Small Business Owners that have been shying away from running a pay-per-click campaign on Google AdWords because they are afraid of making a mistake in setting up their campaigns may wish to rethink their avoidance. Google AdWords is now offering a streamlined "starter edition" of their AdWords setup that's designed to make it easier for new PPC advertisers to get a small campaign up and running in record time.

When new advertisers in some regions (so far it appears to be just the U.S.) login to create an AdWords account, they are given the option of signing up via the "starter edition" or the "standard edition." The standard edition accounts pretty much make up the traditional AdWords environment, it's the starter edition that gives a quick and easy option to new advertisers.

Why Starter Edition is a Good Thing

I've heard time and time again from small business owners that pay per click marketing is simply too confusing, too expensive and too difficult for them to dive in to. While they are right to be cautious, most fail to realize that they don't have to take advantage of every single offering in the AdWords program when they first sign-up. Starter Edition is based off this premise.

Advertisers are able to setup a simple campaign on a sign-up form that consists of a single page. The targeting options are limited, as is control over fine details of the campaign, but it is a quick and easy way for new advertisers to take the system for a test drive. Overall, setting up a campaign can be done in just five steps.

1.) Select an ad location and language - Advertisers will need to select where they want their ad to run...The United States, the UK, etc... They also need to select their language of choice, English for most advertisers, but other languages are also an option. Note, advertisers are limited to a single location and a single language.

2.) Write a single ad - Advertisers will only be able to run one ad for campaigns set up through the Starter Edition interface. They'll need to create a headline and two lines of brief ad copy.

3.) Choosing keywords - Advertisers can decide which keywords they wish to add to their campaign. It is important to note that the same CPC and ad text apply to all keywords in campaigns setup through the Starter Edition.

4.) Choose a Currency - Pretty simple...if you're American, you're going to select dollars, if you're British, you'll pick pounds and so on.

5.) Set a Monthly Budget - Advertisers need to plug in the maximum amount that they are willing to spend each month. Google will shut down a campaign once this amount has been spent.

From there, it's simply a matter of completing the account form, entering payment information and watching your ads start running. There's no dealing with groups, multiple variations of ad copy, individual bids, landing pages, etc...

Why Starter Edition Isn't a Great Thing

I'm not going to say that the option is a bad thing, because it's obviously an option that's been a long-time coming for the small business market. On the other hand, the danger of an offering like this is that it's all the more likely that an advertiser will setup a program, get poor results and then decide that pay per click advertising "doesn't work."

Because the Starter Edition lacks the option to fine tune accounts with things like individual landing pages, individual keyword bids and multiple combinations of ad text, it would be very difficult to setup anything but a very narrow campaign while actually creating a strong return on investment.

In other words, small business owners will need to view Starter Edition as what it is...a starting point. Advertisers can upgrade their accounts to the standard system at any time, thus turning on more advanced targeting and management options. Ultimately, that should be the entire point. Advertisers that are wary of setting up a new campaign should use the Starter Edition interface to get going and then once they are comfortable, should take the plunge into the full version so that they can expand and fine tune their campaigns.

More information on the Starter Edition option is available in the Starter Edition FAQ and a comparison of features offered on Starter and Standard is available in the Google AdWords Help Center.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

March 17, 2006

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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