Posts tagged: Google Analytics

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 – The Dock report

By , August 26, 2010

It can be very worthwhile for an arts organisation to have hundreds of fans on their Facebook page, or thousands of Twitter followers – but is the time and energy spent on these platforms seeing a real return for the organisation?

If you are running a gallery, is your time on Twitter resulting in an increased footfall? If you are looking to sell books, cds, tickets online – is your time spent engaging with your Facebook community converting into sales?

Important questions indeed. Twitter, Facebook, FourSquared etc. – these are powerful tools indeed, however for many organisations, it still remains far more important to get the basics right on the website – particularly if this is where you hope to do business. So, for those looking to generate business on their website, the success of social media platforms is largely measured in the extent to which these tools bring visitors to your site.

Beginning earlier this year, four arts organisations received mentoring from Google Ireland over a number of months. Here, Michelle Dillon Marketing Officer of The Dock in Carrick on Shannon outlines lessons learnt during her mentoring, which she received from Tom Morrison-Bell, Nathalia Niznik and Alan Flanagan in Google.

If you are interested in discussing this work with those involved please visit 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 Michelle’s report, click on this link: The Dock – Google mentoring report


Using Google Analytics to enhance your web presence

Before the mentoring…

At the time of applying for mentoring The Dock was already engaged in a number of different aspects of online marketing – alongside our website we had a presence on facebook and twitter, we used Constant Contact for e-bulletins and had a stand-alone wordpress blog. We had specific goals we wanted to achieve such as;

  • growing our email list to the same size as our postal mailing list (when mentoring started it was only 1/6),
  • reassessing if our blog was worth the time that was put into it
  • doubling our facebook fans and twitter followers.

Our overall plan was to build a larger and more engaged online audience within our current resources, in particular an audience that would be more receptive to our online booking system that will be introduced later in the year.

Considering our audience demographic, resources available and the size of our organisation we felt we were performing okay, however going into the mentoring scheme we realised that our online activities were being carried out in a very unsystematic manner. We were conscious that we were operating without a coherent online marketing strategy and we were concerned that perhaps we may be covering too many bases, without enough resources, and for not enough return.


The first meeting with Google…

From the outset we learned to focus on as the hub of our online presence – something which we had begun to overlook as we gained more momentum and energy in the other aspects of online marketing. This shaped the outcomes of the mentoring process. While it is important to open new channels of communication with our audience, we still needed to direct them towards the main website as this is where the bulk of our information is to be found. Also, in relation to our primary aim, it is where they can actually purchase tickets. Social media accounts should complement and enhance users experience but should drive customers towards goals set out for the website (financial or not).

The Dock’s digital loop; YouTube, Twitter, Facebook & Blog direct traffic to the website

The team from Google started off the mentoring session by looking at our web analytics account, to see from where people are coming, from where they exit the site, and what are they doing while on the site.

Note – most websites come with some sort of statistics monitoring package installed however if you don’t already have Google Analytics installed you should consider it. It is extremely powerful, free and a small job for your webmaster to add to your website.


Looking at the stats…

The two main areas we looked at were

  1. Where were our visitors coming from
  2. What were they doing while on our site

A synopsis of what we discovered was -

Only 10% comes from direct traffic (where the visitor knows the address), while this is declining as a lot of people use search engines even when they know the address, as it is faster. This shows that we need to promote our site more offline. Over 50% comes from search engines and of this 80% comes from a keyword with the word ‘dock’ in it.

This throws up 2 strategies:

  1. How can you increase traffic coming from words not based around ‘the dock’
  2. Increase awareness of The Dock to drive more traffic through this word.

Just under 40% comes from referrals (i.e. clicking on a link to from another site). There were some surprises here and certain websites were sending us much more traffic than we had realised. Social Media referrals: Facebook is the 16th highest referral site, twitter is 19th, the blog is 45th. Is it worth reassessing how much time we spend at this?

Our bounce rate (how many people leave the website after visiting only the page they arrive at) of 47 percent was much too high, and a good indication of how good your site is at retaining peoples attention, showing that our website could be working better to encourage more visitors to explore the site. People visited, on average 2.68 pages per visit. We had to ask ourselves were we happy with how much information people can get within this amount of page depth?

Furthermore we had 73% new visitors to the site – while it is great that we are attracting 73% of visits new that does leave the question why are only 27% returning. Ideally we would like to keep these new visitors and encourage them to visit the site more often.

The team at Google showed me how to set up ‘Goals’ in Analytics focused on the main places we wanted our customers to click – such as book now and join our mailing list to monitor how many people actually use these functions (here is a blog post detailing the process

Google Analytics can be daunting; there is so much information available it is easy to get swamped. If you haven’t used it before my advice would be to set aside 45 minutes and explore it and make a note of the reports that will be useful to your specific organisations needs. If you are like me and find stats and figures difficult to get your head around without visuals, I recommend the Site Overlay tool – this basically shows your stats over your actual website and makes it easy to visualise the customers’ journey through your website. It very useful to see what is working on your current website and what isn’t. (Site overlay report is located under Content > Overview).


Review of the website…

So after analysing the stats it became clear that our website was not working as well as it should, and rather than concentrating on our social media involvement, it was clearly the website which we needed to review, particularly in light of our aim to encourage people to use our online booking system.

Obviously in the current economic climate we were concerned about allocating scarce budgets to redesigning our website, however the team at Google showed us that it didn’t take a drastic overhaul of our website to make it work better for us. We worked with our existing web designers to “revamp” our website and make some simple changes rather than a completely new and potentially costly redesign.

When thinking about changing your website keep in mind what currently works well and of course who your audience is. As an arts organisation it is often more important that it is aesthetically pleasing but don’t add a feature just because it looks cool – ask yourself, ‘what’s its purpose?’ Does it keep people on your website? Does it convert goals? As an example, even though Flash looks great, we had to keep in mind that much of our audience are accessing our website using lower broadband speeds so a quick loading website is more important.


A quick synopsis of changes we made

1. Highlighting our “calls to action”

  • “Book Now” buttons were made prominent and ready to link to online booking facility when it becomes available shortly.
  • Also “join our mailing list” was made more noticeable, placed in a more prominent position and simplified which will be discussed further below.

2. We utilised space on the site by widening the site on the page and changing positions to reflect where people look when they view a website . (Tool to view how your website looks in browers

3. We brought The Dock’s blog over to domain – this will be discussed further below.

4. Due to low broadband speeds in our area we were conscious to stick to our original decision to avoid Flash and have a quick loading page so we focused more on how images were displayed on the home page.

5. Adding the share button and moving the links to blog and social media to their own section to distinguish them from links to other pages on the website.

6. As well as making the front page look fresher and more up to date we gave all of our pages (website/twitter/youtube/emails) a similar colour scheme, emphasising continuation of our brand.


Review of Blog…

From the outset of the mentoring we were concerned about the amount of time The Dock’s blog took up and what our return was on it. From looking at the WordPress statistics package we already knew views were consistently low and after analysing the statistics we discovered that the blog was only 45th highest referrer to the website. While this seemed to speak for itself, the return on investment in the blog was low. We had a dilemma as the blog was the only place for our customers to access certain pieces of information, so as a result we decided to bring the blog over to domain. By hosting the blog on the main site we are cutting off a fall off point and not splitting our audience between blog and site. The blog would now be incorporated as a news section. Head lines of latest articles will be displayed on the home page so as to attract new viewers to the blog but as it is hosted on the website.


Review of Email…

As mentioned above we wanted to grow our email mailing list to the same size as our current postal one. We discovered through Google Analytics our click through rate to our “sign up to our mailing list” page was very low. A general rule of thumb is that the more hurdles there are for a customer to overcome the less likely they are to complete it. Whilst located on the front page it didn’t stand out enough and once you enter the page itself it is detailed and requires somewhat of a time commitment to fill out – particularly as we hadn’t specified which fields were required, thus making it seem that they all were. Our main priority was to get people to sign up to the monthly bulletin. To make it as simple as possible we put a form in a prominent position on the right hand side of the home page where the customer can enter their email address and click submit. This is linked to our constant contact database, and eliminates the need for us to process additions to the database.
A useful tool for analysing the movements of readers of the newsletter to the site I was introduced to was analytics tagging (see and for how to use it which creates links that can be tracked through Google Analytics.


Review of Social Media…

This was one of the more surprising aspects to our mentoring. Is it worth dedicating the amount of time you spend for the results you get? Despite having consistently more followers on twitter than facebook (we created a twitter account first and put slightly more time into keeping it updated) by checking through the stats we found that facebook actually channelled more people to our website. The google team suggested that while the energy of the twitter account was good perhaps there was too much information on twitter and it was drowning out some of the more important information. We have now actually maintained our time spent on facebook and halved our time spent on twitter while still attract followers.

It is extremely important to cross link URLs to build a comprehensive communication structure on every channel (as illustrated at beginning of report).


Using Google Analytics to shape a strategy…

While the website revamp was being completed I was busy fusing the information gleaned from Google Analytics with the overall goals of our organisation and strategy to draft an overall online strategy. This was not a complicated document, a few pages long, to be used largely as a reference for making decisions on resources. You can use Google Analytics to help plan your time.

For example, by using google analytics to break down where your customers are coming from and what they are doing on your site you can decide where to focus on link building. We get a lot of referrals from google images however these have a high bounce rate and rarely click beyond the landing page so there is little point in putting a lot of effort into developing this. But if you look at referrals from hotel websites, you can see that the time spent on the website is much longer and with higher page visits so it is worth putting effort into working with the hotels to develop this further.

Remember the importance of monitoring and evaluation. Google Anayltics can help argue for funding for marketing or show you what is not worth the effort put into it. Don’t forget about sales in house and the drip drip effect of marketing – a customer may find out about a show online but may still come into the building to book a ticket or pick up the phone and call. Our front of house team asks customers where they heard about the show. Only one of the options set up on Databox was online (website) – when we changed this to reflect our online presence (website and blog, twitter, facebook, other) we were surprised at the level of bookings from facebook in particular.



This mentoring project has helped us refocus our time spent on online marketing and rethink what is important to us. Using Google Analytics to find out more about our audience online and combining it with our goals as an organisation has helped us shape an online strategy.

Focus on our website – this should be the hub and all social media should link back to the website, particularly considering the fact that sales online are driven through the website. Remember to monitor. Are you doing too much? If you are unsure if something is working keep an eye on stats and it will be come evident what you need to change.

Remember statistics are not the be all and end all. It’s easy to get bogged down in stats so always keep in mind what is interesting and useful and what is merely interesting. Also what is useful information for another organisation may not be necessary for you to monitor.

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.


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