Forbes: “5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use AdWords” – What’s wrong, what’s right.

Who really shouldn’t be using AdWords?

There’s an interesting article on Forbes which I felt compelled to respond to (original article here: )


AdWords always works

I love Google AdWords too, and so do my clients who earn more than they spend advertising there, and would love to pay Google more rather than less.

As I state in my new book “Clicks, Customers, Cashflow: Making AdWords Pay” on Amazon ( – AdWords always works.

You type a keyword search, a related ad can show up (if you do it right and your ad qualifies to show), and you get a click and a website visitor.

What’s not to work about that?

What people who say “AdWords doesn’t work” really mean is “We couldn’t get AdWords to work cost-effectively for our business”.

Totally different.

However, because every business is completely unique, there are often those who cannot make it work for their business economically with the resources and money at their disposal.

Lots of businesses buy clicks, get sales or leads, yet still go bust in the process.

Traffic from clicks alone is never enough – you have to get sales or leads, spend less than you earn in the process, and track and measure the right data amongst all the noise.

It’s all about profit and following the money, once you understand how AdWords works well enough to target your campaigns correctly, and integrate them into your web pages, sales processes, workflows, and financial circumstances.

The book goes into great detail on how to do this, based on data and showing screenshots from actual successful and profitable campaigns.

This isn’t about the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion any longer, it’s about data-driven decisions on how to turn $1.00 ad spend into $5, $10, $12, whatever, in revenue.

Here’s the points raised in the article, and my own, and my client’s perspective.

1. You Pay For Clicks

Of course you should pay for clicks – they are the lifeblood of your online business and buying them gives you absolute and total control over what they are, where they come from, the offer or solution you display in your ad, and where they go to.

You know what you spent, and you (should) know what you earned as a result.

Waiting around for unpredictable and so-called “free” clicks (they are not free, they cost time, money, in-house resource and/or outsourced tools and/or services) from other sources is crazy when you can get and control them on-demand.

Do your Social and SEO work after you’ve proved that visitors will buy or enquire when they visit, not before.

What’s the point of clicks, even so-called “free” ones, if no one buys from you when they visit your page?

I describe just such an actual client scenario in the book.

You are aiming for a profitable Return on Ad Spend which is completely measurable, and there’s no such thing as a “Return on SEO or Social” because you have absolutely no idea how much it cost you to get a click from a ranking link in the first place.

2. Hard to Compete With Big Companies

It’s true that big companies often have more money to spend, and hold it less accountable than they should.

They also often have completely different goals for their ad spend, with impressions, page views, branding etc, rather than earning more than they spend.

But small firms who go about things the right way can definitely survive and thrive, even in today’s competitive marketplaces.

There’s a screenshot in the book showing a major car manufacturer completely messing up their campaign, alongside the smaller dealers ads who are actually doing it right.

3. Limited Number of Characters

This is both a curse and a blessing, and forces you to be concise and focussed in how your write you ad offers.

Good landing page copy can be a source of a (practically) unlimited supply of great offers and answers to questions about what users are searching for.

As an experiment, in the book I show how I created 272 absolutely unique ads with just a single headline (you can only run a maximum of 50 active text ads at a time) from a single home page at

With other headlines, I could have created thousands of ads to test.

Having too few ads and not delivering them correctly is one of the biggest mistakes AdWords advertisers make.

In addition, Google is making more and more ad “extensions” e.g. sitelinks, callouts etc. available all the time to increase character counts and ad visibility when you occupy the prime ad positions at the top of the page.

4. Mistakes Can Cost You Dearly

I go back to 2004 with AdWords, before the days of built-in scheduling and auto-rules.

You couldn’t pause keywords (you had to delete them), and you had to buy 3rd party day-parting tools.

So back then, having ads run unintentionally was more of a possibility.

Now, there’s no excuses for ads to be running when they shouldn’t.

And with the new Business Data, ad customisers and countdown widgets it is getting easier all the time to set ads, program them to turn on and off, and forget them without running any risk of them showing when they shouldn’t.

As far as spelling goes, there’s no such thing as a wrong keyword if it’s one your prospective buyers are using, although typos in ads do run the risk of the ad being suspended, or looking ridiculous.

Because clicks are for show, and conversions are for dough, I go into excruciating detail about how conversion tracking can go wrong, and how to get it right.

5. It Doesn’t Fit Your Niche

People have to be actively searching for you with relevant keywords, or seeing your ads on relevant pages of other websites.

There can’t be many niches in the world of business where this does not apply.

So although not impossible, it’s highly unlikely for most businesses to occupy a niche that no-one has the least interest in.

The way to convey all the features and benefits of your product or service, particularly for general-purpose keyword searches like “lawn care” in the example, is to use as many ads as you need to describe your offers, like I illustrated above in the example with 272 unique ads.

Based on clickthrough and conversion rates, costs, and values, having a variety of ads like this will let your ad viewers self-select what they like, and tell you exactly what dedicated pages you need to strengthen your online offers.

You mention +broad +match +modifier here, and it’s true that this is a most important feature of AdWords to keep impression volumes high without running the risk of Google serving your ads for undesirable search queries, even if loosely related to your keywords and offers.

Never use broad match keywords, and make sure you also bid on [exact match] as these can perform better.

If just getting started, use [exact match] *only* and only introduce other match types when you are ready to scale up for more traffic when breaking even, in profit, or achieving your Customer Lifetime Value.

Don’t forget that you can also target browser languages, so, although Google doesn’t translate your ads, you can target them to people using different browser languages than English.

Basically, if you can’t get an AdWords campaign working in terms of getting targeted traffic, and profitable conversions to leads or sales – you’re either doing the campaigns wrong or your business model is broken or uneconomic.

My book shows you in detail how to audit your campaigns for profit. You can look inside on Amazon and get that info for free.

My clients run AdWords campaigns as profit centres, not cost centres.

We want as many clicks as we can get. Our challenge is often getting more clicks from new sources because we’re already buying every click we can.

In 10 years of working with AdWords clients, either consulting, training or managing their campaigns, these are the *real* reasons I have found why a business should NOT use AdWords:

1. Clicks.

Targeting the right clicks

You don’t have a 30-day budget you can spend and be prepared to walk away from in return for real-time, up to the minute and laser-focused market research from prospective buyers, down to where they are, what device they use, what questions they are asking, how they respond to your offers, and what it cost to get a visitor and the opportunity to convert them to the next action in your sales process.

Leads and sales conversions and revenue should be considered a bonus at this point.

Bid on [exact match] and closely targeted keywords only, on Google Search only, and not on mobile devices to start with.

Buy 100 clicks and see if you can get a 1% conversion rate to your desired action, knowing what that action has or will earn you either directly (sales) or indirectly (leads), taking into account your margins and other cost of goods or services.

If you’re only open for business and need phone calls between certain hours, schedule accordingly.

2. Customers.

Clicks are for show, but Conversions are for Dough

No resources to modify web pages, create new ones, and place tracking codes.

Conversion tracking (including revenue values, either dynamic, static, or imported) is fundamentally required and is not optional.

It’s the first thing I always scrutinise when auditing an AdWords account prior to consulting with clients or managing their campaigns.

Clients who can’t or won’t do these things don’t qualify for my management services.

There are any number of services out there (unbounce, clickfunnels, leadpages etc.) who allow you to setup new pages rapidly and test them for the best performance, often for ridiculously little money).

3. Cashflow.

Show me the Money

Sales cycles which last longer than 90 days.

After this AdWords cookies expire – providing they haven’t already been blocked or cleaned off, or the visitor has used multiple device which cookies don’t follow.

If this applies to you, you need to create and track an online event which is required for visitors to proceed further in your sales process (ideally with a transaction attached to it like an instalment or refundable deposit) so you can then follow this further downstream in your CRM.

No CRM? Why bother buying clicks to advertise?

For the whole story on how to make AdWords pay – look inside my book now on Amazon.

About David Rothwell

David Rothwell has been an AdWords Management Agency, Consultant and Trainer to world-wide businesses since 2005, and specialises Google AdWords for eCommerce merchants.

He is a featured speaker at International Marketing conferences in Chicago, London, New York, and Maui Hawaii, hosted by industry experts and Amazon AdWords Authors including Perry Marshall, Howie Jacobson, and Ken McCarthy’s System Seminar.

He is the author of "Clicks, Customers,Cashflow: The AdWords Bible for eCommerce", out now on Amazon.