How to make the most of the Google Ad Grants programme

If you’re a not-for-profit organisation looking to increase your visibility through search, the Google Ad Grants programme could offer you a helpful boost.

At its most simple, Google Ad Grants offers $10,000 of in-kind advertising per month to be spent on promoting your brand through Google paid search. The Google Ad Grants programme is available in more than 50 countries around the world, including most of Europe and North America.

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The benefits of paid search advertising

Let’s first look at the benefits of paid search advertising. ‘Paid search allows brands like yours to reach prospective parties exactly at the moment that they are looking for the types of services your organisation offers.’ Think of it as a personal billboard, directly advertising what people are looking for at any given time.

Because the intent is already there, interaction through paid search is often higher than through traditional ad channels that you may already be using, such as direct mail or TV. And because you only pay when one of your ads is clicked, wastage is kept to a minimum.

Each of those clicks is charged on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, with you setting your monthly spend cap. This is where Google Ad Grants comes in – Google will cover the first $10,000 of clicks per month if you qualify for the programme.

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • There’s an application process for the Google Ad Grants programme. All Grantees must hold charity status, which varies by country, so it’s worth checking your eligibility
  • Your website needs to be live at the time of application and must contain “substantial content”. Hence, any single page sites or sites primarily hosting outbound links or photos are likely to be declined Grants status
  • Your organisation must agree to Google’s certifications concerning donation receipt and use via the campaigns

What happens when the application is accepted?

Once Google has approved your application, you will be invited to create an AdWords account through which to run your in-kind advertising.

Google demands that the accounts of all advertisers are well run. As such, there are ongoing requirements to be met after you’ve been accepted into the Grants programme:

  • Log-in has to be at least every 90 days, with at least one account change made during that period
  • Advertising that is strictly commercial is forbidden. Sites that contain a retail element as part of a bigger site structure are accepted but, in this case, 100% of the proceeds of the retail section must go to supporting your organisation. The proceeds must not, for example, be paid to third parties, such as affiliates
  • Ads and keywords must match the type of services your organisation offers (standard PPC best practice)Sites carrying AdSense display ads are not permitted, nor are affiliate ad links

Once you’re up and running, regular optimisation of the account is essential, for two main reasons.

Firstly, the amount you can bid per clicks has a ceiling of $2. Therefore, advertisers need to be creative and responsive to keep their account and keywords in the best status possible to try and minimise the CPC.

Secondly, on a fixed budget of $10,000 per month, every single cent of ad spend counts. So, you need to be managing the spend as efficiently as possible.

Otherwise, running a Grant account is much like running a standard paid Google AdWords account.

How to get more from the Google Ad Grants programme

So, let’s say you’ve been accepted onto the Google Ad Grants programme. You’ve built a high quality account that’s getting you lots of traffic and spending the $10,000 budget each month. You’re happy with the account performance but would love to boost traffic even further. What’s next?

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Google Grantspro

What’s next is Google Grantspro: a higher tier of Grants account that rewards the best advertisers with increased in-kind advertising credit of $40,000 per month. Achieving Grantspro status should be the ultimate goal of every Grants advertiser and is a great motivator for ongoing account improvement.

But you know what’s coming – there are more eligibility requirements:

  • Google conversion tracking must be enabled and must have recorded at least one conversion
  • The monthly spend on the existing Grants account must have hit $9,900 for at least two of the preceding six months
  • Click-through rate (CTR) must have averaged 1% or higher over the preceding six months
  • It’s important that the existing account is in good standing with Google, as per its policies
  • There must be someone in your organisation who can commit to proactively managing the account at least once a fortnight
  • Importantly, you must agree to share performance and conversion data with Google for them to administer the Grants programme, as well as to complete an annual Grantspro advertiser survey.

The penultimate point above is important. Should the account not be seen to be optimised as regularly as Google requires, there is the possibility that Grantspro status will be removed and your account will be reverted to Grants status, with the $10,000 in-kind credit on that programme. So, find a search champion within your organisation to drive performance!

Take the Google Ad Grants opportunity

Paid search can seem daunting if you’re a small team or have small marketing budgets. However, the Google Ads Grants programme offers you a great opportunity to start exploring the benefits of paid search.

Fresh Egg has a biddable media team skilled in all areas of the Google Ad Grants programme, including auditing your existing accounts and planning new, or rebuilding existing, AdWords accounts to make them as Grants-ready as possible. Once the account is live, the team is also able to manage the ongoing maintenance of the account.

The goal is always to maximise the potential return on a Grants account, be that driving increased traffic to your site to raise awareness, increased donations to your cause, or increased onsite purchases.

Whatever your goal is with Google Ad Grants, speak to our team for inspiration and advice.

Looking for more information about Google Ad Grants? Download our guide to using Google Ad Grants, and read our post from Sydney-based inbound marketing manager Michelle Wilding, 11 Ways Not-for-Profits Can Maximise Their Free Google Advertising.

Learn more about maximising your Google Ad Grant performance