Artwork: Wikiri, 2014 
© Jakayu Biljabu/Copyright Agency 2020. 
Photo: Martumili Artists.

What is the Google Ad Grant scheme?

AU$156,000 a year in free Google advertising for not-for-profits. Probably more than you could even spend. 

What’s the catch?

There are some rules, and more importantly, some tricks to using a Google Ad Grant account well.

First the rules.

  • Maintain a 5% account CTR.
  • Keyword Quality Scores cannot be below 2.
  • There must be at least 2 active ad groups per campaign.
  • There must be at least 2 active ads per ad group.
  • There must be at least 2 sitelink ad extensions.
  • Your account must have specific geo-targeting.
  • No using single-word keywords (the exception being your brand), and no using overly generic words. 
  • No using competitor brands.
  • All URLs you direct your ad to must be under the approved Grant Account domain.
  • There is a $2.00 maximum keyword bid for manual bidding. Automated bidding strategies can break the $2.00 bid maximum.
  • An account must be logged into at least monthly and have one or more changes implemented every 90 days. You can revive a defunct account, but the process takes time. 

Where to start? 

In all likelihood you’ve got a new show, or season to program to announce, but just put that to the side for a second.

Start with your audience. Once you get someone to your website, what do you want them to do? Buy a ticket? Buy some merch? Make a donation? Make a list of every possible thing you want them to do ON YOUR WEBSITE. These are your conversions.

Make sure the page you’re sending people to can actually do the conversion. Don’t send people to the homepage if the ticket sales are another three pages deep.  Also be aware that Ad Grant ads must land on a url from the approved domain, so if the conversion happens on a different site for ticketing (such as Eventbrite or GoFundMe for example), you will not be able to direct the ad directly to that page. You can usually embed the form for donations or ticket sales onto your own website and create a dedicated landing page., but make sure your tracking is set up for this!

Does structure matter? 

Not really, but yes. Usually you want to structure your Google Ads to match the conversion actions you listed above. These should be fairly broad, and will most likely have different promotional pushes throughout the year. Common campaigns for an arts organisation include BRAND, TICKETS, DONATIONS, MERCHANDISE, ENROLMENTS or APPLICATIONS. You can see how these reflect the conversions of buying a ticket, giving a donation, applying for a program etc. Brand will usually include your brand name in all of its variations and newsletter subscription.

A great place to start with keywords is to list all the things you do as an organisation. This is where your usual season or program outline comes back into it. Don’t forget entirely about your audience though. This is where you’re trying to match what they type into Google when searching for you (or a competitor). 

A keyword is not a single word, it can be a phrase. With Grant accounts, ad groups with one keyword are shown to perform best, although they are time consuming to set up in the first instance. Another trick is to use long-tail keywords, that is phrases with multiple words. Rather than “youth arts” try for “youth arts programs” or “free youth arts council programs”. Longer tail keywords will usually be cheaper to bid on, and help to improve your quality score. 

You should use keywords in your ads directly in the first heading and at least once in the description. They should also appear, in your landing page meta description, and in your image file names that appear on the landing page.

Quick Start Campaign Structure Template Using Responsive Search Ads.

It can be overwhelming when you start using Google Ads. The platform is unique, and is designed for Google to make money – not for you to easily advertise. Below is an example of a starter Responsive Search Ad Google Grant account for Wandy’s new DEBUTSHOW. I’ve only filled in one full campaign as an example, but you can easily apply this to your own organisation. 

I strongly recommend keeping track of your campaign structure in a document (Google Sheet or Excel Workbooks are best) outside of the Ads portal. Make a note of start and end dates and spend, if you’re A/B Testing, track the outcomes in this document.

Some notes on the example: 

  • Yes the Headings should be in Title Case (capitalise each word).
  • Pin the first Heading to ensure Keyword relevance is always selected
  • In some instances where a smaller space is available your ad will only show 2 Headings, not 3.
  • In the example for HEADING 1, the funny brackets around the “KeyWord” is telling Google Ads to pick up the keywords in full with proper capitalisation (not “keyword”), and if for whatever reason it cannot fit the full keyword phrase (eg mobile screen in portrait orientation), to put the word after the colon.