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How to switch from Google AdWords Express to Google AdWords

by Tim Weydt

Many digital marketing professionals have run into this problem: you want to create a new Google AdWords account, like you were able to in years past, but today you are forced into creating an AdWords Express account instead!

This is an inconvenience because when creating a new AdWords Express account, they require you to build your first ad campaign and connect a payment method before you can complete the account creation process; when you may not be ready to do all of that. Unfortunately, there isn’t a good way to get around this, so be prepared to create your first ad campaign, even if it’s just a “dummy” campaign that you pause and/or delete immediately after.

However, even after this laborious process, AdWords still tries their best to keep you within AdWords Express instead of making it intuitive to access the full AdWords platform. Most experienced digital marketers never want to use AdWords Express because it has far more limited functionality and it doesn’t even offer the highly useful Keyword Planner tool that is found in AdWords proper.

So what is AdWords Express and how is it different from Adwords?

AdWords express is a far more simplified platform for running pay-per-click (PPC) ads. AdWords proper is a very complex advertisement platform with highly robust functionality. For someone who hasn’t spent hours upon hours learning AdWords, it is simply overwhelming to use. In fact, I would strongly advise against trying to use AdWords to run an ad campaign without proper training. AdWords Express greatly reduces the complexity, making it more inviting for less-experienced people to run a basic ad campaign. The ad creation wizard helps to make the process quite intuitive for people with more modest digital marketing skills.

Why does Google AdWords force you to create an AdWords Express ad campaign?

While Google doesn’t outright explain why users must get started in AdWords Express before they can access the standard AdWords dashboard, we have a few theories regarding Google’s reasons for doing this:

Some reasons are designed to help people who aren’t experienced AdWords users

  • Allows new AdWords users to get their feet wet in PPC advertising with a less intimidating platform.
  • Simplify ad campaign creation for non-marketers and small business owners.

Some reasons serve Google’s own best-interests

  • Google wants to urge users to enter their billing info, create campaigns and start spending money.
  • Google doesn’t want people, namely in the SEO field, creating (fake) AdWords account solely for the purpose of getting access to their free “Keyword Planner” keyword research tool.

Switching from AdWords Express to the full version of AdWords

Don’t fret, you can switch between AdWords and AdWords Express with ease once you know where to find it. Simply follow these steps and you’ll have access to the full version of AdWords in a matter of minutes.

Step 1:

  • In AdWords Express, Click the three vertical dots in the right-hand side of the header.

  • Click "view in AdWords" in the dropdown menu.

This will give you access to the AdWords dashboard with many additional features.

However, some AdWords Express accounts do not have the three dots and cannot be migrated to AdWords. In this case…..

Step 2:

  • Create a dummy campaign in AdWords Express
  • Set the campaign to “inactive” or set the budget to $0.00.
  • This should give you access to the full AdWords dashboard.

If not…

  • Click the 3 vertical dots in the right-hand side of the header.
  • Click "view in AdWords" in the dropdown menu.

If you still do not have those 3 dots available to switch over….

Step 3:

  • You can contact AdWords support and they will do it for you. You can call 866-246-6453* Monday - Friday from 9am to 8 pm EST. 

*Note, this customer service number may vary depending on the region in which you’re doing business.

We hope this guide helps you access the full version of AdWords and all the resources you need!

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