What is Google Ads and how does it differ from other online advertising platforms?

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What is Google Ads and How Does it Differ from Other Online Advertising Platforms?


Introduction to Google Ads

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is an online advertising platform developed by Google. It allows businesses to display brief advertisements, video content, and other forms of multimedia across the Google network. The platform offers unparalleled reach and the capability for personalised targeting. This article aims to delve into the intricacies of Google Ads and its unique offerings that distinguish it from other advertising avenues.


How Google Ads Functions

Here’s a breakdown of the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model in Google Ads:

  1. Keyword Selection: Choose relevant keywords for your product or service.
  2. Bidding: Place bids on your chosen keywords.
  3. Quality Score & Ad Rank: Google determines your ad’s visibility.
  4. Charges: You’re billed each time someone clicks on your ad.

Google Ads uses an auction system for keyword bidding, which sets it apart in terms of both effectiveness and budget control. Unlike traditional advertising, where you pay a fixed amount for a slot, Google Ads provides a more dynamic and cost-effective solution.


In-Depth Targeting Capabilities

What really distinguishes Google Ads is its granular targeting. You can pinpoint your audience based on:

  • Geographic Location: Target cities, regions, or even countries.
  • Demographics: Age, gender, household income, etc.
  • User Behaviour: Past searches, website visits, and more.
  • Device Type: Desktop, mobile, tablet.

Remarketing is another feature that further refines targeting. If a user has previously visited your website but not converted, you can ‘remarket’ to this individual, thereby increasing your chances of converting them into a customer.


Variety of Ad Formats

Google Ads provides businesses with a smorgasbord of ad formats, each designed to serve a unique purpose and reach a specific audience segment.

  • Search Ads: These ads appear directly in Google’s search results when users type in queries relevant to your business. For example, a local bakery might use search ads to target keywords like “best chocolate cake near me,” enabling them to compete directly with larger, more established brands.
  • Display Ads: These are graphic ads that appear on Google’s partner websites, usually in the form of banners or smaller rectangle units. If you’ve ever read an online article and noticed an ad on the side that oddly relates to a recent search of yours, you’ve encountered a Display Ad. Businesses like online clothing retailers frequently use this format to retarget customers who have visited their website but not made a purchase.
  • Video Ads: Video ads are usually run through YouTube and are excellent for brand storytelling or showcasing product features. For example, a fitness trainer could use a short, engaging video ad to offer a quick workout tip, subtly promoting their online fitness course.
  • App Ads: Created explicitly for mobile platforms, App Ads encourage users to download your mobile application. These ads can appear within other apps or in search results. Imagine you’ve developed a new productivity app; Google App Ads can help you appear in relevant contexts, such as within articles about time management.
  • Shopping Ads: These are a boon for e-commerce businesses. If you search for a specific product, like a “Samsung Galaxy S21,” Google will display Shopping Ads from various sellers offering that product, complete with pricing and reviews. This allows for direct product comparison without requiring the user to click through multiple links.

Comparing Google Ads and Social Media Advertising

Google Ads employs a powerful feature known as intent-based targeting. Unlike platforms like Facebook or Instagram, which primarily focus on demographic or interest-based targeting, Google Ads hones in on what people are actively searching for. For instance, if someone is searching for “best winter boots,” and you’re a retailer specialising in footwear, your search ad has the potential to appear at the top of those search results. This positions your brand at the exact moment a potential customer has expressed a need or want, making them more likely to convert.

On the other hand, let’s consider a beauty brand that wants to launch a new line of organic skincare products. While Google Ads will help when people are actively searching for organic skincare solutions, social media platforms like Instagram are exceptional for visually showcasing the product range, building brand narrative, and appealing to lifestyle aspirations. Both have their merits, but Google Ads often holds the edge when it comes to immediate, intent-based conversions.


Google Ads versus Traditional Advertising Channels

Traditional advertising methods, like television and radio, serve as platforms where the brand’s message is broadcast to a wide audience, without much scope for interaction. You see a car advertisement on TV; you might like the car, but there’s no immediate way to interact with the brand or make a purchase decision.

Google Ads changes this dynamic by allowing for two-way interaction. For instance, let’s say you’re an online education platform that offers a course on digital marketing. Your Google Ad could lead to a landing page where the user can immediately sign up for a free trial class or download a relevant e-book. They’re not just receiving information; they’re taking action. This level of engagement is even more enhanced with lead forms embedded directly in the ads, capturing potential customer details for future communications. Furthermore, if you’re an e-commerce store, users can directly make purchases through shopping ads, providing a seamless transition from viewing to buying, which is absent in traditional advertising channels.


Cost-Efficiency and Measurability

Here are some key metrics to keep an eye on:

  • Click-Through Rates (CTR)
  • Conversion Rates
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

The platform also supports various budgets, allowing for daily spending limits that can be adjusted as needed. Google Ads’ comprehensive analytics let you track performance metrics such as CTR, conversion rates, and ROAS, providing a robust framework for data-driven decision-making.


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In summary, Google Ads offers a robust, flexible, and interactive platform for online advertising. Its multi-faceted approach makes it a superior choice over other online advertising channels. For those seeking instant visibility, highly targeted reach, and the ability to measure results effectively, Google Ads is second to none.


Frequently Asked Questions on Google Ads and Online Advertising


1. How Quickly Can I See Results with Google Ads?

  • Unlike SEO, which can take months to yield results, Google Ads offers almost immediate visibility. Once your campaign is set up and your ads are approved, they can start appearing in search results or on display networks right away. However, it’s important to note that while visibility is immediate, achieving your desired ROI may take some time and requires ongoing optimisation.

2. What Are Quality Scores and How Do They Affect My Google Ads?

  • Quality Score is a metric used by Google to measure the relevance and quality of your ads and keywords. It’s based on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest. A higher Quality Score can result in lower costs per click and better ad positions. The score is calculated based on factors like click-through rates, ad relevance, and the quality of the landing page to which the ad points.

3. Can I Set a Budget for My Google Ads Campaign?

  • Yes, Google Ads allows you to set a daily budget for your campaigns, which you can adjust at any time. You’re only charged when someone clicks on your ad, making it a cost-effective solution. Keep in mind that setting a budget too low may limit the exposure of your ads, while setting it too high without proper optimisation can result in wasted spend.

4. How Does Google Ads Compare to Advertising on Social Media Platforms?

  • While both platforms offer robust targeting options, Google Ads capitalises on user intent, as it shows ads based on what users are actively searching for. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are generally better for brand awareness and reaching users based on demographics and interests. However, they may not capture the same level of purchase intent as someone conducting a specific search on Google.

5. What Types of Businesses Can Benefit from Google Ads?

  • Google Ads is versatile enough to accommodate a wide range of businesses, from local shops to global enterprises. Whether you’re in the retail, service, or digital product space, Google Ads can be tailored to meet your specific advertising needs. The key is to identify your target audience, choose relevant keywords, and create high-quality ad content to achieve your marketing objectives.


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