How to set up a Google Ads campaign

It’s no secret that we love the Google Ad grant platform and the many ways in which it can help nonprofits to drive meaningful impact. Getting the Google Ad Grant for Nonprofits is an amazing first step, but now you might be wondering how on earth to set it up. Let’s take it one step at a time, and start with building a Google Ads campaign.

What is a campaign in  Google Ads?

When we talk about campaigns in regards to a Google Ad Grant account, we’re talking about a set of search ads that are grouped together by a common theme or goal. Within a campaign, these ads can be further organized into smaller bundles (called ad groups), but they will all share the same campaign settings.
For instance, we could create a separate campaign in a Whole Whale Google Ads account for each of our resource verticals (analytics, communications, impact and capacity, etc.). Within our Analytics Campaign, we might have different ad groups driving to Google Analytics and Facebook analytics resources. Having separate ad groups for these topics allows us to better tailor our ads and messaging to relevant searches, but at the campaign level it makes sense to group these topics together since they have the same overarching goal of driving users to our Analytics resources.
Got it? Great—let’s build a Google Ads campaign.

How to set up a Google Ads campaign

1. Set digital goals

The best way to effectively organize your Google Ads Campaigns is to outline the goals for your ads before you build them—this will help you find intuitive ways to group ads into campaigns. Answer the following questions to help set digital goals:

  • What are the meaningful actions users can take on our site?
  • How can Google Ads help us to drive these actions?

2. Create a new Google Ads campaign

Once you’re in your grant account, navigate to the Campaigns tab to view all data for each of your built campaigns. Use the + icon to start the campaign creation process. You can use the pre-populated goals to help direct your campaign creation, or create a campaign without a goal. Select the search campaign type, and then move on to general settings.

3. Choose campaign settings

First, name your Google Ads campaign! Try to keep campaign naming conventions consistent so that it’s easy for you and other team members to navigate the account. Then move through each setting option—settings apply at the campaign level, so keep this in mind when considering how ads and ad groups are organized between campaigns.

  • Geotargeting: Only target locations relevant to your organization’s  services
  • Language: Ads must be written in the language you are targeting, so don’t select multiple languages unless you can write the ads to accompany them
  • Ad schedule: Choose days of the week and/or times of day to show your ads—use this feature to better target your ads at the times during which users are most likely to search for your keywords, depending on the needs of your target audiences.
  • Budget: Budgets in Ad Grant accounts are set by a daily limit—your campaign won’t spend more than it’s daily limit times the average number of days in a month (but it could spend more or less on a day-to-day basis). When setting up a new account, we recommend setting each campaign at the maximum level for the $10k grant ($329/day) until traffic patterns, campaign priorities, and high-performers become more clear.
  • Bid strategy: Select your bidding strategy directly from among both the automated and manual bid strategies available, depending on which strategy best aligns with your campaign goals and budget.

4. Build an ad group

Every Google Ads campaign in a grant account is required by policy to contain at least 2 ad groups. These ad groups are the smaller topic buckets and related keywords that will help you target each set of ads within your campaign to the most relevant search terms and audiences.

  • Choose keywords: Each ad group must contain a group of related keywords, ideally 15 or more. Choose keywords with a high search volume that use the language your audience understands and would type into a search engine.
  • Pick a landing page: Choose a landing page for your ads that is keyword-rich and optimized for conversions. Note that all ads within an ad group must direct to the same landing page (but ad groups in the same campaign can have different destinations).
  • Write ads: Write headlines, ad copy, and calls-to-action that encourage users to click through to your site and create a cohesive narrative from search term to landing page. Note that every ad group within a grant account is required by policy to have at least 2 ads.

5. Analyze + optimize!

Look at the data! Do more of what works, and don’t be afraid to pause or edit what doesn’t. Use our Google Ads optimization checklist to help you identify important data trends and policies to better direct your Google Ads campaign management.

Feeling ready to build a Google Ads campaign? Practice makes perfect, but if you’d like more training before you starting building check out our Whole Whale University course on the Google Ad Grant for Nonprofits for detailed information and walkthroughs on Ad Grant account management.