Google Search Ads

Search Engine Marketing

Anyone searching for things on Google is likely familiar with Google Search ads, the ads that show up at the top of your search result page. These campaigns are launched through the Google Ads interface. Campaigns use a list of keywords on a certain topic to then find people searching for those terms or similar ones and show those users your ads. Ads are all text.

Users

~60% of all U.S. search traffic

Meant For

Communications & Digital Staff, Ad Agencies

Resources

Who Is It For

Any organization or campaign that wants to drive public education on a specific candidate or issue. Search ads allow you to be the first answer to a user’s web query.

Common Use Case

Google search can be useful for strengthening name ID, fundraising off of voter interest, and mobilizing voters who require more research to make their election choices.

Strengths

  • Ensure your brand is seen above organic results
  • Users who see ads are invested in finding an answer to a question they have – this increases the value of the ad as an answer but also ensures that traffic from search ads is of high quality
  • Text only – save on creative production time
  • Only visible when searched for and other targeting settings are met
  • Google provides automated reports with new keywords for search
  • Quick way to build up presence in Google search results in the short term while SEO efforts are underway

Drawbacks

  • Unintuitive UI
  • Setup is difficult and has many settings that are required for success but are not easy to find in the ads manager
  • Severely limited character counts for ad copy
  • By default, campaigns will often overspend daily budgets and in some cases, make it difficult to enforce a hard limit on a lifetime budget. Frequent manual monitoring or automated scripts are needed to correct this.

US Political Ad Policies

Google requires verification for advertisers who want to run election ads (defined as “ads that feature a current officeholder or candidate for an elected federal office, such as that of the President or Vice President of the United States, or members of the United States House of Representatives or the United States Senate”) or use political affiliation in personalized advertising in the United States.

Google’s political ad policy does not extend to ads on state or local offices, news content, or ads for products or services, including promotional political merchandise like t-shirts.The process typically takes 3-5 days.

CPM by Creative Type

Click-thru Rate: 4.1%

Notable Targeting Capablities

  • Specific keywords such as names and ballot initiative numbers
  • Geo-targeting (Country, state, city, DMA, congressional district, and ZIP code)
  • Detailed demographic information

Hot Takes

“To me, running search ads for anything electoral is a no-brainer. It’s a cheap way to get in front of people who are demonstrating an interest in a candidate/issue/election/etc, and the ads are easy to produce. However, it’s an ad type that many fail to utilize. On the Ledge project, only 34% of the candidates we were supporting ran Google Search ads to people searching for their own names – meaning they missed out on the opportunity to solidify what was at the top of their results page and control the first chance to define their brand.”

– Sarah Cox, ACRONYM

“There’s nothing more important than being the first answer to a voter’s question, and making sure your results answer their question. Your ad allows you to create a custom response and even if they don’t click to your site, you can’t put a price on that.”

– Brian Young, ACRONYM

“I highly suggest setting aside a large budget for search in the final few days of an election. You want your candidate’s name to show up when people are searching for election information. In Colorado, we were able to spend close to $5,000 a day in *each state senate district* in the final two days before the 2018 election. This meant our candidates’ names were at the top of a majority of searches in our target districts.”

– Emmy Barcelo, ACRONYM

Related Tools

We need your support.

Arena needs your support to convene, train and support the next generation of candidates and their staff.

Thanks for checking out our paid media tools.

Please enter your email address for access.

Stay up to date with news and resources from the Arena community

By providing your cell phone number you consent to receive periodic updates from Arena, including automated text messages and phone calls. Txt HELP for help, STOP to end. Msg & Data rates may apply. Privacy Policy.

Stay up to date with news and resources from the Arena community

By providing your cell phone number you consent to receive periodic updates from Arena, including automated text messages and phone calls. Txt HELP for help, STOP to end. Msg & Data rates may apply. Privacy Policy.