Skip to Content

Google Ads for Dummies...Or Smart, Small Business Owners

Written by Michelle Toivonen Director of Strategic Marketing

Small business owners know they could benefit from advertising with Google Ads. Most just don’t have the time to learn how, nor the money to hire an ad agency to do it for them. Owners put off this type of advertising, thinking “I’ll get there someday” and then miss out on the leads generated. And those ads do generate leads. I know because I’ve run millions of dollars of ads over the last ten years and have seen how online ads can land new business -- even for small businesses. I’ve also seen how much money is wasted in online advertising. Not just on ad fraud, but on poor decision making due to a lack of experience, understanding, or both. 

This article is meant to help small business owners understand the types of ads available and how to choose the best one(s) for your business. Below are the basics on ads typically selected by small businesses. When you’re done, you should have a good feel for whether you can do it yourself or if you’d rather create your marketing plan, then have someone else do the execution for you.

The important thing to know about online advertising is there are a lot of options that don’t have to break the bank. Done the right way, google ads are an affordable and effective option for small business owners.


Google Ads

Display ads appear as the ads in boxes on websites (such as news, sports, cooking sites). They clearly look like an ad and show up on the top of web pages such as the traditional banner ad, or the larger text billboard. They can also be videos. These sections of the web pages are specifically reserved for paid advertising and are aimed at generating a quick conversion. You don’t have to provide every ad size available, but each size is meant for a particular device. You increase the odds of your ad being viewed by creating multiple versions of your ad. Just a quick fact to remember — wider banner ads generally perform better than their tall, narrow counterparts. 

How These Ads Work

In order for these ads to appear to your audience, you must create an ad that will immediately attract viewers to click through and visit your web page, also known as a landing page. Begin by setting up a google ads account. Select the keywords you think your audience will type in when searching for the goods or services you’re advertising. Create your online ads budget and publish your ad. Check-in regularly and adjust the artwork, landing pages, keywords, and bidding budget for the best performance. 

These ads are best used to

  • Attract an audience already searching for something you’re using. For example, if you’re a coffee house, you would benefit from people searching for “coffee houses” and seeing your ad.
  • Take advantage of a competitor’s keywords to introduce your brand. For example, you’re trying to break into the local coffee house market. You can use keywords your competitor’s audience might use to capture their audience.
  • Note that the key to these ads is that you must have a good sense of what keywords your audience will use and you must be willing to bid high enough for your ad to appear when they type the keyword in. If Starbucks has a drive-through coffee ad, you’ll have to be willing to pay more than them to get your drive-through coffee ad to appear instead of theirs.

Typical Response Rates

According to Google, typical response across all industries for google ads is 3.17%

Types of businesses that typically use display ads

These ads are dominated by the B2C market (big retailers, big brands) but local services and retailers can really benefit when they understand how to market their niche. There’s nothing like typing in a pointed search term and finding a provider near you that you didn’t know about. For example, imagine the couple looking for a coffee house with live entertainment. They google coffee house with open mic night and your ad pops up. Everyone’s happy!

How to Get Started

Go to google and work through the steps to set up your own display ad campaign or contact us for advice on whether any of the following types of ads are a better fit for you.


Digital+post Targeted Audience Ads

Now that you know what a display ad is, you can take it a step further. Wouldn’t it be nice if you can just show the ads to the exact people you want to see them? You can with targeted audience ads served online like those above, but all you need is the home address to ensure your target will see the ad. Do you have a list of customers that you want to educate with online ads about new products or services -- you can do that, too. Want to buy a list and serve ads to the people on that list? You can. There’s even a way to deliver ads to the neighbors of the people on your list. 

Serving ads online to exactly (and only) the people you want to marketing to is now a reality — and the results (and ROI) have been amazing.

How these Ads work

The technology is easier to manage if you just take it at face value. First, we start with a list including home addresses. We match the home mailing address with the home IP address. Then we upload your ads to the Google display network and release the ads to appear on the devices (desktops, laptops, and mobile) that are in that home.

Typical Response Rates

There is very little data shared on these response rates. Most Home IP targeting vendors claim you can expect a 3-5% response rate over what you normally experience.

How to Get Started

This type of ad starts with your list. You need a home mailing address. We can help you sort out the rest and if you need a list, just ask. Next, you need to build ads. You can get more targeted with these ads. Consider different ads for different groups in your list. For example, you can build an ad for 20% off for existing customers and 50% off for new prospects. That’s all you need to get started. Contact us and we’ll help you from strategy and set up through understanding your results.


Digital+post Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads are one of the most effective tools in your toolbox. These ads are triggered when you visit a website and leave. Typically, you see these ads picturing the specific items you looked at. Our retargeting ads can have any content you want and will target both website visitors that were on your list as well as new site visitors.

How these Ads work

We will work with you or your website team to tie our tracking code to your site. That enables us to capture anyone who visits the site, then serve them ads for a set amount and set period of time. COOKIES

Typical Response Rates

Response rates for retargeting ads average over 20% response rate. 

How to Get Started

Think through the offer you’d like to make to draw folks back to your site, then create your ad. You don’t need a list for this, but after your ads run, you can download a list of home addresses of your site visitors! Contact us and we’ll help you with your ads, tracking techniques for ad serves, and understanding your results.


Combining Several Types of Ads Is Your Best Bet

And you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it.

Most businesses today need different types of ads at different times. Some businesses need to run several types of ads at the same time to walk a prospect from searching through to purchasing. However, this is a lot to ask of a business owner, or an employee already wearing several hats. The best plan may be to seek help to get started. Someday you may learn how to do it yourself, but online advertising is too critical to miss out on while you’re waiting for that day to come. 

Download our Google Ads for Dummies Comparison Chart or Contact us today to learn more about the online display ads you need and how to get started.

Editor's Pick


mwd icon

Want to learn more?

Please enter your Name and Email and select which area of our expertise you'd like to learn more about.
I'd like more information

connect with us

Follow Midwest Direct on social media and contact us to learn more about our services and multichannel direct marketing best practices: