Using The Water Faucet Approach In Paid Search

faucet by Joe ShlabotnikOverlooked in all the recent enhancements and tools Google AdWords has rolled out, there still is one huge reason to use paid search: timing.

Timing & SEO

On the SEO side of the business here at Netvantage, our organic campaigns are often equated to moving an aircraft carrier. Establishing a company’s search rankings takes a lot of work; SEO elements have to be executed, pages have to be indexed, and quality links have to be built back to the site. Thus, an organic search campaign isn’t always the best option, especially when it comes to issues and events that are time sensitive. By the time Google recognizes the links you’ve built to the event-driven page on your website, it could be too late – in other words, you would miss your window of opportunity for them to be efficient.

The Water Faucet Approach

The “water faucet” approach involves having the ability to enable campaigns across geo targets and strike when the iron is hot while being able to disable campaigns when they’re not needed. For example, Consumers Energy used this method after a recent wind storm in Mid-Michigan. While in the car the next day, I heard several of their radio ads advising people to stay away from down power lines. It was obvious the power company had the ads produced and inventory purchased ahead of time, so they could be cued up for post-storm runs on local radio stations.

Paid search can be another effective channel for this type of timed messaging, especially since Google AdWords offers great flexibility in turning on and off campaigns. As users turn to Google for current events content, paid search can provide good opportunities for driving those visitors to your site based on an event window.

  • – For HVAC repair companies, it can be for summer heat waves and winter cold snaps.
  • – For charter bus companies, it can be for when the local popular sports team makes the NCAA basketball tournament.
  • – For political organizations, it can be jumping on a hot news item or speech.


When you’re dealing with time sensitive events that have a short window of opportunity, you don’t want any delay and thus should be prepared. When the time comes, you ideally want to be able to log into your account, make small adjustments to your ad copy and keywords, and hit “Enable.”

How is this done?

  1. Create and establish your accounts and campaigns. This allows your logistical items with AdWords to be in place to avoid any delay.
  2. Get your payment and billing information in place and approved.
  3. Make sure to get your ad copy submitted and approved. I would advise not getting too creative with your Display URLs to prevent ad creation issues.
  4. Build your ad groups and keyword matches to anticipate your events. Of course you may need to edit them once the event happens, but those tweaks can be made quickly versus building a whole campaign from scratch, which can take time.
  5. Take advantage of campaign extensions — especially call extensions if your campaign is driven to spike leads.

Campaign Life

Like any campaign, don’t set it and forget it! Check your campaign performance while it’s running. Look at your average position and click through rates. If your campaign is running for a short period of time, perhaps you need to be more aggressive with your budget and bidding. Conduct tests with your headlines and ad copy to measure click through rate for response. Make sure your site’s link extensions are getting good click through rates.

Post Campaign

Once your window of time has concluded, go back and measure your campaign. Use both your AdWords campaign performance data and your Google Analytics data. Were your bids in line – did you ad copy resonate? Should you have tried more intercept based keyword matches?  How was your paid search visitor bounce rate? Make your keyword, ad, and extension adjustments post campaign, and then wait for the next event. And then when the time comes, turn your water faucet back on!

Joseph Ford

Joe Ford is a Managing Partner at Netvantage Marketing. In addition to overseeing day to day business operations of Netvantage, he directs paid search strategy and management. Ford is on the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Board of Directors, the Marketing Committee for Impression 5 Science Museum, and the Executive Board of the Capital Area IT Council. Additionally, Ford is an adjunct faculty member in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.

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