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Open letter to Google Regarding Changes to The Ad Words Program

 12:33 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

As someone whose companies spend in excess of $300k per year on your Ad Words Program, I thought I would write you this open letter in hopes that someone would respond to it, as I have been unable to get a response from my assigned rep or anyone else at Google. I mentioned my own projects in addition to my own projects I serve as a consultant for several smaller companies which bring addition sums to Google. Why is it that Google treats me like an unwashed vagrant trying to buy a $.10 cup of coffee at Mc Donald’s rather than someone who spends $300k a year with them?

The issue I would like for you to address is of course is the radical rise in the minim bid costs that many of us are seeing. To get at this problem, I spoke to one rep on the phone today as my personal rep is “unavailable” and has been all day. I sent a lengthy email to support early this morning (my rep) and left a voice mail for my rep to contact me immediately. So far the only response I have gotten was from the lower the level rep when I declined to leave another voice mail for my personal rep. She was very apologetic and nice, but didn’t know what was going on. She told me all the reps were told was to expect some changes, but that they were not told what the changes would encompass or whom the changes would affect. She said she had spoken to some customers today that had similar issues, but simply put she doesn’t know what to advise them as she doesn’t know what the new quality system looks for other than the generic stuff from the Google Ad Words page. She looked at my account, and I had her note the same ad had been running in excess of 2 years and had produced a click through rate of 26% in those 2 years, and she agreed it wasn’t really possible to increase the quality the ad itself. She had no idea how often the bot looks at the pages so you can see if changes you make actually improve your quality score.

Your employees have been uninformed and left in the dark about these major changes to your program, and perhaps more importantly your paying customers have been left in the dark as well. The smart thing would have been to come to the community months ago and said hey we are thinking about some major changes, these are how these changes are going to affect you, and here is what you can do to bring your landing pages up to snuff. That way your business partners would not be left holding the bag when they are hit with overnight radical price increases, and are forced to seek immediate answers from your employees who have also been left in the dark, and have no useful information to provide your customers. I would suggest as good business etiquette and professionalism would dictate you roll these changes back immediately and evaluate what you have learned from this. Then come forward and announce what changes you plan to make, describe in detail what accounts it will have a negative impact on, and provide in detail guidelines for producing the type of landing pages that you want. That way your business partners can make a business decision as to if they want to continue to do business with you under the new system.


Mark A. Libbert
Attorney At Law

P.S. If any Overture/Yahoo rep is lurking I have 10-12k a month buy for you.



 8:40 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

You all do realize, of course, that the reactions and postings you see here on WWW are just a small (and unusually vocal) percentage of the entire base of AdWords customers out there? Most of 'em probably don't have the time to monitor a board or subject like this, even if they had the inclination. The ones who were not affected and weren't already here are not likely to come here to talk about it. The ones who WERE affected are far more likely to come here to do their screaming, where there are plenty of sympathetic and empathetic ears. We're just seeing a small corner of the entire picture. Our sample is too small to draw any conclusions about the effect on Google.


 8:41 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

To everyone in the community.

While I cannot state many things, I can say that I manage client accounts (for Fortune 500 companies) which total $400,000 per month in Adwords revenue.

Google's latest change is a BIG screw up. Many say they are not affected, but the truth of the matter is that it's still to early to tell.

My opinion is that if we make a big stink of this issue, Google **WILL** revert. Based on some internal rumors, they are not pleased with the results. They are seeing a BIG drop in their revenues. Since Adwords accounts for 90%+ of Google's TOTAL revenue, they will not take this lightly.

We must all take a stand and unite against this sort of price gouging. We know that Google can do whatever they want, but there has to be rules. All of a sudden, they released some "BOT" on us - we don't even know what it's looking for. Google has not published ANYTHING relating to the Quality Score metric in detail. Advertisers are left clueless as to a solution. The manual review process is NOT going to bring results - been through this already.

Voice your opinion. Google insiders read this forum frequently and they may just take action!


 8:47 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Previous on-topic threads:


 8:52 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Voice your opinion. Google insiders read this forum frequently and they may just take action!

My opinion is that their stock reached its historical high six months ago, has tested that price twice since and failed to break through it. Its down 8 points today and although I foresee a short rally tomorrow, that rally would make a fine entry point for a substantial short position.

Hows that for an opinion? :)

I usually trade price data not news, in this case, as they both agree, I'll make an exception.

[edited by: Alex_Miles at 8:56 pm (utc) on July 13, 2006]


 8:54 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

We must all take a stand and unite against this sort of price gouging. We know that Google can do whatever they want, but there has to be rules.

There has to be rules, really?

I don't want to sound flip or insensitive.

I can even relate to the pain...

My campaigns and margins have been killed.


Adapt your business, or go out of business.

That's the rule we all need to apply.

Let Google raise minimum bids to $10 per click.

They have to do what they think is best.

We just have to adapt and do what we think is best.

Read a book called "Who Moved My Cheese" --

-- and don't get squashed by the winds of change.

Good luck.


 9:05 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

If google's purpose is to make a more pleasant experience for users, so they'll click on more ads - They're going about it the wrong way. If you piss off a majority of your advertisers, then the clicks become less valuable. Most advertisers don't have the time or money to waste trying to salvage the mess that google is making for them. This could not have been activated at a more inopportune time - for Google that is. With MSN struggling to pull advertisers away from Google - Google just gave them a giant hand out.

I for one have been working hard for the last 2 days to shift my budget away from google and toward MSN.


 9:16 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I advertise in several european countries and I have one site per country with a different domain. They're all identical in content and layout, just in different languages. In some markets bids are unreachable, in others they're still the same. Then I can see spam sites advertising where user experience isn't realy going to be great. It's a complete joke. Seven months ago I moved 95% of my budget to YSM and I happy, can't wait to have their new system.
The problem is that they have the big chunk of the traffic, they know it and so they can play with us, use us as guinea pigs for their "great" algos. Despite their corporate blablabla about no evil, they're eding up being much worse than Microsoft.


 9:17 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am not really sure how to respond to this as I do not know if the

1- Search terms you have purchased are for users to land on a page of text full of Google ads or

2-You are purchasing these terms for selling a product or related to the income of your business.

Our bids are the same haven't changed but they are for the purpose of generating traffic for clients we have paying us to bring in clients.

Not for traffic to click on another google ad to make me the money at the expense of the one paying for the traffic.

I understand there is good quality traffic can come from such sites, but I really feel this is an attempt by Google to finally get rid of all those sites that are nothing but ads ads and more ads.

Allot of sites are using shady ways to increas the CTR on a page, this in itself (CTR) makes no difference if the page is nothing but Google ads and has to use pictures above the text, fake navigation, etc and etc and etc My opinion is the site needs to pay what the advertiser is having to pay this will stop the shady traffic

We as well have adsense on our sites do quite well with it but we don't buy traffic at a cheap and target high paying keywords with this traffic.

At least they are trying to get this under control been out of control way to long.

I consider this a Google dance so to speak.


 9:32 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

We have been running adwords for close to 3 years now. Just last week, we decided to pause all of our campaigns. We spend about 3k/month in advertising which we are now reconsidering all together.

We have found no logical reason to continue with a partner that has no regard, respect or interest in the progress of others.


 9:35 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Allot of sites are using shady ways to increas the CTR on a page, this in itself (CTR) makes no difference if the page is nothing but Google ads and has to use pictures above the text, fake navigation, etc and etc and etc My opinion is the site needs to pay what the advertiser is having to pay this will stop the shady traffic

We as well have adsense on our sites do quite well with it but we don't buy traffic at a cheap and target high paying keywords with this traffic.

At least they are trying to get this under control been out of control way to long.

I agree....but this is the worng way to go about fixing it. why not instead change the eula for adsense so that no adsense ads can be placed on a page marketed thru adwords?

Going for quality is all well and good, and I'm all for it....IF that qualty can be administered accurately, AND the standards are laid out clearly.

To simply say a page/site is below a standard without revealing what that standard is prevents webmasters from meeting that very high standard of quality which google claims to be seeking.

Don't tell me I need to kick a field goal to win, and then hide the goal post.


 9:47 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Allot of sites are using shady ways to increas the CTR on a page, this in itself (CTR) makes no difference if the page is nothing but Google ads

This is nothing but rubbish.

A. G$$gle created this mess, not webmasters. These are "G$$gle Ads", and MFA sites are generated because of only one reason - because G$$gle pays. So G$$gle has an EASY way of identifying this - Adwords link to page with Adsense. Not some non-existent "Quality" BS. An ultimate and obvious test. Yet, they don't use it, so there must be a reason. Hence -

B. G$$gle is doing it to generate MO MONEY. MFA sites are not and will not be killed - its the other part of G$$GLE's money printing machine. The first part - advertisers. Those of us who actually sell products or services.

This is not going to affect: (a) MFAs (and why should?), (b) huge sites that advertise accross the board (so what if half a million KWs became unuable, they have another half million), (c) people who can afford to (or cannot afford not to) pay the price. So where is so called "quality" in any of this? Low CTR? High CTR? Zero CTR? None of the above, or I am failing to see something...


 9:50 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Does anyone think there are'nt bugs or holes in this new 'algo' not waiting to be exploited?

I have a feeling the 'players' will adjust fine, compared to mom and pop advertiser.


 9:51 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I scanned this thread (quickly) looking for a response from Google and saw none. I was surprised by that for a moment but Google is so all over the place these days that the feeling quickly passed.

Markets are in fact conversations (using some wise words), people are talking and Google just keeps on doing its own thing. It will catch up to them.


 10:04 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

My rep is out of town but the person covering told me Google's answer to my question on quality score. "That is the way it is. This is from the founders and is how they want it done." I mentioned I was basically going to have to close my account, and she was sorry to hear that.

That is what happens when you have a couple of kids running a company. They don't make business decisions, they make emotional decisions.


 10:05 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Another big advertiser checking in to say traffic and spend is down a lot. 10 cent keywords going to $10.000.

Fun times.

Few months ago they sent me a fridge, I'm thinking about sending it back with some dog "treats" in it.


 10:25 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think google makes more money with the old system (no quality score) than they will with the new. If the new system gives people exactly what they want on the first ad clicked then they will only get revenue from that first click. Not someone comparing 4-5 different ads. Its going to bite them hard when they realize this. And the backlash will probably get in the news shortly and kick down their stock price. Shareholders will demand reversing this horrible ill conceived and poorly explained quality garbage.


 10:56 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Is it not the case the those that have been hit the hardest are the people 'playing the system'? Sites that, in all honesty, add little value to the internet as a whole? Whether they be 'thin' affiliate sites or MFAs.

Is it not the case the those that have been hit the hardest aren't 'true businesses' in a traditional sense. I.e. businesses/web sites that wouldn't exist at all if it weren't for Google?

If Google are going to take Adwords forward over the next few years then they do need to clear out the 'spam'. Customers (the people who actually click on the ads) will surely lose faith in Adwords if they get spam results too often.

Seems to me like Google are cutting out the low-value-added middle men. (That's not to say that they won't go after the 'true businesses' next time of course)


 11:02 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Put another way, Google have used affiliates and MFAs to build massive profits extremely quickly, but for more sustainable growth they absolutely need to appeal to the mainstream advertising market who won't play the system and destroy it's credibility. Most of this huge market don't advertise online yet..


 11:04 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

The real foundation of Google is not the kid creating the algo, the surfer's feelings, the hairdresser at the plex, the pretty Google logo, the ad experience, the landing page, or anything else it is you and me - The SALESMAN - The most important aspect of any business.

They are forgetting that if you dump the guy who wrote great ad copy - who got the great CTR - who subsequently knows HOW to match surfer to product - who knows HOW to create the money - who then sends SOME of that money back to Google.

This is where Google's money is made. THE SALESMAN - YOU and ME!

They pay adsense and other sources for the traffic, then they have us sell it. We get a cut, they get a cut. If a salesman is good at what he does he should get a bigger cut.

In essence instead of raising my CPC "salesman's field expense" a few cents, they in essence fired me for being too good at working the system. Too good at delivering clicks. I'm good at working the system because I have worked with surfers for 10 years! I know how to sell product on the web. I know what a surfer will click!

[edited by: mona at 4:25 pm (utc) on July 14, 2006]
[edit reason]
[1][edit reason] See Terms of Service- thx! [/edit]


 11:10 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm a 'thin' affiliate and have'nt really been affected yet. Lots of the people complaining seem to be running 'real' businesses.

Maybe their algo just has a few bugs that still need to be worked out. )


 11:10 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's true that a lot of crud has been trimmed from the sponsored list.

However, I still see a lot of sites (yes, including MFAs) without content being allowed to still have their ads up.

Not sure how they escaped the penalty. They must be loving Google for giving them less competition.


 11:19 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Maybe their algo just has a few bugs that still need to be worked out

Perhaps like any Spam Filter it needs tweaking to reduce the percentage of false positives.


 11:24 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I fail to see how sites such as info-dot-com and mylot-dot-info are 'sites with substantial added value that lends to a positive end user experience'.


 11:55 pm on Jul 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I spoke too soon. The few terms I bid on all went up.
I was bidding on the name of the site. Went up 7x. lol


 12:11 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

You can tell its geeks running the show, not businesspeople. And I say that as someone who has spent an awful lot of time conducting 'geek training' over the years. Most of it with a long pointy stick.

These are children, barely socialised, and if they run true to form there'll be a lot of autism spectrum disorder on the payroll.

The sheer luck of being in the right place at the right time lead to a lot of money being thrown their way. I bet they think its easy. They think they can do what they like and everyone will forgive them - its 'only Google'.

I bet Microsoft are rolling round on the floor laughing.

A friend of mine was just berating me for not doing a stroke of work on my Adwords account for almost a year. Heh. There was a reason for that. Why invest time and energy on a company you already know will screw up bigtime first chance they get?

I just saved myself a year of wasted effort. Because I know Google, and saw the way they stuffed up the serps. I was only hoping they could hold off stuffing up long enough for MSN to get its PPC act together for UK nationals.

[edited by: Alex_Miles at 12:20 am (utc) on July 14, 2006]

[edited by: mona at 4:32 pm (utc) on July 14, 2006]
[edit reason]
[1][edit reason] Response to edit #:3006262 [/edit]


 12:18 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I wanted to come back to something from early in this thread...

Furthermore my landing page consistently gets bookmarked by close to 20% of my users Google sends me.

Maybe I misunderstood how Firefox works, but I thought that it automatically loads the Favicon.ico when visiting a site, whereas IE only loads it when somebody hits the "Bookmark" button and/or visits the site via a previously stored bookmark.

In other words, when IE was 99% of the visitor traffic to a site, Favicon.ico traffic pretty much equalled bookmark behaviour. But now that Firefox downloads the file on every visit, regardless of what the visitor actually did (i.e. whether they bookmarked the page or not) it could easily skew the numbers to the point of uselessness.

In the example quoted above, if 20% of your traffic uses Firefox, then there might be as little as 0% of people actually bookmarking the landing page.

Here's a little quote from Wikipedia that seems to confirm my hunch...

Originally, Internet Explorer only used favicons for bookmarks, which created a minor privacy concern in that a site owner could tell how many people had bookmarked their site by checking the access logs to see how many people downloaded the favicon.ico file. However, since newer versions of Internet Explorer and most other browsers also display the favicon in the address bar on every visit, that concern may no longer be relevant (current use of Internet Explorer version 6 on Windows XP only uses the favicon for bookmarked pages).

I'd love a definitive answer on this, though.


 12:24 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I was always under the impression that you couldn't accurately count bookmarks.

A friend of mine was just berating me for not doing a stroke of work on my Adwords account for almost a year.

If that's really true, how can you be surprised if your campaigns went dark?


 12:52 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Notice that AWA hasn't posted yet....


 1:22 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I also haven't been working to hard (for "that company") the last couple months and I'm real glad now too.

The part that hurts the most is: We all here on this board have spent a lot of time on a lot of kws to find a couple that get a decent CTR and more importantly convert to a sale. Do these kids realize how tough it is to develope a successful campaign only to see THE SUCCESSFUL ONES dismissed without cause or warning?

And YES it is the successful ones, that earned a good CPC and were perceived as being undersold that they "that company" went after here.

I'm not working for them anymore. "that company" works for me now.

There is obviously NO integrity in this game.

That reply a couple posts back from *(I decided to edit the name out of fairness) made me nauseus. Yeah I feel bad for my stuff but I'm small and resilient.

But to represent clients and have the pressure some of you folks here have and to then get a discusting, pandering reply like * sent this guy is really a sad thing. I actually felt real bad for the guy.

It is a helpless feeling a lot of us have right now.

Those KWs we lost were our babies. We created them. They were the one in 50 we tried that worked. We watched them everyday. We checked on them. We were proud of them. We LIVED OFF THEM. We TRUSTED "that company" like you trust a boss. To be fair with us. A boss in the work place would never lie to you like * lied to this guy.

This post may not be real professional but then again it doesn't seem to be about professionalism now anymore does it?

Yeah I'm upset. I'm very upset.

I lost ALL respect for "that company".

All respect!

[edited by: ohwell at 1:49 am (utc) on July 14, 2006]

[edited by: mona at 4:34 pm (utc) on July 14, 2006]
[edit reason]
[1][edit reason] See TOS [/edit]


 1:27 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've noticed AWA stays away from the controversial posts.

After all, s/he cannot speak for the entire company and its policies. AWA is here to assist with the little things that vex us from day to day.

Were AWA to interject opinions here, this thread would drag on back and forth with AWA restricted to following the party line to remain employed. Posters tearing AWA to shreds over the vagueness and generalities of his/her replies. It would get ugly.

That wouldn't be good. Bottom line though, there is no one to express our righteous vitriol to who is going to listen.

I've had many loud arguments over Adwords policy over the years but it hasn't gotten me anywhere. I'm heartened of course to see that there are enough gadflys here who may have a better chance of accomplishing change.

We've seen these ridiculous price jumps before. They've been testing pages through a 'bot since at least March 2006. My impression was it was only home pages then, not the actual landing pages. We saw another great price jump last year too.

I look back to what I was bidding vs. what I was getting 1-2 years ago and it makes me sad (;- My profit margins are being steadily eroded. It's not just bidding prices doing this, I believe searchers' confidence in Adwords is being lost due to the number of useless dynamic ads that show up for every search. Id' put the figure of useless ads at about 80% in the areas I'm involved in. Usually it's me and another person showing the hand-crafted, catchy, relevant ads that directly address the search query.

A smart company offers a "bargain" and gains business and respect from its clients. This gouging can only lead to short term gains. Some company will rise to fill in the gaps. Sadly, it doesn't seem to be MSN.

Going OT for a second to talk about SERPs, a friend told me how we kill ourselves using every "white hat" SEO technique out there and said look who's #1 in the SERPs in our field -- a free page with a couple of banners, that's it. Content is king is a noble concept, but it doesn't always pay off in the real world.

'bots can't judge your site correctly; there is no one site model that fits all situations. Human reviewers seem to fall short of the task too given the garbage in the top positions of Adwords and the obvious MFA sites which apparently pass muster.

Too bad our scruples prevent us from crossing over to the other side.... There is big money to be made there still, according to MFA and arbitrage forums!

Didn't mean to go on and on.. Really!


They say "Real Players adapt". I didn't say it, "they" do, whoever "they" might be ;)


 1:46 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Gee even with these changes ebay ads still show up for almost any noun you search for. And I might add that many many of them go to cr*p pages that have absolutly nothing to do with the query.

I guess you have to spend millions a month to stay in AW, not just a puny $300,000 ;-)

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