Google Ads Simplified – Introducing AdWords Express

Google AdWords can be a very powerful tool in the marketing arsenal of a small business.

AdWords is now time-tested. Its proven methods have been in use since October 2000. These methods are utilized by more than a million advertisers. It’s one of three online advertising tools, along with programmatic and Facebook, that every business should consider.

By point of comparison, at its peak in 2000, total newspaper advertising revenues were $67 billion. Last year that dropped to $16.4 billion as Google’s revenues — almost entirely from AdWords — hit $89 billion. A blog post for another day, but Facebook’s revenues last year hit $27.6 billion, passing the entire newspaper industry.

Needless to say, we’ve noticed and it’s a strategy we implement for our clients, often with the help of Infogroup, an Elite Premier Partner. If anyone ever tells you they’re a Google partner, that just means they manage at least $10,000 in Adwords spending every 3 months. Infogroup manages quite a bit more than that and they have good team overseeing it. For budgets under $500/month, we often recommend a simple AdWords Express account.

When used correctly, Google AdWords can really round out a small business marketing strategy. Interestingly enough, while AdWords have become a fundamental strategy for typical “yellow page” advertisers – think service categories like home improvement or legal – over 70% of small and mid-sized business (SMBs) report not having spent much on AdWords, according to Borrell’s annual study.

There’s still opportunity out there.

AdWords Introduced

Google serves answers (mostly in the form of links to websites, but that’s changing) to the questions it’s asked. It’s no coincidence those ads on your Google search results match what you’re looking for. While all those ads together represent less than 10% of clicks, on average, it’s the only way to appear on page 1 quickly. The organic results, the other 90%+ of the clicks on a search page, takes a lot of time and hard work.

For example, if a user types “auto shop” into a Google search, ads appear for nearby auto shops that use AdWords advertising. The obvious benefit is that the ad messages are targeted to the search, delivering pertinent details to users who actually look for them.

There is an intent established on the part of the searcher that isn’t there in most forms of advertising. The traditional media most impacted by this are the role phone books and yellow pages used to dominate.

The AdWords interface has expanded to include display advertising and video ads, but we’re going to focus on the text-based ads seen in a typical search.

How AdWords Works

Google sells its advertising in a very fluid, very fast marketplace, allowing advertisers to “bid” on their advertising based on clicks, which go where the advertiser directs them (almost always your website and preferably an optimized landing page). It’s possible to have Google prominently display your message (impressions) at no cost until an Internet user clicks on the ad.

But bids are only one part (albeit the most important) in the equation. Google considers bids based on another metric – Quality Score. Based on how the ad performs (does it get clicks, do Internet users not bounce immediately after clicking), Google will score each ad’s relevance and click-through rate, with some consideration for the historical performance of your account.

All of these factors together determine which ads are served and in what order.

Getting started with AdWords Express

Small businesses commonly start with Google AdWords Express. This version will offer a suggested range of 3 bid limits and their estimated clicks, making it quick and easy to set up. You can enter your own amounts as well.

  1. Sign up to get started.
  2. Provide information on your business.
  3. Create your ad with the help of Google’s tutorial.
  4. Set up a billing profile and your Google AdWords campaign begins.

A full tutorial on how to set up Google AdWords Express is available from HubSpot.

Google AdWords isn’t complicated, nor is it terribly expensive. Yet kit’s one method of advertising that will complement the marketing campaign of any small business.

If you’d like to explore Google AdWords more and have questions, we can certainly help you.

Online Advertising – The 3 Basics

An Introduction to Programmatic

Every business works hard to get their messages out to potential customers. Most of them do it on their own because they also act as their own marketing departments.

Even those who see the ability of online marketing to reach new customers may not know what tools are available or how to get started.

We’ve helped grow digital strategies for our clients by building the foundation – particularly in organic search – while setting review and email strategies. As these three core tactics take root, a process that takes time and content, we step next to into online advertising to speed the process and reach a wider audience.

There are 3 basic forms of online advertising used by most businesses today, and the first two are dominated by the giants of the internet:

  • Search Engine Marketing (mostly Adwords)
  • Social Media Advertising (mostly Facebook Ads)
  • Programmatic Advertising (everything else)

Essentially, Google and Facebook are so big, online advertisers are required to go direct. Google web sites (including YouTube) are the most visited sites on the planet, while Facebook commands the lion’s share of time spent by consumers online.

They continue to venture into each other’s established territory. Google takes steps to keep consumers on Google, serving answers and content instead of sending searchers to other websites. Facebook increasingly is refining its own internal search engine. Their ad-serving tools are available to everyone, but with their increasing complexity, it’s good to have help to manage them.

For the rest of the world there is programmatic, essentially data-driven online ad exchanges that buy remnant display advertising space on almost every website and app out there in online auctions that last milliseconds. Ever noticed local ads on national websites or ads that followed you around the internet? That’s programmatic.

Google’s Doubleclick platform is one of the largest programmatic players, but not the only one. One of the most prominent ad exchanges, OpenX, was developed by an Omaha native. Nearly every website or app serving ads is part of at least one, if not many of these exchanges.

The publishers behind any website or app will try to sell their best inventory direct, normally at a higher price than what the exchanges will pay. The rest of their inventory goes to programmatic, sold in real time bidding (RTB) to programmatic advertisers. According to industry experts like Digiday, eMarketer and ZenithMedia, programmatic will be the fastest growing market in advertising for the foreseeable future, beating both Adwords and Facebook ads.

There are a few things to understand about programmatic advertising.

Programmatic advertising delivers online display ads to a target market on any device, anywhere at any time. These ads generally will appear in three places: on any web page, within any app or at the start of any video.

Whether your potential customers use computers, smart phones or tablet, you can reach them when they will be most willing to accept your message. The online tools you use will depend on the products and services offered by your business.

Your potential customers can be targeted for messages based upon their IP addresses, location and many other variables. Programmatic advertising can display messages to potential customers who are more likely to respond based on prior online behavior, such as searches and purchases.

Here are some examples:

  • A small business sells golf clubs. They want to reach potential customers who search online for golf supply stores.
  • A car dealership wants its ads to show up on mobile devices when potential customers are near competing dealerships.
  • A new coffee shop wants to target potential customers anytime they visit nearby competitors.

As a small business owner, you can decide when and how your messages reach potential customers:

  • Frequency targeting: Control the number of times your message can be viewed.
  • Content targeting: Target only those potential customers interested in your particular product or service.
  • Day targeting: Control what time of day your messages can be displayed.
  • Behavioral targeting: Target those who already demonstrated interest in your products or services with their online behavior.
  • Demographic targeting: Target a specific age/income/gender of your potential customers.
  • Geographic targeting: Choose a location or radius for your potential customers to receive the message.

Such programmatic approaches result in better responses to your advertising campaigns and increased revenue for you and your small business. Reaching the right people means less of your marketing time and advertising dollars get wasted.

These creative, targeted marketing methods take the guesswork out of reaching prospective customers who already desire your products and services. Behind all of the technology, however, are real people and real relationships. Not all exchanges are equal. We’ve won customers like the University of Nebraska-Kearny with our side-by-side comparisons.

In fact, we can tell within minutes of looking at your website whether we have a programmatic provider that can deliver better results. More in our next installment on how to track the programmatic players.

Omaha’s Largest Family Celebration

Omaha’s Fastest Growing Demographic Invites You to Its Largest Family Celebration

A few things to keep in mind when marketing to the Latino Market as Cinco de Mayo approaches

Cinco de Mayo is the largest Latino celebration of the year in the United States.  In Omaha, it’s a three-day festival centered in South Omaha that starts Friday, May 5, and ends Sunday, May 7. The weekend is packed with festivities that include a parade, concerts and an expansive carnival.  Families, young and old, gather to enjoy the event.  Latinos represent 12% of the Metro area population, and a significant portion of marketing dollars.   Here are a few things to keep in mind when marketing to the Latino population:

MANY LATINOS LIVE IN MULTIGENERATIONAL  HOUSEHOLDS.  They are also very family oriented.   Research shows that Latinos have more tightly integrated and localized extended families.  Many family groups include grandparents or aunts and uncles as well as children.  This means decisions, such as what car to buy or college to go to, are made within a group with input potentially provided by all members (whether it’s sought out or not). 

LATINOS TEND TO BE VERY LOYAL.  Take this statement as a “broad sweeping stroke.”  While brand loyalty versus price may vary, personal and purchasing loyalty is strong.  I have had many advertisers state that their sales within the Latino community have skyrocketed due to personal referrals within that community.  This community works hard for each dollar and saves their money.  Treat them with respect and understanding and you will have customers for life. Which brings me to my next point…

LATINOS TEND TO BE SAVERS.  They forecast major expenditures and their plan their savings accordingly to be able to pay in cash. 

LATINOS ARE LOYAL TO THEIR NATIVE CULTURE.  To varying degrees, the Latino community maintain traditions of their native homes. Latino families, whether first, second or third generation are very devoted to their country of origin.  Spanish is frequently the primary language spoken in the home, even when English is dominant otherwise.  When asked, members of the Latino community report they prefer getting their news and day-to-day information in Spanish.   

While younger members of the community are very active on social media, showing some of the highest rates of adoption, mid-age and older members of this community prefer receiving information in print.  64% agree that newspapers keep them up to date on the latest styles and trends and 1 in 5 shopped or purchased an advertised product after seeing it’s print ad. 

Our team here at our weekly El Perico newspaper and our annual Directorio Latino understand how to navigate all of the nuances of the Latino market, and we stand ready to help you grow sales in this vibrant and ever-expanding demographic. 

If you are interested in promoting your business during Cinco de Mayo, please contact us.

The Differences in Best Of’s

Omaha has a lot to offer, so every year The Reader asks locals to vote for their favorite places in the annual Readers’ Choice Best Of the Big O! poll. It’s one of three polls offered by local media and there are some important distinctions and differences between them, though all of them offer your business benefits.

Only one poll has the ultimate summer entertainment giveaway – a season pass to Harrah’s Stir Concert Cove. That would be your culture and watchdog journalism source — The Reader.

We were one of the first to conduct an annual poll in the Omaha area. We’ve done it since 1996, missing only two years during ownership transitions. Locals know when a business displays the Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O! insignia, it’s truly a favorite in the Metro.

Readers’ Choice Best Of the Big O! is not a list thrown together based on how much marketing a business buys. It’s a list of area businesses that are the best at what they do, based on the votes of The Reader’s readers – one of Omaha’s most active demographics — often entering a highly acquisitive stage of life (young professionals) or their peak earning times (empty-nesters).

That means they are very active consumers and know the businesses they like and trust. Our readers generally go out a lot – from concerts to restaurants to sporting events to everything else. They are often influencers, helping their social networks with entertainment and purchasing decisions.

This is a group that isn’t afraid to share its opinions.

Best of is a process we take seriously. There are several important areas of distinction – key dates, voting management, get-out-the-vote guidelines and ballot presentation.

Key Dates

  • Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O! (The Reader): Nominations run January 1 – February 28, Final Voting March 3 – April 30, Winners announced in August issue.
  • Omaha’s Choice (Omaha World-Herald): Voting run March 12 – April 9. Winners announced in June 4 issue.
  • Best of Omaha (Omaha Magazine): Voting starts in July. Winners announced in January/February edition.

Voting Management

Double opt-in email registration and IP blocking help insure each voter only votes once, Something we started, but all of the Best of promotions now employ.

But we’re still the only one to use an independent accounting firm to tally the votes. Hancock & Dana, one of Omaha’s oldest locally owned accounting firms, believes in giving back to the community. While we have no other business relationship with Hancock & Dana,  we applaud their community involvement and support for growing local business, including the Entrepreneur’s Organization.

‘Get Out The Vote’ Guidelines

Part of the Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O process is to get consumers excited about naming their favorite businesses and sharing them with friends and family. A quick scan of most review sites will show the imbalance inherent in Omaha’s humble, work-ethic driven culture — successes are never reviewed at the same rates as failures.

New businesses that hustle reviews can appear better than well-established businesses with decades of thousands of satisfied customers. We hope to help our community shed this a bit to embrace share the good stories and actively recommend the businesses they know and love.

In this regard, all of the Best of polls are important. However, Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O! is the ONLY ONE to ban voting incentives. We will take steps to prevent “vote buying” in attempt to boost results. This is the line we draw on campaigning. Businesses that offer incentives for nominations and votes risk disqualification.

This falls in line with all of the major review sites – from Google and Facebook to Yelp and TripAdvisor – which ban incentives in their terms of service. It also makes us consistent with the spirit of federal law on rating businesses, which requires disclosing incentives.

The only incentive we allow is the grand prize we offer voters – the season pass to Harrah’s Stir Concert Cove.

Ballot Presentation

This came up when the new kid on the block of Best Of’s and the oldest media in town launched their version last year. While we share the same voting platforms and their capabilities, we DO NOT offer paid ad positions on the ballot.

We don’t allow companies to place display ads or buy positions on our Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O! ballot, which can earn them a competitive advantage.


On the flip side, a feature currently offered by the oldest “Best of” is something we expect to come to Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O! and the other Best of, maybe this year. That feature, a customized link companies can distribute that, when clicked, automatically places that company’s name as a vote in their respective categories.

This will make it much easier for employees and consumers to place votes for that company in the correct category.

Prized Recognition

Many local winners use their Best Of designation as a mark of distinction and to propel them to further success. Businesses that range from Ameristar (it’s a brass plaque by their entrance) to Wells Fargo Bank, from Eyman Plumbing Heating & Air to Methodist Hospital, Zio’s Pizza to Takoda Roofing, all used their Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O! to promote themselves.

Out of dozens, if not hundreds, of businesses in almost every category, it’s not easy to be Readers’ Choice Best Of the Big O!, which makes winning even more of a distinguished accomplishment. Only businesses that are so well-loved they spur customers to vote for them make it to the winners list. With 800+ consumers completing ballots representing over 20,000 individual Best of nominations, it is a true representation of what Omaha locals love.

Public Nominations

The public nominates businesses via the website This started at the beginning of the year and ENDS TODAY. The top nominees and editors’ picks from OLIBA-certified businesses will set the final ballot, released on March 2.

Final Voting

Voters can still write in businesses after nominations end, and our team will update the final ballot weekly when any write-in reaches the minimum number of nominations earned by other businesses in that category.

Final voting runs through April 30. Those votes are turned over to Hancock & Dana for tabulating the winners. Our grand prize winner will be announced on our Facebook page the first week in May.


The Reader provides recognized businesses with a plastic banner, a certificate and a UV-resistant door sticker.. Businesses can use their Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O! designation in their ads and correspondence.  It tells customers your business is truly a local favorite.

Final voting begins March 2. To access the ballot, simply go to and click on the welcome tab for complete details and voting instructions.

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Need help with Best of? Let’s have a chat 402-715-0444.  


I Feel Your Pain

Our Consultative Approach to Relationship-Building

There’s a memorable scene from the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross (NSFW – strong language) that sums up one of the uglier stereotypes of the sales profession, one where the “ABC” approach rules supreme. The idea that one should, as the movie suggests, “Always Be Closing” might work in the short run in certain situations, but it does absolutely nothing — zip, nada, nil — in terms of establishing anything close to what could be called a working relationship.

I’ve been very fortunate to really see how that approach has been left behind locally. As the first female radio sales rep at Lite 96 (“back when I was in radio”) and one of a handful in the entire market, we brought a closer attention to listening skills in our approach. That was my entry into the consultative selling approach. It’s a far cry from that ABC model and instead is based on building relationships aimed at a win-win for both myself and my clients.

A great example was the tire and auto service chain aiming to reach women for the first time. By listening to their business goals, we launched a multi-channel campaign that told a story and built a brand, long before the internet.

I have a few qualifications that have prepared me.

When I came to print media as radio clustering took hold, Pioneer was just adding its second media channel – El Perico. From Neighborhood News for Hy-Vee to Today’s Omaha Woman for the Women’s Fund and the addition of, we feel that we are uniquely positioned to understand your business and be a planning-table-partner when it comes to your own success.

The niche media foundation of our business allowed us to understand the dynamics of building targeted audiences around unique interests and helping our clients do the same. We know content and the community and to connect the two. Those often long-term relationships give us opportunities to identify and execute on new and deep opportunities for your business. We’ve now combined all of our media experience and marketing savvy to take the next logical step by acting as a publisher for our clients. PioneerMedia = Bigger audience, increase engagement, more revenues.

Based on solid relationships, real opportunities and lessons learned, we’ve added incrementally deeper and broader offerings …, not just hit-and-run “sales” of the ABC variety.

It’s probably no surprise that consultative selling is an investment. Just as in your personal life, relationships take work. It’s a more thoughtful, deliberate approach that requires research and planning.

That’s why we don’t do “cold calls.” When your phone rings and we’re on the line, it’s the culmination of a process that prepares me to engage in a more meaningful conversation aimed at growing your business. We do our homework.

Of all the skills that go into such a sales model, I have found that listening is the key. Don’t tell the editorial department, but we like to listen like journalists. Practicing an active listening style allows us to understand your business in a way that gives me confidence whenever I offer a set of solutions. Confidence is a great feeling, but it comes only from being a good listener and being able to tell an authentic story. It’s the foundation of any relationship we seek to build.

And you know what? It’s not only more productive for us, it’s a lot more fun and personally rewarding to know that we bring more than just a “buy this” mentality to our relationships.

We have a wide array of products and partners in our toolbox, and our goal is to use them along with our combined years of experience, including my decades-long work in television and radio, to deliver a set of solutions that will drive more business to your door. We are a small but nimble company, and I don’t have time, nor would I want to waste your time, by making scattershot, bottom-feeding, ultimately unproductive and uniformed cold calls.

That’s just not our thing. It’s not who we are.

You’ll see this more thoughtful approach reflected in our recommendations. I can’t tell you how many times prospects have been surprised by the fact that print media (our Reader and El Perico) make their way into our solutions only when we know … really, really know … that print is the right match for your needs. More times than not, it probably won’t because our customers need unique solutions that drive results and that starts with their own digital presence and branding, before we should even start talking about any kind of advertising.

The only reason I got into sales in the first place was to help people … to help them succeed in marketing their business. Sure, I want the sale as much as the next person, but I want it on truly collaborative terms after demonstrating that I know your business and, as one former president famously put it, “I feel your pain.”

Besides, being a mom gives me an overdeveloped skill set (sigh) at being a pain magnet, so let’s talk soon about what keeps you up at night and how our arsenal of marketing tools might be a good fit to take your business to new levels of success.