Poorly optimized Google Adwords copy could be wasting a quarter of your search budget

Charity Adwords Research Whitepaper

Last year, while working on a client project, I came across a very interesting company called The ATO Co. They’re an international AdWords copywriting agency who have developed an ad text effectiveness algorithm which enables them to audit Google Adwords copy and score it to show how well optimized it is.

Talking with them about the serious impact that can result from AdWords copywriting that doesn’t follow optimization best practice was a real eye-opener.

The reason being that Google AdWords rewards advertisers who run more effective advertising campaigns with lower advertising costs (i.e. a lower CPC) – based on what Google calls Quality Score (QS). The difference between you having a QS of 10 and a QS of 1 can mean that you’re saving as much as 30% on your annual budget – or paying up to 600% over the odds for every click. Assuming you’ve optimized your landing page, the last variable in the QS calculation is your ad text. So, all of a sudden taking a far closer look at the way your AdWords copy is written makes very sound financial sense!

Our discussions about this led to us working together to examine just what sort of a financial impact the lack of AdWords optimization might be having for UK charities.

The guys at The ATO Co took a cross-section of Google AdWords ad texts from the UK’s 20 leading charities and evaluated them using their effectiveness algorithm. As suspected, they found a whole lot of the ad copy was far from fully optimized – overall amounting to a potential overpayment of up to £2.66m on the £10m spent by those charities on Google AdWords.

That equates to these charities paying up to 27% more for their Google advertising than they needed to.

Anyone with experience of digital fundraising knows that it’s no easy task to generate good, sustainable levels of online donations, and that means that we need to take every opportunity there is to optimize activities to maximise the net income generated.

However, while online advertising spend grows year-on-year, I don’t hear many charities talking about how well they’re optimizing their spend in paid search. So, what we’re hoping is that this research will help spark the debate and lead to more charities adopting AdWords optimization best practice and so significantly increase the cost-effectiveness of their paid search activity.

The full findings of our research were released today in a whitepaper that you can download for free here.