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I Spent $6M on Google Ads Last Year (nicklafferty.com)
418 points by Torwald 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 298 comments



I tried Adwords for search again recently after several years. There was a decent number of clicks, and the cost per "action" seemed very reasonable, where for me, the action is clicking on the download link from the landing page to download the installer for our game. The only problem is that tracking the IP's, 90% of the traffic from Adwords that downloaded the installer never actually ran the installer. Organic traffic usually has much more than 50% of the people who download it, run it. Is it a bunch of robots driving clicks and then clicking randomly on links on the landing page? Seems really suspicious.


I run Google Ads for a mobile app I own.

If I try to optimize for download volume, that's all I get - bots after bots. Can rack up thousands of downloads for <10 cents per download without any impact on how many users actually use or rate the app.

I found that getting a good ROI required setting higher price targets and optimizing for in-app actions. That's really hard to do well and not very reliable, but it helped.


Excuse my ignorance, I know nothing about running these ads.

How does a bot know whether you've optimized for download volume or in-app actions? I don't understand how a bot would know to download the app to fulfill your requirement?

Furthermore, what is the incentive to write and operate these bots? Genuinely curious. The only party with an incentive to do this would be Google, no?


App owners who make money off serving ads are incentivized to do this (and have frequently been caught doing this).


If anyone's interested, the term is called click fraud - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_fraud


A FTP game can do a TON to encourage people to download apps that'll never be opened without committing clickfraud.


Gosh I'm old. Spent a while there trying to figure out how File Transfer Protocol could be relevant to clickfraud.


Ah, me too. For those still confused, "Free To Play"


Well, don't feel bad. I did the exact same thing, except I had the benefit of your post and its anscestor replies, so I wasted less time.

You don't have to be old -- we still use FTP all the time at my job. Of course, whenever we have a say we use some secure variant, but you don't always have a say (no matter how much you yell, grumble, sermonize about the dangers of insecure tech, etc).

Of course, you probably meant you feel old because "FTP" didn't immediately register to you as "Free To Play". Well, I can't help you there, because by that standard I guess I'm pretty old too.

:-D


I usually see it written F2P for free to play, which cuts down on ambiguity.


I thought the same. An FTP game? What have I been missing.


The correct acronym is F2P, not FTP for „free to play“


Please, let's bring back sharewares instead of this mess. Unplausible, I guess. Impossible, I'll hear. Whatever.


The bot doesn't know, but the ad platform is optimizing for similar traffic.

So if bots are more likely to click download, and bots have similarities, bots see more ads.


I was thinking the same thing, only google has an incentive to do this and it would be too risky for them, legally and to their reputation. Either this isn't happening as much as people think it is, or some third party has an unknown reason to be operating bots like this.


Another guess at a third party reason: bots adding noise to their behaviour. "If I go clicking on everything, it'll be harder to know what my actual target was."


Competitors have a strong incentive to click each other's ads.

Google has a strong incentive to let them.


That's false. The one area where I'm sure google doesn't mess around is with their ads division. They spend a proportionately large amount of money combating fraud to prevent erosion of confidence and most importantly accuracy in their main money maker.

If you've ever taken a look at the number of conversions fb ads provides vs google ads, you'd know this.


Agreed, especially where most of these clicks can be carefully audited and reconciled by the advertiser, it would make no sense for Google to threaten its reputation and primary money maker.

Edit: that being said, this does not seem to hold for Facebook, and I don't have a good reason why.


Google has a stronger incentive to not let them.

Google's advertising business is built on trust. The moment there are a few scandals involving fake/robot ad clicks, big advertisers will remove their ad campaigns.


Google is the only organization with the data to show this happening at scale and they don’t have incentive to connect all the one-off anecdotes.

So while it is risky, not sure how they could be caught. I don’t think they are running click fraud bots, but it’s hard to quantify how hard they work to stop them.

A friend of mine estimated that 1/3 of ad spend is click fraud but it’s just in the wash because it’s hard to stop.


> Can rack up thousands of downloads for <10 cents per download without any impact on how many users actually use or rate

I'm assuming you use display for this pricing? If so build a white list of acceptable sites or avoid display. Running open network is always waste of cash in y experience, especially mobile devices.


Only time I’ve ever used AdWords we got a lot of sign ups, but all from very random Gmail accounts. They were all bots. I either don’t get how AdWords works or it’s entirely useless for SaaS businesses.


I had exactly the same experience the handful of times I've used AdWords.

I also just released my app on the Play Store a couple of weeks ago, and had exactly the same thing within the first 48 hours - a bunch of suspiciously similar Gmail accounts, none of which had actually used the app (I know this because no backing accounts were made in the database).

The only conclusion I can make is that there's huge amounts of fraud, but the average advertiser either doesn't know about it, or their advertising ROI is high enough that they can simply eat fraudulent clicks as the cost of doing business.

I've said it before, though - gut feeling is that internet advertising is long overdue for a reckoning.


Sure it was bots or just people signing up with throwaway accounts to get something for free? When I don't trust a page but have to provide details I always use fake data, doesn't mean a bot has filled it out.


Me too. I had same experience. A lot of fake sign ups from random email.


I've had issues with ads on Adwords, where 99% of the clicks where from bots. However, 50% engagement after a signup or download is normal! For some reason users signup or download stuff without thinking, like an web reflex of some sort. Sadly 50% of people will have no idea what to do after signing up or downloading. You can however get this number up to 90% if you have a simple, clear and easy instructions what to do after downloading it!


I would not be surprised if > 10% of people are unable to figure out where they downloaded it.

The Downloads folder is a scourge that never should have been allowed to exist.

Where should something be after I request it be moved to my machine? On the default view! (Aka Desktop)

Why? Because I literally just interacted with it!


Seriously. I have yet to find a non-techie user whose Downloads folder is not a complete mess, and why would they even know to organize it, it's so hidden from regular view. Many would just re-download things they might have already downloaded.


Why would you need to organize your downloads folder? I just leave everything I download there until I have a reason to clear it (like low disk space, reinstalling the OS, upgrading the drive, etc.) Unless I'm down loading a file that I want to move somewhere else of course. But installers and things that get downloaded to print and all kinds of things like that just stay in the DL folder because why not.


Just imagine the complete mess their Desktop would be if the OS sent downloads there, lol.


That's the point. A mess in plain sight is a mess that gets resolved.

Microsoft seemed to think shoving everything into a junk drawer was a better solution.


Download discoverability is a harder problem than it seems to solve. People may go a long time without seeing their desktop, because it is covered by windows they are interacting with. If they're not familiar with what is on their desktop, they would not easily recognize a new icon that shows up there.


I've tried AdWords for a couple of projects and have had very similar experiences. It has always been a total waste of money for me and I'm having a hard time believing that it's actual people, i.e. potential customers clicking on these things. The behavior of the people coming from AdWords is always completely different from those coming through other sources, as if they just clicked on it by accident or as if they're just bots.


thats entirely dependant on the volume, when you expend 6 million, you problably are going to loose a lot of money to bots, but you are going to recup the looses from other clients. When you expend very little money, the bots can easily get all the budget.


Maybe I don't understand how ads work, but this sounds like "lose money on each sale but we make it up with volume"...


more like lose money on most but make up for it later. bots are just an unfortunate fact you have to amortize into your costs.

Let's say you see 75% bot traffic. You make $10 per actual user. If youre spending $2 per action with 4 actions, you burn $6(75%) on bots, $2(25%) on a real user($8 total), and get $10 - netting $2. So you're making money, but wasting more.

So, let's say you set your targeting to completely exclude the bots. Great, you spent $2 and made $10, netting $8. The problem though is you ruled out 90% of your traffic - you have false positives on whether its a bot so you exclude legit users(all of this targeting is fuzzy rule based). You can 10x the traffic with bots, making $20, but you cant 10x the perfect targeting, so youre stuck with $8.


Few questions;

- When you say Adwords for search, you mean google.com and not display right? I see a bunch of what you describe across the display network any would only recommend running white-listed sites if doing the latter as there is much encouragement of fat finger and kids who press anything etc here.

- Are you allowing search partners? Id going google search I would strongly recommend sticking to google only as there is often more dodgy around partners but this is auto included in setup.

- What kind of KW and variance: Again assuming search, who big are your KW lists and negatives? Apologies if asking the obvious but is this consistent via KW?

- Geographic restriction: Have you broken the effect down geographically? This can lead to huge variance, and to a letter extent times your running.

- Are the ads pushy? Google and some people will put a bunch of effort towards you getting higher click through but fight that. You need to stay withing bands but too many ads are for an off the cuff example; 'Amazing game that will blow you away" gets clicks whereas you'll perform better by setting expectation with the boring 'Download and install this game' as your headline type thing... naturally if bots it wont help.

Game install can be tricky, from what I've seen it's competitive and low margin which is a challenging start point.


Back in 2004-ish when I was having a lot of success with Google ads, it was display ads across their partner network as well as search ads. Recently only text ads on Google.com for search, PC desktop only.

It's the same big giant list of keywords I used to use, something like 200 long, which I optimized a lot at the time. Not a lot of negatives, though.

USA and UK only this go around.

I don't think they are pushy. Yes, I noticed in the past that honest, informative ads seem to work the best, especially since I used to do CPC, so no reason to trick people into clicking who really aren't interested.

I'm sort of in a weird position where some of my metrics seem really good, monthly ARPU of $9.86 and churn 1.5%, I just can't figure out how to get people in the front door any more.


Try adding more good friction to your user acquisition funnel. If someone really wants to try your game, have them sign up with a valid email.

It seems counter-intuitive 'Why would I add more work for people who want to use my product?' - but the truth is you're just creating more work and wasting resources qualifying poor leads (in your case bots).


Agreed. It's should be about the quality of leads not the quantity. I've seen it happen with Facebook Lead Ads where those are almost worthless because of the ease to sign up.


There's always invisible recaptcha, which does nothing unless it has a high suspicion of being a bit.


Invisible recaptcha silently and randomly breaks your page for prudent users who run umatrix to cut down on tracking/spyware/malware garbage.


But I would think they would not have seen the ad in the first place?


Yeah, it's something that would only need to be put on the landing page for the ad, not elsewhere (until you're worried about bots creating accounts on your platform for other reasons)


Is it possible to track the action inside the installer itself?

e.g. each install contains a unique slug, when the installer is opened you use the unique slug to know where it is coming from?


We temporarily track with IP addresses. When someone goes to the landing page, we temporarily record the IP address and where the traffic came from, and then if they actually run the installer within a few days, we link up the install with the source of the traffic.

Edit: The installer checks our server to make sure it has the most recent version, and that's where we compare IP's.


If you can store the AdWords click ID on the server with the IP, you might be able to use your matcher to record the install as a conversion. AdWords should start optimising for installs vs downloads. But if you can carry over to some kind of in app purchase, I’d do that too, using avg value of an install as the install value and then any of the in app purchase values as the conversion values.


Think we filed a patent but it's possible to do this server side to inject a string into a payload area without affecting the integrity of the binary (can't recall how we did it but search patent search for my name at Google)


Is it required to communicate to users their IPs are used to track them?


If you ask GDPR, then yes[1].

[1] https://gdpr.eu/eu-gdpr-personal-data/


Regarding GDPR, shouldn't it be opt-in without forcing them to agree, clearly presented to the user and not hidden behind checking for updates to be compliant?


How many steps are there between clicking the ad and downloading?

Don’t underestimate fat-fingering


The only prominent thing to click on from the landing page is the download link, and the ads are only showing to desktop users.


Maybe people don't know how to open it? Some websites exactly show users where to find the download afterwards. With Firefox, downloads pretty much disappear. In Chrome they're a bit more visible but easy to overlook. You could also trigger false positives with antivirus software preventing users to open it. There are a lot of reasons why users might click download but don't install or run the software in the end.


Webscrapers maybe?


Do people still download "setup.exe" files from random sites on the Internet and run them on their PCs?

Maybe a link to some sort of "app store" (or whatever its called on Windows) would be more convincing?


Yes, the Windows store is pretty awful and I feel like most Windows users have been installing software this way for a while (myself included).

I believe all of my current software besides games were installed this way.


To answer your first question, yes, quite a bit.


Yes, because there's no real choice. Only installing from an app store adds a little protection, but not much. The fundamental issue is the design of desktop OS' security models, which are focused around protecting local users from other local users, not around protecting local users from untrusted software.

(More than happy to hear suggestions for easy-to-use sandboxing for desktop software. The whole situation makes me quite uncomfortable.)


Not throwing away 30% of your revenue is a pretty good reason to still allow people to download your product from a website.


...yes.

(I should probably change my ways.)


(Microsoft could allow the store to be less terrible)


What's terrible about the store?


You can digitally sign your executables to increase trust.


I had the same experience with both Adwords and Facebook ads, all clicks were from bots: https://www.reddit.com/r/marketing/comments/4smisl/facebook_...


Same here. Found Adwords totally useless ROI-wise


Same here. Legend says your clicks become cheaper after spending $6M.


They don't. I spent around $2M from 2003 to 2015 and clicks became steadily more expensive and useless. The advice from their "experts" usually resulted in more spending with lower ROI. Eventually we stopped using Adwords. Google obviously didn't even notice or they just didn't give a shit, as they never contacted us to ask why we stopped using AdWords.

You cannot imagine how great AdWords was in 2004. It was much more transparent and easier to use, and the ROI was just incredible. Their success at that time was more than justified. Not so sure about today, though.


Yeah, in 2004, I could get a new paying user from Adwords for $35. Since about 2007+, the cost seems roughly infinite no matter how I try to tweak it.


is that an indictment of adwords or the state of the browser ecosystem (where potential customers are running ad blockers or otherwise avoiding ads)?


It could very well be that real users are disregarding ads (either with technical solutions such as blockers or by just ignoring them) and fraud has picked up the slack so that overall the number of clicks hasn't changed but the ratio of real user to fraudulent user has changed significantly.


Never trusting Google, I always used prepaid credit cards to fund my adwords purchasing. When Google finally caught wind of this, and could not just run wild with a "real" credit card like other horror stories I read - - they sent me a notice saying no more prepaid cards. So I said, see ya later Google Adwords, and guess what, even without any ads I have the same gross revenue, but without the expense of Adwords.


But excellent for affiliate link abuse. :]


If you still have the (anonymised) IP addresses I can tell you if the downloads was coming from bots or not.


How will IPs help you? Nobody is running those bots using datacenter IPs.


How can you anonymise an IP address? Given that (as I understand it) an IP address is considered personally identifying information under GDPR.


Google Analytics can do this by setting the last octet of IPv4 addresses and the last 80 bits of IPv6 addresses to zeros.

Reference: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2763052?hl=en


I thought this wasn’t true unless you had other data to aid in linking the IP address directly to the person (in http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&doc...).

So unless you have additional identifiers, an IP address by itself isn’t enough.


That’s not how I interpreted the ruling from the case you linked, although I’m not a lawyer:

Article 2(a) of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data must be interpreted as meaning that a dynamic IP address registered by an online media services provider when a person accesses a website that the provider makes accessible to the public constitutes personal data within the meaning of that provision, in relation to that provider, where the latter has the legal means which enable it to identify the data subject with additional data which the internet service provider has about that person.

Additionally, from a cursory read, it appears like they are only talking about dynamic IP addresses anyway, but you, as a service operator, have no way of knowing if an IP is dynamic or static.


This is the key: ...where the latter has the legal means which enable it to identify the data subject with additional data which the internet service provider has about that person


Imagine you walk into a grocery store and pick up a rewards card to save N%. To get it, you have to give a phone number. If you write down your phone number, you've handed over some PII. If you write down a fake number, it's still legally PII, but has been anonymized, so the store won't be able to find you.


The original comments was about detecting if a given IP is a bot or not - I assume they probably can't do that given 32 random bits!


You can simply truncate the IP address and remove the last block (byte).


Just curious if you can contact me or, better, put contact information in your profile.


Did you use an advertorial or a webinar to properly whet their appetite so that any task even beyond installing would have been begged for by them?


Sorry for my ignorance, but wouldn't that be an indication of, you know, fraud? And if it were, would it even matter if it were Google's bots or someone else's?

I never really understood how Google could ever guarantee that ad clicks are real and not fake, as any sufficiently sophisticated robot will have click patterns that are indistinguishable from humans. I bet designing such sophisticated robots is an industry on its own.


I suspect this would be easily gamed by careful experimenters.

For example, could you build a page that bots could navigate to, but would be really obscure for a person? Would that generate a substantial amount of clicks? Sure, the bots could adapt (i.e. not click on obscure pages), but that would take time to learn, and until then, they would screw up and fall into the honeypot.

If that has ever happened in the history of Google, you'd think someone would have publicized it.


Thinking the same is true for Facebook ads.

Got a bunch of phone numbers that wanted our service. Only 1 person was interested, but didn't sign up.


For a nonprofit entity that I am affiliated with, we had a very high engagement (free) Facebook presence that eroded over time as organic posts get crowded out.

So you end up boosting or wasting money on ads. In my (limited) experience, ads weren't effective for us as they were too local and the audience was limited. Boosts were effective but expensive.

The funny thing was the our highest conversion paid event advertising was the old fashioned newspaper.


I'm skeptical of articles that talk about how well they did something but don't provide the actual numbers.

There is no mention of actual ROI, conversions, traffic, and so forth.

Overall, I'm pretty skeptical of the true return that marketing campaigns can generate. When you calculate the full cost not just of the marketing but you include margins and the full lifetime value of the customer then you get a real sense.

The thing that stood out to me is the first sentence, that the person had an unlimited budget. With that in mind, basically makes me believe they weren't that focused on the true profitability of the spend.


You noted a few interesting things that I wanted to call out as a marketer, like budget.

No one has a $3m Google Ads budget for something that doesn't work already. I've run campaigns for brands that lead the market and for new businesses that have no brand recognition at all--the difference is night and day. Should founders run to Gmail ads because of this? Probably not.

Assuming the campaigns are still profitable, doubling the budget is great. I hope they really did well. But what does this really tell us? What can a startup or small business founder learn from this? Not much.


There is some evidence that big companies (e.g. Ebay) were not wisely spending millions of dollars on Google search ads.

Blake, Nosko & Tadelis, 2015. "Consumer Heterogeneity and Paid Search Effectiveness: A Large‐Scale Field Experiment," Econometrica.

https://econpapers.repec.org/paper/nbrnberwo/20171.htm

I'm sure the landscape has changed since then in terms of there being more accountability (better tools to measure things like ROAI and mgmt demanding stronger evidence of marketing efficacy).


I can assure you there's companies that spend a millions on ads with no idea what they are doing. In-fact there are products within business units, within large enterprises that spend >$1M per quarter, where the segment itself may spend $5M+/Quarter, easily.

The agency that runs the programs the the only people that win - after they pocket their 5+% commission.

Source: past roles where I saw a lot of people who do not know wtf they are doing with ads (yet they themselves are making 6 figures)


I originally had more nuance in my comment but wanted to keep it simple. In my experience, companies like the ones you describe have a really strong brand (so large volume of branded search) and/or really strong other channels, like SEO. At that point, paid search is a piece of the overall ROI (serving market share or other strategic objectives) and not channel-specific.

Adding even more nuance, that really only describes successful companies. Failing companies _think_ they are profitable, until they quickly aren't. Your experience is very similar to my own. You're 100% right.


Author here and I think you're spot on! We had a tight focus on ROAS and overall profitability for those campaigns, and optimized based on that. Sure, there are companies that can waste millions of dollars on ad spend, but the company I worked with was heavily invested in making paid ads work and had the right feedback loops in place to ensure we were making the right decisions.


How did you approach incrementality? I have some experience in this area, and get frustrated when marketers talk in terms of ROAS/ROI, without discussing the return compared to other options.

The ultimate goal of the marketer is to use the most effective, scalable channels. The optimization isn't against a fixed goal (CPA), but against the entire universe of ways to spend each marketing dollar.


If you're running $6MM in ads, you're spending $500k+ on brand lift and similar studies that give you answers.


Not all the time. A previous employer was spending around $350k/mo (for 2+ years) and did no verification outside of ROAS and what Marin told them.


A worthwhile question whenever a marketer is talking about marketing: Is this mainly self-marketing? If so it's worth treating with the same skepticism that you'd use with any other advertisement.


Hey there, thanks for your comment! You're totally right to be skeptical. I didn't include any numbers on ROI for 2 reasons:

- This was my previous job, and I don't have the data anymore :) - I don't want to reveal numbers that could harm that company or inform their competitors.

I will say I was 100% focused on profitability. I'd be a pretty shitty marketer if I doubled spend without focusing on profit.


If you were focused on profitability, you wouldn't run Target CPA. Your marginal cost per action is going to be much higher than the target CPA, making your marginal acquisitions unprofitable, lowering your total profit. That's in the best case, if you have unlimited budget. In the unlimited budget case, Google is at least incentivized to bid on the lowest CPA users first. In the constrained budget setting, they can give you absolute garbage, and it's no skin off their backs. It's even worse if not all of the actions are incremental, which for an established company with unlimited budget is guaranteed.

The past few years, Google has been adding features that make absolutely no economic sense (assuming rational firms), but assuming that most of their clients are unsophisticated and then taking advantage of them has no doubt earned some Google Ads PMs huge bonuses.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts! That hasn't been my experience, target CPA was absolutely the driver of both volume and profitability for that business. You have to know how to work the algorithm and feed it the correct data. I was doing thousands of conversions a day so we had scale in our favor. If you're not careful tCPA can spend a lot of money for sure. YMMV though.


This is a basic application of the mean value theorem. Moreover, assuming 100% incrementality is what leads marketers to do silly throw money away things like Mailgun bidding on "mailgun" even though all the links on the first page of results are already to pages Mailgun controls.


Actually, that's not always that silly - if you have a structured campaign that uses ads to send people searching for specific things to the parts of your funnel you have optimized for them you can increase conversions and have a good ROAS even over the same keyword performance organically. It can totally be worth it to do.


Yes, but they crushed it. How much more quantitative could you get? A task is either crushed, or not crushed.



Actually it either crushed (or in the act of being) or pivoted. No one ever explicitly fails at crushing it in the instagram world.


But without the author opening to kimono-box, the ad remains both crushed and uncrushed. Open the box and the schrödinger waveform collapses onto one or the other.


I’m generally skeptical of content marketing that is mostly comprised of vague self-praise. I don’t know why this is on the HN front page. Though I guess arguably that’s a point in favor of their marketing competence.


I'd guess it's on the HN front page because people were curious about someone who could afford to spend 6 million dollars on ads in a single year.

My first thought was not "I was in charge of spending my employer's money on ads", it was "I was spending my money on ads".


Yeah, the whole article is pretty sketch. Almost feels like astroturfing. Unlimited budget. Oh but also have to be profitable. Yeah, pick one.


You're right to be skeptical! There's no mystery behind this curtain, just a guy who spent a bunch of money on advertising and wanted to write about it. My unlimited budget was strictly tied to profitability. Being profitable was the only way to scale because I had to maintain certain margins. If I hit the right margin, I could spend as much money as I wanted because the supply was there. Thanks for your comment!


I enjoy reading posts like this because I've been blocking ads and avoiding "marketing tech" companies for so long that I don't even know what's going on in the ad world anymore. It's interesting to see that not a whole lot has changed in the last 5+ years with respect to platforms and strategies.


Same here - I glanced over the article and was confused why there was a part for Gmail. I thought to myself : "but gmail doesn't have ads?". Which makes me wonder even more why 75%+ of the population doesn't have adblock themselves?


This. People with adblock are living in a completely different online reality. I'm amazed how much time people spend on ad-ridden sites despite the terrible UX, with ads "slow loading" and replacing links you want to click on, full page overlays, flashy animated ads etc pp. People still tolerate it, the must really love the content.


My personal theory is that this is one of the reasons FB, Google, Reddit are so popular as portal sites, since they have far better UX and actual performance teams to make the experience good. Nobody wants to go directly to news sites anymore.


Good point. And it's not just better UX, it's also predictable and unified, you know what happens when you click on something, you know how to like and share, and you don't need to figure out the layout & design for each site.


This is an insightful point.


I didn't use an ad blocker for a long time, because I just didn't care. But a few malicious ads made me install one, and the downside is that I have to manually enable everything to get a website (e.g. a business I have a relationship with) to run properly fairly frequently.

I wish there was a clean, sharp division between people trying to sell you stuff on the open internet and entities that you are logged in to and already doing business with, such that the latter were guaranteed to be accessible even with maximum blocking.

Exploiting customers is something that needs to be regulated more.


Are these sites from a specific industry that don't work with adblock enabled? I run into that occasionally, but it's rare for me. I'm always amazed when it happens at e.g. large online shops ... they never test with popular browser addons enabled?


Maybe they use uMatrix? The vast majority of sites don’t work with third-party-content blocked.


[citation needed]

I can only count a handful of sites that break with conventional blockers (uMatrix might be a different story) and those sites I can just avoid doing business with (only one I can remember recently is Patreon where the Facebook/Google ad scripts cause the entire page to be unusable).


That’s why I mentioned uMatrix specifically. It blocks everything but images and css loaded from other domains by default. Normal ad blockers don’t do that.

Funnily enough, Patreon works without a problem after allowing 2 CDNs and their usercontent domain.


uMatrix defaults to blocking nearly everything from third parties. Most sites do not work 100% properly; many 'simple' sites will not even render because of how common it is to outsource content delivery to cloudflare et al.

It's painful, but it's (for me) the only sane way to browse. I'm willing to trade a few seconds of determining what 3rd party sources I'm going to allow when visiting a new site in exchange for minimizing tracking and malicious ads.


I believe a huge percentage of non-technical users have no idea what an adblocker is.

I've installed them for a couple of friends and family who complained about ads and slow websites, but hadn't known about blockers.


That's my experience as well. I had installed one on the PC I gave to my mother and one day she called me and told me that her friend's "internet is broken". Apparently they had tried to look something up together and my mother insisted that "that's not how the internet looks" because of all the ads, while her friend assured her that it's absolutely how it always looks. Needless to say, her friend's internet is no longer broken and everyone is happy.

Whenever I turn off my adblockers and visit common sites, it feels like I've been wearing hearing protection in a loud place and I'm now taking them off.


Yeah but Gmail doesn't have ads even for those without ad blockers.


I also think this also depends on when you signed up for gmail. my gmail account is pretty old, no ads, with no ad-blocker. but my gf's gmail account is littered with ads & I would assume my burner accounts too, if I didn't use a an ad-blocker.


I just checked a very old account and the theory that old accounts don't display ads is false. The account I looked at is older than the year 2007.


Indeed, my account is 2004 and has the usual ads sans adblocker. They're still not obstrusive though.


Weird, I don't recall seeing ads in Gmail either, but I don't use ad blockers. I just checked and there are definitely no ads anywhere that I can find when I log in to Gmail. Where do they normally show up? Perhaps I am in the holdout group of an A/B test...


There's a placement above the message list with sponsored links that look similar-ish to messages as far as I can remember. I turned them off many moons ago when you had the option to opt in/out, but can't see where it is now (and don't want to accidentally add them back in!).

I think it depends on the Inbox type you use as well (e.g. Priority, Default etc...)


Last time I was buying Gmail ads, they let us put an ad in the promotions tab of the inbox which looked like an email. It was something they were testing at the time, but it was reasonably effective and I imagine it is still around. The old gmail sidebar ads were absolutely worthless. Roughly 0.05 clicks per 1000 impressions, and those clicks were mostly accidental. They removed those ads because they were worthless to anyone.


Weird that you get downvoted when this is probably the default experience for a majority of people on HN. It's probably also a major problem for anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations because we just don't have a truly full understanding of the digital environments most would-be customers live in.


It's nice to see an adwords article that finally embraces CPA bidding. It really is king. I've been doing this for over a decade and was very hesitant to use it but it really beats everything out there.

One thing he doesn't mention is the landing page experience. It affects both your quality score which can have big impacts on CPA as well as your conversion rate.

Not sure why people have issue with "creative" as a noun, this has been the standard in advertising for decades. Hell, it's in the dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/creative

Don't need to crap on Quantic and the like as much though, they do have some things that Google doesn't.

Some people are commenting on him not giving specific advice for making the creative. As some have pointed out, a whole article could be written about that, or more realistically, entire libraries of books. In short he is talking about ad copywriting, it's a whole discipline that takes years of experience and learning to get good at.


> Not sure why people have issue with "creative" as a noun, this has been the standard in advertising for decades.

Most people aren't in advertising. It is a surprising use of a common word. I still twitch when I hear 'copy' used in the content sense.


I guess not enough of HN has watched Mad Men.


> "Not sure why people have issue with "creative" as a noun, this has been the standard in advertising for decades."

Probably the same problem some people have with the term "Human Resources". If you can be reduced to a "Resource" then you're basically just meat (or it can feel that way).

When you use the term "creative" as a noun that way it sounds like a brain in a jar, and if the brain misbehaves, it can be replaced.


What's the difference between the Aquisition in CPA and the Click in CPC?


CPA is cost per action, not acquisition. Action is defined by you.

This bidding mode means you're taking less risk per auction, as you don't pay for impressions or clicks. You pay (sometimes 10x more) to reduce that risk, though, and your reach (how many people see your ad) can be adversely impacted if the Google Brain estimates your click through and conversion rate unfavorably to your auction competitors.


Action usually, not acquisition?

Anyways, action can be whatever you define. It could be a purchase, someone signing up for a mailing list, or someone sending a purchase order, or whatever you can programmatically define.

A click is just opening the landing page from the ad.


Thank you, repliers. I found this:

https://www.leapclixx.com/blog/cpa-vs.-cpc


I'd like to remind people how bad the "daily budget" is in AdWords.

The design of the budget system is in Google's favour, not yours, and if you don't understand that, you'll end up paying much more than you need to.

If you think setting the budget to half is a way to halve your ad spend and get half the number of clicks, you're right, but you're also naïve.

If Google thinks your current rate of spend is going to exceed the daily budget, they'll effectively deactivate your ad for random impressions, leading to less spend.

but that isn't the best strategy. The best strategy is to lower your bids to win fewer auctions if you want to spend less. That way, you can spend half as much, but get more ROI, since the Google AI will be only showing your ad to those most likely to be interested in it.


A double digit percentage of AdWords campaigns are budget limited on any given day. I honestly can't believe how tens of thousands of marketing folk can't notice how much money they're throwing down the drain by using the budget limiter...


I agree with the broader point of view, yet I'm not sure if all you say makes sense. Most campaigns are budget limited because auto bidding is less ops intensive and, above all, sometimes works better than manual bidding (despite Google reducing the reach as you get nearer the daily budget).

Manual bidding is always preferable with fewer data points (low conversions, low clicks, no previous campaigns). Auto bidding is preferable as your GA accounts grow in conversions and the algorithms start to create a better profile of your customers.


On the counterpoint there are some accounts who perform bad in morning and good in evening so throttling makes a huge roi difference. Don't think we ever profiled it per customer but it wasn't an easy decision to throttle versus spend whole budget in 10 mins for the day from 12:01 to 12:11


But what you do when close competitors (ie: companies that are physically near, or that you even know their owner in person) start to "race" you? For example putting ever increasing budget limits in an attempt to make sure your ads are never shown?


Budget limits simply mean your ad will still be shown, but only on N% of clicks.

Bids are what you are thinking of, and I'm afraid this is the nature of an auction...

Remember it isn't highest bid wins... It's highest bid multiplied by a secret quality and relevance factor that wins.

If your ad is more relevant and useful to the user, it can win with even a very low bid.


> The best strategy is to lower your bids to win fewer auctions if you want to spend less.

IIRC, some of its major channels do it when the campaign's going to exceed its budget. Or you can simply use a maximize clicks/conversions bidding strategy.


But without the daily budget, don't you risk suddenly spending thousand of dollars you don't have, if you keep winning bids (that don't even convert)?


Can you give more insight on what you mean by one should not be using daily budget? What should we be using then?


The optimal strategy for most businesses is one that google doesn't offer...

Most businesses have some marginal cost of providing service to a user, and are therefore happy to pay any amount up to that cost to get a user. So in the Google Ad dashboard, that would be "Target CPA", but instead of setting an average cost per acquisition, it would set the maximum cost per acquisition.

Whats the difference you ask? Some users will come via a 'cheap' route - for example directly searching for your company name, and clicking the top ad, costing you very little because your quality score is very high, and then converting at a high rate.

Other users will come via an expensive route - searching for a tangentially related keyword, unlikley to click through, and also unlikely to convert when they have clicked through.

You only want the guy from the expensive route if he, and all the others like him, cost less than your companies marginal cost of providing service. You don't want to include the guy who directly searched for your company name in the average when making that decision.

Why doesn't Google offer this? It would significantly cut down on overspend in the ad world (ie. spending more to get some customers than they are worth), and in turn significantly hurt their revenue and the internet as a whole.

3rd parties that use Googles RTB API can offer this though, although they are at a disadvantage of having a lot less private user data for targeting...


> Some users will come via a 'cheap' route - for example directly searching for your company name, and clicking the top ad

Just disable broad matching


Has anyone ever created a psychological profile of people who click on ads? I've never clicked on an ad, so I assume my psychological profile would show that I'm not the kind of person that would be inclined to do so. But clearly there must be people who do click on ads. Who are these people and what is their psychological profile?


70% of Google's revenue is from their ads, so a lot of people click on them. The HN audience is a very small minority :)

https://www.statista.com/statistics/266249/advertising-reven...


A lot of entities click on them. How many of them are people is debatable.


Unless the armies of bots out there started spending real cash for products after those ad clicks, I'm going to stick with "a lot of of people click on ads".


It's the top result for pretty much any search. And it often is relevant. Why go down to the actual results if you can just click the first link and get what you want? And most users don't use ad blockers.


From my small sample size POV, it might be related to people who like browsing/window shopping.

Personally I don't like these things because I know what I want before I buy it and I research almost everything I buy, and I probably have some anti-consumer bent deep down in my belly that stigmatizes shopping for the sake of shopping.

But not everyone is like this. I've heard people say they like ads before, and AFAIK it's usually clothing ads.

Now that facebook has embedded ads that get past OOTB ad-blocker and are super targeted to me, I've actually clicked on a couple ads that have intrigued me, knowing I'd not buy it but interested in what their pitch was. Most of those were kickstarter projects or some kind of "adventure gear".


I know people who click on the first "result" of google search most of the time just because it is convenient. The psychological profile would be something like "Not interested in boring details like is something a paid ad or an actual search result. Just want to get to the site they want as easy as possible."


This is consistent with user-tests I've done recently.


I've always been so interested in this as well, I also have never once (intentionally that is) clicked on an ad in my entire life. I can actually see myself doing so if the product was something I was interested in, but it almost never is. I've found I actually tend to think less of a company if I'm seeing a lot of their ads. I don't know if I've ever met anyone who has told me that they clicked on ads. I have no idea who these people are. Most of my friends even non-technical ones now, use ad-blockers by default.

Sometimes this will turn into anger toward a brand even, like when I'm visiting family over the holidays and I momentarily remember just how bad cable television ads are. I just start to legitimately hate a company because of their ads. I wonder how many companies calculate value lost from an ad because of annoyed people.


You don't have to click on ads to be influenced by them.


Well, to be honest, one of the main reasons I don't click on ads is because I don't see them. I run multiple ad blockers and use DDG as my search engine.


You probably click on thousands of ads on HN :)

The difference between ads on HN and ads elsewhere is relevance. You self select for useful ads by going to HN. Because I regularly search for things that I actually need on Google and youtube, I end up clicking on lots of ads on those platforms too.


I mostly click on them by accident.


> I've never clicked on an ad

Impressive


"This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small fee if you choose to purchase something."

The author is spending $6M a year on ads and is generating substantially more revenue than that, they claim. Why are they bothering with spare-change Amazon affiliate links? If they can get revenue like that, they should be making tons of money with their day job. What's wrong with this picture?


Nothing is wrong with this picture. Your thought process boils down to "OP should be making enough money at their day job, why would they try to make more?" which is ridiculous.


Agreed. It's leaving easy money on the table.


Because people who make money like to make money.


The author’s employer was spending that money, not them?


Author's past employer, too.


Hi everyone! Author here. I'm humbled that someone felt this was HackerNews worthy, really unexpected! I'll do my best to respond to comments, but if I don't get to yours feel free to drop me an email, link is on the website.


Thanks, Nick! What are some of the most difficult actions to programmatically "prove"? Which actions seem like a good idea, but perform less profitably vs. other actions?


He mentions YouTube is cheap. I wonder if the existence of YouTube Premium is partly responsible for that? I would think the Premium users may be among the most desirable and those users have hidden themselves from him.


That’s often a concern amongst publishers around implementing the ability to pay to opt out of advertisements however I think in this case the relative low cost of YouTube advertisements is because of the high cost of getting them right.


> The difficulty and cost associated with creating video ads is exactly why Youtube is still a hidden gem.

These days many top performing video ads are the ones that are made to look amateur/cheap. And it's not just the guru course ads. The native vlogger-style ad is often more engaging on a platform filled with vloggers. High production value "professional" ads have traditionally been created to lend credibility & authority to the brand. But if their audience now trusts "influencers" more than big brands, what's the harm in testing a TON of simple video creatives with clever scripts.

I've even seen this style now in offline commercials.


For anyone that hates "native vlogger-style ads" in youtube videos https://sponsor.ajay.app/ is a godsend.


Do you think it is moral to use that? The creator is trying to make money off the video so they can continue to create. You are essentially stealing from them-taking the content they made without paying for it (watching the ad).

If you don't like "native vlogger-style ads" don't watch those videos.


There is no moral imperative that says you are obligated to pay for something you did not voluntarily asked for. Or do you feel forced to give money to every busker on the street or Subway?

> If you don't like "native vlogger-style ads" don't watch those videos

No. If the content creator wants to give access only to the people who can provide them income, then they should make this transaction direct and transparent. It is not on the consumer's job to ensure that the producer is paid.


> There is no moral imperative that says you are obligated to pay for something you did not voluntarily asked for

Is that accurate? If you follow a link to watch a video, is that not asking to watch that video?


VHS and TiVO have already established legal precedent: watching a video does not legally bind you to also watch the commercials.


I think so. I would not buy the product either way, so seeing the ad makes no difference except for wasting my time. I automate things that waste my time (such as skipping ad segments), I don't think it is immoral to do so.


The same could be said about adblock. Most ads are not the horribly annoying like they used to be, so adblock is just immoral, stealing from the website content creator.


It could be, but "annoying ads" aren't really the problem. Ad-block is self-defense against privacy-invading ad and analytics networks.

When a site serves ads and tracking from its own first-party domain and I can reasonably determine this, I do not block it and often unblock it if it defaults to blocked.

When a site farms out adverts to third parties to share my browsing habits across the web, I default to blocking everything.

If there's a site that decides that it won't show me content because I'm using an adblocker, then I move on. They don't want my eyes, and I don't want their practices - no reason to stick around.


Its nothing like stealing whatsoever, that is a huge distortion of the term.


Making a good video that looks amateur or cheap is still expensive.


Well, making a video "look amateur" is certainly not expensive. But I think you mean making a "good video" isn't necessarily cheap. If you're not a one-man guru, you'll need to pay a creative/writing team. Otherwise, the expense Nick outlined (production value) shouldn't be a hinderance.


The company I work for spends very substantial amounts( for its size) on Google Ads. It does the trick but it's like putting yourself on crack.You become dependant and somehow convince yourself that you are being very smart by doing so.


That's always been the case with ads. The problem nowadays just is that it's very concentrated on a few very big players. Companies just can't afford to not be present on Google, Youtube or Facebook (depending on the brand). The power has shifted, from the companies paying to the platforms. But marketing in itself was crucial for many companies to succeed already decades ago.


There’s too much arb in Google Ads by this time.


For anyone else here confused like me, and because I don't see an immediate explanation in the comments:

"Creative" in the context of an ad means the image, video, text, etc. Basically, the ad content that the user will see.


Is it just me or is "Creative" a really newspeak-y way of talking about ads?


Which is how advertising people speak, no? Horses for courses! (ie it's appropriate to the context as "newspeak" is kinda what advertisers deal in)


Rosie the Riveter, Apple's 1984 comercial, the energizer bunny, Transformers. The amount of creativity that goes into advertising is both amazing and heart breaking. The creative part of advertising truely is creative, even if applied to such a dull task.


I’ve never seen data on this, but I often wonder if advertising is where artists generally find the best income potential.


Guess you haven't seen Mad Men? It's Don Draper's department name. They say it all time referring to the team who creates the ad ideas.


I guess not more than all other jargon? I guess they need a way to differentiate the images/etc from the campaign itself.


It's new to me. I did some research on Urban Dictionary (lol), and the definition for the usage of "Creative" as a noun was defined there as early as 2004. So I guess it's a usage that's been known for a quite some time.



I wouldn't knock tools like Marin/kenshoo too bad. They really do help you scale if you're taking spend way past $6m.

The target market there is different though. Think instead of a single company spending $6m on their ads, more like an agency spending $60m++ on 10++ different companies' ads.

Major props to this guy for doing so well in house though.


I worked for Marin as a software engineer very early on and I'm actually still a shareholder (looking forward to it going to zero so I can declare full loss on my taxes). Their technology stack is tragic. That PA acquisition? They lost $1.1m on it. The company has never been profitable and the execs get paid a lot, yet do very little. I wouldn't give them a dime.


Have used both and had relationships with both companies. They can help fill a need, particularly if managing across Google and Bing and social. However in my experience, they lagged behind on access to the latest features, and there's an open debate on how effective their bid strategies can really be vs. Google when they cannot make auction-level decisions like Google can. The flip-side to that argument is that for some advertisers, they may not have their conversion data in Google, or may have other bid considerations factoring in that can be better handled with an external bid platform.

Ultimately, this needs to be worth the price though when their fees are measured in % of media.


> Or you pay an agency to make your videos

Hiring creatives to make your creatives.


The fact the google ads doesn't allow to do a real location targeting but will show ads to anyone "interested" in that location is usually a non-starter for me.

Having people all over the world shown an ad for a specifically localized shop ? No thanks !

For more online businesses, the results are indeed quite decent !


It's my understanding that -- sadly -- "interested in location" is the default. But you can switch it to only users in or from the location.


I manually exclude every single area around the world that I don't want to advertise in. This is the only real way to get rid of bad clicks from out of the area. Especially since the ads I run cost around $25 a click...


Last time I checked it was entirely possible to enable real location targeting. However in some situations, the default “interested in a location” makes sense even for brick and mortar stores. For example when purchasing ideas and/or decisions for seniors are made by their far away children. Like anything, it depends on the exact situation including the expense of the ad click and the likelihood of it being a remote decision helper.


For what it's worth, I've been enticed to visit a place based on an online ad targeting a future vacation destination before. Not saying real location targeting would be more or less effective, but rather that location interest targeting can be effective.


Our company spent over $3mm last year and this article is spot on. On the Adwords side it really is that simple - test tons of creatives and use CPA bidding.

The third party services aren't much help. Google has a lot of great in-house support to ramp up your Adspend once you get noticed. Not sure what the target is, but we seem to get a new rep every few months who has new suggestions.

I have no experience with Youtube, but that is highly interesting.

If Adwords isn't working for you, there is a ton to dive into. Could be your website, could be your product. If you have a competitor obviously succeeding in the space with heavy Adwords spend the fault is probably on your end (unless they're just pissing away money, but how long does that go on for?).


On that note, expect to lose money initially while optimizing your website & waiting for enough CPA data to accrue. I give it at least a month and $5-10k spend before seriously considering killing the campaign (if starting from scratch).

Very different from taking something already successful but mismanaged - this can be a lot easier to ramp off if they're making big mistakes (like not actually mobile optimized, not CPA bidding, not actually actively optimizing the website's funnel/landing page).


This is spot on! When I first transitioned those campaigns from eCPC to tCPA there was a big learning period. As the campaigns scaled and collected more data the actual CPA started aligning closely with the target CPA, but it took some time. The more conversions you do the faster that alignment will happen. After 2+ years on tCPA (and many behind the scenes improvements to the Algo by Google), I could get that delta to match within 3-4 days of making a change to the target CPA. That was with thousands of conversions a day though, so scale absolutely helps.


Dumb question but does anybody know what is Creative ? Is that a software or a generic term for a creative edge - like getting the right slogans and correct catch phrases to grab somebody's attention.


The "creative" is, well, the creative part of an ad. It's the text, images, design, etc. It's the "sexy" part of marketing, compared with all the quantitative/analytic work like segmentation, user research, pricing, etc.

I somewhat disagree with the author that the creative is everything - unless you already have all the other aspects locked on and creative is the only place for you to improve


Ok I have another question. On social platforms like facebook, whenever the creatives are refreshed, the ad set is put back into a "learning phase", which we're told to avoid.

So what is the best way to iterate on new creatives without re-entering the learning phase?


Ab test say 20 creative in an adset and let Facebook find the best creative for you in a cbo. Once set it is set and best not to change the creative just launch a new ad set with the new creative. You can change it but not ideal or how you should run Facebook ads with a proper account structure to maintain data transparency. Also with Facebook algo suspending and disabling ad accounts like crazy swapping creative after approved looks very fishy and can trigger negativr signals.


It's the actual content of the ads. The images, video and sound created by an ad agency.


the literal ad itself e.g. picture, words, video, whatever the user sees.


Replace it with "ad".


No, replace it with "the content of the ad, the words and pictures".

The ad is the medium, the creative is the message.


No, surely the creative is the actual image (say) that carries the message. The creative is the bit people perceive with their senses, not the interpretation of that.

One designs a message: "people who drink $cola are fun" and then the creative to convey that message - such as an image showing someone smiling, nestling the product in their hands.


"Creative", as a noun, in this context is a very specific term from the world of advertising (where I worked for a decade), which means both the copy and the image/video etc.

It's a shorthand term (think DSL) a bit like "code" in the world of developers, etc..


It is words also. "It's the real thing...", "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief...", "xxxx is on your side..."


What's the best source to learn how to property target online ads (without spending $6M)?

Are there good online courses or blogs that you recommend?


It depends what ad platform you want to learn. Google has a great learning series here: https://skillshop.withgoogle.com/

If you want to learn Google Ads I'd recommend getting certified for Search, Display, and Shopping. If you want to learn Facebook and Instagram ads then that's a whole different animal.


Thanks for that! I'll check out the Google learning series.


I can't help but think this person was selling shirts without stripes.


lol at all the devs bashing on 70 year old advertising terminology

to give you one back, my cringe dev jargon of the moment is PERFORMANT


what’s up with performant? It’s an adjective.

I used to be in advertising and “creative” referred to the role of creative direction. “The creative” would be a person. Had never seen it used as a synonym for content.


Have you tried looking "performant" up in a dictionary?


As in something like the Oxford? https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/performant


Wonder if he is spending anywhere near a similar amount this year? I've heard Ads are way down


I've also had a lot of success with Adwords in the past even though my monthly budget was low 5 figures only.

He is spot on about the landing page but there is one more thing I learned that played a key role and that is something called the keyword smell. Basically what it means is your landing page must match the keyword you're targeting. If you're bidding for "home windows for the elderly" but the landing page headline says "home windows" you will lose the lead. Plus google will also never optimize your ad for clicks. Even if they have to optin and go to another page just don't lose that smell. It can work wonders for your campaign.


I find this advice to be outdated. Unless the actual page offers real contect around the intent of the searcher, I find the quality of these leads and conversion rates drop.


I've also spent millions of dollars on ads. My experience is that targeting, specifically highly targeted audiences and lookalikes are far more important than creatives.


I've spend hundreds of cents on ads, so take this with salt, but is it futile to pick "the most important thing".

A bit like is exercise more important, or diet? Well if you are eating only lard and running every day, then diet is important for you, and if you are eating really healthily but sitting in a chair 14 hours a day, then doing more exercise is the impactful thing.


Would love to see more information on creative, since the author touts it as the most important. I'm sure a whole post could / has been written on that though.


I work in digital marketing, and can tell you that it's not very exciting. The best performing paid ads are text-only and served to the user on the search results page and usually not on third-party websites. They're the ones that can be A/B tested the fastest, and the 'creative' part of it is very much metrics-driven. That's where the bulk of ad spend goes, as it has the highest ROAS.

Plus, users who are actively searching for something are more primed to respond to an ad that appears on the results page, as opposed to an ad that pops up in the middle of a news article they were reading. Users for the most part don't seem to like stuff with animations, or heavy graphics in their ads as they're distracting.

I have noticed more interesting ads on newer mediums (media?) like Instagram stories or Snapchat, which are image and video-centric. The targeting so far seems quite good, as I usually see ads for online courses, creative stuff, design tools.


Interesting. Thanks for the information!


Affiliate link for Supermetrics. I see what's going on...


Not all the "optimizers" behind the Google Ads dashboard are as advanced as you might imagine.

One notable one only ran once a day, and simply used data from your account to adjust other things in your account. And it used a crude algorithm to do so.

You literally could do better with a shell script running hourly after reading a couple of papers on the multi-armed bandit problem.


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, getting people to click ads. I just don't see how this isn't a massive waste of money, abusing psychology to encourage people to buy things they don't need. No one is better off in this situation except Google, and they absolutely don't have our interests in mind.


I understand where you are coming from but it’s not always about trying to get people to buy things right away, advertising can be used to create brand awareness as well. A positive brand image is worth a lot more than just making a couple bucks here and there off if impulsive shoppers.

If you have another solution apart from google ads, I’m all ears. Seriously.


For anybody else that spends most of their budget on advertising for your own trademark because your competitors do...

the solution is to inform your audience how they should forcible disable ads and to switch to a search engine that can turn off ads.


>> Gmail Ads Can Scale

Does Gmail have ads? I know it used to, but I can't remember the last time I saw one. Looking at my Gmail inbox now, and I don't see a single ad anywhere on the page. I'm not running any kind of ad blocker.


Yes. Apparently if you used the tabbed version (with Social, Promotions, etc.), then they appear.


Gmail ads show up in the promotion tab! If you have a unified inbox you won't see any ads.


That would explain it. Thanks!


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