Wednesday, March 19

Google AdWords Experience

A while ago I told you I was going to try out Google AdWords, and that I would let you know how it went. Well, my £30 voucher has been used up, so now I can tell you how it went.

Setting it up was easy enough, but I found the offer email confusing, as from my reading of the email I understood it would be totally free to me, and it wasn't. I had to pay £10, the £5 account activation fee had to be paid (it couldn't come out of the voucher), and the minimum payment was £10. At this stage I was already pretty disillusioned, but I figured £35 worth of advertising might be worth it for £10 expenditure, so I went ahead and paid the fee.

Creating the advert itself was easy, just enter a title, body, keywords and how much you want to spend a month. Google recommend at least £30 per month, but I went with £15 per month initially. One minor niggle was that the use of an exclamation mark in the advert title was unacceptable, so I had to write an explanation of why I had and it took several days before the advert became available on Google's own network of hosters. Another was that I was only allowed to advertise in the UK, not further afield, I sell a lot of games abroad, and would have liked to be able to advertise in the US and Australasia - sadly not an option.

I went for the following advert:

  • Title: It's Alive! Card Game
  • Body: Get the Frankenstein card game for only £15 + P&P
  • Keywords: Game, Card Game, Card Games, Board Game, Board Games, Horror, Frankenstein, It's Alive, Eurogames

The reporting is excellent, you can get both graphs and the raw numbers, broken down by keywords, over any time frame from a single day to all time. You get running totals of how much you've spent, and the option of an advanced mode where you can specify exactly how the bidding works for an impression. I just went for the basic mode.

Pretty early on it was clear that the £15 a month wasn't working out for me, so I upped it to their recommended minimum of £30. With this level of spend I need to sell at least £30 worth of games through AdWords to make it worthwhile. Realistically more like £75 once the cost of the games and all the fees are taken into account. For marketing purposes I ask customers where they heard of my games when they buy one, they don't always answer, but often they do, so I was able to get a pretty good idea of the effectiveness of the scheme.

The results are shown below, impressions are the number of times the advert was shown, clicks (the only thing you get charged for) are clicks on an advert that take the browser to your website.

Card Game8,602140.001627
Board Game3,98520.000501
Board Games2,58140.001549
Card Games1,99640.002004
Google Network191,850480.000250

Neither 'It's Alive' nor 'Eurogames' led to any impressions. From this it looks like plurals are slightly more popular, but it's definitely worth using both singular and plural forms as both return a decent number of impressions.

Unfortunately the bottom line is that the adverts, despite leading eighty people to my site over a month or so, didn't lead to any sales at all, and hence weren't worth the tenner I spent on them. Maybe the advert was badly worded, or the keywords badly chosen. Maybe directing random punters to a website about 'home-made' games was never going to work.


Philip said...

This was a very informative post. I was thinking about doing this one day. It seems to work for some people, but maybe you have to be bigger or something. At any rate, it's all about the bottom line... :)

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Philip,

Glad you found it useful. Bottom line was it didn't work for me, and I'm not sure what might have made it work. Maybe while I'm making games by hand I'm better off publicising to the hardcore geeks on BoardGameGeek, Boardgame News and similar places.



Gavin Hope said...

Hey Jack, nice post on the AdWords. I'm just starting to use my £30 voucher, so I'll let you know how I get on.

Remember that those 80 new visitors may end up returning in the future to purchase, or tell others about the game, which again might lead to sales.

Are you using google analytics? Is there anyway you can find out the quality of those 80 visits? How long they spent on the site etc?

I'd tend to agree that getting general punters from google to your kinda niche product isn't going to be that successful, but there may be more to the numbers yet...

Some guy in a previous post mentioned using an affiliate program to help you advertise - I'd say this is defo worth looking into.

Top move with jacking the job in by the way. Win or loose, it's still the right move. Maybe you should let me play this new codename:Network game so I can get all excited about it :)

Laters, Gav

Jackson Pope said...

Hey Gav,

Yeah, I'm considering Jacob's affliate progam idea, and having more time means I'll be able to make more contacts at shops and distributors.



Avantman42 said...

I've only recently discovered your blog, hence the lateness of this comment ;-)

I just wondered if you'd thought about joining a banner exchange. The idea is that all the members of the exchange host banner adverts for each other. Usually, your banner gets shown once for every two times you show someone else's banner (or sometimes it's 2 for 3). Most will give you a number of free views when you join.

Might be worth looking into (as long as you've got, or can create, a suitable banner). They're usually free, so there's little risk, and they should just give you the HTML code to add to your site, so you don't need to be a techie.

Also, Gavin's point about Google Analytics is a good one. Not necessarily Google Analytics, but some way of knowing who your visitors are, where they come from, what search terms they used to find you, etc, could be very useful for you.