Digital AF

Episode 12 - Your Google Ads Budget Is Being Wasted


April Ford

In today’s episode of Digital AF, we're delving into the world of Google Ads to identify the common mistakes you could be wasting your budget on right now. Hear from our digital ads experts to learn what you're doing wrong and how to prevent more mistakes.

In today’s episode of Digital AF, we're delving into the world of Google Ads to identify the common mistakes you could be wasting your budget on right now. Hear from our digital ads experts to learn what you're doing wrong and how to prevent more mistakes.

Madi (00:01):

Welcome to Digital AF. My name is Madi. I'm an account executive here at April Ford. And today, I've grabbed our two AF ads geniuses to pick their brain on how your Google Ads budget is being wasted.

Speaker 2 (00:18):

Digital AF, the digital marketing podcast that features real conversations from those who live and breathe the digital agency life. April Ford Digital Agency shares their tips, tricks, and exposes the truth about what works and what doesn't. Welcome to Digital AF. Let's get into it.

Madi (00:46):

In this week's episode of Digital AF, I have Gemma, our digital advertising manager, and Jess, our advertising team manager, joining me to chat about Google Ads. Get ready to delve into the world of Google Ads and find out whether you're wasting money on a poorly optimised Google Ads account. Let's start with the basics. Jess, can you please tell me what the different types of Google Ads are?

Jess (01:12):

The different types of Google Ads are search, display, shopping, and video, which is YouTube, and they are run across Google's network and partners, which include other different websites and apps.

Madi (01:26):

Okay. So there are obviously a few different types of ads that sit within Google Ads. Talking about the mistakes that we often see in people's ad accounts and where we sort of see budgets being wasted, what's the most common mistake you see, Gem, if we're looking in an existing ad account?

Gemma (01:44):

Yeah, sure. Let's start with a bang because this is the biggest money waster that we see in so many new clients that come on board with us. And it's when campaigns are converting on brand terms when they're not supposed to be. So when I say that, I mean it's okay to be bidding on your brand's terms. There are certain reasons when you need to do that. It needs to be part of your strategy. But when you have prospecting campaigns where the purpose of them is to find new customers for your business, you generally don't want them to be converting on your own brand's terms.

Gemma (02:22):

And often, we get clients that come on board with us, whether they have been self-managing their own ad accounts or they've come from another agency even, and they think their campaigns have been going okayish, they've been getting conversions, but when we delve into those campaigns and look at what was actually converting, we find that all of their money has been spent converting brand terms instead of the actual search terms that they were wanting to go after.

Madi (02:50):

So just a quick question for people who might be listening that don't understand what a brand campaign is. Can you just quickly define what that actually is?

Gemma (02:59):

Yeah, sure. So a brand campaign versus another campaign. I'll use April Ford as an example. So we may have a brand campaign set up where the search terms that we're bidding on are April Ford. And then we may have a service campaign set up where we're wanting to bid on search terms to find new clients for people that are looking at websites or a marketing agency. And if we haven't excluded brand terms from those campaigns, we may end up converting on someone searching for something like April Ford websites. So instead of finding a new customer that hasn't heard of our brand before, we've just wasted money on someone who was searching for April Ford to begin with.

Madi (03:45):

Cool. Makes sense.

Gemma (03:47):


Madi (03:48):

Something else I want to add to the end of that is if someone is searching for your brand name, that is likely to have you show up organically in Google as well. Is that right?

Gemma (03:57):

Yes and no. So there are times when you would use a brand campaign and that would be like when you have a new website or you may have an existing website that has really poor SEO, or you may have competitors bidding on your brand, so you want to make sure that you're outbidding them to make sure that your own brand is coming up first.

Madi (04:17):

Cool. Thanks, Gem. Jess, I know you wanted to talk about another super common mistake in not optimising towards your primary conversion. Tell me a little bit more about that.

Jess (04:29):

That's right, Madi. So this is quite common for people who have come over from managing themselves and possibly other agencies. But basically, we have a range of conversions that we want to track and there are a select few. So for example, we want to track somebody clicking on the email or your contact phone number on your website, as well as a contact form. Maybe you also have a download on there, you want to track that as well.

Jess (04:54):

So often, people are optimising for all those conversions, which means Google, say the download form is getting the most conversions, then Google will try and find more people who will like that conversion and start optimising for more downloads. And then you're likely to miss out on the real conversions, like an actual inquiry, or yeah...

Madi (05:19):

Or something like a phone call.

Jess (05:20):

Yeah, something like a phone call where they want more information as opposed to just downloading a bit of...

Madi (05:25):

Yeah. And that's obviously dependent on the business, how they do business, and how they actually want to get conversions too, I imagine.

Jess (05:32):

Yeah. Correct. And something we can do is actually attach a value to the conversion so that some conversions are worth more to a business and we can actually weight the conversions that way. So we can add a value to a lower-value conversion and add a higher value to the other and optimise for that. So hopefully, we would get more of those particular conversions.

Madi (05:56):

So the outcome of that is if you've got a range of conversions in order of priority, you are not necessarily paying a lot of money, but you're paying the right value for your most important conversion and then a slightly lower value for your least important conversion.

Jess (06:12):

Yeah, that's right.

Madi (06:13):

So I know that neglecting negative keywords is another big money waster, and it's also one of the easiest mistakes you can do. Gemma, can you explain negative keywords? How do you manage them properly? How hard is it? And why wouldn't someone be doing this?

Gemma (06:36):

Yeah, sure. So it's one of the easiest things you can do when you set up your campaigns is to create a negative keyword list, which you can then apply to multiple campaigns. So basically, there are certain keywords that might pull through search terms that are relevant or somewhat relevant or not even relevant at all. And you need to make sure that you're not showing up for some of them. So what you do is you add them to your negative keyword list.

Gemma (07:07):

So the easiest thing to do is to review your search terms and go through all of the terms that are causing your ads to get an impression, make sure that you want to be showing up for them, and add any of the ones you don't want into your negative list. The reason you do this is because potentially every time your ad gets an impression, it's open for someone to click on it and waste your money. And obviously, you don't want to be wasting clicks on search terms that are not what you want.

Gemma (07:37):

The reason we see this a lot is because it is quite a tedious and not the most fun task for an ad manager to do. We all do it here at April Ford, and it's probably one of our least favourite things to do. But it is very important and it's something that you need to do a lot.

Jess (07:53):

And you kind of find once you've done a big cleanup, those negatives that come through that you don't want don't appear as often. So it's kind of a bit labour-intensive at the start but then drops off to being a little bit easier.

Madi (08:07):

It's more like maintenance as you go along.

Jess (08:08):

Yeah. Yeah.

Madi (08:09):

And it's only the odd thing that comes through.

Jess (08:11):

Yeah, some random things.

Madi (08:13):

So I know a huge benefit to going through negative keywords, and that is that you guys sometimes see some really funny searches that come through.

Jess (08:20):

Funny stuff.

Gemma (08:22):

Yeah, we do. It can be quite funny seeing what people are searching and how they're searching for your products and services. But you can definitely tell when someone has had a lazy ad manager in the past when they come on board with us and they've been running campaigns for months or sometimes even years and you can see that there are still really poor search terms coming through on their existing campaigns. And for us, it's really not that hard to do a quick cleanup and get everything back on track.

Madi (08:51):

Yeah. I think that was a good point you made before as well, is that everyone who manages ads here at April Ford, I mean, I've even helped out in this sense, is it's actually shared that everyone does the negative lists and looking through the search terms and stuff like that. I mean, it is tedious, but we make such an effort to provide all of our clients the best service when it comes to Google Ads, that we have processes and strategies and stuff like that and everyone's equal and working towards the same goal. So I think that that's also what helps us manage ad accounts a little bit more successfully too.

Madi (09:28):

Jess, I've got another question for you. So this is another one similar to neglecting negative keywords which is something that's easy to miss but it's quite an important thing to get right. And it's got to do with location targeting, but even just down to some of the location settings that should be set correctly within an ad account. Can you please tell me of some instances where you've seen this or what's best practice?

Jess (09:56):

Yeah. So this one, as you said, it's quite easy to miss, but it shouldn't be. So we need to make sure when we are setting up our campaigns that we are targeting the right location for the business. So there have been times when we have seen some accounts where we're targeting Australia-wide when the business is locally based. So that's obviously not good. You're wasting a lot of your money there. Sometimes we've even seen them target the whole world. Yeah. So a lot of wastage there.

Jess (10:30):

One of the other settings you need to ensure that is set up is you want to target people who are living in and not interested in the location. So for example, you don't want people who are interested in the location of the Sunshine Coast. You want them to be living in the Sunshine Coast.

Madi (10:48):

If your business was based on the Sunshine Coast.

Jess (10:51):

On the Sunshine Coast.

Gemma (10:53):

And why is that? Because we hate seeing overseas impressions.

Jess (10:58):

Yeah. Yeah. We get lots of random...

Gemma (11:00):

Heaps of people like the Sunshine Coast.

Jess (11:01):

They do. Why wouldn't they?

Gemma (11:02):

We get so much junk.

Jess (11:03):

Yeah, we do. So yeah, minimise that wastage.

Madi (11:07):

So location targeting and how you target people in locations or people who are searching for things in a specific location kind of segues into my next question, which is about the structure of campaigns.

Madi (11:22):

So this is one of the first things that I would look at if I'm auditing an existing ad account. So generally, if we have a new client that comes on and I'm researching what they've done before, I'm putting together their strategy with you guys, we'll sort of do a bit of an account order if it's existing and if there's still data in there, et cetera, et cetera. And one of the first things I look at is the campaign structure. And I mean, we have quite a good strategy behind how we set up campaigns. Gemma, do you think that you could talk a little bit more about that?

Gemma (11:57):

Yeah, sure. So I reckon about 50% of your overall performance actually relates back to your campaign structure. There are so many ways you can get it right or get it wrong. And one of the most important things is to make sure that you are structuring your campaigns according to all of the different services and products that you might offer, as well as making sure that your budget is going to flow through those channels correctly. So when I talk about that, what I mean is you don't want to get too crazy with creating too many different campaigns and forcing your budget to go too many different ways.

Madi (12:40):

It's split up too much. It's too diluted.

Gemma (12:41):

Yeah, exactly. So you might split your campaigns into only a few campaigns, but within them, you might have multiple ad groups so that you can allow your budget to be optimised towards the best-performing ad group. It's going to make your money go a lot further rather than forcing budget splits at a campaign level.

Gemma (13:03):

The other way where people can get their campaign structure incorrectly is when they group too many things together. So if you group too many of your services into one campaign or one ad group, your ads, and when I say ads I mean ad copy and headlines, are going to appear less relevant. So that's going to go down the line and affect things like a lower click-through rate, and a poorer landing page experience. And that obviously equates to lower conversion rates once they're on your website. So you need to get the mix correct of where you split out your campaigns. It's kind of like a fine dance of getting it all correct.

Madi (13:47):

So it sounds like you're either splitting your budget up too much, which means it's not being spent in the right places because it's too diluted and too segmented, or you're dumping it all in the same bucket and it can't optimise properly, so it just churns through your budget.

Gemma (14:02):

That's exactly right.

Madi (14:03):


Gemma (14:04):

Yeah, you need to get the mix correct.

Madi (14:06):

Yeah. So talking about getting the mix correct, I guess we, again, have quite strong strategies based on our experience and what we see in results on how you can get that kind of information out of a client. So one of the most important things that we do here is we take quite a lot of time to understand someone's business, what their goals are and all of that sort of stuff. And I think that that also helps us mitigate the risk of wasting budget. Thinking about all of these different things that we were speaking about, actually getting to understand the business and their goals definitely stop that from being a problem.

Madi (14:49):

So a part of that is once we get started, understanding the big picture of what our clients are trying to achieve with their ad account and how, obviously, we're looking at the account super often and we're working out how we can optimise it to get the most conversions possible, but we're also looking at where we want to end up in years down the track rather than just looking in the moment. It's like the forest through the trees analogy.

Madi (15:18):

Can you explain what happens if you, I guess, fall into the trap of just focusing on each individual conversion and how that can burn through your budget?

Jess (15:27):

Yeah. So I guess some problems can occur when you are just focusing on how many conversions are coming through and what the price of those conversions are coming through. I guess you can have tunnel vision and sort of forget about scalability and growth and those types of things. So I guess what we do here is we try and we look at everything from a bigger picture and think how can we incorporate advertising or different types of mediums to then grow the business as a whole as opposed to just solely focusing on ads. Yeah.

Madi (16:01):

I think that that's a really good point to make as well because we're obviously a full-service digital advertising agency. So we have the privilege of having a lot of different specialists here.

Jess (16:12):

As an ads manager, we look at the bigger picture in terms of the digital advertising side of things. I guess a lot of people get caught up and have tunnel vision and focus on the cost of the conversion. But we obviously look at how much website traffic we're getting to the website, foot traffic they're getting in the door. We're looking at those overall growth factors and scalability as a business as a whole and how that all ties in together. So yeah, we're not just solely focusing on conversions.

Madi (16:42):

You're looking at how you're feeding the funnel as well.

Jess (16:44):

Yeah. Exactly.

Madi (16:46):

We love a good marketing funnel.

Jess (16:47):

Yes, we do.

Gemma (16:48):

I think even thinking about things like if a landing page is built out correctly, everything that kind of supports the success of our ads, we're not just in the ad account.

Jess (17:00):


Gemma (17:00):

We're looking at everything outside of the ad account as well.

Jess (17:03):

Yeah. And some common things are external factors that are out of our control, like what's going on in the world, or... So yeah.

Madi (17:11):

And we make an effort to know about all of those things too so we can accurately advise our clients and all of that sort of stuff. We're not just like, "Oh, this isn't working because of this, this, and this," but we might talk about things like, we know COVID had a huge impact on people's spending behaviours. And now that there's not a lot of free money going around, things are different. So, we accommodate that in the strategies that we're rolling out and the conversations we're having with clients and the recommendations we make.

Jess (17:40):


Madi (17:41):

And even what Gemma was saying with regards to the website and looking outside of just the ad accounts. For example, we had a discovery meeting with a new client yesterday and we're doing ads and social media content. But we identified a fair few things that we would love for them to improve on their website because we know that if they do that, our advertising added more chance of success. So that's sort of how we incorporate looking at the big picture.

Madi (18:08):

So, thanks for talking about all of this stuff with me, Gemma and Jess. You're both very smart. And I love talking to you guys about this stuff. I've definitely learned a lot from you guys over the years and it is good to work with you. And I get really excited about the work you guys do for our clients, which is great.

Gemma (18:28):

Thanks for having us.

Jess (18:29):

Yeah. Thank you.

Madi (18:31):

Also, thank you to everyone who's been listening. If you're interested in improving your Google Ad optimisation and you feel like you might be wasting your budget, please don't hesitate to contact us on 1 300 004 777 or jump on our website, which is We're always happy to have a chat with you and discuss how we can plug up those leaks. Thanks, and see you next time.

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