Google Ads:  Marketing or System Development?

Have you considered using Google Ads to grow your business? I have been using it consistently for over 15 years now. Back in the early days, the platform was known as “AdWords” and it was a much simpler product than it is today. The Google Ads of today is a highly sophisticated digital marketing platform that supports an annual ad spend of about $140 billion. I love using this product because search marketing delivers such highly qualified business leads. When you use it correctly, the ROI can be impressive.

On the topic of achieving this ROI, Google Ads can be a complicated adventure. In my own campaigns, I monitor 20 key areas on an almost daily basis. Beyond these 20 “success factors”, there are almost countless ways to modify the platform to do what you need it to do. Your account and system setup determines your success. I believe success from Google Ads is more of a system development challenge and less of a traditional marketing challenge.

I admit, I have this point of view because we are in the custom software business. I also admit that marketing does play a role. But my point is, setting up a Google Ads account does not feel much different than customizing the Dynamics 365 CRM system, for example. Everything can be customized, and every customization has an impact on the performance of the system. Get the setup right and Google Ads becomes a money-making machine. Get it wrong and it becomes a money pit.

When approaching Google Ads customization and setup, here are a few custom software development disciplines that I believe are a prerequisite to success:

Be an Expert

There are 3 areas where you need to become an expert to succeed with Google Ads: your industry, your competitors, and the Google Ads platform. You are already an expert on your industry, so that one is in the bank. Regarding your competitors, spend some time studying if and how they utilize Google Ads. This should be an in-depth study of their ads, their keywords, their spending level, and other factors. Becoming an expert on the Google Ads platform can take some work, but the information you need can be found with a Google search. You can also hire an expert to expedite this process.

Plan Backwards

One important concept that I still retain from my computer systems classes many years ago is the idea of starting your system design with the outputs and then working backwards to the inputs. You must know where you want to end up before you can determine how to get there. What are your goals? What is your budget? Who is your ideal customer? Are you targeting local or national? Answering these types of questions at the beginning will guide you through the account setup process. 


Customizing the Google Ads platform involves working through each aspect of the account setup and making the decisions that will define how your ads will perform. Account setup includes campaigns, ad groups, keywords, negative keywords, ad copy, ad extensions, audiences, demographics, budgets, bid strategies, ad schedules, and more. As you go through this process, always remember that any of this can be changed at any time. In fact, a successful Google Ads account will be in constant flux as you patiently test and optimize your account settings over time.

Test, Measure, and Improve

In any mission critical “system”, there should be an ongoing process of test-measure-improve. The Google Ads platform is set up to allow A/B testing in several areas including your ad copy. You might believe that you have the best possible ad written for your business. The only way to prove this, however, is to test its performance against another ad. Then you keep the best ad and test again. This ongoing discipline of testing keeps you in a mode of continuous improvement that is critical to your Google Ads ROI. The Google Ads platform also provides analytics and metrics around every aspect of your performance. Make sure you understand and monitor these metrics because they will guide you toward a better outcome.


Google Ads can be an effective way to find new leads and grow your business. Because of the complexity of this platform, we believe Google Ads account setup is less of a traditional marketing challenge and more of a system customization and development challenge. When you get the setup right, Google Ads can return a very impressive ROI.

About the author: Brian Busscher is Founder and CEO of Thesis Technologies which pursues a mission to “help you get your systems right.” If you would like to learn more about Google Ads account setup or have other custom software questions, please contact the Thesis team at 888-705-7253.

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