• Jarratt Ong

Bankrupting the Startup

Updated: Feb 24



I always have this irrational fear when it comes to online advertising because I believe that I will accidentally overspend and bankrupt the company with just one click of a mouse... I would blink and next thing I know it, I spent all of the money because some bot raided our site and it counted as a clickthrough. I am that powerful. And in debt.


Thankfully, things weren't that bleak and we did gather some value out of it and some lessons learned even though we only used Google Ads for a week.


Some quick lessons we learnt from week 1 (very obvious in retrospect)

  • We had to set a captcha because during the Christmas break, we received a record-breaking of FIVE sign ups and we thought it were the early-stage founders being hard working and signing up when they finally have a "break".

  • However, a google search showed they were all spam. Goodbye spam accounts, we barely knew you. One of them had a "Dr" in the email address and it was very exciting.

  • It was a bullet dodge setting up the captcha before spending money on the Google Ads.

  • Its very assuring to know that there is a cap to the amount we want to end up spending in a month... but it is also not a good feeling seeing the cost tick up by $2 every time I click refresh. Pretty sure it just went up by another $2.

  • What is within our control is to view what keywords are not working and swap them out for something else, and also figuring out what we need to optimise..

  • our layout? our messaging? our keywords? My gut says definitely the layout needs tweaking:

  • A very blurry screencap that can't really be seen when on mobile

  • A random chunk of empty space that wasted our audiences time scrolling to get pass but were actually room for our new friends to hang out in

We learned that the majority of people who clicked on the ads are doing it via the mobile phones and unfortunately our site is not 100% optimised for it so we will have to quickly fix it otherwise we are just wasting resources. By we, I mean the interns (pizza on Surya, you guys). I had this naive assumption that our traffic will be via desktop because personally I don't like to consume new information via my phone. It's for taking cat photos and muting group chats.

  • Its important to set up Google Analytics way before starting Google Ads to see what the activity is like on our page.

  • It does seem interesting to compare the keywords that people type in to find us organically vs the ones they typed to find and click on the ads.

  • Traffic wise, it was practically nonexistent before the Ads but at least we now know it was practically nonexistent.

  • The clicks seem to be coming in at a steady pace. We thankfully have not reached a plateau yet. I'm not sure if it will happen before the budget runs out so it'll be an interesting thing to look out for.

  • Currently the clickthrough rate is not ideal but we really hope they will pick up once "we" (the interns) fine-tuned our mobile page.

  • We have this weird experience which our reach actually... dropped after starting the campaign but sky rocketed after. Was it Google making us think our expenditure is worth it?

  • However, we seem to be increasing at a decreasing rate. Someone good at graphs please fact check this. My degree is in arts and social sciences, more arts than social sciences.

  • For some odd reason... we mostly get views from 5am to 9am which is a bit strange but I guess that means it'll be ideal if we update our future important content during those hours. I'm not waking at 5am to post so I'll be scheduling them... unless I'm on vacation and in a different time zone.

  • Surya has placed some automation and tracking which we can't wait to dive into once we have more data. Currently trying to get a sense of pattern from just a week's worth isn't very promising. We promise we will talk more about it.. once I figure out how to get meaningful data out of them.

  • For example, the 5am to 9am traffic quirk could just be a strange early new year browsing habit. Who knows.

Also... can I really have too many searchable keywords? Google ads seem to think so. Unreasonable.


Alas, we are here using Google Ads because organic growth is a tough nut to crack.. or maybe Jarratt is just terrible at marketing. There were some strategies that I really tried but they seem to not deliver any returns such as name dropping organisations and using as many related terms as possible to make interseed.co show up on Google.


Stay tune for updates of the patterns once we harvested more data, what tools have been helping us maximise Google Ads's value, and whatnot. If I don't update, it means that Surya has finally fired me. He is a wise man. Look out for his Learning In Public instead, way more interesting.


disclaimer: this is ironically not an ad for Google Ads but ideally I want to live in a world where I get unlimited Google Ads. buying chicken rice? here's an interseed.co ad. We said "Google Ads" ten times, can we get some sponsorship. Google Ads.

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