I sell firearm accessories. When I launched my site, I put about $300 in my AdWords account and started to advertise for magazines, scopes, handguards, etc.
My ads were pulled rather quickly, yet other gun dealers are allowed to advertise:
Thats my biggest frustration with AdWords.
I know the rules quite well, have never had an ad disapproved, but the process is just frustratingly slow.
I think the real number to get treated noticeably different is probably closer to 1M/month.
Obviously those questions are sensitive so, if you even feel like answering, i think we'll all live if you're a big vague on some stuff!
Pretend you're a company selling enterprise software. ~$10 will get you a click -- that's right, one click -- for a head keyword in many enterprise-y systems (think, oh, "electronic discovery software"). You try to convert it into an email submission, via offering a whitepaper of some description. Each email is now a lead. Your marketing and sales teams try to sell the leads. The average deal size for successful sales: six figures. Ideally, your best performing sales guys are bringing them in every single month and howling for you to give them more qualified leads.
In those markets, you'd hit over $100k of monthly spend before you eclipsed BCC in AdWords clicks or impressions. (I get mine for about six cents.) You'd probably have a few hundred keywords -- obscure relative to [Justin Bieber], but fairly obvious choices to customers in your problem domain.
You could also hit $250k fairly quickly with a broad campaign as an affiliate aiming to move a consumer product with a high LTV (and hence high CPA). Cell phones, credit cards or other consumer finance, antivirus software (that might be stretching it a bit), etc etc. (On the darker side of the tracks: rebill scams, whatever the latest flavor of fitness snakeoil is, etc.) These guys tend to deal with higher volumes across the keyword tail.
I've heard from affiliate marketers with ad spends on that order of magnitude who've had problems because of the nature of their business.
I told someone at Google the following (I actually got someone to answer the damn phone- a number that showed up in Google search results for Google's phone number): I shop at a grocery store that allows me to take a hand-held upc scanner and scan and pay for my own groceries on my honor. Occasionallly there is a spot-check: my checkout/payment interaction will halt and someone will come over and scan n items in my bags (0<n<U) and then let me proceed (not sure what happens if they find something I didn't scan in my bags). The longer I shop there without incident, the less frequent my spot-checks seem to be.
This is great for all involved. Why can't Google do the same thing? They've reviewed every ad, and after 3 years they've never had a issue. Seems like they should give me the benefit of the doubt and let the ads run (and check on them if they feel the need). I've proved myself and never had an ad rejected.
This bothers me so much that I really hate doing business with Google. I've made it a priority to make Google obsolete in my next launch. Well, except that they own everything else on the web, too...
I can only remember having had a handful of ads disapproved. Most times I just resubmit with something teachery in the ad text.
If an inappropriate ad gets through it could (potentially) lead to a major PR disaster for Google.
Whereas you being unhappy with the product or the process really makes no difference to Google, since they are the only game in town.
(For the record I'm really not "defending" them; I just try to understand their incentives).
Google "HYIP" and click on one of the ads if you want to find a website to help you give your money to criminals operating Ponzi schemes. Now granted, a lot of people searching for implausibly high yield investment plans are aware of the rules of the shady game they're getting into, but they really ought to be triggering more filters and failing more manual reviews than bingo card creation.
Here's my personal opinion: I think the idea of paid inclusion had a deep influence on Google--we really didn't like the idea of paying to be in Google's index, because it meant that Google's incentives would be misaligned (not indexing pages would lead to revenue). I think that some people might have had the same worries about paid user/customer support (messing things up such that people had to call us would lead to revenue). That might sound crazy, but back in 2000 I saw quite a few companies that almost seemed to make deliberately bad software so that they could overcharge on support contracts. [Of course, there's the notion that Google tries to be scalable as well.] In my personal opinion, if anyone had the notion "we don't want to be paid for support, because that means our incentives are misaligned" in the early days, that notion is outdated and should be re-examined. Just my personal take.
I know the teams that support users and advertisers work really hard to scale and that it's a tricky problem.
If the examples given in the original article are true, esp. the fact that when one copies an ad to a different category, without changing anything, the copied ad has to be manually approved again, then it doesn't look like scaling is a concern.
But I think part of the problem is that ad-copy approval is a "ACB": ass-covering business. Kind of like the TSA.
If something gets through, you need to be able to show that you did anything you could to prevent it, and it's really not your fault.
ACBs don't care for efficiency: what they want is documentation.
That's pretty easy to fix: provide an acceptable level of support without charging for it. Then it can't be an incentive. In fact, in that case it can only be a motivator to have good software because support would just be a loser for google.
I'm convinced that offering prompt customer service for these two services alone would lead them to make far more money than they'd have invested in it.
Frustrated customers can become competitors at times. Google has been lucky thanks to its virtual monopoly on search (tough from a technical standpoint) and ads (tough from a business standpoint), but they need to be careful. Technology has a habit of changing things quickly.
Can someone sell 3rd-party support for Google? I know it sounds crazy, but there has to be a way to "arbitrage" their lack of support. In a sense, that's what SEO consultants are: they know how to make things happen despite Google's obscurity.
Any better ideas?
I have tried to get customer service from Google. I spend between $17k to 20k a month on Google adwords campaigns. I have spent a total of $247,907.40 on Google Adwords.
So Google runs the Adwords kind of like eBay runs auctions. You can't get extra help from eBay to auction your items better.
However, the Adwords system is complicated because unlike eBay where you can easily see what others are doing to compete against you, you have no idea what others on Google are doing to compete against you and you have no idea of why certain things happen.
If you spend a decent amount on Facebook, you will get a rep you can email any time and get back a response from a real human. They can expedite the approval of your ads and will even retroactively approve ads that were disapproved by mistake.
Google also assigns account managers at similar spending levels.
However, I have to agree the Facebook's account managers are far more helpful than Google's. They have more authority to re-approve ads that have been denied, and they seem to understand their own rules better than their counterparts at Google. YMMV.
If only I could turn an roi with facebook.
They actually also got my account reinstated when google accidentally blocked my whole Google acct.
Also never seen an ad under review for more than a couple of hours.
The OP experience is an edge case due to gambling etc
At the start of January they reduced the number of accounts who have individual reps.
However, I work for an agency; the support model might be different for individual advertisers
Few things on the Internet are as tricky to navigate as Facebook's ad guidelines. I know you what I'm referring to :)
As a product manager, I can think of many ways to improve this process for the people who pay for the Googleplex and, at the same time, decrease the support burden, but those kinds of things are not "fun" engineering tasks, and when engineers get to choose their projects, you better make your project fun.
As I'm laying the foundation for my company (with the one engineer I've got working for me) while playing CTO and Product Manager, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about culture and how to build a company that can attract great talent while still getting the really annoying things done that come with polishing a product (something that I don't think Google or Facebook do very well at all). Suggestions welcome. :)
Pay well. I've seen some really top guys in finance work with some really awful management because the money was just too good to say no to. Until, of course, the bonuses stopped coming in. Then they all left. :)
Their motto is "Don't be evil." I'm sure it wasn't an intentional weasel, but it does allow a lot of weasel/wiggle room, as in: I could not in good conscience call the whole outfit 'evil' - but I worry about some of its specific behaviors/policies having evil effects. [/rant]
"Being less bad is not being good." - William McDonough in Cradle to Cradle.
I decided to try it out again, in case things had improved somewhat. And before I knew it, I had a couple of conversions. There was also a lot of 50% CTR rates for obvious spam farm sites. So I excluded all of those and upped the budget.
And I got a few more conversions. Some really odd ones too - from myspace.com and other sites that I would think my customers have no business being on (or being on and in a purchasing mood, to be more accurate). But then I compared actual sales with analytics and other information. While my adwords account was reporting 'conversions' my sales were actually not showing these conversions.
Now I might have the conversion code wrong (doubtful, it's just a copy/paste) but something tells me varios spammers have worked out ways to make some of your ads show conversions to stop being excluded from the list.
Whatever the reason, it's switched off again. Traffic and sales show no ill effects.
So I'm back to my original hypotheses : the display network is a festering pit of scammers and money wasting.
I have end-to-end tracking on my conversions these days and I can verifiably trace ~25% of sales to trials started immediately after a visit from an ad on the Content Network.
The network certainly is a hive of scum and villainy, but they give options for not doing much business with that portion of it.
P.S. I cannot speak authoritatively for your conversion code, but I'd suspect you're seeing the effects of residual conversions where someone comes in from myspace.com, then later searches via brand name, and you're crediting the brand search but not myspace.
If you ever wrote a guide to how to get started with google advertising and get it to work for you, I'd gladly pay cash money for it. There's just way too much noise out there on the subject.
I would agree with you about the myspace thing- but I ended up with 5 or 10 of these bogus conversions, all on pretty low total clicks (I'm talking 10's of clicks resulting in a conversion). My best referral partners don't go anywhere near those sorts of numbers. In other words, one case makes a fluke (and myspace is highly visited, so I can agree with your theory) but after a couple of rare cases, you start to invoke the law of unlikely statistics in your head and say 'wait a minute...'
Here are some stats:
xqno.com 13 1,138 1.14% $0.64 $8.33 2 $4.16 15.38%
There's more like this. Some have 1 click, 3 impressions and a 100% conversion rate. No way is that going to happen more than once in a very long time, yet my adwords account has about 5 of these. And none of the conversions shows up in analytics.
Anything that was giving me numbers like that- you'd say 'yeah, go for it'. But I could find no actual conversions in analytics for that domain.
Looking at that domain we see a Url shortener with one google ad at the bottom. Just knowing my other referral rates and conversion rates for highly-relevant sites, makes me believe firmly that these stats are just plain wrong.
Even if it would take them almost no effort for them to change their tools to spam you, they won't bother if you're too small for them to notice.
But maybe that requires something on Google's end; I haven't looked at it so I can't say.
I find my ads get in and out of purgatory much faster than yours - almost always less than 24 hours. Bingo must really freak them out.
I work on accounts of varying sizes, approaching $1M/month. At that level, we have access to a handful of dedicated reps who quickly fix issues like this when they arise (in addition to weekly support meetings and a handful of other nice-to-haves.) The smaller accounts I work on barely get any attention, so I can sympathize.
That being said, the established accounts I've seen don't have these types of issues. (Even some of the smaller accounts I work on don't run into holdups often at all.) I suspect it has less to do with budget and more to do with some sort of trust built up over time and the frequency with which you make changes to your account (if you make frequent changes without causing problems, you are given more leeway, maybe?) Casual observations on my part, but something I've noticed.
Solving them almost invariably requires more people, but some can be avoided if you're more careful about what you measure and how you measure it (i.e. making sure you know what the hell is actually going on, rather than staring at spreadsheets of disembodied numbers removed from any context).
* The "best performing" systems are those with the fewest problems, right? But you can get rid of problems in two ways: by solving them, and by making it difficult or impossible for people to complain.
* You only hear about problems from the people who complain. Remove their ability to complain (or make it hard for them to reach anyone) and you'll never know about the problems. The tie-in with my first point should be obvious.
* A broken complaints system that allows few complaints will "perform better" than any other systems (in terms of having fewer trouble reports that get through) and will get selected for, unless you have people who know what the hell is going on.
* When you make people select their problems from a list, you won't get anything not on the list. Sure, maybe you have an "other" field, but sometimes people will just select one of the options even if it's the wrong one. In that vein, your default selection should be some kind of "unknown/other" because unless people make a choice, you can't assume that they intentionally selected anything.
I could go on and on, sadly, because I have a lot of experience seeing this sort of thing go on, even though I've done my best to prevent certain industrial QC processes from feeding total and utter garbage data to managers who see the production floor only when giving tours to prospective customers.
I remember the hours I used to spend optimising my adwords. But not any more. I spend less than 5% of that time on adwords now. By xmas of this year, it should be down to 0.
A little bit of competition always helps improve customer service.
I've had ads stuck in review for days, and I say this as someone waiting for his google adwords team to arrive and buy him drinks.
I filled out a form saying I wasn't happy since almost all traffic I was getting was having a 0 second visit time on my site, when the search terms were very specific and matching perfectly with the topic of my web site. It was hard for me to believe that everybody who searched for those terms and click on my add didn't even check any other page so I suspected fraud. A person (it seems; it was signed with a name) answered explaining the situation in a long and informative email, he also ran a fraud report just in case.
So in my case AdWords doesn't seem to work out but I got quick and good support from a person at Google when I'm just spending $30 in a "campaign".
But I also know, having worked for several years at Google, that the volume of requests is enormous. Many of them come from advertisers less honest than you, and dealing with them takes time.
When you copy an existing campaign to create a new one, they even go so far as to switch that setting from "rotate" to "optimize" on the newly created campaign. And with the Desktop Editor there's no interface to change ad serving settings.
I'm sure it's profitable for them to have "optimize" set as the default. I just wish they'd allow users who are knowledgeable to select "rotate" without hassle.
It's possible many would argue that this is fair enough, but what happens when someone gets Google to bad a fairly common work or something the relates directly to another product.
There has to be a way to change that, and it might not be from a direct attack on AdWords, or even PPC.
I agree that they should devote more resources to fixing this problem, but I would rather those resources come from more established underperforming products, rather than new opportunities.
It's really easy to get customer service from G. They provide, free, to each
customer their famous "fuck off and die while we totally ignore you" brand of
customer service that has propelled them to the very bottom of JD Power Customer
Or, you can have a blog with huge reach and bitch on that, whence Matt Cutts
will swoop out of the sky to cover up their fuckups. viz slow email and
So the real question is if you complain on the internet, how many people hear
you? Honestly, letting G get their hands on anything that's critical to your
life seems an enormous mistake, unless it wouldn't be a big problem for you
if your phone stops working.
Strategically speaking, if I were a startup totally dependent on the Googles (I mostly am, but hypothetically speaking), and I knew that having a soap box was the only effective method of conflict resolution with Google, then I would make it a high priority to have a soap box. It certainly isn't the only reason to have a soap box. It isn't nearly the best reason to have a soap box. But you should have a soap box.
(Incidentally, it isn't as hard as you think. I know, we have it excessively easy in central Japan thanks to the well-known Ogaki tech mafia and the unending fascination of the tech press with elementary school teaching activities, but even without these huge built-in advantages you could proceed to Plan B and write interesting stuff while trying to help people.)
Of course there's the corporate 767, but that's chump change compared to what they pay publishers each year and how Adwords has enabled small businesses world-wide.
It makes no difference to me whether they use it to improve AdWords, maintain their 35% margins, buy their own airline, employ brilliant PhDs, give free massages and chocolate icecream to everyone, or underwrite non-profitable products like everything Google does which isn't search/AdSense. All I want is for the thing that I pay money for to work. I'm practically begging for them to take my money.
E.g., $100/month for up to 3 hours of support a month with 4 hour response time, $500/month for up to 10 hrs/month with 15 minute response times, etc.
And what qualifies as "Enterprise"? If you've 15 Google Apps seats and are paying your $50/year/seat, do you actually get useful responses in a timely manner?
(It seems those dollar amounts would be well below anything "Enterprise". But I figure the multiple-thousand-seat clients are getting support from somewhere. Maybe this means the small fish who pay, can actually get some level of response?)
So I'd say absolutely that my $150 bought me a name and a face and good support.
They also have phone support, but I have not used it.
As I understand his argument, he claims the extra money Google would need to spend in order to satisfy his needs, would cause at least as much increased revenue from his increased Adsense use (or if not from him alone, at least from people like him).
You could be right about their cut from AdSense, I don't know anywhere near as much about this product
I think I'll hold my end of the discussion until you find your account suddenly terminated without recourse or some site suddenly stops serving ads because some competitor pulled a fast one on you or your earnings drop 70% without any explanation whatsoever. Adsense is like paypal, if it is a big part of your income you'll get bitten sooner or later.
For your sake I hope that it's later.