Crystal Meth Vision Reveals the Secret Power of Google AdWords

by Adam Kreitman

Last updated on February 21st, 2018

I got my start in Internet marketing because of drugs.

Before you get the wrong idea though, it’s not how you think.

See, I was president of a small drug testing company that sold a CSI-like device called DrugWipe. With DrugWipe you swipe a surface and within 5 minutes tell if someone who had touched that surface used an illegal drug and, if so, what kind.

Our initial marketing efforts largely consisted of networking, some direct mail and (the dreaded!) cold calling and the business was struggling mightily.

Then one day I caught wind of a new advertising program from Google called AdWords. The way AdWords works is you bid on keywords related to your products or services. When someone enters a search query on Google that’s related to one of your keywords, violà, your ad appears.

The Big Obvious Benefit of Google AdWords

When I first started going to networking events I thought they’d be so much easier if the people who needed drug testing would just raise their hands so I knew who to talk to.

The beauty of AdWords (and search engine marketing in general) is people are raising their hands virtually.

When someone types a word or phrase into that Google search box, they reveal the primary need, desire or quest for information they need addressed…at that very instant. If they see your AdWords ad and believe you can scratch their itch, you’ve got a highly qualified, interested prospect coming your way.

The ability to get traffic from interested prospects who are actively seeking you out is a huge benefit to using Google AdWords.

But, as I was about to discover, that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to AdWords…

The Bigger Not-So-Obvious Benefit of Google AdWords

Unfortunately, even with Google AdWords in our arsenal, sales were still slow.

But I had a hunch about the potential in a market no one else selling DrugWipe was focusing on…real estate.

At the time, hardly a day would pass without a news story detailing the dangers of the use and production of crystal meth. One of the big problems with the drug is that producing it emits a highly toxic residue that lingers in a house or apartment for a long time and poses health risks to future occupants.

My theory was a lot of potential homeowners/renters, apartment managers, home inspectors, government officials and others involved in real estate would be interested in using DrugWipe to test surfaces for the presence of meth residue.

A Cheap Internet Marketing Testing Method

So I set up a landing page for real estate on our website, selected a few targeted keywords, and started an AdWords campaign.

It didn’t take long to get the results…more traffic plus better clickthrough rates and conversions for this market than the other ones we were going after combined.

Now I worked for a market research firm for 7 years. Clients would pay us $1000s of dollars to do focus groups, phone surveys and/or mail surveys and it’d take weeks or months before the results came in.

With AdWords I discovered a whole new market (which became the most profitable market for the company) in about a week for less than $30.

That’s when the true power of AdWords fully hit me…

…yes, it’s a great way to send targeted traffic to your website but it’s also one of the most powerful market research tools you have at your disposal.

Using AdWords For Testing and Research

Many of you are probably familiar with bestselling author (and Crazy Egg user) Tim Ferriss and his book “The 4 Hour Workweek”. But did you know that he used Google AdWords to choose the title for that book?

His working title for the book was “Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit” (he was in the pharmaceuticals industry) but the publisher told him Wal-Mart didn’t like the title so he couldn’t use it.

So Tim turned to Google AdWords. He ran about a dozen different ads, each with a different title/subtitle. In a week, and for less than $150, he had his winner…”The 4-Hour Workweek” blew away the other titles.

(And notice here is that he didn’t even care about the landing page. He just wanted to know which title people responded to the most.)

Maybe you’re not writing a book. But you can certainly test your headlines, offers (ie. Buy 1 Get 1 Free vs. Free Shipping), seminar names, or the title of a special report.

And because AdWords can quickly send targeted traffic to your website, you can also use it to test your landing pages. Simply set up two landing pages, send ½ your AdWords traffic to one and ½ to the other and see which gets the best response. Better to find out which page converts better sooner rather than later.

AdWords is about more than just the traffic. As you can see it’s also a fast, cheap and flexible tool you can use to improve the effectiveness of your overall marketing efforts and, ultimately, your business.

(And I didn’t even tell you about my favorite way to use AdWords for research. I’ll share that strategy and how I used it to boost conversions for a client by 50% in a future post!)



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Adam Kreitman

Adam Kreitman coaches business owners on how to make their websites more compelling to their prospects.. and to Google. He owns Words That Click, a firm specializing in Conversion Optimization and managing Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses.Follow him on


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  4. Sushil Rajput says:
    January 19, 2014 at 6:38 am

    Great posat !
    One important question for you –
    – I have been using this report to build out my exact/phrase terms and hopefully rebalance my account to have less of the volume coming from broad
    I often end up with the same terms, in multiple match types (so a single term that I bid on as broad, phrase and exact)
    How does Google determine which of those 3 terms to give the impression to? Will it favor the exact or phrase version as compared to the broad?

  5. Lawrence Black says:
    January 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Great reminder about the power of Adwords for testing. It’s also great to use Facebook Ads to test different demographics.

  6. Dan Perach says:
    December 27, 2011 at 3:42 am

    Cool, I didn’t know that’s how the title of the 4 hour work week came to be. Adwords is mainstraim marketing today.

  7. David Rothwell | says:
    November 22, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Sales and Leads are a bonus when you get started with adwords – in the Discovery phase its all about gathering as much real-world market research data as fast and cost-effectively as possible.

    Then comes Optimisation, and when working, Expansion.

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      November 22, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Good stuff David! Thanks for contributing your thoughts!

    • Adam Kreitman says:
      November 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm


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