Sunday, October 23, 2011

Adapting AdWords for small businesses

In early 2010, I was talking with some friends from Google’s India office about how to help small, local businesses advertise online. We found that small business owners the world over had a key commonality: very little time. We decided to tackle this problem head on, with the hopes of making the advertising process quicker and easier for small businesses. My colleagues in India flew out to our headquarters in California, and we teamed up with a Google Maps product manager who had some first hand experience working with small business owners. One of his friends ran a small mountain clothing store in New Hampshire called The Mountain Goat of Hanover, which had just moved to town. She was responsible for staffing, bookkeeping, inventory management and many other time-intensive tasks—all with very little help. She had the desire to try promoting her business online, but learning to manage a new form of advertising wasn’t something she had time for.
Kendra Dynok, manager of The Mountain Goat of Hanover, helps a customer.
The Mountain Goat of Hanover was our first case study, but it seemed like any interaction we had with a small business led to a conversation about how it advertised. A photographer in Virginia, a San Francisco dentist and a contractor re-doing my kitchen all told the same story: Online advertising should be simpler. What all of these business owners needed was advertising that was measurable, affordable and quick. While they could use AdWords, they needed something even faster: a tool that they could set up easily and then walk away from, trusting that their advertising would be managed efficiently. A handful of us started building a new tool for advertisers that met these requirements and within a few weeks, we were beta testing it with the owner of The Mountain Goat, the photographer, the dentist and the contractor—inviting more small businesses as interest grew. We literally went door to door in San Francisco and Chicago, asking local businesses if our tool could help them advertise better. Soon, we had more than 50 businesses testing the new ads product and within a few months, that number was over 2,000. Our team runs somewhat like the small businesses with which we work. We’re a small, close-knit group of friends that spend most of our time huddled in a room making decisions on the spot and moving fast to launch a product in a matter of months. By the end of 2010, we’d launched our tool, which we called Google Boost at the time, in 25 cities across five states. And just last week, we officially launched AdWords Express to all businesses in the U.S. We would never have been able to do that outside of Google, where we were able to leverage the existing AdWords system, infrastructure and dedicated teams. By making it easier for people to implement effective advertising campaigns, we’ve been able to bring tens of thousands of small businesses online—and we’ve only just begun.

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