Google Boost Ads: Automated AdWords For Small Businesses

Several years ago Google was working on a radically simplified approach to AdWords called “Simple Ads.” It was supposed to totally automate AdWords creation and campaign management for small businesses. Google worked on that product for a long time and didn’t seem to be able to create a product it was satisfied with.

In the interim several locally focused and small business oriented ad products came out including the discontinued Local Listing Ads and the now broadly available Tags. Now it appears that Google has resuscitated Simple Ads in a new form: Boost. Mike Blumenthal discovered and posted about this new, simplified AdWords offering targeting small businesses:

The product automatically creates an Adwords campaign based on a businesses categories and information in the listing. The business sets the monthly budget and Google determines what search words trigger the ad.

This is apparently a test in a few markets. But there’s no bidding and no keyword research; it’s all automated and based on a desired (but probably recommended) monthly budget. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Credit: Mike Blumenthal

Claiming your Places page is a prerequisite to setting up Boost, so it creates another incentive for SMBs to do so.

If Google can make this work at low budget levels it could be a milestone for the SMB marketplace, which has relied on third party sales channels to provision AdWords campaigns. Self-service remains a challenge for SMBs with an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent doing any form of online self-service marketing.

However as ad programs become simpler and more automated they also become more accessible to a broader segment of the market.

Postscript: Google now has a post up about it:

Boost enables business owners to easily create online search ads from directly within their Google Places account. No ongoing management is needed after the initial set up, and this beta is currently available to select local businesses in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago.

Here’s a screen from the post showing the advertiser-facing setup:

Here’s how the ads will appear (reminiscent of Local Listing Ads). The blue pin will make them “pop” and in some cases more effective than conventional AdWords:

Postscript II: I just spoke to Google and discovered that agencies and third parties managing multiple SMB AdWords accounts cannot get access to these ads at present. I also discovered that $50 is the minimum monthly spend regardless of location or category. However dollar figures and estimated clicks will be category and location sensitive. Advertisers can spend more than the suggested maximum by using the custom button to specify a higher or different amount.

The fields shown in the set-up screen above are taken from the Profile page information (as “defaults”) but can be edited by the business owner.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Google: Maps & Local | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • George Michie

    This could be a big win for Google as well as small businesses. Agencies like ours have not found a great mechanism for serving that segment of the market — too much work for the size of the program to do it really well — so self-service totally makes sense.

    The challenge will be to see whether the automated process produces results that are good enough to satisfy the SMB’s needs.

  • Greg Sterling

    Exactly. Performance will be key. There’s been heavy churn in this segment from SMBs who’ve worked with third parties selling AdWords. We’ll see if Google can do better itself.

  • robertbrady

    I still think that any program that allows Google to manage AdWords spend for someone is letting the fox guard the hen house, budgets or not.

  • Igor Pokrovskiy

    Completely agree with previous comments! It’s all going to be all about performance.

    However, self-service means that budgets aren’t utilised to full potential, even if it is in terms of CPC levels and quantities of traffic for the level of investment. Plus, if this service is completely automated by a software, this means that any SME can’t utilise any of the optimisation techniques that should make any activity more cost-effective.

    It seems that Google are trying to secure a constant level of investment from people/businesses who still are clueless about SEM (otherwise AdWords is easy enough).

    I predict the results from self-service will be OK, which means that Google will obviously come back with “recommended daily budget” figure, which should in theory be slightly larger than funds available, and will increase month-on-month.

  • timscheer

    I am seeing the Boosts available for all of my accounts in a variety of cities and states, doesnt seem to be limited by area in my accounts.. I activated one for Greensboro and it was live within minutes.

  • atxppc

    A few questions/concerns:

    What about existing advertisers…if you have an Adwords account and are already running ads there, are your ads going to be double served with Boost as well?

    Also, if there’s no bidding or keywords, how will Google rank the ads when multiple businesses are using Boost in an area? Highest budget wins? Without a bidding system, how are they going to keep this “fair”?

    I’m not loving the idea of giving Google all control of your ads and budget. I’m seeing more cons with this than pros. Sounds like they’re just targeting small business owners who don’t know anything about SEM.

  • Tim Evans

    Maybe Google can make a video on Boost titled: AdWords for Dummies!

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide