Google SMART Campaigns Ruin Patient Lead Generation

Your Google Ads Need Updating Now – Save $1000’s a Month

Advertisers have long enjoyed profitable lead generation in Google Ads, formerly known as Adwords, for decades.  Now with recent changes to Google Ads, practices are seeing thousands of dollars a month spent on completely irrelevant terms that bring in no new patients.  Recent audits show that over 85% of audited ads accounts were running SMART campaigns that were spending 90%-100% of the ad budget on clicks that were resulting in wrong number phone calls and questions about services not offered by the practice.

Google Sees Record Ads Revenues – By Taking Your Money With No Return on Investment

New changes in Google Ads have forced practices to take a second look at how they are spending their hard-earned money.  It’s no surprise that Google is always looking for ways to increase shareholder values, and recently the market has seen a huge revenue drive from the ads division at Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.

So how did Google create this windfall of revenue and what does that mean to advertisers like Orthodontists and Pediatric Dentists who depend on ads traffic for increased new patient conversions?

Agencies Adopt SMART Campaigns – Clients Suffer

Google’s SMART campaigns are an easy way for agencies to setup an ads campaign in less than 15 minutes.  You basically give Google your wallet and let them bid for you in your own auction.  They use creative terms like “machine-learning” and other snappy marketing buzz to lure advertisers and newer agency players into the thinking that this is the best path to optimizing ad spending for ROI.

The reality however is that Google uses this capability to drive up costs in the ad auction and show your ads for whatever searches they see fit – even if the searches are completely irrelevant.

In our recent study we’ve seen a 100% correlation of search queries that show in all cases that Google is showing ads for terms like “dentist near me” or “orthopedic surgeon near me” for keywords such as “pediatric dentist near me” or “orthodontist near me”.  We’ve also seen the smart campaigns showing searches for other practices with a resulting cost-per-click up to $30.  Yes, even your $4-$6 per-click terms are now costing you up to $30 a click by letting Google do the bidding for you.

How to Find this Data in Your Account

Advertisers won’t readily see the actual search data that users are searching in the ad reports, and most agencies that are using SMART campaigns are likely doing absolutely nothing to optimize your campaigns.

If you want to see the actual search terms that people are searching for when clicking your ads, you have to look in the keywords section of the account, then click a level down in Search terms.

Should I use Google SMART campaigns

Your search report should look something like this, loaded with relevant searches for your practice, having high click-through-rates and conversions.  These terms are shown from campaigns using “Expert Mode” campaign setup, which isn’t easy to find when creating your ads.  The more Google hides the ability for you to control the quality of your ads, the more money they make.

Google Charges You For Ads on Completely Irrelevant Searches

This is an example of what we saw in the study:

You can see the green field represents the only relevant search query that showed for this spend of over $6000.  Yes, you read that right, $6000.  This is what we saw across the board in the study.  Even the one “relevant” term we saw was questionable and we only highlighted to give them the benefit of the doubt.  So there you have it, one potential new client for $6000 spend.

How to Avoid Wasting Money in Ads & Optimize Your Efforts

To start, make sure you or your agency aren’t running SMART campaigns.  If you are, ask for a full search query report for the last 30 days, 60 or 90 or more.

If you need help auditing your account, give us a call we’re happy to help with a free audit just to let you know how your campaigns are performing.

Whenever building campaigns in Google Ads, always make sure you are using “Expert Mode” setup which gives you almost complete control over where Google shows your ads, for what terms, what demographic, and in which search environment.  Without getting into too many specifics of the SMART campaigns, let’s just say you don’t want your ads showing to kids watching Mr. Beast but rather parents searching for services in your area and ready for a consult.


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