For example if you set a budget of 100 dollars per day, Google can, and most likely, will, spend 200 dollars in short campaign per day.
Another thing: in display campaign, on default, most of the budget will be drained by mobile fraud applications that generate fake clicks. And also by video clicks made by babies on YouTube. And Google removed an option to disable mobile apps altogether lately.
Keyword targeting - on default Google uses broad matching including variants etc. Eventually you can pay for clicks for non relevant keywords that will also drain most of the budget.
Another thing: Google advises to put ads on your company name. It is a neat strategy, because you pay for something you had for free. And campaign seems to have better statistics.
Another thing. You wont believe it, untill you see it. Aprox up to 80% of ad traffic are bots. And advertising platforms does not recognize it or refund.
And so on... I am working on Google Ads campaigns for several years now. Always say to my client two things:
1) Google and Facebook will spent every penny you want to spend
2) Spend on ads only such amount on money, you can live without, and keep it running for a longer time without interruption.
3) Optimise often
By time though you'll build up a nice list that you can exclude, but it's going to cost you in the start.
A friend's toddler was watching a cartoon with songs on YouTube, and they were deeply focused on it when an ad popped in their face. They didn't stop crying for an hour.
By excluding channels for kids from your ad campaign you can both save money and avoid scaring children, so go for it. :)
Other way is to use keyword setting. Not as topic or observation, but page containing a keyword. With good set of keywords it is possible to rule out baby clicks
How is this possible? It sounds like a bug, but it's probably not, so what's their justification?
Launching an ad campaign feels like rocket science now mixed with a good amount of woodoo magic. 80% down the drain by default? That's a number I could believe, but freaks me out how to market my side project to get actual people on my service. And I'm on a ridiculous budget, I can't afford the "throw money on the wall and see what sticks" method with 500$.
Therefore, the budget is only "eventually consistent" - i.e. at the end of the campaign or after a day or so, the number you're being charged is accurate. However during the campaign itself it's not possible to guarantee that things won't go slightly over budget as each individual ad auction cannot feasibly check the central budget.
That said, it definitely feels like there should be a way to implement this such that it backs off as the budget is approached, so that overshoots are likely to be minor, rather than 100% of the budget as apparently happens on a regular basis.
My guess is that this is worse the lower your budget, and $100 a day is a low budget for Google ads when you're considering the whole industry.
I would expect that with a budget of, say, $5000 a day, you might still be ~$100 out.
Eg. Your daily budget is $200 and they spend $420, you’ll get a $20 credit.
Then there is the monthly limit, which is your daily budget x 30.4. Also here you'll be credited any amount they exceed.
I'm not sure how they could let you overrun by several times your budget for a day however, syncing these every hour shouldn't be a problem.
So there is a reason behind it. But its something well hidden. You have 500 dollars for a one week campaign, and it occurs you pay 1000 dollars for it. It does not seem to be right.
For example keyword targetting gets broader.and broader. If you target.for keyword you want to target it precisely or with synonyms but you want to have control over it. But Google changed it lately to make it harder to narrow down keywords.
The result is you spend budget on bad keywords. And it seems like ok,if i get money from it overall.
But actually not only you loose budget but others too, because they need to bid higher.
They need.to bid higher for keywords you dont care about but they care. For Google its additional money.
The only assurance is that your monthly budget won't exceed $3000
can you adjust bid to -100% for mobile?
And as you can expect, Google has 10 times stricter requirements for websites showing their ads, than for Android apps...
Facebook is the same way with all of this crap too. I’ve seen more success with the hard way, networking and getting content made about me and distributed in magazines or online blogs from people who get to use my service for free.
Sales aren't some abstract thing that can't be quantified.
Site gets no traffic -> Spend $X on google or facebook pointing traffic to site -> Y Amount of traffic -> $Z amount of sales.
You now know how much revenue $X worth of ads buys you. You also know how much each amount of revenue is worth to you in profit. As long as spending that $X makes profit, you're gonna do it. No matter what crap is mixed in by the ad company.
If something you want is bundled with something you don't want and is priced such that you're willing to buy the thing you want at that price, you don't turn it down. You buy it and ignore the thing you don't want.
Keep the budget low, so you wont bother about it, and use money for anything else than Google Ads.
And its not like i am against Google or something. Actually i have a company that runs Google Ads for clients. So i dont have any hidden interest to criticize Google Ads, contrary. But its the truth and its just something i think everyone should be aware of.
Given this, all of the data collection/tracking/etc. seems like a round-off error in effectiveness, and doesn't seem to be worth the loss of individual privacy.
Did you read the fine print? Doesn’t matter, you can’t redline it anyway so it’s take it or leave it.
Are ads really effective? I don't buy advertised products.
Do we really trust ad tech accounting? They've been caught inflating numbers over and over again.
The whole house of cards seems like it could fall over if actually investigated. Google, Facebook, Twitter - every single one of them.
Influencer and direct social referral advertising seem much more "legitimate" than injected ad impressions.
How can we get the thing to implode? Google has destroyed the web to prop up its ad business. I'd be happy if they couldn't cause any more trouble.
It was a simple PPC campaign that included keywords in google search results and geofenced it to the SFBay. Here are some numbers and findings:
- PPC costs were about $1-2.50/click with a ~$15/day max spend
- Selected cities by hand to fit the service area
- We did in fact get clicks outside of the zones we selected. Many if them were B2B trying to sell their services.
- Customer acquisition costs specifically for the google ads campaign was ~$70 (clicks/conversion)
$70/customer sounds like a lot except these home improvement contracts were typically thousands of dollars, so the campaign was a fantastic ROI. Furthermore, we dialed down ad spend as the reputation was built, and now most leads come
via referrals and review sites.
In the end all that mattered was that customers were signing contracts so even if there was some funny business going on it was still worth it for our particular case.
"Yeah, Google was robbing us blind and kind of scamming us with their geofencing shenanigans, but we were making enough money that it wasn't worth fighting, and eventually we figured out how to stop buying ads from them."
Sounds like a great business opportunity.
Sure, the partner may be hard to work with, but so is almost any big tech platform provider (... Apple ...) and it can be quite profitable to put up with.
If you want to sell everyday consumption or end consumers items, this scheme will eat all your income/benefit.
After reading about all the flaws in automatic online advertising through clicks on this thread, it looks like a big scam prospering more or less in favor of opacity, lack of fine tuning or targeting and fraud.
Referral systems and social influencers seems to be a better option, as long as your product is good and would not shame the ones endorsing it. Betting on viral marketing and endorsement seems to be more natural and a better bet, but require maybe more work and preparation than blind automatic system.
However, 80% of ads are trash peddled by blind men leading blind men.
There are very specific advertising techniques that work consistently, but most "marketing types" optimize for flashy artistic ads that have literally ZERO selling power.
In fact, in some studies, ads actually REDUCE sales -- by, for example -- accidentally highlighting something that is an unexpected turn off to customers.
But, the problem is, most companies don't trace their ads. And that's why overwhelmingly a lot of advertising money is wasted.
But this state of affairs has been going on since the 60's.
So I wouldn't underestimate the number of gullible humans to keep paying for advertising.
As long as you have eyeballs you'll probably always have an excess of ad spend.
There's just a shit ton of money to be made pretending it's 1955. I went into the wrong business.
If you end up a multi billion dollar unicorn with tens of millions in ad budget, targeted direct ads no longer move the needle like they did when you were a startup. Now for the Director of Marketing to justify increasingly larger compensation, he needs to increase his ad spend and starts whispering about spending money on ads that have no direct correlation to the bottom line. This is called brand advertising. Hint: If an early stage startup spends more budget on brand advertising than direct marketing, run.
Effective advertising is matching the product/service with some problem, on a specific channel of eyeballs, with a specific message. There are tons of new channels popping up every few years (think google, facebook, instagram, youtube, twitch, pinterest, wechat, stackexchange, hn, reddit, etc). There are millions of permutations but you have a finite ad budget. The magic is deciding how to show what to who.
Even better, no need to write an essay about your services or products, Google already know everything about it by scraping your website, so just point to the URL, and done
With the tactics being gobbled up by the Red Queen effect, you have to move to strategies to win. The OP writes about a pretty good one.
I think the Parent was actually advocating surgical PPC management of the style patio11 has written about extensively.
Other reason to use it is when you dont want to be screwed by fake clicks, and are 100% sure people will find your product anyways and buy it.
I've been running PPC ads for highly targeted keywords for the last 5 years which have generated a ridiculous return. In general ppc is steady and reliable once you have you're keywords and ads running for a while and are well optimized.
On the other hand, I've recently been trying dropshipping, advertising the product on Facebook.
I did a small test for a unique product, I sourced it from China for around 5 usd and sold them for 25 usd.
People actually bought them on site even though Amazon has them at a much lower price.
Facebook literally knows people who are high spenders / frequent purchasers and will put your ads in front of them. It's actually stupidly powerful.
Second, any marketing professional worth their salary is measuring with a number of tools to verify that the information they're getting from Google/Facebook/etc. is accurate. There are many metrics that only they can provide, but there are enough independently measured data points that fraud would be obvious.
Finally, you're blaming Google, but the advertising industry's current state is a product of extreme corporate greed (on the part of advertisers). It doesn't matter whether Google goes away, greed will continue to corrupt in other ways. Look what happened with the rise of ad blockers - native advertising, which is just a nice word for the paid corruption of editorial space, has become so prominent that you can't trust most of the articles you read on sites that were once considered reputable. The "influencer" marketing you mentioned is a perfect example. People with social presence and influence are being paid to lie about a product. You think this is somehow better or more "legitimate"? I would love to hear more about that. At least with Google, I can clearly see where the ads are.
So you can try to implode Google or any other facilitator of digital advertising, but money will find a way. It always does. You're trying to change human nature.
I guess that's why people are so excited about click tracking, analytics, etc, etc.
When I was running advertising for a small business we put vouchers in to track advertising. The only people who brought in vouchers were people who were already customers who said they were already coming. So, we spent money to reduce our revenue. (I do the same, hunt for vouchers after making a buying/visiting decision.)
I was on national TV and national radio (UK) - none of that blipped our visitors/revenue.
Only thing that ever definitely worked was handing out flyers and chatting to people in the street (and being top of Google SERPs).
My friends and I launched a physical product over the weekend last week. I put together a basic landing page and bought some Instagram ads. We spent about INR 250 (around $4) before I stopped the ads to do some optimization.
That $4 in spending brought us 1 customer who placed 2 orders worth $35. He also referred 2 other customers who placed an additional order of $35. $70 in revenue for the simplest of funnels is wildly lucrative.
What is so different about seeing something you are interested in from an ad or from a website you clicked through to yourself?
> Are ads really effective? I don't buy advertised products.
Do you buy many products online at all? If you don't, then they probably won't be useful as you aren't someone who spends much money online for anything. However, there are many people who do. For example, my girlfriend and many other women I know spend tons of money on clothes/shoes/jewelry online and a decent amount of the products they find out about and like come from advertisements.
To give you an example of the scale, I spent over $1,200 dollars online yesterday during black friday on clothes, shoes, and jewelry for her. While I don't know how many of those products got sourced from advertisements, I'm sure some of them were because most were from a doc she has been using to keep track of things she wants and she likely saw them first on an advertisement.
Even if only a small percentage (e.g. <2%) click on the and, and then a similar small percentage actually buy anything after clicking, you are still making money so long as the cost-per-conversion (i.e. per sale) comes out low enough that you still make a profit. Spending $3-5 to make a sale in say a pair of shoes that retails at $100 with a profit margin of $30-40 is good business.
People are making huge amounts of money/doing huge amounts of business directly as a result of the ads, and that is not just Google and Facebook, but everyone all the way down to little mom and pop businesses.
When you track things down to the level of sales it very often works (not always - depends on products/business models etc), and that is why people are using online ads. AdWords and Facebook ads would have fizzled out years ago if people were not benefiting from advertising their business
With a lot of brand keyword advertising, companies are paying for people to click an ad when they were already looking for your website anyway. So spending $3 on that customer is not a $27 profit but rather a $3 loss....
And it's still a $27 profit, even if it is possible you could have saved money.
Most of the time a well-optimised PPC pipe looks for specific (non-brand) keywords and buys them, not just the product name.
Now do an experiment. Stop your ads.
Do your sales go down 100%? In that cost the $3 cost was definitely justified.
Do your sales go down 50%? That means you actually paid $6 to acquire a customer, not $3. Still sounds like a reasonable deal since you still make $24 profit, but other channels might be more profitable.
Do your sales go down 10%? Then only one in 10 customers actually converted because of the ad, and you are paying $30 to acquire a customer and it would be better to stop the campaign. Google is just showing ads to people that would buy your stuff anyway. (Side note: I think this is a big problem with retargeting. You are paying to show ads to people that are already very likely to buy your stuff -- or even worse, who have bought it already. But conversion rates are really high!)
(To be fair, this is speculation and not based on experience with adwords. My only experience with adwords was a $100 campaign I made a few years back with promotional credit that resulted in no conversions)
At the end of the day, if your ROAS is good, you don't care that much.
Still 90% of their profit comes from ads. They are much less diversified than Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.
>It's well known in business that ads are generally dubious at best and likely mostly a fraud.
You're using the phrase "it's well known" in an attempt to support a consensus that you completely fabricated. I spend over $100,000 every year on digital advertising, and I can assure you there is a very measurable return. Colleagues who manage much larger (and some smaller) marketing campaigns are also making measurable returns. You clearly have no experience in what you're talking about. So why talk about it?
There are lots of unsophisticated business owners and marketing "professionals" who think they can just throw money at digital and it will magically return. These same people don't understand how to effectively measure, so they may not even realize they're burning money. Like any failed venture, that is THEIR fault. In no way does that make advertising "generally dubious at best and likely mostly a fraud".
The fact that it works for you doesn’t mean that if that industry wasn’t as monopolised and unregulated you wouldn’t pay 1/10th of what you paid for the same.
without competition, it's only going to get worse
When it says "location of interest" someone in Turkey can be interested products or services in the US.
The article even says itself that he didn't click on the advanced features until he asked his friend, after the clicks from Turkey. This is totally the user not reading the docs... and he used to work there... in that group for 2 years?
Also, Google and Google Adwords is heavily biased to be about relevancy, not mechanical-like billboard. Shouldn't be a surprise.
I've seen funded dating startup from US, which released their ad campaign on Facebook targeting 'Worldwide' for maximum clicks (thinking the clicks would be distributed), 90% of their users were from Philippines and they had to eventually change their product to Philippines only (no offence to Philippines, it's just not what the startup intended to do).
Also, how do you spend so much cash and ignore the stats for so long that you have to change the target demographic for the app?
imagine if they said "lets pay double as much to try to target US users"
The fact that prices are set by an auction makes the system inherently sustainable unless you think many of the bidders are irrational.
Seems like it encourages companies to get in a bidding war against each other in a race to zero profit margins, while Google pockets what could have been their revenue.
I really wish there was a competitor to Google. They're one of the most opaque organizations around as far as their primary revenue stream - AdSense - is concerned.
Google does have brand and distribution though.
Plus the sheer volume and reach that Google has. (It pays millions - if not billions summed up for every little channel they pay for - every year to be the de facto "internet" for many users, many kinds of devices.)
It's basically unimaginably hard to compete with this for newcomers. Sure, they can carve out a niche, and so on, but that's just that.
Clicks outside the US are not necessarily meaningless -- the screenshot in the article shows that they are targeting people "regularly in the US". Just because I left for a couple of weeks does not mean I abandoned everything related to where I live. There's still value in targeting US ads to me, independent of my current location.
Not necessarily applicable to the advertiser, though. If there's a US restaurant chain hoping for regular customers, they would be wasting their ad spend if you're on the receiving end of the ads.
It is worse than that, the country targeting setting was already at maximum tightness. This is a very bad dark pattern by Google, there is no setting to strictly target a country.
What happens is a "publisher" combines CSE with Adsense then drives (often robotic) traffic to the ads that come back in the feed. They then identify high-paying keywords and make money.
Sophisticated attackers will observe that Google cares if the IP address matches the CSE request, but they don't care if the cookie and IP make sense (or if that cookie is being used elsewhere in the world). This means a sneaky extension can lift the (advertising) cookies of Google users elsewhere in the world and deliver them to places (e.g. Turkey) where it is convenient to run the click farm.
Google does provide a CSV with all the AdWords recognized countries: https://developers.google.com/adwords/api/docs/appendix/geot...
You should be able to copy the list to the clipboard and paste into the exclusion list.
I can’t tell you the times I have had to tell clients and other search marketing professionals that they need to have a negative list.
Budgets are not infinite and they need to be managed to get the most out of them.
It's probably fair to assume setting a target location is it, not that you additionally have to exclude the rest of the world. And it's buried in the advanced settings, so anyone looking for a quick default setup just do the minimum required setting presented to them.
After spending ~100k, our ads randomly stopped working last month without changing anything. Support took 10 days to reply saying the account was up for a review (no notifications sent, no indicators). Yet, it still wasn't working.
Booked a consultation with one of their so-called "Experts", he couldn't find anything wrong and suggested to contact support again.
After the initial 10 days response, still waiting for a reply from so-called support 20 days later. I'd assume support only exists for companies that spend millions a year.
Given your vested interest in Ads and Google in specific, I am sure you know this already.
Without that kind of information, reading stories after having a bad experience will turn your brain into a petri dish for confirmation bias.
If there are 100 bad stories out there, that's enough of a failure of a company irrelevant of its size. And I have personally conducted the support experiment multiple time over the years to have the first-hand experience.
Either way, since you clearly have a vested interest in Ad companies from your HN comment history, I shall engage no more.
It appears arguably reasonable that geotargeting isn't exact, nor is it clear that these clicks weren't actually real and valuable. If he's trying to make the point that the trend is disturbing, well, then: make that point with something akin to a real sample (at least 1000 clicks, spread over more than a week?)
If you call them on it, the Google phone reps will say with a straight face, “Let's say people with family in Moldova want to look for something to tell their relatives in the U.S.”
The ethical way for Google to handle this would be to make all U.S. campaigns by default target users in the U.S., Indian campaigns target users in India, Moldovan campaigns target users in Moldova, etc. If businesses want to expand their campaigns to people living in other countries for whatever reason, give them the option but don't make it the default.
I feel especially sorry for the local small business owners trying to counter the SEO garbage and Yelp reviews that clutter the results. They try to set up the campaigns trusting Google's guidance, and they're lucky if 10% of clicks end up being target customers living in the same area. Often they have no clue about what's going on, and wonder why their campaigns are costing so much for only a trickle of real customers.
Seemed to eliminate most of the junk clicks.
1. Buy AdWords ads in countries out of Bing’s coverage,
2. Send these clicks to a page serving your Bing feed’s ads for same/similar keyword search,
3. Realize Bing US CPCs on international AdWords ad buys
For those who are outside of the service area it's less than <1%. While it may only receive a handful of clicks from outside the area a month, it eats into the already minuscule budget for the long shot of a person who decides to look up the service while on vacation or visiting relatives. It's not efficient ad spend for a business like this.
A SaaS business is a different case, but this issue is persistent and getting worse.
People don’t pay for clicks, they pay for results. Clicks are an intermediate measure. If I make $100 from $50 spend via 1000 or 100 clicks it’s pretty much the same thing.
My site is focused only on relevant content in a particular infosec niche, and is well written - yet quality scores across the site are 2-4, and have been for the entire site history, which spans almost 20 years. Which means we pay more for ads.
I've been through the usual guides, and I can't find anything actionable - they all basically boil down to "have relevant content" - but I do, dammit!
I've also taken up Google's frequent offers of free help from an expert on 2 occasions. Both times all they did was try to get me to increase my spend (e.g. enabling the search network etc), and parroted about "writing relevant content", even though both agreed that the content seemed very relevant to them.
The site has been rewritten from scratch a couple of times over the years - no change.
I even paid a copywriter a couple of years back, but the tweaked content still resulted in the same 2-4 quality scores.
I'm considering switching to a different domain, closing the AdWords account and opening a new one, but I've no idea if that would actually change anything.
You need to try things that are as different as possible. Don't rewrite it -- explicitly take different approaches with the goal of making them very different from each other. Then run an experiment.
I understand it's not the same thing, but it sure smells the same
I believe it’s clear in the Google publisher dashboard that you are targeting your ads to appear to people in the US, not that your product itself is relevant to the topic of the United States.
For example, Adwords defaults into advertising on every device which now includes TVs. This channel would never work for our business (an app that integrates with GitHub), and I'm sure this would work badly for many other businesses. We only found it by digging into the campaign stats once it had launched.
It also strikes me how long the approval takes for new ads - 48 hours. How many advertisers drop off in that time? That feels like a real value add thing to focus on.
I've never watched a non-English video or ever interacted with the non-English speaking web. How on Earth can Alphabet screw up so much? The only thing I can fathom is that Alphabet is optimizing for getting more advertising revenue, long-term effectiveness of their ads be damned.
I’m not sure where you are, but I imagine that folks like you are a very tiny percentage of the market.
Your browser by default leak your OS version (Chinese using older versions very often), locale (of course there is tons of users with Thai or Turkish locale outside of their home country, right?), fonts, etc, etc. Basically everything is can be used and actually actively used for fingerprinting. In cases of some proxies WebRTC can just leak your real IP. I wont even start on the fact that Google controls web browser that is used by 50% internet users and it's sent a lot of data to the mothership.
And yeah if you try to mess with Google itself by let's say mass registering accounts you'll understand how good they are at protecting their own infrastructure and money. At the same time why should they care about someone else lost money? So they don try to fix it.
Don't get me started about Twitter advertsing. Want some followers for your business? Twitter will gladly send you tons of obviously fake profiles as soon as you get too many impressions without a click. Like profiles without real pictures and timelines consisting only of retweets.
You have to tolerate an accepted amount of cruft with any PPC campaign.
And in addition they no longer show average position metric (1) which increases barrier to entry, they now only show impression share.
But other questions came up.
Why do so many quit google after less than five years?
How does a company who's product is a push notification when someone clicks get funding?
Usually initial stock grants are for four years. If the price goes up enough and then relatively flattens out, it can happen that one’s total compensation begins decreasing after the fourth year. That, and 4-5 years is enough time to build a sufficiently large safety net that one can attempt to strike out on one’s own.
Or he's just unemployed working on an app?
Honestly I think this highlights how divorced eng is from real world usage, otherwise he'd know this shit happens. every.damn.day.
ad tech is a house of cards and makes me reconsider working at Google every day.
I actually disagree, primarily because of the auction. It's an incredibly clever way to ensure Google's incentives are aligned with the advertisers'. Assuming rational bidders, Google can only charge more per click if the clicks deliver more value to the advertisers. If Google just sends a bunch of garbage clicks to the advertisers, they will just lower their bids.
That sounds incompatible.
You worked for Google. You should have known this before today.