation in AdSense program.

Google AdWords GDN

Google Display Network offers precise ads targeting tools. Depending on the marketing strategy, we can target the ads using various data, such as context, topic, keywords on the one hand, or behavioral data, focusing on user demographics, interests and activities on the other. The possibilities are plenty. For better results various targeting methods can be combined by narrowing down the range in certain segments or modifying rates for certain segments.

Why launch a Google Search Network Ads campaign:

  • Over 90% of the internet users reach – a perfect tool for brand recognition building.
  • Powerful ad targeting tools
  • Creating remarketing ads, including dynamic remarketing
  • IP addresses filtering
  • Advanced social media tools
  • Comprehensive scheduling features
  • Precise reporting and competition analysis tools
  • Geolocalization extensions
  • Calls extensions
  • Ads in apps, Gmail, YouTube
  • Ready-made ad templates
  • Combining different targeting methods
  • Competitive rates

What are Google App Ads?

Google App AdWords is a tool for app download promotion. The relevant ads are displayed in: search network (call to action and “download the app” feature), advertising network and in apps.

Why Google App Ads campaign is worth it:

  • Effective app promotion
  • Advanced remarketing lists creation tool
  • Easy goal completion measurement – app downloads count.
  • Getting ad in Google Play app store
  • What are Google Video Ads?

What are Google Video Ads?

Video Ads are a form of promoting video materials published on YouTube. The basic available formats are: bumper ads – short clips skippable only after 5 seconds – or TrueView video ads – videos promoted directly in the YouTube search engine. TrueView In-Stream videos, on the other hand, also feature a possibility of configuring a banner or product promotion displayed as the in-stream video clip is played. Video campaigns payment model is CPV – Cost Per View.

Why launch a Google Video Ads campaign:

  • Traffic from the second largest search engine in the world
  • Low cost per video view
  • Powerful targeting possibilities
  • Banner displaying tool, additional product promotion
  • What are Remarketing AdWords?

What is Google Ads remarketing?

Remarketing campaigns can result in displaying an ad in both the Search Network and the Display Network. In the Search Network, they are called RLSAs and rely on adjusting bids for specific groups, excluding certain audience groups, or targeting only specific groups. We can also adjust the ad content specifically for relevant Remarketing Lists. For Display Network ads, only targeting specific lists or adjusting bids for them is possible.

Google AdWords Remarketing

Dynamic ads, displaying products with redirects to relevant landing pages are an additional advertising network feature.

Why launch a Google Remarketing campaign:

  • Message personalization
  • High efficiency
  • Powerful remarketing lists creation possibilities, based on Google Analytics data
  • Generating lists of recipients similar to those on our remarketing lists


We’ve shown and briefly discussed the basic AdWords creation and targeting methods. In marketing strategizing phase, it is important to understand each method, their application and the possibilities they open, so that your campaign could best meet the business objectives.

Senior SEM Specialist - Adrian

Senior SEM Specialist

SEM specialist since 2009 professionally connected with Internet marketing. He specializes in performance marketing, conversion optimization and data analysis. He gained experience working for both the agency and the client. He is passionate about road cycling and mountain cross-country running.

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