Google admits AdWords was too complex for small businesses

Google has admitted its AdWords product became too complex for everyday small business owners to leverage, which led the digital giant to overhaul the offering and the launch of a regional roadshow.

Google product marketing manager Duncan McGrath said Google had to simplify the AdWord platform and launch new services to better cater for everyday Australians, who are not educated in the digital marketing space.

“AdWords is very powerful and there are amazing technologies and capabilities for whatever niche target you want to reach or how you want to bid or what ad format you want to use. But that said, it’s very complex,” McGrath said.

“Over the last decade, AdWords has gone from a very simple platform to a very complicated platform for someone who is a busy small business owner, and for someone who isn’t a digital marketer, let alone an expert in AdWords.”

McGrath was speaking on a panel alongside Lexer founder Aaron Wallis, MYOB head of product marketing and customer acquisition Jane Betschel and Australian small business ombudsman analyst Jill Lawrence at breakfast for small business owners held by The Royals. The event aimed to shed light on the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners.

(L-R) Andrew Swika, Aaron Wallis, Jill Lawrence, Jane Betschel and Duncan McGrath

Research from Deloitte found that Australian small businesses that are engaging in digital are 1.5 times more likely to be growing revenue and 14 times more likely to be innovating.

McGrath said the challenge for Google in the small business space is to bridge the digital skills gap with 60% of businesses having zero digital presence.

“Our research revealed there is a digital skills gap. Consumers are using technology but businesses don’t necessarily know how to participate. We developed the Digital Garage to give businesses the digital skills they need to succeed and move forward,” he said.

The Digital Garage is a free online training tool designed by Google to assist small businesses to make the most of digital platforms. The platform includes 90 training modules, including videos that educate on search marketing, digital marketing and social media.

As well as the online service, Google has been on a national roadshow aimed at small business owners in the area to educate them on digital marketing.

“We recognised a few years ago that we could do more to help small businesses who don’t have time to make this incredibly powerful platform work for them,” McGrath said.

While educating small businesses on digital marketing is an obvious benefit to Google, the training is agnostic and McGrath says the tools can be applied to other platforms such as Facebook.

In other AdWords news, the ABC came under fire last week for its use of the AdWords tool, using tax payer money to boost its articles search results.

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