Brown Bags image for Google Ads

By Sammi Dittloff, Digital Marketing Specialist

Skip to What You Want to Learn About Google Ads


Recently, Tuna Traffic relaunched our Brown Bag “lunch and learn” sessions once a month, to fulfill our internal mission of strengthening our well-formed teams. Lucky for you, we decided we couldn’t keep all the helpful nuggets to ourselves. Here is the first installment of a series of blogs that will come out of these meetings, all about Google Ads.

“We Need to Get On Google!”

You may be coming to this blog today from a variety of scenarios. Perhaps you’re a digital marketer whose client tells you they just HAVE to get on Google (whatever that means to them). Maybe you’re a small business and you know you have to improve your visibility in search results. Maybe you want to follow your potential customers around the internet with a video ad. Well, whatever your scenario, you have landed on the perfect blog to guide you through the basics of Google Ads.

A quick note: Along the way, I’ll be providing examples, all of which are captures of actual ads I encountered “in the wild” while searching and surfing online. These brands haven’t incentivized me to include these; they’re simply what I found while I was working on this blog. I also have a pretty spoiled dog at home, as evidenced by my “dog treats” searches.

So, What’s a Google Ad?

Google Ads take many forms, but the one you’re most likely to recognize is the ad that appears at the top of search results when you’re looking for something like “dog treats.”

screenshot of Google Ads

Google Ads can also be shopping ads that appear when you search on Google…

sample Google Shopping Ad

…or display ads that follow you around the internet after you engage with a website…

sample Google Display Ad

Google Ads take many forms, which means you can use them to accomplish many objectives.

Why use Google Ads?

Here are a few ways Google Ads can reach out to target and convert your desired audience:

  • Appearing at the top of search results. This is generally the reason people first think of using Google Ads. They want to compete for a search term or a series of keywords and want to get there by bidding for the coveted top result on Google. If you are finding it hard to compete for a keyword organically with good SEO practices, this can be a way to still be seen on the front page of Google by bidding for the opportunity.
  • Retargeting previously engaged users.
  • Targeting people who are shopping.
  • Connecting users with material relevant to their interests.
  • Encouraging specific actions - phone calls, app downloads, taking advantage of promotions, etc.

Based on your objectives, the perfect ad and bidding strategy varies. Here are a few different ways you can bid on getting your ads seen on Google:

CPM stands for “cost per thousand,” and in this instance, it’s cost per thousand impressions. This is a great bidding strategy to use for awareness campaigns, building brand recognition, and anything you want to be seen by as many eyeballs as possible.

CPC is “cost-per-click,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like. You only pay anywhere up to the maximum amount you have bid if someone clicks your ad. Google Ads have several strategies within CPC, and you can choose to set bids manually or automatic and have Google decide which keywords and bids are going to result in the most clicks and conversions for you.

CPA is “cost-per-acquisition,” and is set by whatever conversions you decide to track as valuable to you - phone calls, form fills, purchases, your audience arriving on key landing pages, and so on. Identifying key actions will help Google optimize your ad campaigns based on their successes.

CPV is another good tool for brand awareness, and it stands for “cost-per-view,” the amount you would spend to have someone view your video ad.

So what types of ads can you run on Google with these bidding strategies? Here are the basic categories of ads you can create:

Search Ads. Search ads are probably what you think of first when you think of Google ads. Someone searches for a specific term that contains a keyword that you are bidding on, and depending on how much you’ve bid on that keyword, your ad may appear at the top of Google. So, when I search for “organic dog treats,” I see that currently, Prized Pet, Rocketo Organic Dog Food, Amazon, and Life’s Abundance were vying for the number one spot on my search results (but kudos to Life’s Abundance for the very creative headline).

sample of Google Search Ad Results

Display Ads. Display ads are what I lovingly refer to as those things that stalk you on the internet. I’ve ordered from Stitch Fix in the past, so it’s no surprise to me that I found a Stitch Fix banner ad on a few sites I visited, especially closer to when I’m engaging with the site. You’re most likely to notice display ads when you add something to a shopping cart, navigate away from the site, and then get an ad reminding you that you didn’t complete your purchase when you’re on another site reading the news or hunting down a recipe. You can also receive display ads based on your interests, your demographics, or a variety of other factors.

sample of Google Display Ad from Stitch Fix

Video Ads. Video ads can appear in a lot of places, but some of the most common placements include pre-roll (before a video) or in-stream (during a video) on YouTube videos. Like display ads, these videos can be targeted to you based on your interests, sites you’ve visited, apps you’ve used, your demographic information, and so on. While I watched Shane Dawson’s documentary series, I got video ads from companies like, a project management tool similar to one we’ve started to use at work, served as in-stream advertisements.

sample of Google Video Ad for

App Ads. You can promote your app on Google in a variety of ways. You can promote installs by advertising on the AdMob network, YouTube, Google searches, Google Play, Gmail, and the Display Network. You can also re-engage people who have already installed apps through a campaign to promote more in-app actions, like upselling services, adding on, or just coming back to engage in the app more frequently. When I search for “delivery apps” on my phone, I get suggestions to download GetSwift, Grubhub, and Shipt, for food, grocery, and general shipping needs.

sample of Google App Ads

The easiest way to promote apps is with Google’s Universal App campaigns. These campaigns allow you to set up app advertising that gets vary to all outlets from one setup.

Shopping Ads. We’ve all run into shopping ads searching Google for products. These show up as a carousel of options from a variety of vendors, and all the listings that are available to you come from companies that paid to be seen there. My dog is a pretty aggressive chewer, so when I search for “indestructible dog toys,” I’ve been given an array of options, mostly from KONG and products on (although I bet he can chew his way through all of these, to be honest).

sample of Google Shopping Ad Results

Google Shopping Ads connect to your Google Merchant Center account. The most important thing to remember, besides learning how to set up these campaigns, is to use negative keywords to narrow down how people can search for your product. It’s kind of tricky to think backwards like that, but luckily, there are some guides online that can help you work through the logic.

So, how do I start?

Clearly, there are a lot of ways you can advertise on Google, and advertising takes a lot of forms, but for the sake of keeping this a little simpler, I’m going to walk you through creating one search campaign on Google. (Steps to include)

  • Set up your account if you haven’t already. You’ll want to connect your Ads account to an analytics account, attach a card for billing, decide how you want to be billed, and so on.
  • Add a campaign. First Google will ask you what your goal is, or you can choose to have no guidance if you know what kind of ad you’d like to create.
Google Ad Goals' Dashboard
  • Based on your campaign goal choices, you will be presented with some options of types of ads to use. I clicked on “website traffic” and received options to run search, display, shopping, or video ads.
Google Ad Campaign Type Dashboard View
  • From there, you’ll need to consider what your budget is, what locations you’d like to reach with ads, languages your ads will run in, bidding strategy, and the types of extensions you’ll want to add (more on those later).
  • Next, you’ll launch an ad group, or perhaps several at once. This is how you can divide your campaigns into more specific categories you can then work to target. For example, with a search campaign, if what you’re trying to get is more traffic to your clothing store, you can have one ad group of women’s tops and another for women’s skirts, and then set up keyword lists based on the more specific category you’re targeting.
  • Every ad type is different with ad group set up, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about using keywords in search ads. The most important thing to think about is how you want these keywords to match. You have a few different match type options when setting up keyword lists:
    • Broad match - These keywords will appear with no additional punctuation or symbols attached. If you added hats as a keyword, for example, Google could match people searching for hats, fedoras, women’s hats, a misspelled option (like hatz) - a pretty wide selection of keywords.
    • Modified broad match - A modified broad match means that you’re telling Google that at least one word in the search term must be present like dog +treats would have to include the keyword “treats” but not necessarily “dog” exactly as it appears
    • Phrase match - My general tendency when I’m setting up search campaigns is that I create broad match keywords and come back and refine later with phrase match keywords once I see the search terms that are coming in. If I wanted to bid for “indestructible dog toys”, that means that those keywords have to show up in that order in search to be considered in my bid.
    • Exact match - If you only want people searching to see your ads if they typed in a very specific search term, with nothing before or after it and no typos, you use brackets. These can be good for brand names, frequently searched keywords, and campaigns where slight misspellings or differences in terms can bring up very different and irrelevant results.
    • More information on keyword match types can be found here.
  • Once you’ve created your ads, dynamic ad targets, or however you have to refine your ad groups based on the ads you’re making, create your ads. Google recommends making at least 3 ads for each ad group, so keep that in mind when you’re creating these. Ad type options will be detailed in the next section.
  • Launch your ads once you have everything set up, monitor and refine as you go on, and make sure you keep testing to determine what’s working and what isn’t quickly!

Types of Search Ads

There are far too many moving parts in each Google Ads campaign to easily distill it in one blog, as you can see, but there are a few basic types of search ads I wanted to detail in this blog.

Expanded text ads. This is the new standard for text ads on Google. You have the option of entering up to 3 headlines of 30 characters each and two headlines of 90 characters each. Google may not show all of the content depending on how the ad is being served. I made up one just so you can see how the process works.

Google Expanded Text ad preview

Call-only ads. Call-only ads are good for encouraging people searching on mobile to call your business. This would work great for delivery services or anything that has calls as a major part of its business.

Responsive search ad. As of the writing of this blog, this feature is still in beta, but we have been testing it at Tuna and have seen some really early positive results. In a nutshell, this type of ad allows you to write a higher number of descriptions and headlines, and Google will deliver various combinations of text and optimize based on which combinations appear to be getting the strongest result. It’s like A/B testing on steroids.

In addition to ad types, there are extensions you can include to really beef up what your ad looks like in Google searches. When I search for “book subscription,” I get results for “Book of the Month,” and below it you can see some sitelink extensions that go to this month’s picks and sending the service as a gift. Building out your ads means having a bigger footprint on Google’s search results, plus you’ve given people more to interact with.

screenshot of Google Ad extensions

A Word About Extensions

Extensions are optional to your Search campaigns, but can be powerful additional tools to beef up your Search ads. If Google decides to run your ads with multiple extensions, it can give you more real estate in search results. More extensions can also help improve the quality of your ads. The more people searching can see about what they should expect from your site, the more qualified traffic you get, and the better quality score you’ll receive. Here are some extensions you can use with your Google ads:

  • Location extensions. Connecting to your Google My Business account, Google can add your address so people can interact with it in Maps.
  • Call extensions. This can also be added through Google My Business, or another number can be added. Google also has message extensions you can use to encourage people searching to inquire about something via SMS.
  • Sitelink. Sitelink extensions are pretty common, and get tacked onto ads either with single links to sections or as links with additional description that you enter.
  • Callout. Callout extensions are text that calls out a feature a business wants to promote, like free shipping on orders over $49
  • Promo. Promo extensions feature a code or sale that people can take advantage of on the site. Generally the setup involves you putting in the amount off or the percentage off people can expect when they follow the link and/or use the code provided.
  • Price. This extension is self-explanatory - you can display the price of popular products
  • App. Apps can also be added as extension to promote downloads, much like app ads can. These are great to attach to your ads if you have launched a new app and want more installs.
  • Structured Snippet. Structured snippets work similar to callouts, in that they help you include additional content, except that with these, the categories are pre-set with Google. Things like brands, neighborhoods, and styles are available with this extension.

Phew! I have included a lot of information in this blog, but this is really only scratching the surface. You can learn more about Google Ads using these resources:

Ready to leave this all to the experts? Schedule a free digital marketing consultation with Tuna Traffic! We’ll talk about your current needs and later suggest a high-level strategy to help you achieve your goals.

Tuna Traffic is a Google Partner agency, specializing in Search and Mobile



Here at Tuna Traffic, we have one goal - to provide collaborative marketing services, agile web design and development, and strategic business enhancement that drive results.