A brief history of Google Ads

The year 2000 was a biggie for tech. We survived the Millennium bug, for a start. We got our hands on the Nokia 3310, slashing productivity across the land as Snake II fever took hold. (See also: The Sims. Who remembers the Goth family?). But it wasn’t all play and no work. The turn of the century also brought the release of Google AdWords, an online advertising platform where users could pay to display their adverts in search results.

It wasn’t the first paid search tool, but it’s certainly grown to become the biggest. So, to celebrate the fact that Google Ads is now officially old enough to buy itself a beer, we’ve taken a look back at the big moments from Google’s paid search history…

2000: Ready to launch  

‘The AdWords program offers advertisers the same highly targeted ad serving technology as the premium sponsorship program, and through a simple to use self-service system, enables advertisers to sign up and monitor a campaign directly from the Google website.’ Or at least, so went the press release from sunny California on the 23rd October, 2000. With this announcement, the world of paid search was set to change forever, allowing companies to bid for keywords and advertise their brand to the people they most wanted to reach.

2002: PPC, easy as 1-2-3

It took another two years for a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) pricing model to be introduced. With the advent of PPC, advertisers were able to make sure they only coughed up when somebody clicked – which is more or less the holy grail of advertising.

2003: It all makes AdSense now…

The arrival of AdSense in 2003 allowed ‘website publishers to serve ads precisely targeted to the specific content of their individual web pages’. Businesses and individuals started getting paid for putting ads on their sites (presuming people clicked on them, that is). A thumbs up from website owners across the land.

2005: Expanding understanding with Analytics

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine digital marketing without our handy friend Google Analytics, which burst onto the scene in 2005. A staggering 100,000 accounts were created in the first week, and it’s not hard to see why. AdWords was all well and good for clicks and conversions, but Analytics helped people understand what was going on in between. Which, after all these years, is still vital information in the quest to perfect everything from landing pages to keywords.

2010: A remark-etable development 

Ever wasted five minutes staring at a pair of shoes on your lunch break, then seen them pop up on every website you visit for the next fortnight? Yup, that’s remarketing – and Google first offered it to the Google Display Network in 2010, helping businesses give their wayward site visitors a gentle nudge.  

2013: Meeting the multi-device challenge with Enhanced Campaigns

Google has never been one for resting on its laurels. To keep up with the demands of the multi-device world, 2013 saw the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns. This feature was designed to help businesses reach their customers with the right ads, depending on device, location, and even time of day – and all under one handy campaign.

2016: A bold step for mobile kind

In 2015, Google confirmed mobile search volume had surpassed that of desktop for the first time in the United States – and the year after, it eliminated PPC ads from the right-hand side of Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), as part of its bold mobile-first strategy.

2018: The artist formerly known as AdWords

With ads and analytics more closely entwined than ever before, the summer of 2018 saw Google announce the new Google Marketing Platform, a unified platform which merged DoubleClick Digital Marketing and Google Analytics 360. (You might have missed it amongst all the World Cup hype and endless sunshine). And while it was at it, Google announced AdWords would now simply be known as Google Ads.  

The future of PPC

It’s been a whirlwind 18 years, and Google’s not stopping there – in fact, it’s well known for its regular updates and perennial ability to change the game of marketing as we know it. But while it might be the biggest, it’s worth remembering that Google isn’t your only option for PPC. In fact, the rise of social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter means there’s more ways than ever before to get your message in front of your ideal target audience.
Fancy learning more? Check out our guide to Social PPC in B2B for some pro tips on how to get your audience clicking and converting.