Some of you may be thinking, what are Google Ad Words? If you’ve ever done a search on Google, you’ll notice that advertisements pop-up on the right hand side or at the top of the screen depending on what you search for. A search for ‘New York restaurants’, for instance, will bring up the 21 Club, a restaurant in mid-town Manhattan as a ‘sponsored link’. You might wonder how that happened. The 21 Club likely paid a pretty penny to be linked to the search phrase ‘New York restaurants’, and every time someone clicks on the 21 Club restaurant link (known in industry parlance as ‘Pay Per Click’), the restaurant pays Google for the privilege of advertising on the Google search results page.

For commercial districts, Google AdWords can be a useful tool. Consider a district interested in promoting a growing (or existing) restaurant dining niche (something pretty common among the communities we work in). My firm recently worked on a Google Adwords marketing campaign for a business improvement district in Westchester County, New York where Google AdWords campaign were used to drive traffic to the BID’s website and their “Downtown Dining Stimulus Package” (a clever play on the stimulus package making the news at the time). Whenever anyone search for “Westchester Restaurants”, the BID’s ad would appear at the top of the page. By clicking on the sponsored link for the BID, individuals were able to print dining coupons redeemable at participating restaurants. Google later informed us that this program was among the more successful ad words campaigns they had ever sponsored. Our Google AdWords campaign had a click through rate of almost double the typical AdWords campaign.

While this campaign was successful, there are clearly do’s and don’ts with this technology. I was excited to see some of these outlined in an article in today’s New York Times entitled “Real-Life Lessons in Using Google AdWords”. I encourage you to give it a read before starting a Google AdWords campaign….