Sure Way To Waste Your AdWords Budget: Actual Horror Story

Here’s a story by Mark, a gifted digital advertiser who used to spend his budget with speed Elagabalus would admire. Actually, it’s a work of fiction, a myth. Nobody really fails at advertising/marketing in modern world. It’s called “inappropriate branding strategy” or “bad marketing choices” today. And nobody really thinks that myths are something different from ancient psychobabble.

I’ve made up this whole story. Why? This is the story I prefer, because it’s weird and awesome to observe how nobody actually talks about it openly, and it infuriates me to see how many people used to make these counterproductive choices while simultaneously claiming they rule AdWords.

So, here’s cool inappropriate strategy you can use to wreck AdWords campaigns. I’ve seen it a lot, it works great. As a side note, I’ve added some counter guides so that it wouldn’t be so dark and gruesome.


Ancient Greeks used to say: “If you know how to waste your budget on mega expensive projects of little value (gladiators and Google AdWords notably), than you already know how to rule an empire like Romans do”. In this context the empire is Google and Markus the Advertiser is the Roman Emperor. Empire (Google) says to Markus (Emperor) he’s the one and only half-god advertiser and his name will be remembered through centuries and he actually believes it. (Empire) Google Trends/Smart Goals/AdWords sneakily nudges him towards fancy and unnecessary spends (more loot, another war, total dominance) and Markus goes for it, cause that what Empire has been saying. Ok, all Glocks down, I didn’t mean to be that explicit. Here’s another quick analogy: it looks like a bartender that wants his client to buy the most expensive cocktails, leave tips, and tell his friends how great that particular bar is. Guess who’s on the right side of the counter?


When Markus the Advertiser gets a little drunk (intimidated by the prowess of Google AdWords user interface and infinite possibilities to track down, evaluate, and store every metric imaginable), he believes that with an army like that he can easily dominate the whole world. Of course, Mark can win a few battles here and there, but legions have to be disciplined on a daily basis, otherwise there will be some riots eventually:

Soldiers ask for higher danger pay while on a mission — high Cost Per Click — when Google proudly presents its keywords suggestions, it basically says: “What you need is expensive keywords. Bid on these keywords and your traffic/conversions will explode! (In fact, we show the volume that is a bit rounded, but who cares?” omitting post-conversion attitude and questionable quality of leads converted. When you get unpredicted exposure, your impression share suddenly jumps — huge overspends guaranteed. Somebody will get profit but not you.

Points off: 8 from 10.

Now what?

Be extra careful with expensive keywords. Stay away if you’re not sure how they can help you.


Markus the Advertiser is a devoted libertarian: now every barbarian can obtain Roman citizenship — Adwords uses broad match keywords by default. Which brings many people who are semi-interested in your offer, they just wouldn’t buy it. Sorry, Leonidas, you were simply outnumbered.

Points off: 7 from 10.

Now what?

Go for exact and phrase match. Broad matching can be good for brand awareness and bulk traffic, but is that really what you need?


Spies, spies everywhere and Markus doesn’t have his own counter-intelligence service — you don’t care about negative keywords. Your campaigns are extremely vulnerable to spends on not related search terms.

Points off: 8 from 10.

Now what?

Negative keywords list. Think about it.


Markus the Advertiser doesn’t really care if he has loyal allies — you don’t use ad extensions, those sweet little snippets (sitelinks, callouts). You think that one landing page per campaign is enough?

Points off: 5 from 10.

Now what?

Forget about it. If you don’t see any value here, than there isn’t, right?


Markus the Advertiser suffers from severe timing deterioration, it seems that he doesn’t really know what’s going on at 6 pm today or next Sunday — your bidding schedule and ads visibility are constant and sharp during the whole day. You’re so tough, that you advertise even at night time, weekends, and holidays including. When some mean hurricane or dirty flood leaves half the country without electricity, your ads are still going all the way down to potential customers who are trying to save their frightened kittens at the time.

Points off: 6 from 10.

Now what?

Paused keywords. Cost Per Click: keep it lower than average. It helps a lot.


Markus the Advertiser cannot in battle strategy, he’s completely oblivious to his reserves and logistics — you run bulk campaigns with no granular segmentation at all. You do not use ad groups, stuffing two hundred keywords (“that’s all I got”) in one campaign.

Points off: 9 from 10.

Now what?

Learn how to use different campaign types (search/shopping/display). Segment your keywords in groups. Granular synthesis is what you need.


“All your base are belong to us”.

At the end of his reign Markus the Advertiser managed to waste his budget on totally random metrics while accepting every choice Google had placed in front of him. This strategy never fails. And then… it’s time for another emperor.


“Wow. How any of this can be even relevant let alone meaningful?” you ask, hoping that since I have to spend all day sending custom reports to my clients, therefore I must be eyeballs deep into information bias or completely drunk (hey, bartender, one more White Russian, please). Never mind historical inaccuracy: do you think people has changed that much since Hellenistic times? Do you think you’re the only one who rules an empire and totally fails at it?

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