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My biggest frustration with Google AdWords (kalzumeus.com)
224 points by swombat on Jan 27, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments

It also has to do with how much money you give them.

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:

http://www.google.com/search?q=magpul+pmag http://www.google.com/search?q=rifle+scopes http://www.google.com/search?q=ar15+handguard

Thats my biggest frustration with AdWords.

Yeah, I have heard that 95% of their revenues come from the top 5% of customers. I spend about $10k/month on ads and still get shitty service, and long review times. I do know people that buy $250k+/month, and their ads don't even get reviewed, and they have a personal customer service rep.

Ads may get auto approved but they are still reviewed sooner or later. On top of that, absolutely all pages get reviewed, if not initially by human reviewers then by Google's crawlers. We spend $xxx,xxx on Google each month, it pays for us to know intimately how their systems work. They're watching us and we're watching them.

There is still a huge difference between declining all ads unless they are explicitly approved, and having people explicitly disapprove ads.

I know the rules quite well, have never had an ad disapproved, but the process is just frustratingly slow.

At least this gives us all a target - spend more than $250k/month!

I have spent 250K+/month for months in a row and received basically the same service as someone spending 5K/month. They assigned me a a personal rep but it's still not possible to get real answers when problems come up.

I think the real number to get treated noticeably different is probably closer to 1M/month.

I'm completely mystified by the prospect of spending 250k a month on AdWords. As much as you can, would mind going into a bit of detail like how much coverage that buys? Are you buying super common keywords or heaps and heaps of obscure ones? Conversion and ROI? how many impressions that gets?

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!

I'm not him, but I think I can help you on that one. When evaluating the credibility of this, keep in mind that AdWords is not my strongest subject, but I do depend on it for making rent:

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.

That was in the diet market on the Google content network. I'm not sure what conversion and ROI numbers would give you, every market/site is different. In the diet market that spend resulted in 1+ billion impressions, and 1+ million clicks.

At that rate you're paying about .25 CPM and would need to be selling a product at $25 with a 1% conversion rate to break even.

That would be Truth About Abs, paying $28 commission/ebook, netting $3 a pop at high volume.

At least that gives us all a revised target! (Holy crap though - I would've thought even $5k/mo got you service and answers. Are the savings really worth the customer dissatisfaction?)

When you have no competitors there is a limit to how much customer dissatisfaction can impact your business.

Precisely. When I helped to run an AdWords campaign with £100,000/month spend, you can bet our adverts never spent more than an hour in review. If they did we called our account manager and he expedited them right away.

Were you running ads which could be controversial ?

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.

Nope, holidays, flights, hotels. Not controversial at all.

Probably why you got fast approval then, most "safe" ads tend to get a fast turnaround.

I've also voiced this frustration with Google. I have software which helps middle school kids learn to organize and write essays. I get lumped in with essay farms (thus, requiring review) every fucking time I change one little thing in my ads.

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 am glad to hear I am not alone here. That "reputation for not screwing us buys you better service" would be nice, and it would scarcely be a first for Google, since it is baked into their Quality Score ratings and spiritually similar to things in core search, too.

I can only remember having had a handful of ads disapproved. Most times I just resubmit with something teachery in the ad text.

The difference is the risk. If you steal (or "forget" to scan) a pack of noodles then the grocery store loses maybe one dollar.

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).

That's the biggest problem of all: although they may have improved in the past few years, Google's filters to keep out scam sites aren't even borderline adequate anyway.

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.

Well they need to fix something because the essay farms were getting through. I think my suggestion would work. I'm sure they could find some heuristics for identifying marketers who might be trying to game them based on trust (say, ads that don't stay active long enough for a reviewer to see in order to sneak by). And it's a huge risk for me to get caught, even once.

Incidentally, so that I don't earn a reputation as Resident Google Critic: I love Google, I think they've created more value for more people than any company in history, and but for Google I would still be a cog in the machine at a Japanese megacorp. I just don't think they are infallible, and in particular I have learned that their PR is as likely to be accurate as any other megacorp's is.

For what it's worth, there are several people in Google who will use your article to argue that we could improve our customer service/user support in different ways. I pinged one of them on Twitter and I'll pass this article around within Google.

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.

> I know the teams that support users and advertisers work really hard to scale

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.

Thanks Matt. I appreciate that scaling is hard, but I trust you guys to figure a way to do things that are priorities for you.

It's also possible to just undercharge for support (and maybe even advertise that fact to limit expectations), but use the money as a filter. Ideally, you could even charge exactly cost, and then you wouldn't have misaligned incentives (and I would factor into the cost the information you'd gain from working with customers, so I'd say that to exactly align incentives, you'd want to charge somewhat less than the "support department" costs).

>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'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've said this multiple times before, but it warrants repeating. Customer care is Google's Achilles' heel. I'm mostly OK with them having little support for free products, but when there are thousands of dollars on the line with AdWords or AdSense I expect them to step up their game.

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.

Is there a business opportunity in here somewhere?

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?

Its already happening in Google Apps. Technically Google provides free support and phone support if you pay $50/year but if you signup with a reseller they also provide support and usually have a contact at Google for any issue they can't resolve.

If it was worth Google's time to provide good customer service they would already be doing so.

So you are arguing that Google can't improve their service in any way because if there were any improvements to be made they would already have implemented them?

No I am arguing that if Google wanted to improve their customer service they would have done so and that they don't need to because they have more customers for ad spots then they have ad spots to run.

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.

I have given this more thought. If Google had better adwords customer service then some people would have an unfair advantage. Whoever could get the most help out of Google would have the best campaign.

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.

Surprisingly, Facebook is kicking Google's ass on this.

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.

I believe the minimum spend for this service (Account Executive) is $10,000 per month.

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.

It's definitely not $10k per month. I spend an order of magnitude more than that and don't have an account exec with Google. The actual phone number for customer support does appear in my account - unfortunately the article we are commenting on neatly sums up my experience with "customer support" as well.

If only I could turn an roi with facebook.

In the UK I think it is about 20k per month

Far less. Most I ever spent was around 3k/mo and I had an account exec I could call up on the phone. They were extremely knowledgeable about ad approval, rules, etc

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

How recent was this?

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

And they'll help you do cool things like changing your vanity URL or setting up an account so you can pay via invoice instead of credit card.

Too bad they make it so damn hard to spend $10k with them.

Few things on the Internet are as tricky to navigate as Facebook's ad guidelines. I know you what I'm referring to :)

I really believe this as a result of the engineering culture issue at Google. "There is a solution to the problem of naughty ads, so move on to the next problem."

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. :)

> build a company that can attract great talent while still getting the really annoying things done that come with polishing a product

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. :)

I'm not convinced that "Do no evil" applies to Google's handling of advertisers. I've seen it happen that some small company will get its ads banned, and all Google will say is Google isn't sure the company is legitimate. The company makes no headway getting it resolved--until they go hire expensive advertising consultants to manage their Google campaigns, and the consultants have not trouble getting Google to review and reverse the ban within a day or two.

My biggest frustration with Google's motto is that it is not "Do no evil" ...but that it should be.

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]

Don't be evil?

"Being less bad is not being good." - William McDonough in Cradle to Cradle.

My biggest frustration is that people care about the motto of a public company. It doesn't matter what the motto is, they're in this to make money. They're not going to turn down billions of dollars because of some nonsense written on a wall.

Well I tried running some adwords on the 'display network'. I've tried at various times over the years with this and always abandoned it as a festering pit of spam and fraud.

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 was of a similar mind several years ago. Can I suggest that you try Conversion Optimizer? I have my occasional issues with Google, but that product is everything they do right in a little packet of joy with a bow on top. It virtually completely solved my issues with the Content Network.

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.

Would you mind sharing some of those options you set to avoid the bad parts? Or does the conversion optimizer handle most of that after a while?

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.

The conversions code is the standard adwords conversion javascript, added to the final 'thanks for your order' page.

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.

Assuming your site is small enough that they don't optimize to beat you specifically, the best way to defeat any kind of automatic spamming is to make your site unique in some trivial way.

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.

Not sure what you're saying here. What I'm witnessing is click-fraud. It would seem like nobody is stupid enough to run 1000 clicks on my ad on their site, but they seem to nickel and dime each advertiser - a click here, a click there, nothing that couldn't be disproven. There seems to be a lot of work needed to wade through the display network. I don't know how the false conversions happen. It would seem to me they have found a way.

I was talking about spotting the fake conversions. If you're using the standard code, it might be worth seeing if you can make it slightly non-standard enough that any standard way of faking it won't work.

But maybe that requires something on Google's end; I haven't looked at it so I can't say.

Last time I actually talked to a human at Google, they said you needed to spend $10k per month to get actual customer service...

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.

There are keyword triggers- you probably avoid them. I know groups whose ads fly in minutes.

This leaked data from June 2010 gives some interesting insight into the distribution of AdWords account sizes... http://searchengineland.com/googles-top-adwords-advertisers-...

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.

There are several flaws inherent in trying to scale things by having the computer gather all your data from people.

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.

Have you tried facebook? 3 yrs ago, when I first started out as an affiliate marketer, 90% of my ad spend was in adwords. At this point, my ad spend has tilted obscenely in facebook's favor over adwords.

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.

I hope someone's applying to YC with a customer service startup designed specifically to serve Google's customers. You can guarantee Google won't jump in to compete and if you get traction, they might buy you.

Without a very good connection to google customer service that doesn't stand much chance though, so where are they going to get their access?

AdSense has similar customer support issues too. A legal challenge to Google got a near-instant response. [0]

[0] http://searchengineland.com/remember-that-adsense-publisher-...

Just go to Facebook, their ads work better anyway: http://blog.fairsoftware.net/2010/07/22/facebook-ads-crush-g...

A little bit of competition always helps improve customer service.

I have tried advertising on Facebook. If you want, I'll break out my stats and do a blog post about it. Let me spoil the conclusion to that blog post: I got substantially more out of it when I paid them $140 for virtual cowboy goods than when I paid them $140 for ads.

Agreed. Facebook is where teachers go when they're not thinking about teaching.

Another thing which is pretty stupid is the API charges, given that using the API in general would allow people to make more ad spend it just doesn't make sense to me, given the amount of free API's they have.

I'm not familiar with these- but I apologize for the accidental/clumsy downvote from my iPhone. I must have dragged my thumb across the down arrow on my way to the reply button on this app.

This isn't a problem unique to small, new, or contentious term advertisers.

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'll add my anecdotal case. I created a $30 AdWords campaign last month for the first time ($1/day maximum), more as an experiment and for learning than anything. After a few days I received an email from Google asking "How did we do?".

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".

In general I agree, AdWords (and indeed other Google products) could improve its customer service.

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.

My biggest frustration with Adwords is that when you create a new campaign, Google sets ad serving to "optimize" rather than "rotate." This means Google gradually shows higher performing ads more often, which would appear to be helpful. But they do it before an ad split-test reaches statistical significance (which screws up proper A/B testing).

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.

Another issue for those that rely on adwords for traffic, in certain countries brands are able to use their trademarks to prevent certain keywords being bid upon at all, for example this recently happened the keyword "chanel".

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.

"I would be strongly tempted to take my business to vibrant competitive offerings. Sadly, Google is pretty much the only game in town"

There has to be a way to change that, and it might not be from a direct attack on AdWords, or even PPC.

Perfect example of why it's always a bad decision to put all your hope in the Google machine. There are lots of other places to do ads (MSN, Facebook, LinkedIn). Use them. Don't be dependent on just one source of traffic.

I'm not sure on the any changes to destination url's result in having to be reviewed again. I have frequently modified tracking parameters in the url without incident.

I've seen exactly the opposite. Remember that everything that has destination URLs in AdWords is immutable -- when you edit a keyword's destination URL, or a text ad, you'll see in the URL and in the API that the primary key of the entity is different -- and with every new entity, the google adbot kicks into gear (without any bandwidth throttling decency, btw, so watch out for that, too...)

My biggest frustration with Adwords is trying work out their damn api from the sparse and confusing documentation they provide.

Why doesn't Google hire people to fix their existing cash cow product, instead of trying to copy Groupon?

The entire point of trying to copy Groupon is that they want to diversify their revenue stream, rather than relying on a single cash cow. Defending the cash cow at the expense of future growth would be a short-sighted strategy.

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.

So the next step in the approval process(after contacting support) is write a blog post about it? :)

To quote myself, yesterday: ( http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2140893 )

  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
  Service Surveys.

  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
  Gabriel Weinberg.

  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.
What a perfect example -- Patrick is going for the "have enough readers that G gets embarrassed when you bitch" customer service plan. The only problem is most of us don't have that many readers.

I can't disagree. (As a matter of fact, I think my highest voted comment says much the same... ah, here we go: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=790914)

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.)

Have you considered what Google does with money they save by not employing a team of tens of thousands of customer support personnel? They pass it on to you. In the form of more AdSense earnings, lower cost to advertisers, more money for R&D to improve ad targeting.

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.

Have you considered what Google does with money they save by not employing a team of tens of thousands of customer support personnel?

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.

And I'm practically begging them to leave your money on the table so I can get paid more Adsense money and get charged less Adwords money.

The obvious answer is for Google to charge for support plans, like AWS.

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.

They have similar plans in the Enterprise segment. For integrating GMail and Google docs with your website, and for building your own custom apps for the same.

I'd like information/opinions anyone has to share on the real availability and quality of that support.

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?)

I had 3 paid seats (now 11) when I contacted Google support regarding a hosted Apps account. I received a response fairly quickly (within a few hours), a response and resolution within 10 minutes of replying to the initial support email follow-up, and I continued to have a discussion and further support responses from the same person over the next few days.

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.

False dichotomy.

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).

AdWords prices are set in an auction. The amount Google does or does not pay their customer service reps will not change their revenue from AdWords.

You could be right about their cut from AdSense, I don't know anywhere near as much about this product

> They pass it on to you. In the form of more AdSense earnings

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.

Err... they posted a $2.5b net profit for the last quarter alone. That will buy them one 767 every week.

Sorry, but this is a ridiculous argument. What good are those savings when something goes wrong?

Can't disagree...

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