Posts tagged: google ads

Google Mentoring – The Gate Theatre

By , August 31, 2010

Gate Theatre usage of Google Analytics and AdWords has resulted in a 16% increase in visits

Beginning earlier this year, four arts organisations received mentoring from Google Ireland over a number of months. Here, Derek Kelly, Box Office Manager of The Gate Theatre outlines lessons learnt during his mentoring, which he received from Tom Morrison-Bell, Marie Davis and Michelle Byrne in Google.

To view reports from seven other arts organisations who have received mentoring from Google, asquared and RTE Publishing, click here.

To discuss lessons learnt from mentoring from Google, there is an open discussion on the Arts Ireland group on LinkedIn – if you’re not already a member, it’s free to join (what’s this? find out more here).


Report of Derek Kelly

Our ultimate aim for the Gate Theatre was to build a coherent online strategy. In February 2009, the Gate re-launched its website with a new design. The previous year we had moved box office systems from a software based system, to the browser based SABO system. The new booking system was integrated with the website which now had added functionality from a customer as well as from a CRM point of view, and we wanted to utilize the greater functionality of the website to drive sales, as well as measure and analyze the booking data resulting from our email and Facebook campaigns. We also needed a professional evaluation of the website from a customer point of view to identify any problem areas. The final element was to optimize the content of the website to maximize our Search Engine profile.

Google Ireland were chosen as our mentors, and as there were two strands working in tandem (Analytics and Adwords), they divided into two teams. The overall process was divided into 3 distinct stages:

  1. Google Analytics
  2. Google Grants
  3. Google Adwords


1. Google Analytics – tutorial and overview

Analytics had been enabled on our site since the re-launch, but was only used in a limited way. Using the existing data, Google were able to advise us on how our website was performing in general, and what keywords were triggered to reach our site.

With over 40% of searches from abroad and over 90% from Ireland using keywords such as Gate, Gate Theatre, Dublin Gate etc. we realized that our venue (rather than the productions) had the greatest awareness among the potential customers.

With this evidence, we tailored the website more towards the Gate as an experience and used less pages for the programme. Our Adwords campaigns are similarly weighted, with the majority of our ads aimed at general theatergoers and the balance targeted at those looking for particular productions.
Google also advised us to tweak the site in order to improve the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Many changes were (in retrospect) common sense: we moved the calendar as it was very seldom used by patrons and made the booking process much more streamlined in terms of cutting back on instructions and descriptive text. These measures although very simple, resulted in an immediate jump in online browsers who continued through to the booking page.

We continue to monitor Analytics daily, in particular the Visitors Overview, Content Overview and Traffic Sources Overview reports. We get direct feedback on every e -marketing campaign and can calculate the revenue return of each type of campaign. One immediate application of the data is that we now always send our e-mail campaigns to hit our target ’s inbox early on Monday mornings. Using Google Analytics, we found that our busiest period of online activity is consistently Monday lunchtime to late afternoon. We also saw by comparing other arts venues via Analytics using the in-built comparison option that this holds through for theatres in general.

With this in mind, the stats show that our e-shot is more likely to be read, and our click through rate and resulting revenue is increased as we are deliberately giving a gentle nudge to the potential customers who may already be thinking of buying, although not always necessarily for our venue! By catching them at that particular time, we are suggesting our production and giving them a direct link through the e-shot to book now.


Death of a Salesman – currently at The Gate


2. Google Grants Program

This allows us a monthly spend on Adwords Google ’s Pay-Per-Click advertising product. The Grants process is quite involved and can take up to 6 weeks normally, but as part of the mentoring program, Google were able to fast-track the process, and we were up and running in less than a week. Bluntly put, we could now have access to Adwords with Google footing the bill! This was a real boon as along with every arts venue in the country, the marketing budget is very tight and without the Grants process, we would be unable to commit the funds necessary to explore the huge potential of Adwords.



Although the spend is limited under the Google Grants scheme, the allowance is very generous for a venue of our size. This allowed us to set up several campaigns, with each campaign targeted at a different demographic; Dublin Bookers, Outside Dublin Bookers, and International Bookers.

These campaigns were a result of applying Analytics to find the top keywords used by browsers to reach our site and the locations of those browsers. We discovered that for example;

  • Dublin bookers were usually looking for particular shows, e.g. Krapp’s Last Tape or Arcadia
  • Outside Dublin bookers were less interested in individual shows, and would search instead for Gate Theatre or Dublin Theatre.
  • International Bookers tended to look for Theatre in Ireland, Irish Theatres and other more general related searches.

Each campaign was further divided into individual ads, which targeted the particular area of interest to the potential customer. Although the initial set up was quite time consuming and involved, by the third mentoring session I was confidently writing new ads, deleting or amending those which were under-performing and setting up new campaigns in response to the keyword data from Analytics.

The Google mentors provided invaluable feedback at each meeting which meant that I could very quickly respond to anything that was not working. The Google team had given me several links to online tutorials and Blogs for Analytics and Adwords. Most useful were and – many of these tutorials were very accessible and easy to put into practice.

The net result of our Adwords campaigns has been to drive more people to explore our website, we have seen a 16% increase in visits since implementing the changes to the website and beginning our Adwords campaigns. All of this activity is tracked using Analytics, so the data is measurable and patterns can be interpreted. We can now track what our potential customers are looking for, how they arrived at our website (using keywords, search engines, direct traffic etc), what they looked at while they were there and if they proceeded to book. This information then allows us to apply what we know to our Adwords campaigns. We can therefore target more precisely and tailor our ads to different types of potential customer.

The impact of the mentoring scheme on the Gate’s online strategy has been enormous. Much of the guesswork has been taken out of the attempts to reach more customers and to retaining our existing audience. We have changed the way in which we communicate with potential audiences and can measure the results of our efforts.

Google Mentoring – Balor Arts Centre report

By , August 17, 2010

Are you running a venue, considering GoogleAds, but are not sure if it’s worth it? You’d be mad not to give it a go, says Conor Malone, General Manager of the Balor Arts Centre.

Four arts organisations received mentoring from Google Ireland over the past number of months. Here, Conor Malone outlines 10 clear and simple lessons learnt during his mentoring, which he received from John Tierney in Google.

If you are interested in Conor about this report, he is available on a discussion group on the Arts Ireland group on LinkedIn. This discussion was started by Tara Connaghan of Éigse, whose report on Google mentoring was also recently published.

The Arts Ireland group on LinkedIn has a growing membership, it’s free to join, find out more here.

to download a pdf of this report, click on this link: Google Mentoring – Balor Arts Centre report


Report of Conor Malone

This report is not a step by step guide to setting up google ads campaign. Google themselves have excellent tutorials on how to do this that explain far better than I available at

Rather than just repeating what can be found online elsewhere, I have instead chosen to list 10 relevant points regarding Google Ads from my experience during the mentoring programme. I’ve also tried to limit the tech-speak and jargon. These points are especially relevant to users, like myself, promoting an arts venue in a rural settings but, hopefully, will be of use to all.


1. Make The Leap…

It’s very easy to talk yourself out of giving GoogleAds a try. Initially during the mentoring campaign I felt like my father must have, when I tried to show him how to programme the VCR about 25 years ago (a reasonably intelligent man with a mental block when faced with new, unfamiliar technology).

Many venues especially in rural areas can rationalise this reluctance, making the argument that their internet traffic isn’t a large part of their market, due to slow speeds and poor broadband penetration.

Since we introduced internet booking at the Balor approximately 16% of our ticket sales are online transactions. This compares to 80-90% for some Dublin venues. The internet isn’t going to go away however. As broadband improves, internet usage in rural Ireland and internet business will expand accordingly. By getting in on the ground floor now you can develop your online marketing strategies very cheaply.

Google ads are charged per click, which means that if customers don’t click on the link you aren’t charged. Cost per click for my ads averaged out at about €0.36 per click. After a month running various campaigns I had still spent less than €50. My website traffic increased by 20% and internet sales for a targeted performance were up to 25% (still not earth-shattering but progress is progress).

When broadband and internet traffic does eventually reach the levels experienced in urban areas the work you do now will have you positioned to take advantage with honed, sophisticated online marketing.


2. Install Google Analytics

Nobody buys advertising space in a newspaper without gathering data on print run, readership etc. Similarly, why would you pour resources into developing a website and not gather data on readership, traffic etc? Google analytics is extremely easy to install – it just involves adding some HTML code to your webpages. Your web designer should be able to do it in a matter of hours. If you have basic understanding of HTML it is quite possible to install it yourself.

Analytics gives you information on web traffic to your site – the number of unique users, where they came from, bounce rates (the number of people that land on your site and leave straight away), average item spent on site, average number of pages viewed, which pages are viewed the most etc. Etc.

Used in conjunction with AdWords, you can see exactly how effective different ad campaigns and keywords are working for you. Even if you don’t have any campaigns running, you can still use analytics to monitor how effective your website is. And, incidentally, Google analytics is free to use.


Josh Ritter at Balor Arts Centre


3. Choose Your Keywords Carefully

Choosing the keywords for your ads is essentially the same process as used for attaching meta tags to pages on your website. These are the words that, when input into a search engine, can trigger an impression of your ad – you are effectively trying to guess what words your potential audience member puts into a google search. If your keywords are too general, ads will appear to people who are not interested in what your offering leading to low click through rates (see click through rates below). Too specific and you are excluding potential customers from seeing your ads.


4. Input Negative Keywords

When creating your campaign, AdWords has a feature that allows you to list keywords that will not lead users to your ad. For example, Balor has connotations associated with Irish mythology, on-line role playing games and an American university. By listing these as negative keywords, I ensured that people searching for ‘Balor’ interested in these topics (rather than the venue) were not shown an ad for The Balor Arts Centre.

To give another example if, say, The Linenhall has to run a google ads campaign it may wish to list words to do with linen and the textile industry as negative keywords. The Theatre Royal, Waterford may wish to list Castlebar and Mayo as negative keywords.

Why bother doing this you may ask, if people not interested in the arts centre won’t click on the ad anyway, so it costs me no money? If your ad has poor click through rates (see below) it has a negative impact on where your ads are ranked on a page, how much they cost and how often they appear.


5. Click Through Rates

AdWords keeps track of your click through rates. This is the number of times people actually click on your ad impressions as a percentage of the number of times your ad appears. As a rule of thumb, any click rate greater than 1% is good. If you’re getting lots of ad impressions but no click throughs you may want to change your keywords. Keywords with poor clickthrough rates will eventually have a negative impact on your listings rankings and on the rate you pay per click.


6. Set Maximum Limits

Initially, when starting a Google Ads campaign you don’t know exactly how much each ad click through is going to cost you. This, for me, was the biggest mental hurdle to overcome when choosing to use Google Ads. How could I justify placing an ad when I didn’t know how much it was going to cost? My experience of using Google Ads has shown me that this is not an issue.
When running an ad campaign you can set maximum limits for the overall campaign spend, daily campaign spend and how much you are willing to pay per click. This allows you to allocate a budget per day or campaign and not worry about going over budget. When your budget has been reached, AdWords will notify you and you can then assess the campaign and decide to end it or to extend the budget. These maximum limits can be changed as often as you change your mind. Campaigns can be paused or restarted with one simple click of a mouse.


Cirque de Legume at the Balor


7. Per Click Bidding

The actual cost per click is determined by an automatic AdWords auction. The lower you set your maximum bid per click the less chance you have of your ads actually being shown. AdWords will suggest a maximum per click price, which you can then adjust according to your budget. My current campaign is costing me approx €0.36 per click.


8. Experiment, experiment, experiment

I’m fairly sure that one of the ways I drove my mentor crazy during this project was constantly asking what’s the best setting for this, how much should I set this at etc. etc. Every event is different, every venue is different and every campaign is different. There is no hard and fast magic optimization formula for you google ads. Tweak and experiment with various price settings and keywords keeping track of data such as click through rate, website hits etc to see what effect your tinkering is having. Remember, you are only paying per click so a wrong move here or there is not the end of the world and is easily rectified.


9. Allocate Time For Google Ads and Analytics

Analytics and AdWords allow you access to an exhaustive amount of information on the internet traffic to your site. You can, quite easily, spend an entire day trawling through different data that is all useful and of interest. Of course, it’s also possible to lose sight of what data is important to you. More importantly, time is a precious commodity for us all and hours spent wading through google statistics is also needed elsewhere.

My method is to allocate a precise time period – say 2 hours every Friday morning – that is dedicated to examining google data and refining and tinkering with my ad campaigns. This means that I don’t get to miss any essential trends while at the same time limiting how much time running a google ad campaign eats into my overall schedule.


10. Get an Insight into your customers thought processes

One of the most fascinating things I found with the AdWords report was the insight into the customers mind gained by observing which keywords were being successful (and, equally important, unsuccessful) in eliciting click throughs. This gives you a fascinating insight into what words catch a potential customers eye.

Information gleaned from this can be used when compiling press releases, brochure and website copy and advertisements in other media. Google Ads reports give you an invaluable insight into your customers thought processes that can be applied to your entire marketing campaign.

Google Mentoring – Éigse Carlow Arts Festival

By , July 29, 2010

We were very happy when Google Ireland agreed to take part in the New Media Mentoring scheme. From the outset, it was clear that the lessons learnt by mentees would be of great value to their organisations, as well as to the wider arts community on the publication of the resulting reports.

Four arts organisations received mentoring from Google Ireland over the past number of months. Here, Tara Connaghan, Artistic Director of Éigse Carlow Arts Festival outlines the lessons learnt from her mentoring from Marie Davis, Michelle Byrne, Natalia Niznik and Tom Morrison-Bell in Google.

If you are interested in asking Tara about this, she has started a discussion on the Arts Ireland group on LinkedIn – if you’re not already a member, it’s free to join (what’s this? find out more here).

to download a pdf of this report, click on this link: Eigse – Google mentoring report


Report of Tara Connaghan

Google mentoring to Éigse Carlow Arts Festival 2010

Our ambition in the mentoring project was to increase SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), customer participation and general web traffic of our website as a tool for increasing box office sales and developing potential audiences. Having benefited a sales increase in 2009 from an expansion in our online media presence we wanted to optimise these and build / develop them further and smarter. Due to financial pressures the in-house part-time administration staff and CE scheme staff were being trained to fill the gaps to lighten the load of the seasonal Marketing Manager position so the mentoring was timely and necessary.

Our ambition was quite wide so we worked with a fantastic team from Google on the following:

  • Google AdWords maximisation
  • Website optimisation
  • YouTube channels

In this report, I’ll concentrate on the Google AdWords experience we gained as we focused quite heavily on this during the mentoring process. Some of this is quite detailed as we were fortunate to have Google employees guide us through the process but because of the large nature of the Google organisation, you may not be as fortunate and may stumble on a few of the setup steps, so my aim is to guide you as quickly and painlessly through the more awkward steps.

AdWords are the text advertisements along the right hand side of a Google search page, they appear in gmail (linking words in your received emails to relevant words in the AdWord text). Websites can also use AdWords as an income generator by placing a Google AdWords banner on their page allowing AdWords to be displayed. AdWords generally look like this:

Carlow Arts Festival
Fun For All the Family
June 2010, Visit Our Site Now!

Of significant importance to the arts community is the fact that Google provide grants for non-profit organisations (which many arts organisations are) to spend up to $10,000 per month on Google AdWords with no need to reapply annually and no fixed end date (providing you stick within the policies set down by Google Grants). To learn more on Google grants for AdWords visit

The help section of Google Grants is quite useful also, see
Read the guidelines, fill in the application form and you will be later asked to set up your AdWord account and submit your Customer ID for the Google team to approve the application. This can take some time so it’s best to use this time to familiarise your team with the AdWords facility and FAQ so you will be ready to go.


Macnas performing at Éigse 2010


Tips on completing the Google Grant form:

To apply for a Google Grant, you must set up a new AdWord account specifically for the grant AdWord account, even if you already have one, because of a few grant restrictions in place. (see link to Google AdWords Online Classroom below to see how to set up an account) Google Grants provide grants in American dollars only, so you must change the currency to $ for the AdWords account that you will be applying for grants (and since this can only be done in the setup stages, any account you already have will most likely be set up in euros). During this time if you start creating draft campaigns, AdWords will continuously ask you to submit your billing information. Ignore this request and once your account has been activated by Google, these messages will disappear.

Once you have gone through the necessary email address verification process you can start building your first campaign (which will remain inactive until your grant application has been approved).

The grants are only provided for AdWords that appear in a Google search engine only, they do not cover AdWords on other content network sites / websites that host Google AdWords so in the Campaign settings stage, in the ‘Networks and devices’ section, tick ‘Let me choose…’ and select the ‘Google Search’ box only (untick Search Partners and Display Network). So you will have to bear this in mind every time you create a new campaign in your grant AdWords account prior to activation (once the grant has been activated these will become the default settings)

*Note*: If these settings are not completed at the time of setup, a lengthy and complicated process of unlinking primary email addresses and setting up new email addresses follows, so take my advice and set it up correct from the start!
Should you not be eligible for Google Grants then it would make more sense to continue using your own account (if you have one) or set up a new account in euros and also make use of the other network options to maximise the exposure of your AdWords and your organisation. It is also useful to have another non-grants AdWords account for this purpose and to set aside a specific budget to maximise your online presence.


Google AdWords:

Google AdWords Online Classroom is exceptionally helpful for the ‘getting started’ section (before you start) and ‘Improving your adwords performance’ (once you have an account). You may have to register or log in for some of these but it’s free.

Google AdWords apply a quality rating system to AdWord accounts. The higher your quality of account, the cheaper the cost and the higher rank it receives when viewed. It’s a bit like a search engine; the more relevant you make your website, the higher up the search it will appear.

The quality scoring of Google AdWords are based on the following factors:

Keyword / AdWord relevancy
Click through rate (CTR)
Relevance of ad text and your landing page
Historical account performance
Various relevancy factors

So they recommended keeping a tight link between your keywords, ad text and your landing page / destination URL (the page you direct the AdWord clicks to). Relevancy is the key factor.

Google AdWords is based on clicks (CTR – Click Through Rate) rather than on impressions so it helps to focus on the goals for your conversion as these will also be relevant factors. Our goals were 1. to increase traffic to our website and 2. to increase ticket sales. Recognise what is your unique selling point and focus on that.


Creating our AdWord campaigns:

Under the guidance of the google mentoring team, we set up AdWord campaigns and structured them into the various categories we felt would work best. It was hard at the start to get our head around the AdWords structure. What was more suitable as a Campaign? Or an AdGroup? It’s a bit like a filing system, the ‘Campaign’ is the overall folder e.g. Artists / Brand / Region specific. The options that are selected at this level are regions and finance, so it may help to have different Campaigns for these if you want to target these in a different manner e.g. Branding National / Branding Local / Branding International. For us, the online classroom section of ‘Improving your AdWords Performance’ helped the penny drop into place.


We titled one of our Campaigns ‘Artists’. Within this campaign heading we created AdGroups for various high profile artists appearing at the festival. Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club were one of the performers appearing at the festival so we created an AdGroup titled ‘Jerry Fish’. We then created a number of Ads (text) relevant to this event.

The Ad (text) should contain a keyword, date and a call to action (buy tickets now). We were advised to create approximately three different ads for each AdGroup, focusing on different aspects. Google AdWords will show the different ads for different searches and compare which ad is receiving more clicks and it will favour this ad. A cute trick – place the following text in the first line of the ad {keyword: Jerry Fish Concert} (use your own text in the brackets), this ad will then be used as a default ad should the search text be longer than your keywords. You can also use capital letters to start each word (including in your web address) so that it can be easier to read Note: while you write the website as a short web address, it will increase your quality scoring if you direct each ad to the relevant page on your website. The option for this is in the ‘Destination URL’ box below the web address when creating your ad.

We then created keywords we thought might be relevant to the Jerry Fish performance
Jerry Fish
Gerry Fish
Jerry Fish Mudbug club
Jerry fish tickets
Jerry fish Carlow
Jerry fish tour
(Capital letters are not taken into consideration in search engines)

The key to increasing your AdWords quality rating is to keep the keywords as relevant as possible. Your ads will be penalised by being placed further down the page (or on consecutive pages) if the keyword isn’t relevant to the text in your ad (which in turn must be relevant to the text on your website). To further increase your rating (receive better placement and cheaper ads), you can create negative keywords so that people searching for non-related searches won’t be shown your ad e.g. Jerry Fish CD or Jerry Fish American tour. This will help keep your click through rate higher.


Tulla Dancers at Éigse 2010


Tools to help optimise and analyse your Google AdWords performance:

In your AdWord Account under the opportunities tab, some of the most useful tools are:

  • Keyword Tool
  • Search Based Keyword Tool
  • Keyword Insertion Tool
  • Bids Tool
  • Ad Preview Tool
  • Insights for Search Tool (compare search volume across regions / categories / timeframe etc.
  • Various other tools in the opportunities tab of your AdWords account – click ‘more tools’
  • Google Trends (data on media / news items that lead to search peaks and could provide you with ideas and timelines to tie in with searches)
  • Google Analytics (from your website) – utilise the search words or traffic source from which they arrived at your website and link / track the conversion goals to see how far along the process did each click generate
  • Have a look at Google Labs for new tools that are under experimentation at Google.


AdWord timelines for a festival:

  • Campaign on the festival brand: small presence all year round.
  • Build on the branding AdWords campaign in the two months prior to the programme being released.
  • To ensure you don’t waste any sales opportunities, make sure box office is ready to go at the time of activating the artists / programme AdWords campaigns. January is recognised as the month where holidays are booked (Google Trends and other analytics tools will support this statement). Ideally part of a summer festival’s programme (Éigse is in June), would be in place by then to tap into these holiday planners.
  • Highlight special offer campaigns when necessary
  • Include campaigns on holidays / regional etc. but try to keep them as specific as possible as vague ads will get a poor click through rate and this will end up costing you more money and preventing your ads from being displayed above the fold / on the first page. It can be more beneficial to use the vague terms eg. Music / theatre for region specific and specify counties in your catchment area.
    Throughout the rest of the year create AdWords campaigns for fundraising events, recruitment, search for volunteers etc.



Google grants caps keyword CPC (cost per click) at $1 so if you want to bid on keywords above this you can include that keyword in your own paid account. Luckily (but also unluckily) for the arts, searches for arts related words aren’t huge and most are well under the $1 mark. Vague keywords such as ‘music’ / ‘music gigs’ / ‘theatre’ should be avoided as you will be competing against large-scale music / theatre events worldwide meaning your click rate and placement will be poor.

Our 2009 AdWords weren’t optimised to the maximum and the small budget put aside seemed to dwindle relatively quickly. The mentoring from the Google team and receiving Google Grants has really increased our online presence in a smarter way. Our AdWords did have a short lead-in time to this year’s festival due to the timing of the project but none-the-less increased our web traffic and click through rate from last year. We’ll be exploring its possibilities further throughout the year!


Our Top tips:

  1. Google AdWords is an exceptionally powerful tool but do beware of the linking and unlinking glitches that occur which could have you on an unpleasant merry-go-round for long periods of time. Double check analytics codes and account IDs to make sure they are linked up correctly to ensure you get things right from the start.
  2. Make use of the optimisation and analytical tools that are available to get the most from your AdWords.
  3. Link your AdWords account with your other Google services such as Gmail, Google Analytics etc. or start using these services by clicking on the My Account tab at the top of your AdWords account. Click on Preferences and beside your email address, click ‘Edit in Google Accounts’, this will open up an overview of your Google services where you can link or start using new Google facilities.


Online ad campaigns – facebook and google

By , January 20, 2010

Interested in a quick and highly informed insight into the world of online ad campaigns?

Technology in the Arts is a US based organisation which, in its own words, “explores the intersection of arts management and online technology“. As well as blogging, twittering and, eh, facebooking, they also podcast, and have an archive of over 60 podcasts looking at a broad range of ideas and initiatives and developments.

In a really informative interview, Erik Gensler e-marketing consultant talks about how he helps his clients (such as New York City Opera, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Carnegie Hall) to use google ads and facebook ads to target audiences successfully.

I found this interview really informative, particularly when Gensler explained just how good a match a facebook ad campaign can be for the arts (all to do with segmentation). I’ve paid into new media seminars, and learnt less. For this lesson, I downloaded the podcast for free, and listened to it while sitting in traffic… the joys of the podcast.

To access the interview click here

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