Here's my book review that I recently did for an entrepreneurial marketing class:
Google AdWords is Google's form of pay-per-click (PPC) internet advertising. More specifically, AdWords are paid advertisements that appear on the right side of Google's search results. The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords is authored by Perry Marshall, a consultant and leading expert on Google AdWords and by Bryan Todd, an internet marketing specialist. Their book strives to convince readers that, through proper implementation, Google AdWords can benefit all types of businesses, and business people. The book achieves its goal; however the book still lacks critical information and is blatantly self promoting.
The book is divided into four main areas of focus. The first eleven chapters deal almost entirely with AdWords- explaining its uses, benefits, structure and implementation. The second section covers basic internet marketing concepts, such as unique selling propositions (USP) and positioning. This leads into a larger, third, section that concentrates on writing persuasive ad copy. Lastly, the book discusses the use of statistical analysis and search engine optimization (SEO) to maximize AdWords' efficiency. Let's take a more critical look at each of the sections.
The first section of the book makes it clear that AdWords can help promote local businesses, retailers, service businesses- both large and small. The book does a good job of explaining the AdWords process which details setting up an account, planning, creating and organizing ad campaigns, as well as targeting specific market segments. Additionally, the authors emphasize AdWords uses and benefits for small businesses and entrepreneurs. For example, a small law firm, with a small marketing budget, can use targeted AdWords campaigns to attract customers within a given geographic area. This is made easier by the fact that, relatively speaking, very few law firms (and businesses in general) currently utilize AdWords - thus the small law firm has a competitive advantage.
While the explanations and step-by-step guide provide valuable information, the book is also misleading and contradictory. Chapter Two is titled "How to Build Your Own Autopilot Marketing Machine," although later in the book the authors discuss to need for frequent tweaking and oversight in order to get the most out of AdWords. This is anything but "autopilot." Moreover, in the first section, AdWords is made to sound like a simple cure-all advertising strategy and the book is written to inspire the reader, rather than be realistic. Marshall includes emails from his own AdWord students who attest to the success they've achieved with AdWords. However, the book fails to warn readers of the financial disaster that waits ahead for AdWord users with poorly designed ad campaigns. Less hype and an admission of difficulty and the time involved in creating successful ad campaigns would lend legitimacy to this section.
The second section should be particularly beneficial to small businesses and entrepreneurs who lack a formal marketing background. Marketing topics covered include USP, customer relationship management (CRM), positioning, and email marketing. By offering such information, readers gain a better understanding of the role that AdWords plays in a larger marketing plan. However, for readers with more advanced knowledge of marketing, this section should only serve as a refresher, not as a source of new information.
The third section of the book discusses writing effective AdWords copy, whose maximum length is 85 characters. The book explains ways that ad writers can capture online users' attention and attract them to click on their ads. In doing so, various psychological, emotional and visual strategies are discussed. Once again, these concepts are helpful to those new to marketing concepts, but are only a refresher for most marketers. For instance, the book discusses the importance of listing benefits for the customer within ads, rather than listing features. Such info may be new to some, but for those familiar with marketing, it's rudimentary. However, there is still useful info for readers with marketing knowledge, which brings us to the highlight of the section - the examples of how to craft ads that adhere to Google's character limit. The numerous examples should be helpful to most readers and lend a variety of ideas to help create short, yet successful, advertisements.
The final section of the book explains how AdWords users benefit by both analyzing campaign statistics (offered by Google) and by optimizing their websites. This is a critical section of the book that shouldn't be overlooked. Luckily the book does a good job of stressing the importance of both issues. Without analyzing each ad campaign's effectiveness, there's no way for user to know if they're making progress or not. Again, this is not an "autopilot" process; rather it's one that requires frequent changes and testing of ads. Similarly, without optimizing one's website, AdWords campaigns can not be fully efficient. And while this overview of SEO is helpful and a good starter, those unfamiliar with the subject should seek additional resources since a thorough discussion of SEO is beyond the scope of this book.
Lastly, as previously mentioned, the book is very self serving. Constant referrals to the authors' own websites and affiliate websites makes for less than pleasurable reading at times. Furthermore, some of the urls listed in the book no longer work. Worse yet, some urls are redirected to web pages for different topics. For instance, Marshall mentions AdWords consulting practices and instructs interested readers to go to [...] for information regarding consulting. However, instead of arriving at a page that discusses AdWords consulting, users are redirected to an opt-in page ([...]). Such misleading and biased tactics detract from the otherwise helpful information of the book.
Still, despite its imperfections, I recommend The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords for anyone interested in PPC advertising. The book provides all the necessary information needed to begin a successful AdWords campaign. However, readers should be aware of the dangers of PPC advertising and the bias and self promotion that proliferate throughout the book. On a personal note, I have internet marketing experience and currently work for a niche ecommerce retailer ([...]) who has used AdWords for nearly five years. During that time there has been little maintenance or analysis of the advertising campaigns. Fortunately, after reading The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, I implemented many of the techniques discussed in the book and have achieved great results in a short period of time.