Guest Post: Google Grant Ads by Simon Choy of ConnectAd

by Simon Choy of ConnectAd

So, what are Google Grant Ads and where did they come from?

Google Ads are the sponsored search results that you see at the top of Google when you search for something. Now usually you have to pay Google every time someone clicks on an ad that you run, but if you have the Google Ad Grant, you get $10,000 per month in free credits to pay for those clicks. This is all provided pro bono as part of a philanthropic effort from Google, which started in 2003.

This sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch? Why is google doing this?

The grant is an amazing opportunity, but it doesn’t work for all nonprofits. For example, it can be tougher for very localized groups to use an effective amount of the free ad credits since there’s inherently less people to promote to. Other big factors include whether the nonprofit has the time to actually run Google ad campaigns, and the know-how to do it properly. If they don’t, the grant may end up being severely under-utilized and not make any tangible difference. In terms of why Google doing this, I think in large part they genuinely want to help nonprofits achieve meaningful impact. It could also serve as a natural transition into running parallel paid ad campaigns outside of the free grant credits.

What’s the story of how you got involved with them and what is it that you do?

In 2010, our founder discovered the Google Ad Grant program, which had amazing potential but would be difficult for nonprofits who generally didn’t have the time or technical savvy to use effectively. While there were many companies providing a digital marketing solution to for-profits, almost nobody was helping the nonprofit sector, so ConnectAd was formed to be that solution. What we do is focus entirely on helping nonprofits grow their impact using effective digital marketing tools like the Google Ad Grant.

Who are Grant Ads for? Who are they not for?

Google Ad Grants are for any eligible nonprofit organization. Eligibility only has three requirements = 1) You’re a registered nonprofit in any one of the 50+ countries listed 2) You have an active website 3) You’re not a hospital or healthcare organization, educational institution, or government entity.

How do these non-profits afford to pay you? Can using these ads help them generate revenue?

We always work with nonprofits on a month-to-month subscription basis, so if it’s truly not beneficial to them, it’s easy to stop. I believe that nonprofits we partner with see the value in enhancing their digital presence, and decide to invest in it. Of course we understand that nonprofits budgets are limited, but if I were a nonprofit organization looking to maximize my dollars to engage my audience online, what better way than to spend a little to leverage a program providing potentially $10,000 per month in ads. For example, even if I’m a small nonprofit, it’s important to engage my stakeholders online – and with a limited budget, I would look for ways to stretch it as far as I can. That’s why it makes sense for even small nonprofits to leverage our services and the Google Grant because they can truly amplify their spend.

What are the top three mistakes you see people making with these ads (or that might be made)?

1) Sometimes people will create ads in their account and leave it to collect impressions and clicks. An account with the Google Grant Ads needs to be maintained and managed otherwise it will be at risk for suspension. Google has a minimum click through rate of 5% for Ad Grant accounts, so a campaign/ad created and never touched again could lead to suspension because it wouldn’t be meeting their requirements when left dormant.

2) Ads that are not geo-targeted correctly – which means that there is no particular place where the ad will show up. Let’s say you have a nonprofit that runs a local program in San Francisco but the ads are targeted to all of the US. There’s a good chance that most of the traffic coming in from the ad will be from locations where your program does not operate and will therefore be irrelevant to those users.

3) When there are no conversions being tracked. A conversion could be downloading a PDF, signing up for a newsletter, registering for a program etc. Although it seems positive to see an abundance of clicks, impressions and grant spend in your account, we aren’t able to determine if those users engaged with your website if there isn’t conversion tracking. Conversion tracking can accurately determine how the grant program is providing value, or not, to your organization.

What are the top three things people should use these Grant Ads for?

Google Ad Grants can be used for a myriad of purposes to achieve nonprofit goals (e.g. Promote awareness, gain new emails, sell tickets to events, new volunteers, etc.).

What services do you offer around this?

We offer the All-In-One Google Grants Service with dedicated account management by our team of AdWords certified account managers and we also provide optimized landing pages and in-depth Google Analytics services – designed to drive specific, valuable results beyond the click. You don’t  just want people clicking on the ad.  Clicks by themselves do not equal success.

When they click that need to lead them to a landing page where they is some specific call to action (e.g. Emails, volunteers, selling a product or service, in-kind donations) and to understand not only the results of a digital marketing campaign, but where success came from and what caused it. Better data = better approach = better results. We have also just been recognized by Google as an Ad Grant Certified Professional, one of 20-25 companies worldwide with this certification.

Any other resources you can think of that would be helpful for people to check out?

We recommend attending one of our free CharityHowTo webinars on the Ad Grant opportunity, as well as our website’s blog – which will be more active in 2019 with best practices of the Ad Grant opportunity and other valuable digital marketing information for nonprofit organizations.

About ConnectAd and Simon Choy:

In 2009, ConnectAd founder Simon Choy found a summer job in the digital marketing industry where he learned about managing Google AdWords. His work with for-profit companies gave him an appreciation for how complicated campaigns could get.

Later that summer, he discovered the Google Grants program, but was surprised to find out that nobody was out there helping nonprofits. Agencies serving for-profit companies were everywhere, but why wasn’t anyone assisting nonprofits in taking advantage of $10,000 per month in free ads?

Always having had a passion for social enterprise, Simon decided to be that person and opened ConnectAd in 2010 with the mission of helping nonprofits. Since then, ConnectAd has remain committed to only working with nonprofits, managing their Google Grants. They are proud to say they’ve helped almost 200 nonprofits get their Google Ad Grant. Using the grant, ConnectAd has generated over 50 million dollars in ads and 1.8 billion ad impressions! connectad.ca