How to Use Google TV Ads and Fail

I’ve been a user of Google Adwords off and on for  years now and recently Google was kind enough to give me $100 account credit and since I didn’t have online campaigns that I needed to run any time soon,  I decided to give TV ads a go. I’ll show you step by step what I did and then at the end I’ll tell you why I failed, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

The first thing I discovered was just how CHEAP advertising on television could be. Just to give you an idea, the ad that I made (I’ll talk more about that below) aired 3 times with a total of 44,475 viewers for a total cost of $39.92.

What Are You Advertising?

I didn’t have a specific product to advertise and I wasn’t too keen on spending money trying out something that I was a complete novice at. I had a domain sitting unused that I thought could work for something. was once a blog I ran and I had let it fall into disrepair. I decided that I could promote a get-rich-quick kind of product from ClickBank and tailor the ad to fit the name in some way.

Then it was simply a matter of using domain forwarding so that anyone that went to would actually be sent to the vendor that I was promoting.

Creating My First TV AD

The main thing you need in order to advertise on television of course is an ad. I made the 30 second ad below on my laptop in 2 hours:

All it is is title screens, a small video clip of me acting like an idiot, and a voice over that I recorded in my home recording studio. Essentially you could do an entire ad with just title screens and a voice over made from a half-way decent microphone plugged into your computer. You don’t NEED to spend thousands of dollars to make your ad. My ad cost me nothing to create because I already had the basic tools at my disposal. But even so, you could use Windows Movie Maker and a $20 microphone and make your ad with that.

Formatting the ad when I exported it, in order to meet Google’s specifications, required changing a lot of settings in Adobe Premiere. Thankfully, Google Adwords has very detailed instructions for all the of the major video editing software packages on the market. As long as you follow the guide, you’ll be fine.

Selecting Your Target Market

First you need to set your budget. I set mine at $75 a day (not that I intended to spend that much) and at $1.50/thousand viewers (impressions). This is what I used because it fit my budget, yours may be different. I will tell you that I averaged about $0.88/thousand viewers in actual costs but it seemed difficult to find targets for anything less than $1/thousand.

When you actually try to choose a network to air your ad, here again Google gives you a lot to work with. You have a lot of options at your disposal for targeting specific demographics and what not but the results I got from that were usually well out of my price range.

So then to pick my market I simply selected a group of channels and picked time slots in the middle of the night, like 1 am – 3 am. Once I had selected my targets I went to the “Targets” tab. On the targets tab there is a section that says “Past Performance | Estimate (next 7 days)”. You’ll want to change this to “Estimates”. This will show you how often your ad is likely to air on the targets you’ve selected. Many of the ones you picked may say things like “no inventory”, ” limited”, “completely blocked”. I would just go ahead and remove these targets entirely. You’ll also want to remove ones that say “bid too low” or “budget to low”. Unless you want to spend more than you originally intended, these ad slots are out of your price range.

The first target I chose was the Boomerang network. It’s a cartoon network and according to information I read about it, supposedly plays older cartoons aimed at an older audience. The ad spots were cheap and I decided to go with it.

And this was the start of my downfall…

Where It All Went Wrong

  • First I should say that I didn’t feel that my ad was compelling enough, but I figured it was good enough for what I was doing – I was wrong. Of the more than 44,000 viewers only 11 came to my website.
  • Learn A LOT more about your target network before going with them. I chose Boomerang  based on a bio I read. I found out too late to cancel my ad airing that the show it would air during was POWER PUFF GIRLS! Talk about bad targeting! I also ran the ad twice more on the Fox Business Network. These cost a lot more per thousand viewers but had much smaller audiences. I got even less response, I think maybe these viewers were too educated for what I was pushing and the Boomerang viewers were too young maybe?
  • I should not have used a domain redirect. Use an actual website! I had a couple visitors to a different website of mine that had typed “” into Google. But since there was no actual website to go to, who knows how many people did this and ended up at random places. Better yet use a 1-800 through a site like I would just guess that you might get better responses than having someone go to their computer.
  • And the ultimate failure of my Google TV Ads experiment: They won’t use my account credit to pay for it. Apparently, even though they are both part of AdWords, they treat online ads and tv ads almost like separate accounts when it comes to using credit vouchers. And since I had already applied the account credit to the online portion, I had to pay for the TV ad spots out of pocket.

So there you have it. I would never have tried this if I knew I was paying out of pocket. I’m too much of a small fry in the marketing world to afford even a small tv ad budget, especially since it was completely ineffective. I’m sure there is a way to do it more effectively, I just don’t have the funds to figure it out. Perhaps some of you can do better. Good luck!






2 responses to “How to Use Google TV Ads and Fail”

  1. desbest Avatar

    Why you would advertise a get rich quick scheme on tv, I don’t know. I say the biggest reason why you failed, is because you advertised the wrong product. At least with the internet, clicks can be tracked.

  2. Me Avatar

    Well there’s actually a lot of get rich quick schemes advertised on television. But a lot of times they are either full length infomercials or they are advertised repeatedly.

    Obviously I didn’t have the budget for either of those. But I still think the main failure of my experiment was that my ad was not compelling enough and my target audience was way off.