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The 4 Pillars of Google Ads

Have you struggled to tap into the enormous potential of Google Ads? If so, implement 3 of the 4 growth pillars in this article to turn Google Ads into a source of meaningful and predictable growth in your business.

Why should you be using Google Ads?

I think these 2024 statistics compiled by Demandsage speak for themselves:

  • Google Ads reach a staggering 4.77 billion Internet users
  • Google Ads have a 200% average ROI
  • Google Ads receive 65% of clicks for buying keywords (leaving just 35% for organic results)
  • 63% of people would rather click a Google ad over any other ad network
  • Visitors from Google Ads are 50% more likely to make a purchase than visitors from organic search

Ok, I think you get the idea. The Google Ads platform provides nearly limitless potential for growth…

But in order to capitalize on that potential, your campaigns need to be set up for maximum performance.

And that’s where the 4 Pillars of Google Ads come in.

The 4 Pillars of an Effective Google Ads Campaign

Would you sit on a stool with only 1 or 2 legs?

Of course not. You wouldn’t trust a stool to support you unless it had at least 3 legs, and preferably 4.

The same concept holds true for Google Ads.

To make the most of the Google Ads platform, you
should implement at least 3 (and preferably all 4) of these pillars in your campaigns:

  1. Google Search Ads (Required)
  2. Google Shopping & Performance Max (Required)
  3. Remarketing Ads (Required)
  4. Top-of-Funnel Ads (Recommended)

Now let’s dive into these pillars one by one.

Pillar #1: Google Search Ads

When Google first launched Search Ads way back in 2020, people found it almost eerie how well Google could interpret what you were looking for in a search query.

Today, they’re even better. And Google has gone beyond text-only ads and added the ability to augment your ads with image extensions and favicons to help you stand out even more in the search results page.

But the concept is the same as ever: displaying text-based ads that are highly relevant to the user’s search term.

Some marketers have a tendency to overlook Search Ads in favor of the next shiny new object.

Don’t let that happen to you, because they’re still one of the BEST ways to get your ads in front of interested prospects who are searching for your company or the product or service you provide.

For that reason, Search Ads are one of the essential pillars of a high-performing Google Ads strategy.

(Here are 3 of our favorite Search campaigns to copy.)

Pillar #2: Google Shopping & Performance Max Ads

You’ve seen Google Shopping Ads before. We all have. These are the image-based product listing ads that appear when we search for a product, like “over-the-shoulder women’s bags”:

These ads are fabulous because they put your product in front of shoppers who are in the purchasing mode.

This is what we call “wallet-out traffic,” because their wallet is out and sitting on the table ready to be used when they find that perfect product they’re looking for.

Speaking of finding the perfect product: notice how Google Shopping Ads make it easy to do comparison shopping. You can compare products based on their appearance, brand, and price all in a quick glance:

(Here are some tips on how to create winning Shopping funnels.)

And because of the high buyer intent associated with these searches, Google Shopping Ads and Performance Max are another essential pillar of Google Ads.

What are Performance Max Ads?

For pillar #2, I combined Shopping Ads with Performance Max Ads.

If you’re not familiar with Performance Max, it’s a new campaign type that uses machine learning to mix and match your assets in order to show the best-performing ads to users across all of Google’s advertising channels.

Performance Max Ads could completely replace Google Shopping Ads someday. But as of right now, you’ll get the best performance when you use these two ad types together. These two really work well in combination with each other.

Molly dives deeper into Performance Max ads in this podcast episode.

Pillar #3: Remarketing Ads

If there was ever a time when Remarketing Ads weren’t an essential part of your Google Ads strategy, that time is past.

Anyone running Google Ads should absolutely be doing remarketing to recapture the interested prospects who have engaged with you but not yet made a purchase.

These tend to be high-ROI campaigns that help increase your overall return on ad spend.

For remarketing, you’ll want to use roughly an equal mix of YouTube Ads and Display Ads (including the Discovery Network).

Display Ads for Remarketing

Display Ads are the ubiquitous image-based ads you’ve seen all over the internet, including on huge news sites like CBC, CNN, ESPN, and so on:

The Discovery Network gives you the opportunity to show ads on really primo placements including YouTube, the Google app, and more:

Ads on the Discovery Network can even reach people on Gmail as an ad that the user clicks to expand. This is an especially powerful tactic for remarketing, since it gives you the ability to serve a remarketing ad at the top of a prospect’s inbox:

YouTube Ads for Remarketing

YouTube is an amazing channel. It reaches 90% of the population, and it’s still growing.

And unlike most other platforms that usually find popularity with a narrow segment of the population, YouTube’s popularity is growing with both young people AND with boomers.

YouTube’s use is even growing across a wider variety of devices. It’s not just on smartphones and tablets anymore; a huge amount of YouTube’s traffic now comes from TV screens.

Nielsen’s “The Gauge” data revealed that in December 2021, YouTube grew its share of total TV time to 8.7%, surpassing even Netflix (which had a 7.5% share).

Note: This is not including YouTube TV.

With that kind of reach, plus incredibly high engagement, YouTube remains one of the most powerful marketing channels in the world. (To learn more, check out these 7 tips for killer YouTube Ads.)

And YouTube is especially effective for both remarketing and for the final pillar of Google Ads…

Pillar #4: Top-of-Funnel Ads

Top-of-funnel ads (also called TOFU ads) refer to ads that are shown to “cold” audiences, or people who have never visited your website and have probably never heard of your brand.

They tend not to convert as well as Remarketing, Search, or Shopping Ads, since you’re targeting a less-interested audience. Despite that, TOFU ads can be incredibly important to your long-term success for one important reason:

TOFU ads are what attract new prospects to your brand, many of whom will later convert through your Remarketing, Search, and Shopping campaigns.

Out of all the 4 pillars I’ve shared in this post, TOFU ads are the one optional pillar. You don’t necessarily need them to run an effective Google Ads campaign, but as I just said, they’re incredibly powerful when your goal is stable and rapid growth.

The best channels for TOFU ads are the same as for remarketing ads:

  • YouTube Ads
  • Display Ads
  • Discovery Ads

I would lean toward more of your TOFU ads coming from YouTube, but let your results guide you here and shift your spend toward what’s working.

Go Build Your Pillars

Remember that your Google Ads campaigns work best when they’re working together — when your TOFU ads attract new users, who then get reminded of you from Remarketing Ads, which causes them to Google you and trigger a Search or Shopping ad.

Together, these 4 pillars help create the multiple touchpoints needed to turn an unaware prospect into a brand-new customer.

If you remove any of those essential pillars, your campaigns might continue to convert for a little while…

But eventually your results would start to wobble (just like a two-legged stool).

I encourage you to take a look at your Google Ads campaigns and look for any pillars you might be missing. Try adding them into the mix to see how much growth you can squeeze out of this massive platform.

That’s all — thanks for reading!

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