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How to Run Political Ads on Google

2 min read
Google Ads
Good Party Politics Team · Mar 14, 2024

Launched in 1998, Google is the undisputed king of search engines with a whopping 91.62% market share. Google Ads (originally Google Adwords) was introduced into the commercial market soon after Google’s launch, and political campaigns and organizations of all sizes soon followed businesses to this powerful digital marketing platform. 

This guide will provide a practical overview for political candidates who are interested in harnessing the power of Google's vast network to reach potential voters. We'll cover the basics of setting up a campaign, the cost involved, and the essential rules Google has in place for political advertising. 

Getting Started with Google Ads

The process of creating and using Google Ads can be a little complicated, but the ROI can be worth it if you proceed with some knowledge and a strategy to maximize your results. However, once you learn the intricacies of setting up your Google Ads account and creating political marketing content, the rest is very simple. 

Here are some general guidelines to get you started:

Step 1: Create a Google Ads Account

The first step is straightforward. Visit the Google Ads website and sign up for an account. You'll need to have a Google account to do this. If you don't have one, it's easy and free to create.

Step 2: Set Up Your Campaign

Once your Google Ads account is active, the next step is to set up your campaign. Here are the key steps involved:

  • Choose Your Campaign Type: For political ads, "Search" campaigns are a common choice since they allow your ads to appear in Google search results.

  • Define Your Campaign Goals: Specify what you want to achieve with your ads, such as website visits, phone calls, or direct responses.

  • Select Your Target Audience: For political advertising, Google allows you to target your audience based on location, age, and gender identification. You are allowed some contextual targeting leeway in terms of ad placement, apps, pages, and types of content. For political campaigns, targeting by geographical location is crucial.


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Step 3: Craft Your Ads

Design your ads to convey your message effectively. Make sure your ads are compelling and direct. You'll also need to choose keywords that potential voters are likely to use when searching for information related to your campaign. For example, a candidate running for mayor of Akron, Ohio would create ads targeted toward voters looking for information about mayoral candidates in that location. 

The relatively new Google Political Ad Transparency datasets may be helpful for research purposes. They provide insights into political ads placed on all of Google’s marketing platforms, including YouTube, Google Display, and Video 360. 

These datasets were first compiled in 2018, and all information is kept online for seven years. You’ll find data on candidate geolocations, targeted demographics, ad spend, and viewership numbers for every political ad placed on Google from March 2019 up to the current elections in every country where Google runs ads. 

Step 4: Set Your Budget

Google Ads operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis, meaning you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. You can set a daily budget for your campaign based on your overall advertising budget. Costs can vary widely depending on the competitiveness of your chosen keywords and the target audience's size. 

The Cost of Running Ads on Google

The cost of Google Ads varies significantly based on several factors, including the competitiveness of your keywords and the geographical area you're targeting. You can start with any budget, but a daily budget of $10 to $50 is a reasonable starting point for small to medium campaigns, with the majority of Google Ads customers paying around $1,001 - $3,000 per month. 

For larger campaigns, budgets can easily exceed thousands of dollars a day. It's important to monitor your campaign's performance closely and adjust your budget accordingly.

The cost is determined by several factors, including:

  • Industry: Industries that are highly competitive will cost more to advertise. Given the nature of politics, this could be a factor. 

  • Market Trends: This is determined by user behavior. Given the stakes during political campaigns, this could rise with the level of office, the publicity surrounding a candidate or race, and the proximity of the ad campaign to election day. 

  • Quality Score: Evaluated on a scale from 1 - 10, this is determined based on the quality and relevance of the ads.

  • Keywords: Highly competitive keywords and those from certain industries will affect the cost of Google Ads.

  • Bid: The bid is the highest amount you’ll pay each time your ad is clicked. This amount can be set to fit your advertising budget, but there are different methods to help develop a bid strategy. 

  • Budget: The budget amount also determines the cost of Google Ads, so make sure to take your campaign’s ad budget into account before allocating funds for Google Ads.

These guidelines are for general digital marketing with Google Ads. Google treats political advertising a little differently than commercial advertising. 

Google's Rules for Political Advertising

Google has specific policies for political advertising to ensure transparency and compliance with legal requirements. There are intricacies involved in the process and qualifying factors, but here’s an overview of the key rules:

  • Verification: Political advertisers must undergo a verification process to confirm their identity and eligibility to run political ads. This includes submitting relevant documentation that proves the advertiser's identity and political affiliation.

  • Country-Specific Rules: Google's political advertising policies vary by country, reflecting local laws and regulations. Advertisers need to familiarize themselves with the rules applicable to their target audience's country. In the U.S., some states have specific regulations regarding political advertising, which could impact your Google Ads strategy. 

  • Ad Content: Political ads must not include false or misleading information. Google also prohibits certain types of content, including but not limited to hate speech, personal attacks, and content that incites violence. 

  • Transparency: Political ads must clearly disclose who paid for them. This information is displayed in the ad itself, ensuring that voters understand who is behind the campaign message.

Running political ads on Google offers a powerful tool for reaching potential voters, but it requires careful planning and adherence to Google's policies. By following the steps outlined above and staying informed about the latest rules and best practices, political candidates can effectively leverage Google Ads to support their campaign objectives.

Free Support for Your Campaign

While the process may seem daunting at first, the potential reach and impact of Google Ads make it an indispensable part of any modern political campaign strategy. Remember, success in digital advertising comes from understanding your audience, crafting compelling campaign messages, and continuously optimizing your campaigns based on performance data. 

That’s where Good Party can help. 

In addition to expert guidance and a nationwide community, we offer free access to campaign tools that help candidates gather and make sense of important demographic data, create content on the fly, and track important campaign metrics. 

Contact us to book a free demo today.


Free AI tools for your campaign

Take advantage of free AI tools to create compelling campaign materials
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How to Run for Office
Campaign Messaging
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Google Ads
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.