Google Express: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish 1

Google Express: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

If you’re looking to kill some of your yellow pages dollars on online marketing, here’s one product that’s probably not for you.

Today I wanted to share the Growth Leaders notes on a new local online advertising medium for small business, Google Express (AWExpress).

It’s just been released this year and its biggest advantage is its simplicity (hence the word ‘express’) in comparison to its big brother, Adwords.

The target market for AWExpress is you, small business, as the platform won’t chew up hours in setup time, and it doesn’t require a huge budget or a whole bunch of knowledge to get started.

As far as Google is concerned, all you need do is complete four information fields, have a minimum of $50.00 and be a local business. So let’s look at the four information fields Google requires you to fill in for your ad.

  • Your category/industry
  • Your ad headline
  • Your ad description
  • Where to send people (web address)

Looks pretty simple doesn’t it?

But like any online platform there’s some serious leg work being done in the background. Let’s look at what you get in exchange for your dollar.

It’s easy to see why small business will love this product. It’s fast. It’s easy. And the normal financial barriers to online advertising (if you hired an Adwords specialist), are nonexistent. However its simplicity also presents a serious drawback for those looking at online advertising as a serious long-term marketing tool.

Here’s what I mean. Behind any Google ad are keywords. Keywords are the terms people use to find your ad. For example, John Smith is looking for a car mechanic in Box Hill. Mr Smith will open up Google and type in ‘Mechanics in Box Hill’. So in this example Mechanics in Box Hill is the keyword.

In Google AWExpress, the system allocates very generic and non-editable keywords to your ad. For example (using the above example), Mechanics Box Hill. Now this can be OK if you live in a small area with few competitors, but if you live in a large area with dozens of business like yours, you need to find a way to differentiate your offering. For example cheap car service Box Hill or fix ford engine Box Hill. Google AWExpress won’t allow you to do this.

In an effort to streamline Adwords, Google have taken away one of the most powerful tools in the kit. It is impossible to find a niche in your market without keywords as you’ll be fighting for the same online users as every other ‘mechanic’ in your area. So where does this leave you?

Headlines and landing pages become even more important. You’ll need to know the offer that excites your online market and communicate it in short, buzzword rich headlines, and landing pages that convert (generate a lead, sale, booking, subscription etc).

No matter how set-and-forget you want (we all want :)) online lead generation & sales to be, you can’t get away from the basics. Yes, you will need to invest time. And yes, you will need more than a template understanding of what makes your target market tick.


The simplicity of AWExpress is hypnotic. It sucks you in on the promise of a return for very little time and cash investment. The reality is you still need to know online advertising basics, put them into practice, and do it all without the use of keywords. This is ridiculously hard and frankly not worth the effort.

Here are a few alternatives…

  • You can create a Google Places account. It’s free, targets local users, and places your ‘ad’ close to the top of Google search results. Click below for a Google Places Guide. {module_literature,i,56800}
  • You can take a free, step-by-step online course on Google Adwords (the complete advertising platform). To be taken to the course, click here: Google Adwords course.
  • If all this sounds too much for you, I currently help a few clients in Google Adwords and would love to chat about the opportunities out there for you. Click here to be taken to our contact form.

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