Google Ad Grants

Growing a Google Ad Grant account from $0 to $8000 in 6 months

How we helped education charity, The Sutton Trust, drive research downloads and programme applications.

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Google Ad Grants



The Sutton Trust had 2 core objectives for the Google Ad Grant: 1) increase the number of people downloading key research pieces, 2) increase the number of students applying for their programmes in target locations.

Project Execution

The Sutton Trust had never run a Grant account before. So step 1 was guiding them through the application process ahead of kick off so we were ready to hit the ground running.

Once the account was set up, we had 4 key steps for a successful launch:

Build a comprehensive account structure

We started by building out a structure that covered all key areas of the organisation, making use of Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) to cover remaining areas of the site.

The DSA was essential as The Sutton Trust has hundreds of research pieces on their site and building out keyword coverage for all of them would have been unmanageable.

Create a robust measurement plan

It doesn’t matter how good your structure is if you’re not measuring the right things. So next we worked to create a clear measurement plan, covering key valuable actions on site. 

We built these conversions as GA4 events in Google Tag Manager and imported them to Google Ads for bidding / optimisation purposes.

Some of the GTM tags

Combine the new structure and conversions with smart bidding

For any Grant account to succeed it needs to make use of Google Smart Bidding. This is required both to circumvent the $2 bid cap and also generate not just clicks, but users with intent to take valuable actions on site.

Test and expand

Grant account management never stops. To continue to scale and drive meaningful impact, you can’t just launch and leave your campaigns.

After launching the new campaigns we began making optimisations, including: 

  • Running regular search term reports
  • Expanding keyword coverage for new research pieces and programme
  • Launching new campaigns to support The Sutton Trust’s other microsites
  • Testing new ad copy
  • Analysing and optimising Quality Score


After 2 months we were able to scale the account to a position where it was spending ~$5000 a month. And after 6 months together we were spending ~$8000. 

But of course spend can be a bit of a vanity metric in Grant accounts. While it’s important to use as much of the available spend as possible, what we really care about is impact.

For The Sutton Trust, we grouped our KPIs into a single metric called “Action conversions”. This consisted primarily of file downloads and programme applications (as well as donations and enquiries).

Looking at how these performed we were able to consistently scale conversion volume alongside spend, generating hundreds of research downloads and programme applications each month.


Don’t just take our word for it. Hear from The Sutton Trust in their own words how they found working with ethix…

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Ethix. They helped us build a new element of our digital marketing infrastructure from the ground up, laying solid foundations and providing us with tailored support every step of the way. 

Highly reliable, knowledgeable and flexible, the service Ethix provide is great value for money. They are excellent at breaking down complex data into simple and digestible insights, helping to deepen our knowledge of digital marketing and improve our content offering.  

They also have excellent communication and client-relationship skills. Eve and Joe have always been on-hand to provide us with support, giving frequent performance updates and communicating the effectiveness of our work in great detail. 

Perhaps the most notable thing is that it has consistently felt more like a partnership where we are both working in tandem towards a common goal! It is clear that it is more than just business for the team.”

Lewis Tibbs, Senior Digital Communications Officer

Do good, better

If you’re a charity looking to increase your impact through digital marketing, we would love to work with you. 

Get in touch below to see if we’d be a good fit.