Heroview – Managing Google Grants Accounts with John Lavin

Today’s #Heroview featured John Lavin (@johnnyjetfan) as he revealed his expertise in working with Google Grants Accounts. The interview was full of great insights and interesting new ideas to add to your PPC arsenal. But you don’t need me to tell you, check out the streamcap below!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this month’s Heroview – real-time discussions with PPC industry experts via Twitter.  Stay tuned for next month’s Heroview!


September 22, 2011

PPC Hero: Welcome to todays #Heroview everyone!

John: Hello Everyone!

PPC Hero:Our guest for today is John Lavin of DragonSearch! To get started, tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been working with PPC?

John: Thanks for having me! I’ve been doing PPC at DragonSearch for about 1.5 years now. I have certifications in Google Analytics & adCenter.

PPC Hero: We’re excited to have you! Let’s dive right in! For those who don’t know about Google Grants, what can you tell us about the program?

John: Google Grants offers nonprofit orgs the opportunity to “advertise” on AdWords for free. It’s a great program.

PPC Hero: Through your experience managing Grants accounts, what can I expect from the application process?

John: A few things. First, they must have 501c3 status. Fill out a short application and then send in a rough copy of the account structure. There are other things too, like meeting their guidelines, but most nonprofits easily meet them.

PPC Hero: On average, how much budget can you expect from Google after being approved?

John: That’s the great thing about Google Grants. They offer up to $10,000 per month budget. Allows for a lot of campaigns.

PPC Hero: As a traditional PPC agency, why did Dragon Search choose to take on Google Grants accounts?

John: Non-profits typically have limited resources beyond those that can be spent on performing their specific services. We want to provide them with potential opportunities to increase awareness, donations and other related conversions in addition to the same dedication & professional management our other clients receive. It’s also just a feel-good thing to do, and a great way to make the world a better place.

PPC Hero: In terms of time allocation & marketing goals, how does a Google Grant client differ from a regular client?

John: The $10,000 budget alone allows a marketer to get really creative. Since we manage our Grants accounts pro bono. We can allocate significant chunks of time to optimization. Specific goals & expectations are discussed with clients just as if they were paid accounts. It’s just as conversions go, donations are a tough thing to get

PPC Hero: How do you go about managing client performance expectations, given that the budget is out of their control?

John: It’s important the client understands that donations are difficult to obtain, and most are already completely aware. At $10K, the budget is rarely an issue, as obtainable clicks are all under $1, so we often can’t even spend it all.

PPC Hero: Do these partnerships with non-profit clients end up creating lasting relationships with your agency?

John: We hand the acct back over to them optimized in about 3-4 months time. They often call with questions., which we are happy to answer. These relationships have led to countless contacts, and in the end, some end up hiring us to manage their accounts full time!

PPC Hero: Based on your interaction with Google Grants, where do you think this program will be in 5 years?

John: I hope they do something about only being allowed to bid $1 per keyword. Only being able to bid $1 takes a lot of keywords completely off the table, often very valuable keywords. It would be nice if Grants Accounts didn’t have to bid for keywords like “Donate to children” in the same auction as paid accounts. Overall though, I think the program will continue to grow over the next 5 years.

PPC Hero: This sounds really cool! Do you have any tips for pitching this program to my boss/client?

John: “Free $10K spend” almost pitches itself. If a PPC department has the resources, it is an excellent tool. Also, given the significant limitations Google Grants Accounts have, there are numerous obstacles that arise (i.e. limited max bids) that help our specialists hone their skills as it relates to improving performance without having a simple solution like increasing bids. I hate to call it practice, but it’s a great way to test skills.

PPC Hero: Some really interesting stuff here! However, we’re about out of time. Does anyone have questions for John?


Additional Questions:

Emily Las (@emlas): How do you work within the $1 max CPC bid cap? Do you need to push long tail terms to minimize competition?

  • John: Yes, and use exact matches; anything to minimize bidding. It can be tough figuring it out. Not a lot of room to work with.
  • Emily: Totally- I’ve been there! Do you get any support from the Google reps? I found support only when a celebrity was involved.
  • John: I have found the Google reps to be a great source, use them. Celebrities always assist in conversions, that’s for sure.
  • Emily: That’s great to hear! I hope they lift the $1 limit too!!
  • John: How aggravating is that limit? It often takes 30-40% of my original keywords off the table. Would love to see that change!

Cassie Allenger (@_CassieLee_): How do you imagine fair competition in a space where non-profits and profits bid in different auctions?

  • John: It’s not fair at all considering the $1 max bid. I hope one day to see separate auctions; 1 for grants, 1 for paid.
  • Cassie: Problem is that you can’t really have separate auctions when you’re competing for the same ad space.
  • John: Yeah, Google would have to make a major adjustment to the way they do things, but charity is worth it!
  • Cassie: The only fair and reasonable solution I’ve thought of is perhaps a handicap, rather than different auctions. Thoughts?
  • John: Thats a great idea. That or maybe every other few auctions make the 1st ad position only available to grants bids.
  • Cassie: I think Google has the capability to do just about anything.

Andy Groller (@AndyGroller): I agree with Cassie on some form of handicap or effective CPC similar to the content network.

  • John: A handicap would probably be the fairest way to go about making the change. No one misses out this way.

PPC Hero: We’re out of time folks, thanks to John for the awesome insights and everyone following along today! Stay tuned for next month’s #Heroview!