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How to Make the Most of a Limited Google Ads Budget

From small and mid-sized businesses to global brands, we have seen clients challenged with a limited Google Ads budget.

A "Limited Google Ads budget" may mean something different, depending on the business strategy and goals. For a small local business, a few hundred dollars may be the maximum investment possible, and they are looking for the most efficient way to spend. For a national or global business, a multi-million-dollar budget may still be spread too thin, based on their large market.

No matter the business size or advertising budget, the approach to identifying areas to optimize budget is shockingly similar.

Our digital marketing team has seen countless accounts where budget was not maximized to its fullest potential, which is why we are so passionate in sharing a few key areas to identify how to utilize your Google Ads budget most effectively.

Impression Share

We cannot dive into the other sections without first talking about Impression Share (IS). This is our most used phrase on calls with our clients.

Impression Share is the percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get (Impression share = impressions / total eligible impressions), each ad auction.

In a nutshell: Impression Share provides a view of how often your ads are showing.

If a campaign’s Search Impression Share is only 20% – that indicates your ads are not appearing in approximately 80% of searches.

Fret not, we are here to help you break down what this means.

There are two metrics to help you analyze Impression Share: Impression Share Loss Due to Budget and Impression Share Loss Due to Rank.

  • Impression Share Loss Due to Budget: This is the percentage of time your ad did not appear because your budget is too low.
    • If this is the case, the advertiser may choose to increase budget or identify areas to narrow targeting to decrease Impression Share Loss Due to Budget. The following sections include recommendations for the later.
  • Impression Share Loss Due to Rank: This is the percentage of time your ad did not appear because of poor ad rank, which is usually attributed to bid amount, ad relevance, and landing page relevance.
    • If this is the case, the advertiser can investigate improving ad and landing page copy to align more closely with keywords on the user’s intent. Alas, this could be a blog article in itself—stay tuned!

Targeting Analysis

If an agency only suggests increasing spend without offering ideas to increase Impression Share by offering targeting adjustment suggestions—that is a red flag.

There are numerous ways to increase impression share as well as increase your return on investment.

The key is to slice and dice all your targeting to identify where your strongest performers are—or most importantly, where your poor performers are (especially the ones spending a high percentage of budget and yielding lower results).

There are many areas to optimize targeting, but below are a few ideas:

  • Location
  • Demographic (Age, Gender, Parental Status, and Household Income)
  • Device
  • Audience
  • Ad Schedule
  • Keywords

Campaign Structure

Re-thinking your campaign structure may also be an area to improve Impression Share.

There are many varying factors that come into play when deciding campaign structure for each business.

With automated bidding strategies and Impression Share there is a careful balance at play.

Automated bidding strategies work best when they are provided a significant amount of performance data—limiting your campaign targeting too much (or breaking campaigns out too granularly) may impact a bidding strategy’s ability to optimize at its maximum capacity.

However, if you know X keywords have a much higher return than Y keywords (and both have high search demand), you may want to consider breaking out the X category keywords into their own campaign to ensure budget is fully funded for those terms, before allocating to Y keywords.

Overall, when it comes to campaign structure, one of the most common issues we see in accounts is a business trying to support too many services, products, or markets—and as a result, not knocking any out of the park.

Our biggest piece of advice: focus on priority areas first, then build out from there.

Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

After making the above adjustments, watch Impression Share closely and note where the account has seen performance gains or performance decreases.

With the competitive landscape always shifting, it is crucial to keep an eye on monthly fluctuations to determine if strategy or targeting adjustments are needed.

At this point, you may be wondering why we are offering the inside scoop on how we approach analyzing campaigns with a limited Google Ads budget.

We want to share our overall approach so that businesses can be aware of the opportunities in Google Ads to leverage their budget most effectively.

We understand the actual analysis and strategy that goes into these recommendations can be daunting,  but Marathon’s Digital Marketing team is here to help!

Shoot us a message, and let’s connect to ensure your Google Ads budget is being spent as efficiently as possible.

Rachel Brannaman
Rachel BrannamanCore Contributor

Rachel is a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist and Team Lead at Marathon Consulting. She has a passion to increase a company's bottom line using data-centered digital strategy—with a creative twist. Rachel and the PPC & SEO team enjoy the challenge of providing support for clients in a wide variety of industries—from small businesses to global enterprises—all with the end goal of driving business growth. Rachel and her husband recently added two additions to the family—a baby girl and a rambunctious goldendoodle. Fun fact: she doesn’t have a sense of smell (really).

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