Want a simple and easy to understand rundown of Google Adwords that doesn’t sound like rocket science? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I break down  the 4 most common Google Adwords campaigns that are widely used by advertisers.

What is Google Adwords?

Google Adwords is Google’s advertising platform that allows you to bid on certain keywords so that your ads can appear on Google’s search results. When someone clicks on your ad, they are sent to your website or landing page and you are then charged on a pay per click basis. That’s how Google make their money. Ever typed something in Google and have these ads pop up? Congratulations, you’ve been served an ad by Google!

As I mentioned earlier, there are 4 main types of campaigns that are commonly used by advertisers to generate the results they are after (sales or leads). It is  important to note that each campaign serves a very different purpose and not all campaign types will be suited to your business goal or objective. Choosing which campaign to use largely depends on your target market, business goals and budget. 

Search Campaign

Google search is the most common, well known and most used type of campaign within the Adwords platform. This is where I would recommend most businesses start their Adwords journey.

How Does It Work?

With this campaign, your ads will appear on Google’s search engine results page (refer to image above) when a prospect types in a keyword that you have bided on. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Paying for a click each time can be very expensive, but if you have a well designed and optimised campaign it won’t break the budget.

Why so? Search campaigns can be very effective in targeting an active user who wants their problem solved right there and then. Your potential prospects only see the ad when they are searching for exactly the service or products that you offer. Search ads sit above any organic listing on the search engine results page (SERPS) and stand out more so than organic listings due to the vast array of ad extensions that are available (Read this post here for a breakdown of ad extensions on the search network). You can include your business phone number, location, opening hours, reviews, ratings and so much more.

Display Campaigns

Display campaigns are run on the Google Display Network (GDN). The GDN is a large network of websites that Google display advertising on. A display campaign is a lot more visual than search because you are showing image based ads on website, maps and apps.The cost per click (CPC) is usually a lot cheaper than the search network and you will receive a lot more impressions as more users who are browsing will see your ads.

How Does It Work?

The ads that are shown on the display network can be static banner image ads or interactive banner ads (HTML, flash and video ads). The GDN is huge, with over 2 million websites reaching over 90% of audiences on the internet. The GDN lets you target your audience in a few ways including:

  • Keywords: Placing your ads on websites that have certain keywords that you choose, which are related and themed around your business / industry. Google scans their network for content which matches your keywords that you want to target.
  • Topics: Targeting websites that have specific topics that you find relatable to your business/industry.
  • Placements: Choosing specific websites where you want your ads shown. 

It’s important to note that users who will be shown your ads are not actively looking for any ads to solve their problem like the search network. Users are actually navigating the internet as they usually would, skimming their favourite blogs, reading their favourite newspaper publication and generally just ‘browsing’, so it is harder to grab user’s attention while they are in this mode. With this in mind, businesses who want to start display advertising are usually looking to increase their online presence as they have already dabbled in search campaigns and are ready to cast the net out wider to a larger audience.


Example of a Display Ad

Remarketing Campaigns

Remarketing is another type of campaign that is commonly used by businesses. It also runs on the GDN. Remarketing is a very powerful campaign and works best when used in conjunction with another campaign (search or shopping). Remarketing allows advertisers to target users who have previously visited their website and show them ads while they browse the internet. Essentially, you are targeting a very defined audience – users who have shown interest in your product/service by visiting your website (sounds creepy doesn’t it?). This is a powerful tool and works incredibly well due to the defined audience. It is because of this that your cost per acquisition will be lower than other campaigns on Adwords. 

How Does It Work?

To start targeting these people, you have to place a remarketing code on every single page of your website – this allows you to pick up all the people who have visited your website. There are many ways to target these people for instance, you can segment users by creating lists based on the last number of days a user has been on the site, if they have visited a particular page i.e men’s t-shirts, put something in their cart but abandoned and more. For best results, you should ensure that your remarketing list contains over 1000 people. The bigger the list, the better your chances are of getting people to take the desired action on your website.

Shopping Campaigns

If you are an Ecommerce business looking to sell your products online, then Google Shopping campaigns are for you. Merchants can showcase their products on the Google SERPs. The ads are visual and have a lot more information than a standard text ad including:

  • Price of your product
  • Image of your product
  • Description of your product
  • Link to the website product page
  • Promotional information such as a special offer / deal


How Does It Work?

When users click on the ads, you are charged on a pay per click basis, just like any other Google Adwords campaign. To get started, you need to ensure that you have a Google Merchant Centre Account. You can think of your shopping campaigns as the front of your shop and the Merchant Centre as the back room where your shop information is stored such as shipping information, business name, address and most importantly, your product feed. A product feed is a file containing all your product information, basically your product data. 

The merchant centre is where Google reviews everything to ensure that what you are selling complies with its strict shopping policy and set up procedures after all, Google wants its users to have the best experience possible with shopping campaigns. I just want to put it out there that setting up google shopping can be extremely painful, slow and causes advertisers a lot of headaches as it takes a lot of time to get the campaigns up and running due to the long set up process. But once you have it up and running, it’s worth it. The Cost per clicks are extremely low and you will generate a higher ROI.


I’ve broken down the 4 most common types of campaigns that are widely used by advertisers. Getting your head around them all can be tricky at first and it’s safe to say that I have only scratched the surface. Google’s got a lot more campaign types which are available for advertisers to use (we’ll break this down in another post). Ultimately, the best advice that I can give to advertisers that want to start on Google Adwords is to determine your business goals and what you want to achieve. From there, start a search campaign and get familiar with the platform. New campaign types should be tried once you’ve mastered the basics of the search network.