While it’s not the best thing to spend your political campaign money on if you have a limited budget or are running in a very small race, Google AdWords can be a good advertising option if you’re a candidate in a medium-sized or large election. I’ll write a more in-depth post about how to optimize Google AdWords ads for political campaigns later, but right now I’m going to give you a brief, high-level look at exactly what the program is and how it works.
The AdWords program is how Google makes a large part of the billions of dollars it rakes in every year. If you’ve ever used the Internet, then you’ve seen Google AdWords ads online . . . although you might not have realized it.
When you do a Google search, you’ll often see results in the sidebar under the heading “sponsored links” . . . those are AdWords ads. You have probably also seen AdWords ads on blogs and websites, where they appear under the heading “ads by Google.”
Any person or organization can purchase AdWords ads, and they can be very effective because you can specify exactly what states, cities and zip codes you would like your ads to appear in on the Internet. Additionally, you can set your ads so they only show up when someone does a search for a specific set of keywords.
Here’s an example: let’s say that you’re running for County Commissioner in Lorain County, Ohio. When you create your first AdWords ad, you can specify that you only want people to see the ad when they do a Google search at computers in the zip codes of specific cities in Lorain County.
Additonally, you can use Google’s free AdWords Keyword Tool to tell you what kind of keyword phrases people might search for that have to do with political campaign candidates, and specify that you want your ad to show up when those specific searches are performed in Lorain County.
In the AdWords program, you place “bids” on how much you’re willing to pay for each time someone clicks on your ad for a given keyword phrase search. For example, Google AdWords might indicate that the average bid for ads that show up for a search of “Lorain County Commissioner” is fifty cents per click. You could bid a similar amount, or you could bid a bit higher in hopes that your ad will show up higher in the queue for that keyword.
It probably sounds a bit confusing, but you’ll get the hang of it very quickly if you open your own AdWords account and start bidding on keywords. You need to have a political campaign website to direct your AdWords traffic to, of course–and it’s best to send your AdWords traffice to a pre-designed landing page that is optimized to get people to donate to your campaign, sign up for your newsletter, or some other sort of conversion metric.
In addition to giving you the ability to set your maximum bids for how much you want to pay per click on your ads, Google AdWords also lets you set a maximum daily budget, too.
If you don’t want to spend more than five dollars a day on AdWords traffic to your site, then you can specify this in the program and your ads will automatically stop showing when you reach that threshold.