|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.
| 1:56 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
|Let me know when you are impartial and *maybe* I'll listen to you. All you do is defend google all day long, |
Nope. You've got a selective memory. I'm not even "defending" Google in this case--I'm merely pointing out that Google obviously made its decision for what it thought were good reasons. You may not agree with Google's decision--or with the rationale for the new landing-page policy--but, as I said earlier, the decision clearly wasn't made in a vacuum. From Google's point of view, the new policy makes sense. That's the reality, and it demands a realistic response.
| 2:04 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
I'm a little confused here, I can understand the smart pricing thing to a certain degree with the adsense program, Google want publishers with relevant content for the ads and rewards ( in theory)those that do with higher payouts. But to go after adwords advertisers who are paying the freight in the same manner is insane. Business is self regulating, those that do a good job selling their product or service stay in business, those that sell crap, do bait and switch or have terrible reputations don't. The advertiser's only responsiblity to any medium that hosts an ad is to pay for the space, Google's stance would be like the New York Times not accepting an ad because the company worked out of the back of a half ton.
| 2:47 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
|I'm not even "defending" Google in this case--I'm merely pointing out that Google obviously made its decision for what it thought were good reasons. You may not agree with Google's decision--or with the rationale for the new landing-page policy--but, as I said earlier, the decision clearly wasn't made in a vacuum. From Google's point of view, the new policy makes sense. That's the reality, and it demands a realistic response. |
Whilst I defend your right to speak as you see fit. I am convinced from this thread and others that if you are not an ardent supporter of Google, you at least relish the role of devil's advocate.
How can you justify using the words obviously and clearly in your post unless you have some kind of inside or divine knowledge. There is nothing at all obvious or clear about this quality score (or for that matter much of what happens in adwords) and that my friend is essentially the issue.
| 3:17 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
|The advertiser's only responsiblity to any medium that hosts an ad is to pay for the space, Google's stance would be like the New York Times not accepting an ad because the company worked out of the back of a half ton. |
I don't know about the half-ton (or THE NEW YORK TIMES), but media frequently reject ads that don't meet their standards for whatever reason. PLAYBOY used to reject ads for deodorants, for example (not to mention condoms and other sex-related products). Many newspapers won't run ads for gun shops, tobacco products, or NC-17 movies. Ads with "excessive cleavage" can be rejected. Media often place restrictions on where and how alcoholic beverages are advertised. Advertisers may not always like such standards, but they've learned to live with them.
|There is nothing at all obvious or clear about this quality score (or for that matter much of what happens in adwords) and that my friend is essentially the issue. |
You're misrepresenting what I said. I didn't say there's anything obvious or clear about the quality score. What's obvious is that, from Google's point of view, the new policy makes sense. Otherwise, why would Google be stirring up a hornet's nest and sacrificing short-term revenues?
| 3:22 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Ok so they reject ads for certain things. But when I have an ad for widgets with relevant landing page and ebay does to, same exact widget, we should be treated the same.
So essentially you proved our point. Thank you for playing.
| 3:30 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
|You're misrepresenting what I said. I didn't say there's anything obvious or clear about the quality score. What's obvious is that, from Google's point of view, the new policy makes sense. |
No, I don't believe I misrepresented anything that you said. You used obviously and clearly as universal statements of fact, not as assumptions of Google's intent. If this does not represent your true sentiments then I suggest you consider editing your post. Semantics I agree, but relevant none the less.
[edited by: chief72 at 3:32 am (utc) on July 16, 2006]
| 3:31 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Wrong, there is no comparison. Google is selling what amounts to as classified ad space, text ads that are A-Z by topic for everything but porn or gambling ( there maybe other ads they don't take, but I'm not aware of them). The advertisers are not being refused because of what they sell, their copy or content of the ad. If their copy meets all Googles requirements the advertisers obligations to Google should end there, Google has no business telling them the don't like the color the front door is painted.
| 3:41 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Otherwise, why would Google be stirring up a hornet's nest and sacrificing short-term revenues?
Because they've seen the Visigoth looming over the horizon?
They have, I think, some specific companies in mind to try to put out of business - whose imminent expansion or continued existence puts a spoke in their own plans. We are the collateral damage.
Google has no business telling them the don't like the color the front door is painted.
Yes. Don't you find it interesting Google feels it necessary to control which business models are used in its ads? It has a definite preference for large companies and a definite aversion to other kinds. It is seeking, I think, to choke particular business models because an efficient future stranglehold on them would prove impossible.
You complain your landing pages are all quality yet you consistently say you don't want anyone but people who buy now. You are exactly the kind of vendors that Google wants to weed out. Regardless of how much you don't like it.
Yes. Google would need to weed out the 'vendors' that catch the sale immediately and cheaply. That way the shopper can return time and time again. KER-CHINGGGG!
Your job is to take traffic
Really. Thats our job? Whats yours, Aeiouy?
[edited by: Alex_Miles at 4:09 am (utc) on July 16, 2006]
| 4:01 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Aeiouy, I guess our two minds are wired completely different on this issue. Not that it's a bad thing your posts have really made me think about my thoughts on the matter since we differ so much on this topic.
Of course not everyone is ready to buy, that is a given but would you agree or disagree that it is beneficial to:
a) write ad text that attempts to appeal to your ideal customers aka interested parties who are closer to buying and those who are ready to buy as opposed to using ad text that attempts to attract clicks from every single person remotely interested in your products or services?
b) use the information you've collected from existing customers and through testing different page elements and content to provide more accurate information to those on the fence and requiring specific information and details in order to get a higher percentage of visitors to buy?
c) that spending money on advertising without attempting to be profitable is kind of well...silly?
d) that is is impossible to satisfy every single visitor and make the user experience pleasing for everyone. This does not mean to not consider non buyers but that attempting to please everyone is a fruitless pursuit?
Finally, if having a good conversion rate, low amount of refunds and satisfied customers is not a measure of quality, then in your own words what is quality?
What is your appraoch and view on creating quality for your search audience?
I'm really interested, hopefully I'm not coming off sarcastic in my message just interested to get your thoughts on these isues since the view point expressed by many is not one you agree with.
| 4:59 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
I agree that Google must have felt this was a good thing for them. Maybe if there was any mistake, it was overbroad results of the bot changes. Or maybe exactly what they wanted. No way to know.
The reasons about quality are just mystifying to some of us, because we have reviewed the guidelines and feel we comply, yet our keywords were "inactivated". Some have already had quality reviews and simply been given the link to the guidelines again. Thats just not helpful :)
One of my friends redid her whole landing page top to bottom in a 14 hour sleepless night. Called back and evidently a belief is held by some people (nameless, non-specific people to hopefully avoid being edited), that nobody can change their whole page for review overnight. Oy. Wha'zat mean?
I think thats where so much frustration is coming from, plain and simple. It's like me bringing my car to a repair shop and saying "something is wrong with something on this car. Repair it" lol
| 5:35 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
I typed in Heroin and Suffering, yup sure enough those are real ads. I guess it's all about quality eh google.
Hey europeforv, why don't you just go work for google.
| 6:17 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
I think the experienced MFA's and affiliates will adjust to this much better than the smaller 'real' businesses.
(who have set adv. budgets, limited keywords they can use, limited traffic sources, don't have an employee devoted to kissing SE butt, etc.)
time will tell!
| 6:50 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
After 5 months of using the adwords program with 2 sponsors I affiliate with, it was a good month (June, and now July) to stop using Adowrds and see/test whether I needed adwords or not.
I made it through, a little bit slower than normal for one of my key sponsors, but near normal for the other. So from what I hear now on this board, the sytem has been destroyed, and I shall now remain out of the Google Adwords loop.
No more raising my CPC. Hurray!
| 7:57 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
I hope Google gets it right and kicks out permanently all those advertising for stuff that nobody wants to see.
Some advertisers are also publishers and their ads are horrible to see all over the place, so getting those oout is a first important step.
Some advertisers just run horrible scams, getting them out is another important step.
That will leave the regular businesses. And if you think Google is going to be foolish and tell yoou exactly how they will find the difference between a crap site and areal you've not dealth with fraud before.
| 8:31 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Alex_Miles, our firm has no special relationship with Google. We manage spend on Google, use the API to do so, and don't really lean on them too much for anything. We work on our clients' behalf, get paid 100% of our fees from our clients and manage to our clients' goals.
I don't want to minimize the pain everyone's going through right now; it's clearly the case that many, if not most of you have been sc@&#*d by Google. I'd like to make a few points, though:
1)Google is math. They make a minor or major change to the AdWords ranking algorithm every few weeks. We're always having to try and figure out how their system has changed so that we can react and take advantage of what opportunities their new algo presents. I think that going forward, advertisers who want to thrive within AdWords will need to find a way to understand the math behind AdWords better; if not, then the advertiser will have a hard time. [NOTE: I'm not saying that it's reasonable for Google to expect advertisers to do this; in fact I doubt Google thinks that's even a possibility for most of their advertiser base.]
2)Perhaps Google is softening up its advertisers in order to get them to use Google Checkout, Google Analytics, or Google's CPA-based pricing. If I were Google and wanted to encourage use of products that lock advertisers into a long-term relationship with me, this would be one [very inconsiderate] way to get there.
3)I personally don't think Google is making this change to boost short-term revenues. I believe most of you have said you're pulling back on AdWords spend rather than acquiesce to drastically higher min bids; this makes me think that this will be a net negative for Google in the short-term. Does anyone disagree with that? Just my opinion.
| 8:49 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
I've said it before, I'll say it again.
Anyone using Google conversion tracking or analytics is INSANE.
Why would you give this extortionary company the keys to your kingdom.
"Oh look, Bob is paying $17.98 on average to convert a $50 sale." "I think we can squeeze a lot more out of him"
Bam...raise in minimum CPC.
All my successful long running, well converting campaigns got hosed. My other not so great campaigns stayed the same...why?
I track my competitors...numerous times I have seen competing ads go down but yet my CPC goes up. Why? To pick up the slack?
In my opinion Google has a serious blackbox going on to manipulate the rates of their advertisers.
As a public company I think Google is seriously on thin ice but what will be done...
Google was in the news this week again, for what?
Because Google's owners were fighting over their 767 custom fullsize party plane.
You think perhaps they've lost the plot?
Nah...they're your friendly Google buddies! Don't be evil, right?
| 10:18 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Wake up folks - this is not about the quality of your site! This is about Google maximizing revenue.
aeiouy, you make some good points but they fall apart as do all the quality site and user experience arguments with the following:
If Google was concerned about quality sites and user experience, then they would not say to advertisers, "Pay me $5 or $10 per click for your ad and I don't care what your site looks like or what experience the user has, you'll be back up and reactivated in no time."
And, why is it that my site is a bad experience for only some keywords but just fine for others? I can assure you that it's not because my site is more relevant to those keywords that Google has found to be acceptable and less relevant to the others it has deactivated.
My theory is that Google has done their math and come up with an optimum number of AdWords ads or an optimum range of bids for each keyword that will maximize revenue and they are applying it.
And you know what? I can't argue with that. If I were them, I might do the same thing. Most of you would too. That's business. Why should they run a bunch of extra 5 to 10 cent ads, when running the same 8-12 or so 20 cents to $3 ads will bring in more revenue?
But they are not being up front with us and giving us the truth. Maybe because their lawyers told them to play it this way.
| 11:34 am on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Widestrides, I think you have it exactly right. This is just basic pricing strategy to maximize profit, which is Google's duty to its shareholders. It's just basic business -- the only thing evil about it is the phantom of a quality score, which is adding insult to injury by wasting peoples' time by encouraging them to change their pages.
Say you were Google looking at a market where you knew (from your Analytics data) that profit/conversion was $10 and average conversion rate was 5%. Say some lowballer with a 2.5% conversion rate figures out how to sell into that market using an obscure keyword he can get for $.01/click. Then a competitor with an average conversion rate of 5% also finds the keyword. What will he bid? $.02 There is no incentive to bid any higher because that's all they need to bid to be #1.
The scenario -- a keyword with an average breakeven value of $.50 selling for a maximum of $.02 -- represents a huge loss of potential revenue for Google.
So, Google raises the minimum bid to $.50. The lowballer can't afford to hang on, so they drop out and visit message boards to debate user experience. Their competitor can (barely) afford to hang on at $.50, resulting in more than a net 10-fold increase in revenue for the keyword for Google.
Given the potential gains, why would we expect Google to do anything differently? The 'do no evil' promise? Give me a break.
| 1:07 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Google can and will do whatever it determines is in it's best interest for long term viability.
Changes can and will happen violently at anytime and many people can attest to this on the search and adsense sides as well. Whether you spend 250m a year or 250k is irrelevant. They will do what they feel is in the best interest of THEIR company.
I say THEIR company because that is exactly what it is. They owe you nothing, they do not owe you a explanation, they do not owe you a reason, you are entitled to nothing.
If you built a business solely around cheap 5 cent clicks ---> to affiliate sale / mfa, you got what you should have known was coming.
I applaud Google for this move, coworkers and myself can clearly see a large increase in the quality of search ads on THEIR search engine.
I say THEIR company because that is exactly what it is.
| 1:17 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
|If you built a business solely around cheap 5 cent clicks ---> to affiliate sale / mfa, you got what you should have known was coming. |
I dont think many will argue with this. But thats not whats happened, and I question if its what they were even trying to do.
| 1:44 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Exactly, this is NOT what happened.
It is a DESCTRUCTION of small eCommerce, that happened. Those guys who pay wholesale $20 for a widget and sell it for $50. With $0.50 click and 3% conversion (i.e. 3 out of 100 users buy, i.e. $17 to G$$gle per sale), plus minor overhead you get about $10 profit on each sale. With ad prices at $5.00, you are out of business, period.
And the same goes for people who sell $20 and $200 widgets, no exceptions. Profit margins on G$$gle traffic just got destroyed - this is what happened.
| 1:50 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
Yeah, they specifically targetted small merchants claiming that landing pages were 'Poor'..
Big Merchants are all O.K.
They specifically looked for 'small' merchants in this new algo and knocked them off, so that clicks and biz. goes to only the biggest players...
| 2:03 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
IMO Google are lazy. Period.
They should require quality from adsense publishers first and not from advertisers!
[edited by: mona at 4:08 pm (utc) on July 16, 2006]
[edit reason] TOS #14 [/edit] [/edit][/1]
| 2:22 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
While we are wandering off topic a bit, I agree with the previous poster that better policing of the quality of the content network websites should be a higher priority than it is.
While I understand that advertisers can choose to not be part of the content network for advertising, it is also true the nearly ubiqitous display of "ads by google" across all kinds of sad little sites has to have an effect on googles on branding. I suspect that if Coca Cola doesn't want to advertise on Google, its because of the implied association with those content network websites, not because of the implied association with other advertisers.
| 2:48 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
|If Google was concerned about quality sites and user experience, then they would not say to advertisers, "Pay me $5 or $10 per click for your ad and I don't care what your site looks like or what experience the user has, you'll be back up and reactivated in no time." |
But how many advertisers who have been affected will pay $5 to $10 per click? Not many. Google's tactic of using an economic incentive will achieve the same objective as a ban would, but without requiring an actual ban. It's a bit like the give-'em-a-choice tactic that a children's hospital uses with kids: They don't say "You're getting gas," they say "Would you like strawberry gas or orange gas?"
|While we are wandering off topic a bit, I agree with the previous poster that better policing of the quality of the content network websites should be a higher priority than it is. |
That's probably another item on this year's to-do list. If not, it should be.
| 3:38 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
|IMO Google are lazy. Period. |
Bingo! Google are the cult of the algorithm. Which is why they are so profitable. You can't blame them for being lazy, can you? (Sure, you can be unhappy with it, but that's another topic.)
|They should kick a$$es of all these webmasters, who display adsense on their $hitty sites and make content network not a good place to strike a sale. |
They should require quality from adsense publishers first and not from advertisers!
Speaking as an AdSense publisher who has a few older low-quality (but not spammy) sites and is working to create a few great sites, and is thinking about using AdWords in the future: Google should demand nothing of either side of the transaction other than basic rules of engagement - rather, they should give both sides of the transaction the ability to control ad cost, placement, etc. In effect, Google should be creating an open market in which they are merely a facilitator.
As it stands, Google is an interested party and cannot claim neutrality (well, they try, by using algos to determine quality, pricing, placment, etc. - they think they can shift blame to the 'objective' algorithm - as you can see, people aren't buying this.)
If both sides had proper control over their respective domains, then Google would be nothing more than a facilitator linking a buyer (AdWords advertiser) to a seller (AdSense publisher) - and the market could take care of itself - but because Google insists on maintaining control over a number of factors that ought to be in the hands of the two parties, Google finds itself trying to manage quality in order to keep the whole thing from collapsing due to some people gaming the system on both sides. Falling quality == increasing irrelevance, and Google can ill afford to become irrelevant.
Not to mention the possible conflict of interest that will come with Google's expansion into new markets.
Because Google use algos to determine and/or adjust ad pricing and placement, and taking control of the transaction, both sides of the transaction lose control over their business -- the result: well, we see the result here on WebmasterWorld -- lots of pissed off AdWords advertisers, lots of pissed off AdSense publishers. Many are upset with Google, and now we see people attacking the other side of the transaction.
I assert that it is Google's level of control that creates and sustains this misery level. It is Google's self-interest and understandable reliance on the almighty algo and the ensuing gaming of the system that has created the current atmosphere of frustration and mistrust. And this is Google's weakness.
Any advertising program (YPN, AdSense/AdWords, etc) that allows the facilitator to control pricing and placement is likely to suffer a similar fate.
| 3:58 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
The guy about 20 posts ago that discussed the ads showing for "heroin", "suffering" and "void"... those weren't jokes... they are real ads.
We can talk until we're blue, but there's no way to draw sound and REASONABLE conclusions, as business people, while those examples are easy to find.
| 4:06 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
It's true, do a search for heroin....
notice the ebay ad...
Where's the quality there Google? eBay is this what you want to be known for, Heroin?
| 4:13 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
|It's true, do a search for heroin.... |
notice the ebay ad...
Where's the quality there Google? eBay is this what you want to be known for, Heroin?
Got it! I did a screen capture, wish we could post images here.
| 4:22 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
|Got it! I did a screen capture, wish we could post images here. |
Send it to the N.Y. Times or Washington Post.
| 4:24 pm on Jul 16, 2006 (gmt 0)|
if the media mentions this anywhere, I guarantee you google will revert.