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Open letter to Google Regarding Changes to The Ad Words Program
kingfish




msg:3003368
 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.

Sincerely

Mark A. Libbert
Attorney At Law

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

 

Fortuneaff




msg:3006802
 7:41 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Lets be honest in the big world of internet marketing that has global reach you need to be more than a one man band doing your thing to compete with the big boys. Google is the same for the big guy as it is for the little guy. The only difference is how much time and money can the little guy put in vs the big players.

Congrats if you got in early 3 years ago and you have an account with significant history. Yes you should have got cheap clicks but those times are changing.

The big players are coming, and you need to choose your discipline that you are going to make your money in. If your a top ppc marketing person then specialise in this, get contracts with top merchants (who have high quality scores). Make your money in being able to buy clicks better than anyone else in your market.

You can't be a web developer, PPC marketer and a merchant and expect that you will be able to hold out against the tide of international competition. You are competiting against teams of specialists and Google is going to punish you if your not on top of your game in every way.

In the last few months I have found that I have successfully been able to do new campaigns in competitive markets and get cheap clicks from a start-up position. This is because I specialize in my sector and I get deals with established merchants who have no issues around quality scores on their websites.

So my advice is to stop complaining about what Google is doing and focus on being better at what you do than anyone else in your sector. Remeber you are competing against the other players on Google Adwords not Google (sometimes 20% CTR isn't enough.)

paperclips




msg:3006863
 9:30 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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

Add me to the list. I am also looking into more offline advertising options at this point.

Edwin




msg:3006899
 10:21 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Has anyone with Google Analytics set up on their landing pages seen the same dramatic increase in bid prices others are reporting?

Or could it be that Google *knows* what the traffic is worth if Analytics is set up and leaves the bids alone accordingly?

the_nerd




msg:3006903
 10:22 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Visitors cut by 30% today, spending up by 30%.

what about your conversion rate? Did it go up?

andye




msg:3006908
 10:26 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi folks,

I do agree with the sentiment. The key problem is that these days when you bid on Adwords, you're bidding into a black box - you can't tell what it's going to do, how they might change your bid in the future, or what you're going to get for your money.

Google's always been cagey about their natural search results - for completely valid reasons - and this secrecy seems to be ingrained in the company culture so that paying customers (in some cases paying very large amounts) get treated as the enemy by G.

I'm not saying they're not nice people - a good friend of mine works there and I'm sure they are - but it's clearly very far from being a customer service culture. The message I get from Google (and I've been advertising with them since the early days of Adwords) certainly isn't "The customer is always right" - it's "Like it or lump it".


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

After all, s/he cannot speak for the entire company and its policies.

I think that's a big part of the problem - there is no-one from G who communicates effectively with the community of Adwords customers on policy issues like this. The standard of customer service is very, very poor - it's more like a domestic telco than a blue-chip providing a business service.

By the way, we don't seem to have been affected at all by this update, so there's no sour grapes here.

All the best, a.

Lady Seraphim




msg:3006913
 10:34 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Has anyone with Google Analytics set up on their landing pages seen the same dramatic increase in bid prices others are reporting?
Or could it be that Google *knows* what the traffic is worth if Analytics is set up and leaves the bids alone accordingly?

I have Google Analytics running on my site. The majority of my keywords have been pushed up, although not all of them. The greatest hike has been from 0.02 to 5.00 on a large number of keywords. Looking at what people spend here, I would say I'm mid-range. It's frustrating because I'm not an affiliate, and I'm not an MFA. I have unique content, but it's obviously not deemed 'quality' enough.

Roll on the new system at Yahoo because that's where I'm headed....

johnnydequino




msg:3006914
 10:36 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have an idea for google that can eliminate all this confusion. Why not just be truthfull, and change the terms and conditions from it's current vague warning to say:

"Your landing page does not matter. If you want to get on the first page of Google, all you need is deep pockets. We are only interesed in companies that can overspend and don't care about a positive ROI."

Truth does hurt, but we are all adults here.

jd

hdpt00




msg:3006985
 11:58 am on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google is the same for the big guy as it is for the little guy.

WRONG. Look at the poor ebay, shopzilla, shop.com ads still running.

This is a barrier to entry because they are able to keep their 5 cent bids on keywords like "dead squirrel" while I send people to quality landing pages and am getting asked to pay $10.00.

[edited by: mona at 4:57 pm (utc) on July 14, 2006]
[edit reason]
[1][edit reason] See TOS [/edit]
[/edit][/1]

Joybro




msg:3006991
 12:04 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have spent about $550,000 with Google Adwords over the last 2 1/2 years and they are definitely going to lose all my business with this new system they have in place.

I am sure their are hundreds just like me...

They have become so greedy with their adwords program that they are going to run off their "bread and butter" loyal customers. I too can't get a response from my accts rep who was previously very accessable to me.

Google amy think they are the kings of the Internet but much bigger companies have been brought down with these type of foolish policies.

Erich Winnecke

the_nerd




msg:3007015
 12:29 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I hope this doesn't stretch the topic too far, but did someone ever feel he shouldn't tell the adwords / adsense guys what he'd really like them to know - out of fear to be kicked out of the organic listings?

SE / Adwords / Adsense all in one hand, cards always close to the chest - and now this. Maybe some antitrust authorities should look into this before it gets out of hand. It was once commonplace to produce movies and own the theaters, to pump gas and sell it to customers directly. No more.

Imagine 2 companies.

One (Google Search) provides organic searches and sells ad space to another independent company (Google Marketing, or Yahoo or someone else). They mistreat you, you sue them. No worries about SEPRS. Nice dream, isn't it?

<wake up, pal />

RhinoFish




msg:3007096
 1:09 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

search G for...
mangled baby ducks

can see it's a poor eBay ad for baby ducklings...
and likely broad matching at that...
wonder what they're bidding...

[edited by: mona at 4:58 pm (utc) on July 14, 2006]
[edit reason]
[1][edit reason] See TOS [/edit]
[/edit][/1]

Web_speed




msg:3007303
 2:07 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

We are looking for sites with substantial added value that lends to a positive end user experience.

They should have added:
"But you know what, we don't really give a damn about user experience when we get paid 1000% or more per click..."

Or a better one "pay us well enough and we will look the other way..."

vincevincevince




msg:3007306
 2:07 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Have any of you considered that maybe Google has learnt that to succeed means to be different. A pack animal only gets its share, if that.

If Google has decided that Ads have got to offer a whole lot more than buy buttons then that is being different. It will make more users click on ads because they will know that good information is at the end of the ads. Many sales result from customers looking for pre-sales information. At the moment they are more likely to try to find the manufacturer's site in the main SERPS because what they get at the paid ad landing pages is about as much use as a mechanic asking their client for the component code for any damaged or worn parts.

Do not imagine for one moment that a poor quality uninformative affilate sales page reflects well on Google, whether you see it from natural or paid listings.

Which stores have the best reputation in the brick & mortar world? Those who have cheap prices and churn out the stuff as-is? Or those who take the time to train sales staff and provide in-store literature to explain, advise and provide information about their products?

This isn't Google targetting advertisers for no reason. This is Google saying "I don't want shabby stores with curt service in my shopping mall",

Some of you will listen, learn and go on to manage much more effective campaigns than you had previously. Others of you will not be willing to give the whole 'be nice to the user' approach a go and will, of course, lose out in the long run.

wmuser




msg:3007313
 2:12 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am wondering if Google has reacted anyhow to this letter?

bwnbwn




msg:3007314
 2:14 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have read this through and can't help to wonder all the post say I have spent this amount and that amount over this time period, so what have you made over that time period?

Could it be your greed coming through and not Googles....

I spend over 300,000 a year on advertising I opted out of the content match due to the complete crap we were getting charged for and I am sure there are many more advertisers feeling as I am...

It is way past time for this happen as far as I am concerned....

As with any change there are ones that get wacked and there are ones that don't.

Green_Grass




msg:3007327
 2:23 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Some of you will listen, learn and go on to manage much more effective campaigns than you had previously. Others of you will not be willing to give the whole 'be nice to the user' approach a go and will, of course, lose out in the long run."

So we should start over..get a new domain, new host new ...,new.... and then maybe Google will assess our sites as high quality and allow us to do business...

It seems it is impossible to improve our existing landing pages to suit their requirements. What is done is done... and it is irreversible from Google or our end...

Widestrides




msg:3007341
 2:31 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Is it a fact that not everyone has had their minimum bids raised? Some advertisers are still paying 25 or 50 cents per click?

So I got hit because my sites were deemed to be of poor quality? Or because my CTR wasn't high enough?

Because no one can afford to pay $5-$10 per click and expect to make a profit, unless you are selling cars or some really big ticket item.

Thanks.

pdivi




msg:3007390
 3:04 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Some of you will listen, learn and go on to manage much more effective campaigns than you had previously. Others of you will not be willing to give the whole 'be nice to the user' approach a go and will, of course, lose out in the long run.

vincevincevince, you might be right -- IF landing pages / user experience is really driving the changes we're seeing. Based on what I've seen on my accounts, there is little correlation between landing page format and getting slammed with crazy minimum bids. On the other hand, there is very high correlation between high ROI KWs and the changes. Basically, Google hit the accounts that were getting CPC bargains, but rasied bids beyond any hope of profitability. The only way of managing it (that I can see) is to optimize towards low ROI, which is a tough one to swallow.

Alex_Miles




msg:3007871
 5:15 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am wondering if Google has reacted anyhow to this letter?

No. But their shareholders have. The price looks like its started into freefall.

moose606




msg:3007889
 5:27 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I would suggest that instead of spending large sums on advertising, spend it link development and conversion testing. Increase organic traffic, and conversion. In my experience this is the best long term investment.

netmeg




msg:3007895
 5:32 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Is it a fact that not everyone has had their minimum bids raised? Some advertisers are still paying 25 or 50 cents per click?

Yes, it's a fact. My accounts are still unaffected, and I have several thousand words running under ten cents.

No. But their shareholders have. The price looks like its started into freefall.

The entire market has taken a dive the past couple days, particularly tech stocks. From Marketwatch this morning:

"Shares of leading Internet companies traded lower early Friday continuing the downward slide ahead of second-quarter earnings reports.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index mirrored the downward trend, falling more than 10 points in early trading to 2,043."

That includes Google, Yahoo, eBay, and Amazon. I don't think you can blame it on this.

mcavic




msg:3007920
 5:50 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

The entire market has taken a dive the past couple days

The entire market has been falling sharply since the middle of May. And you can't say that a stock is freefalling without looking at the two year chart. Google is near $400 right now, which is really just a blip.

Is it a fact that not everyone has had their minimum bids raised?

I'm bidding 0.13, and my average CPC is 0.08 to 0.10.

toomer




msg:3007930
 5:57 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

The price looks like its started into freefall.

Nah - it's just tied to the pullback that Nasdaq & DOW are experiencing. Dow is down almost -4% one the week, and Nasdaq a bit over -4%. Google is right in line with that, so I'd say it would be hard to describe their price pullback as being anything other than just moving in conjunction with the market.

Insomniac




msg:3008195
 9:36 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Let's consider I was in direct mail advertising. Does the post office open my direct mail pieces, examine them, and based on the contents determine the postage?

Adwords is direct response advertising and Google has taken it upon themselves to determine the look and feel of YOUR website and let's not forget they have graciously given you permission to pay them as well.

The arrogance

whoisgregg




msg:3008281
 10:36 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Is it a fact that not everyone has had their minimum bids raised?

I only had 3 keywords that had their bids raised (from $0.10 to $0.20/$0.20/$0.30) and when I saw them I just deleted them as they were actually very poorly targeted. It was a campaign targeting broadly related industry keywords and somehow some very specific and stupid keywords made it in there.

Other than those, no other keywords affected and I have loads of keywords that are still at $0.10 and performing great.

netmeg




msg:3008358
 10:59 pm on Jul 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Let's consider I was in direct mail advertising. Does the post office open my direct mail pieces, examine them, and based on the contents determine the postage?
Adwords is direct response advertising and Google has taken it upon themselves to determine the look and feel of YOUR website and let's not forget they have graciously given you permission to pay them as well.

Where do you get that idea? Direct mail advertising is direct push-to-customer advertising, and unless you are advertising in a card deck or other compilation, it's entirely your own advertising going out, therefore entirely under your own control.

Google is selling advertising on THEIR website. A magazine, or a billboard company, or anyone else who is selling advertising on THEIR OWN real estate almost always reserves the right to refuse advertisements, or charge according to who is advertising what and how they're doing it. Local periodicals - like city culture mags frequently charge "adult" advertisers more than they do local businesses.

What's more, they aren't doing anything really that the other search engines aren't doing as well - they're just doing it more ham-handedly, and on a much larger and more noticeable scale.

rbacal




msg:3008492
 12:05 am on Jul 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Let's consider I was in direct mail advertising. Does the post office open my direct mail pieces, examine them, and based on the contents determine the postage?

Actually, the post office has rules for what can and cannot go a different classes of mail, so, in a sense, if you don't meet the requirements for the lowest bulk mail rate because of your contents/weight etc, you pay more.

I haven't done that stuff of a long time, so I don't remember all the requirements for the various types of mail. Check it out.

ronmcd




msg:3008542
 12:36 am on Jul 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google is selling advertising on THEIR website. A magazine, or a billboard company, or anyone else who is selling advertising on THEIR OWN real estate almost always reserves the right to refuse advertisements, or charge according to who is advertising what and how they're doing it. Local periodicals - like city culture mags frequently charge "adult" advertisers more than they do local businesses.

I agree, but google are doing the equivalent of charging more for one adult advertiser than another purely based on how the advertiser runs his own business. How I setup my site (my shopfront in effect) is frankly my business. Why should it look like identikit-shopfront-#6? Why should I change my business to look like someone elses based on the opinion of a programmer?

Not that we actually know what they WANT our shopfronts to look like. "just make it better!". Right, thanks a lot. Bye...

1Lit




msg:3008604
 12:41 am on Jul 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google's software just does not work. They have increased our bids to $10.00 for the name of the store we are bidding on, whereas terms like "Werckmeister Harmonies Damnation" which is not mentioned once on the landing page is still at $0.05.

Google have wiped out 90% of our keywords in one swoop - and most of them are highly relevant to the landing pages :(

This is the most absurd development I have EVER witnessed in PPC.

rbacal




msg:3008804
 1:18 am on Jul 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree, but google are doing the equivalent of charging more for one adult advertiser than another purely based on how the advertiser runs his own business.

Actually, probably that's not true. You don't know what parameters google is using. I've said this about five times here already (and I might as well give up), but it's almost certain that the algo uses a number of interactive variables, including onpage factors, keywords, ad copy, advertiser behavior, and so on to:

DETERMINE WHETHER YOU FIT A PROFILE OF SITES THEY HAVE BUILT THAT THEY DON'T WANT.

It may have something to do with the way you do business (if you in fact ARE a sight they intentionally want to exclude, or it has nothing to do with the "way you do business", except that your "score" indicates you resemble the profile.

In one sense, if you're losing money, exactly how google is doing this doesn't matter, but I sure wish if people were going to discuss the how's and why's, they attempted to understand how algo's and things work.

simey




msg:3008809
 1:20 am on Jul 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I would'nt want to have to constantly change my business in order to suit an advertising firm who I was PAYING to run my ads. Once you start down that road....

If you're raising the price, just admit to raising the price. (or are prices reduced for some and I missed it?)
There are planty of places to advertise on the web w/positive ROI. Just takes a little research.

If this does get rid of the MFA's, I give them points for that though.

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