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Not to be confused with Google AdSense.
Google AdWords
Adwords logo.png
Developer(s) Google
Initial release October 23, 2000; 15 years ago (2000-10-23)[1]
Type Online advertising

Google AdWords is an online advertising service that enables advertisers to compete to display brief advertising copy to web users, based in part on cookies and keywords predefined by the advertisers. Web pages from Google and from partner websites are designed to allow Google to select and display this advertising copy. Advertisers pay when users divert their browsing to seek more information about the copy displayed, and partner websites receive a portion of the income they generate.

AdWords has evolved into Google's main source of revenue, contributing to Google's total advertising revenues of USD $43.7 billion in 2012.[2] AdWords offers pay-per-click (PPC) (cost-per-click (CPC) advertising), cost-per-acquisition (CPA) advertising,[3] cost-per-thousand-impressions or cost per mille (CPM) advertising, site-targeted advertising for text, banner, and rich-media ads, and remarketing (also known as retargeting). The AdWords program includes local, national, and international distribution. Google's text advertisements are short, and consist of one headline of 25 characters, two additional text lines of 35 characters each, and a display URL of 35 characters. Image ads can be one of several different Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) standard sizes.

Sales and support for Google's AdWords division in the United States is based in Mountain View, California, with major secondary offices in Hyderabad, Dublin, Singapore, Ann Arbor[4] and New York City. The third-largest US facility is in Mountain View, California, headquarters.[5] Engineering for Google AdWords is based in Mountain View, California with major secondary offices in Los Angeles and New York.

Google has an active official public help and support community maintained and frequented by highly experienced Adwords users (referred to as "Top Contributors") and Google employees.[6] In 2011, AdWords represented 96% of Google's revenue.[citation needed]

Features and services[edit]

IP address exclusion[edit]

In addition to controlling ad placements through location and language targeting, placements can be refined with Internet Protocol (IP) address exclusion. This feature enables advertisers to exclude specified IP address ranges where they do not want their ads to appear.

Up to 500 IP addresses, or ranges of addresses, can be excluded per campaign. All ads in the campaign are prevented from showing for users with the IP addresses specified.

Location-based exclusion is also offered as a method of narrowing targeted users.[7]

AdWords Express[edit]

Main article: Google Adwords Express
Google Adwords Express is a feature aimed at small businesses that reduces the difficulty of managing ad campaigns by automatically managing keywords and ad placement.[8] AdWords Express was previously known as Google Boost.[9]

AdWords Express also supports small business that do not have a website, allowing them to direct customers to their place page.[10]

Placement-targeted advertisements (formerly Site-Targeted Advertisements)[edit]

In 2003 Google introduced site-targeted advertising. Using the AdWords control panel, advertisers can enter keywords, domain names, topics, and demographic targeting preferences, and Google places the ads on what they see as relevant sites within their content network. If domain names are targeted, Google also provides a list of related sites for placement. Advertisers bid on a cost-per-impression (CPI) or cost-per-click (CPC) basis for site targeting.[11]

With placement targeting, it is possible for an ad to take up the entire ad block rather than have the ad block split into 2 to 4 ads, resulting in higher visibility for the advertiser.

The minimum cost-per-thousand impressions bid for placement-targeted campaigns is 25 cents. There is no minimum CPC bid, however.


Remarketing is an AdWords feature that allows users to show ads to those that have already been to their website. This feature allows users to create different audiences from website users and to show relevant ads to separate audiences. Remarketing Lists for Search (RLSA) via Google Analytics became available in Google AdWords in early June 2015, allowing standard GA remarketing lists to be used in the targeting of traditional text search ads.[12]

Ad Extensions[edit]

Ad extensions allow advertisers to show extra information with their ads, such as a business address, a phone number, or more web page links. Ad extensions are created to improve ad visibility and to attract clicks. They appear with the Search Network, above the search results, and depending on the extension might also appear on the Display Network.

AdWords shows extensions when it calculates that the extension (or combination of extensions) will improve the advertiser's campaign performance, or when an ad is ranked high enough for it to appear.

Manual extensions

  1. App extensions - A link below the ad text directing users to the advertiser's mobile or tablet app.
  2. Call extensions - Allow advertisers to include a clickable phone number in their ads.
  3. Location Extensions - Allow advertisers to show their business address, phone number, and a map marker with their ad text.
  4. Review extensions - Showcase positive, third-party reviews from reputable sources.
  5. Sitelinks extensions - Allow advertisers to add additional links below their ads.
  6. Callout extensions - Allow advertisers to add additional descriptive text.
  7. Structured Snippet Extensions - Allow advertisers to add up to two predefined headers (product or service category) like brands,courses,degrees and more.
  8. Price Extensions - Allow advertisers to display prices for products or services.

Automated Extensions

Adwords creates and displays automated extensions when the system predicts they will improve performance. Automated extensions includes

  1. Consumer Ratings
  2. Seller Ratings
  3. Previous Visits
  4. Dynamic Sitelink Extensions
  5. Dynamic Structured Snippets

Google Click-to-Call[edit]

Google Click-to-Call was a service provided by Google which allowed users to call advertisers from Google search results pages. Users entered their phone number and Google would then call them back and connect to the advertiser. Calling charges were paid by Google. The service was discontinued in 2007.[13] For some time similar click-to-call functionality was available for results in Google Maps. In the Froyo release of Google's Android operating system, certain advertisements include very similar functionality, where a user can call an advertiser. In iOS, phone numbers are automatically recognized as such, and web developers can also provide direct links to the Phone application, providing similar (if not identical) functionality.

Google now offers a mobile click-to-call function which allows searchers to call a business directly rather than going to their website.

Google Adwords Customer Match[edit]

70% of online consumers agree that the quality, timing, and relevance of a brand’s message influences their perception of a brand. Whether customers are searching on Google, checking promotions on Gmail, or watching videos on YouTube, relevant ads can be posted based on what the customers are doing. Google Adwords Customer Match is a powerful tool that lets you show ads to your customers based on data about those customers that you share with Google. It lets advertisers bid and create ads tailored to customer segments in search as well as with YouTube Trueview ads and Gmail ads. For example, Gmail, reach your customers or a similar audience with personalized ads at the top of their inbox tabs, in addition to your email campaigns. With Customer Match, new audience can be generated based on the similar interest or characteristics to existing customers. With Customer match, brand is promoted at the right moment, with the right message and when the customer is most receptive.

AdWords distribution[edit]

All AdWords ads are eligible to be shown on Advertisers also have the option of enabling their ads to show on Google's partner networks. The "search network" includes AOL search,, and Netscape.

The "Google Display Network" (GDN) (formerly referred to as the "content network") shows AdWords ads on sites that are not search engines. These content network sites are those that use AdSense and DoubleClick, the other side of the Google advertising model. AdSense is used by website owners who wish to make money by displaying ads on their websites. Click-through rates on the display network are typically much lower than those on the search network and quality score for Display Network is calculated separately from Search network.[14]

More about Adsense, Google automatically determines the subject of pages and displays relevant ads based on the advertisers' keyword lists. AdSense publishers may select channels to help direct Google's ad placements on their pages, to increase performance of their ad units. There are many different types of ads that can run across Google's network, including text ads, image ads (banner ads), mobile text ads, and in-page video ads. In February 2016, Google began removing right hand side ads from AdWords on desktop in favour of only showing text ads above and below organic search results. Product Listing Ads and the Google Knowledge Graph were unaffected and can still appear on the right hand side.

Google AdWords' main competitors are Yahoo! Search Marketing and Bing Ads (formerly Microsoft AdCenter).

In 2010, Yahoo formed a partnership with Microsoft, giving Microsoft the control over powering the Yahoo search marketing ads. Both accounts are now run through Bing Ads. When ads are displayed on Yahoo now, it is powered by Bing Ads and is run through the Microsoft software interface.

AdWords account management[edit]

To help clients with the complexity of building and managing AdWords accounts, search engine marketing agencies and consultants offer account management as a business service. This allowed organizations without advertising expertise to reach a global, online audience. To help regulate Best Practices for AdWords Management, Google implemented the Google Partner Program and the Google Individual Qualification Program which require individuals and agencies to meet benchmarks and pass exams.[15]

Google also provides account management software, called AdWords Editor.

Another feature is the My Client Center available to Google Professionals (even if they have not yet passed the exam or budget parameters) whereby a Google professional has access to a dashboard summary of several accounts and can move between those accounts without logging into each account.

The Google Adwords Keyword Planner (formally the Keyword Tool) provides a list of related keywords for a specific website or keyword.[16]

The Google Display Planner is an adwords tool to identify display network keywords, placements and topics. It helps in expanding the reach of display campaigns while targeting relevant users for a business. [17]

How costs are calculated in AdWords[edit]

Cost of Google Adwords depends on the bidding strategies based on the organisation goals. As a result, there is no minimum amount that an organisation needs to spend.Every time someone searches on Google, AdWords runs an auction to determine the ads that show on the search results page, and their rank on the page. To place the ads in this auction, organisation needs to first choose how you'd like to bid. Normally, organisations will choose a bidding strategy based on their goals, like whether they want to focus on getting clicks, impressions, or conversions.[18]


Google launched AdWords in 2000.[19] At first, AdWords advertisers would pay a monthly amount, and Google would then set up and manage their campaign. To accommodate small businesses and those who wanted to manage their own campaigns, Google soon introduced the AdWords self-service portal. Starting in 2005, Google provided a campaign management service called Jumpstart.[20] Google's Jumpstart program offers free telephone support from a Google specialist to help users start their online advertising campaign.[21]

In 2005, Google launched the Google Advertising Professional (GAP) Program to certify individuals and companies who completed AdWords training and passed an exam. Due to the complexity of AdWords and the amount of money at stake, some advertisers hire a consultant to manage their campaigns.

In 2008, Google launched the Google Online Marketing Challenge,[22] an in-class academic exercise for tertiary students.[23] Over 8,000 students from 47 countries participated in the 2008 Challenge, over 10,000 students from 58 countries took part in 2009, about 12,000 students in 2010 and almost 15,000 students from 70 countries in 2011. The Challenge runs annually, roughly from January to June. Registration is at the instructor rather than student level.

In April 2013, Google announced it will add enhanced campaigns for AdWords to “help advertisers better manage their campaigns in a multi-device world” The enhanced campaigns will “show ads across devices with the right ad text, sitelink, app or extension, without advertisers having to edit each campaign for every combination of devices, location and time of day,” and will include “advanced reports to measure new conversion types.” This move has been controversial among advertisers.[24]

In July 2016, Google unveiled "Showcase Shopping" ads. With this format, a retailer can choose to have a certain series of images appear in search results related to various search queries and keywords. [25]

Legal context[edit]

AdWords has generated lawsuits in the area of trademark law (see Google, Inc. v. Am. Blind & Wallpaper Factory and Rescuecom Corp. v. Google Inc.), fraud (see Goddard v. Google, Inc.), and click fraud. In 2006, Google settled a click fraud lawsuit for US$90 million.[26] March 2010, Google was involved with a trademark infringement case involving three French companies that own Louis Vuitton trademarks. The issue at hand was whether “Google should be liable for trade mark infringement for allowing third party advertisers to purchase keywords which are trade marks, or whether advertisers should be allowed to choose and purchase keywords freely from Google,” Ultimately, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Google Adwords were “not a breach of EU trade mark law, but that the content of some advertisements that are linked by Google keywords may well be in breach depending upon the particular facts of the case.”[27] Additionally, in some American jurisdictions the use of a person's name as a keyword for advertising or trade purposes without the person's consent[28] has raised Right to Privacy concerns.[29]

Overture Services, Inc. sued Google for patent infringement in April 2002 in relation to the AdWords service. Following Yahoo!'s acquisition of Overture, the suit was settled in 2004 with Google agreeing to issue 2.7 million shares of common stock to Yahoo! in exchange for a perpetual license under the patent.[30]

In May 2011, Google cancelled the AdWord advertisement purchased by a Dublin sex worker rights group named "Turn Off the Blue Light" (TOBL),[31] claiming that it represented an "egregious violation" of company ad policy by "selling adult sexual services". However, TOBL is a nonprofit campaign for sex worker rights and is not advertising or selling adult sexual services.[32] In July, after TOBL members held a protest outside Google's European headquarters in Dublin and wrote to complain, Google relented, reviewed the group's website, found its content to be advocating a political position, and restored the AdWord advertisement.[33]

In June 2012, Google rejected the Australian Sex Party's ads for AdWords and sponsored search results for the July 12 by-election for the state seat of Melbourne, saying the Party breached its rules which prevent solicitation of donations by a website that did not display tax exempt status. Although the Sex Party amended its website to display tax deductibility information, Google continued to ban the ads. The ads were reinstated on election eve after it was reported in the media that the Sex Party was considering suing Google. On September 13, 2012 the Party lodged formal complaints against Google with the US Department of Justice and the Australian competition watchdog, accusing Google of "unlawful interference in the conduct of a state election in Victoria with corrupt intent" in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.[34]


The AdWords system was initially implemented on top of the MySQL database engine. After the system had been launched, management decided to use Oracle instead. The system became much slower, so eventually it was returned to MySQL.[35] Eventually, Google developed a custom distributed Relational database management system (RDBMS) known as Google F1 specifically for the needs of the Ad business, which requires strong consistency, high scalability across data centers and powerful SQL queries. The interface has also been revamped to offer better work flow with additional new features, such as Spreadsheet Editing, Search Query Reports, and better conversion metrics.

Ad content restrictions[edit]

As of April 2008 Google AdWords no longer allows for the display URL to deviate from that of the destination URL. Prior to its introduction, Google paid advertisements could feature different landing page URLs to that of what was being displayed on the search network. Google expounds that the policy change stems from both user and advertiser feedback. The concern prompting the restriction change is believed to be the premise on which users clicked advertisements. Users were in some cases being misled and further targeted by AdWords advertisers.[36]

As of December 2010 Google AdWords has decreased its restrictions over sales of hard alcohol.[37] It now allows ads that promote the sale of hard alcohol and liquor. This is an extension of a policy change that was made in December 2008, which permitted ads that promote the branding of hard alcohol and liquor.

Allowed keywords[edit]

Google has also come under fire for allowing AdWords advertisers to bid on trademarked keywords.[38] In 2004, Google started allowing advertisers to bid on a wide variety of search terms in the US and Canada, including the trademarks of their competitors[39] and in May 2008 expanded this policy to the UK and Ireland. Advertisers are restricted from using other companies' trademarks in their advertisement text if the trademark has been registered with Advertising Legal Support team. Google does, however, require certification to run regulated keywords, such as those related to pharmaceuticals keywords, and some keywords, such as those related to hacking, are not allowed at all. These restrictions may vary by location.[40] From June 2007, Google banned AdWords adverts for student essay-writing services, a move which was welcomed by universities.[41]

Google has other restrictions, for example the advertising of a book related to Facebook was restricted from advertising on AdWords because it contained the word "Facebook" in its title — the rationale being that it was prohibited from advertising a book which used a trademarked name in its title.[42]

Prohibited keywords[edit]

Google has a variety of specific keywords (or categories) that it prohibits that vary by type and by country.[43] For example, use of keywords for alcohol related products are prohibited in Thailand[44] and Turkey;[45] for gambling and casinos in Poland;[46] for abortion services in Russia and Ukraine;[47] and for adult related services or products worldwide as of June 2014.[48][49] This has prompted debate among the adult industry with many questioning Google's position as a monopoly.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Google AdWords Launch Press Release
  2. ^ "Financial Tables". Google Investor Relations. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Cost per acquisition - AdWords Help". Retrieved December 1, 2015. 
  4. ^ Inside Google's Michigan Office - Google - InformationWeek Archived April 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ An Inside Look At Google's AdWords HQ > > Intelligent Enterprise: Better Insight for Business Decisions
  6. ^ Help and Support Community
  7. ^ "What is IP Address Exclusion? - AdWords Help". Retrieved June 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Google AdWords Express - Easy online advertising by Google". 
  9. ^ "Google relaunches Boost as AdWords Express". 
  10. ^ "Compare AdWords". 
  11. ^ "How do CPC and CPM ads compete with each other? - AdWords Help". Retrieved February 18, 2010. 
  12. ^ "About AdWords remarketing lists for search ads". Google. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Chitu, Alex (July 20, 2007). "Google Discontinues Click-to-Call and Related Links". Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  14. ^ AdWords Quality Score
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Google Adwords Keyword Tool". 
  17. ^ "Google Display Planner". 
  18. ^ costs are calculated in google AdWords|
  19. ^ Google Milestones
  20. ^ What is Jumpstart? Archived April 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Google UK Jumpstart program Archived October 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Google Online Marketing Challenge
  23. ^ Rosso, Mark; McClelland, Marilyn; Jansen, Bernard (Jim); Fleming, Sundar (April 2009), "Using Google AdWords in the MBA MIS Course" (PDF), Journal of Information Systems Education, 20 (1): 41–49, archived from the original (PDF) on March 5, 2010 
  24. ^ "AdWords Evolves For Enhanced Multi-Device Campaigns". Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  25. ^ Marty Swant (12 July 2016). "Google Launches Smarter, More Visual Ads Timed for Holiday Shopping". Adweek. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  26. ^ "Google settles advertising suit for $90 million". MSNBC. Associated Press. March 8, 2006. Archived from the original on November 22, 2012. 
  27. ^ "European Union: Google Adwords And Online Advertising: Trade Mark Infringement? ECJ Decision". Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  28. ^ Fishman, Ross. "Bad Precedent: Lawyer Censured for Buying Google Keywords for Other Lawyers and Law Firms". The National Law Review. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Robert L. Habush and Daniel A. Rottier, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. William M. Cannon, Patrick O. Dunphy and Cannon & Dunphy, S.C., Defendants-Respondents." (PDF). Case No.: 2011AP1769. Court of Appeals of Wisconsin Published Opinion. February 21, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 14, 2013. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  30. ^ Google, Yahoo bury the legal hatchet, Stefanie Olsen, CNET, August 9, 2004
  31. ^ Turn Off the Blue Light, website Archived June 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  32. ^ Paterson, Jody (June 24, 2011). "Google tramples sex workers' rights". Victoria Times-Colonist. Archived from the original on October 20, 2011. 
  33. ^ Cusack, Jim (August 7, 2011). "Google u-turn on sex worker group's advert". Sunday Independent. 
  34. ^ No Sex Party please, we're Google Sydney Morning Herald September 13, 2012
  35. ^ Lembo, Phil (May 30, 2007). "eldapo: Let's get a real database". Archived from the original on March 5, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  36. ^ What do I need to know about the updated Display URL policy? - Google Help Centre[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ Change to the AdWords advertising policy on alcohol Archived March 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  38. ^ Rosso, Mark; Jansen, Bernard (Jim) (August 2010), "Brand Names as Keywords in Sponsored Search Advertising", Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 27 (1): 81–98, archived from the original on December 10, 2013 
  39. ^ Stefanie Olsen (April 13, 2004). "Google plans trademark gambit". CNET. 
  40. ^ "Google AdWords Help Center". Google. Retrieved December 8, 2007. 
  41. ^ "Google bans essay writing adverts". BBC News. May 22, 2007. Archived from the original on June 24, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  42. ^ Letzing, John (July 12, 2008). "Facebook haunted by mild-mannered specter". Dow Jones Marketwatch. Archived from the original on March 12, 2009. Retrieved October 29, 2008. 
  43. ^ Staff. "Policy change log". Google. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  44. ^ "Alcohol - Thailand". Google. 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Alcohol - Turkey". Google. 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  46. ^ "Casinos and gambling - Poland". Google. 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Abortion - Russia and Ukraine". Google. 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  48. ^ "Adult content". Google. 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  49. ^ Staff. "Google Announces Impending Anti-Porn Advertising Policies". Adult Video News. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 

External links[edit]