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Google AdWords Forum

    
Are you dependent on Adwords?
particleman




msg:3724706
 1:50 am on Aug 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just curious to hear others thoughts on this. That past 3 months we have experienced a total of nearly 1 month downtime with adwords. The first incident was a result of someone in our organization falling victim to a phishing scam and our account was compromised and run up several thousand in bogus clicks. Our account was offline a total of 3 weeks to clear up the issue and reactivate. The past week we were offline for 10 days for something that we really got no explanation for other than being "under review". We are a typical ecommerce site that sells a custom product, nothing special. No scams or grey area type ads we run, cut and dry ecommerce. 2.5 years as a rock solid adwords advertiser.

We as a business have found ourselves to be so dependent on adwords that this combined month lost has dramatically affected our sales. Simply put adwords converts the best for our product, yes we run yahoo, msn ads also, but adwords is by far the best. It really bothers me that our entire business is basically at the mercy of Google. If we aren't getting ppc sales, the next biggest source of sales is Google natural searches :( Talk about having all your eggs in one basket.

We have to take responsibility for some of the down time, but I find goggles’ response and remedy time to be unacceptable. Nearly 3 weeks to credit an account and reactivate, after the first week we would have been grateful to just have our account activated again and suck up the fraud clicks. This doesn't even take in to account the revenue Google lost for having us down. What do you do though in this case? Yelling through the phone at the company that basically sustains you and your employees sounds a bit like playing with fire. Believe me it took some restraint this last episode to keep our cool.

So with that said I'm curious to hear if any others have similar situations?

 

coachm




msg:3724751
 4:12 am on Aug 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

No. In my view it's even questionable whether you actually run a business. It's likely that if you don't change, your probably won't have a business to run sooner or later. You have a broken business model.

NOW is the time to reassess and fix. And I'd say the same for anyone who is in your position, or in a similar position, reliant on a single third party (e.g. ebay, or amazon).

YOU need to control your business. Don't give anyone else the ability to bankrupt you.

..or probably sooner then later, they will, not intentionally, but...

particleman




msg:3724873
 1:27 pm on Aug 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, questioning the legitimacy of our business then responding "reassess and fix" isn't helpful. At least if you're going to insult my integrity in public offer some solid suggestions how to branch out from a successful PPC campaign.

Green_Grass




msg:3724884
 2:18 pm on Aug 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

We have a small online biz and have gone through a disaster when hit by the QS thingy when it was launched. We had no recourse but to stop adWords for 3 months?, I think.

We tried to set up an affiliate network to promote our website. We tried Yahoo, bought some ad space on some popular local portals and did some offline marketing. It worked, but was time consuming and more expesive than adwords.

We went back to adWords when we got back our high QS after 3 months or so. The intervening three months taught us the value of backups, which we have now put in place.

(we also now have a good high organic listing, which also helps)

coachm




msg:3724981
 4:57 pm on Aug 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

particleman, no insult intended. My criterion for what constitutes a business is whether an intelligent, hard nosed business person would invest money in it. I wouldn't invest a penny in what you are doing, because if adwords no longer works you have nothing but debt.

Business is a tough place. As for giving you suggestions, stop thinking of what you do as an "internet endeavor", and start thinking of it as a business. Unless you want to hire and pay a consultant who you can share your business details with, nobody can give you anything but almost useless general suggestions.

In the end it's your money. Either you'll learn how to do things better, you'll get lucky and nothing will go south, or you'll fail. If I was you I'd go after the first.

toddb




msg:3725156
 11:33 pm on Aug 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes we are in the exactly same boat and I have no idea how to fix it.

limoshawn




msg:3725207
 2:16 am on Aug 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I live in the Midwest and many, many businesses and towns in my area were in past decades as reliant on highways and railroads as a vast majority of businesses are today dependent on the traffic (no pun intended) they receive from Google. Nobody would have said that those towns and businesses that depended on the roads and railways had a flawed business model, but eventually as the roads moved and the rails grew over, the towns and businesses failed. Simple fact of business, things change, nowadays faster than ever. It's not a bad idea to be on the Google highway today, but you better keep an eye out for where tomorrows road will be!

OddDog




msg:3725347
 9:28 am on Aug 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

diversifying away from google traffic is actually a very hard thing to do.

Obviously you go for organic as well as ppc traffic, but as the OP clearly stated both are dominated by google ( I am aware that some niches are not google traffic dominated, but these are few and far between).

If its an online business, well seems to me your stuck. If its a physical product you sell maybe the solution is to find real world outlets, thats a question of added value.

Or simply take some of what this google dominated business gives you and replant in a new more diversified field. Or new sites in different niches, so if one goes down the hole your still able to pay the bills.

Its not nice to have all your eggs in some eles basket!

netmeg




msg:3725569
 2:31 pm on Aug 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

80% of my client base is primarily (print) catalog driven; while losing AdWords would definitely put a hurt on, it wouldn't put any of them out of business. Most of the rest are heavily dependent on it - if they lost their AdWords accounts, it would be pretty iffy.

I've only got one client who is really almost completely dependent on AdWords for his entire business, and we're actually looking at other advertising possibilities - unfortunately, most of the ones we'd like to use (affiliate marketing, television, newspaper, radio) are still somewhat outside his budget. The plan is to build up enough cash flow with AdWords to be able to start testing some of these other things.

My clients get really annoyed with me because I'm like a broken record - "no single point of failure" - until something happens to prove my point.

kbba04527




msg:3726179
 7:45 am on Aug 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Join the very large club!

TravelDog




msg:3726219
 9:26 am on Aug 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Before it happens check your site regularly:
[google.com...]

dertyfern




msg:3726245
 10:19 am on Aug 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

There's no such thing as diversifying traffic sources for the average small to medium sized online pure play. Google is, for all purposes a monopoly and as such will continue to squeeze it's low-end client base and weed out the marginally profitable business they offer.

We used to spend many, many dollars with them but simply refuse to play into the QS trap. We've re-routed the money to Yahoo--which can be very effective with time--and back into SEO'ing Google.

I guess that you just have to find what works for you. If adsense works for you be happy and keep it--it doesn't for many. We always test other traffic sources and especially work to find ways to re-market to existing traffic.

Edge




msg:3726295
 12:44 pm on Aug 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm on the publisher side and have always searched and employed alternative revenue streams. I simply refuse to be completely at Google’s or anybodies mercy for revenue. To me, single source revenue is the same as single source failure. Unfortunately, juggling multiple tasks and revenue streams is hard work, however Google and others could close their doors tomorrow and I would not face financial disaster.

mattb




msg:3726300
 12:57 pm on Aug 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

You could try Shopping Comparison Engines, email newsletters to reactivate existing customers, and advertising in print magazines that are targeted to your vertical. This would help diversify your traffic. In our case it helps but Google still provides the majority of traffic.

skweb




msg:3726320
 1:38 pm on Aug 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Particleman, relax. Whether people like it or not, Google is the largest when it comes to sending both natural and paid traffic to websites.

Could it do some things better? Absolutely.

There is nothing wrong with your business or your business model simply because today it is "facilitated" by Google. To somehow say that there is anything wrong with it is naive because if Google were to disappear tomorrow, others will take its place.

However, till such time Google is here, we must exploit the options available to us.

arieng




msg:3726415
 3:44 pm on Aug 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Particleman - I've worked with clients in your situation before, and they've almost always been companies that were 'one-sale-wonders'. They'd sell a customer a product once, but rarely (or never) sold to that person again.

AdWords is an amazing customer acquisition tool, but if you're paying to acquire a new customer on every sale then you're living in a difficult and dangerous world. If I were you, I'd focus all of my attention on fleshing out your product offering and building repeat business through loyalty programs, direct mail, memberships, and even email/RSS programs. (I know many here think promotional email is the devil, but it can be done ethically and profitably).

Try to get to a place where new customers account for 20-40% of your business. That way, if your acquisition model goes belly-up then you at least have some wiggle room to develop your next plan.

Good luck.

toddb




msg:3726676
 11:30 pm on Aug 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

arieng - Awesome reply.

trinorthlighting




msg:3727060
 12:39 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

First thing you can invest in: SEO...

Why pay for top placement when someone can help you get there with some good old fashioned white hat SEO.

Second thing you can do, open a real walk in retail store. Get some local business to support your internet business.

Third thing, realize the world of advertising is a lot bigger than adwords. There is print ads, radio, telivision, etc... Expand your thinking a bit.

farmboy




msg:3727109
 1:26 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Looking at this from the publishing side, I've noticed a growing trend of negative/pessimistic threads over on the AdSense board. I simply look at this as the result of something that has low barriers to entry. Almost anyone can become an AdSense publisher, even those who shouldn't be. Then when things start crashing around them, their complaints show up on the board.

Reading this thread, I can't help but wonder if the same thing doesn't happen to some extent on the AdWords side.

No offense intended towards the OP. I liken it to college entry requirements. Everyone doesn't belong in college and having entrance criteria helps to eliminate those who would show up then drop out when things get tough.

AdWords is just a business tool. If there's not a good business base, AdWords isn't going to save a dependent business model.

FarmBoy

maximillianos




msg:3727144
 1:46 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Newsletters are the road to independence.

If you can build a successful newsletter, you have captured an active audience that is both interested in what you have to say/sell, and not dependent on any search engine!

I just wish I followed my own advice 8 years ago. I've let newsletter lists build up and then go stale many times... Now that I see the light... It has become my #1 priority to build my list back up and keep it fresh and interesting.

My goal is to have as many newsletter subscribers as I get in daily traffic... At the rate I'm going, that will take me 5-6 more years!

But I'm a patient man... ;-)

farmboy




msg:3727183
 2:23 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Newsletters are the road to independence.

I agree.

The secret is being confident enough to write what you think/know and share it with others while being humble enough to realize people aren't going to take the time to read something just because you send it to them.

FarmBoy

bwaldman




msg:3727552
 8:01 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google is crack and we are the addicts. I manage marketing for a pretty large small business ($20MM+) and we are totally at google's mercy. We are extremely aggressive in attempting to diversify in MANY ways including sales, marketing and product, but at the end of the day, Google is still keeping half our company employed.

It is bad that this is the world we live in, but it wasn't when our website started in 1998. Like other's have said, this is no different that the offline world. Google is Walmart. When retail manufacturers decide to sell through walmart, they are choosing the same dangerous path. Doesn't mean they are wrong to do so, but nobody is happy either way.

night707




msg:3728416
 9:42 pm on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

particleman,

The failure of MS and Yahoo has enabled a giant, allmighty monopoly which is a current threat to many businesses.

At this time you may still have the option to invest not only into adwords. Why not put some funds into developing a backup infrastructure for those days, when mighty G will hit you again with this thing or that thing.

Google is not immune to massive Algo failure, questionable product modifications etc. so that maintaining a bunch of sites for various purposes and situations might help you out when big G will be after you.

Tourz




msg:3728484
 12:05 am on Aug 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

particleman, I think you just experienced the net's version of a natural disaster. These things happen.

I think paying for AdWords traffic is fairly rock solid in the world of online business -- much more so than depending on natural SERPs, which are just bonus these days. But it depends on your business model, margins, and how good your site is.

Diversifying your sources of customers is great if you have the time to get it set up. No job or business is a sure thing these days, just go for it, always keeping an eye on your other options.

cagey1




msg:3728588
 4:51 am on Aug 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

FBI Agent: "Willie, why do you rob banks?"

Willie Sutton: "Because that's where the money is."

For better or worse, Adwords is where the money is.

dublinmike




msg:3731301
 10:29 am on Aug 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Very interesting topic, Particleman I am of the opinion that Adwords dependency can possible reduce a site's organic SERPS. Therefore I steer clients away from Adwords advertising, and if they have to advertise online there's lots of options like CNN etc who have nothing to do with your SERPS.

I realise this is a serious accusation, but I believe I have seen relationships between Adwords spend and SERPS popularity follow patterns.

On a broader note the health of any company shouldn't be dependent on a single source of customers, but of course you already know that.

The biggest 2nd source, and cheapest to reach could be those who've already bought from you leveraged in the correct way.

D_Blackwell




msg:3740980
 2:28 am on Sep 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I find goggles’ response and remedy time to be unacceptable. Nearly 3 weeks to credit an account and reactivate, after the first week we would have been grateful to just have our account activated again and suck up the fraud clicks. This doesn't even take in to account the revenue Google lost for having us down. What do you do though in this case? Yelling through the phone at the company that basically sustains you and your employees sounds a bit like playing with fire.

Little guy pretty much has to 'suck it up' with big company or monopoly company. We ship USPS heavily, and our local office now is one of the worst run that I have ever seen. I'd like to 'go postal' on them all but we smile and pretend to love their third-rate attitudes.

Good analogy limoshawn. If the road or train closes - that's life.

My clients get really annoyed with me because I'm like a broken record - "no single point of failure" - until something happens to prove my point.

Anyplace where one lives and dies on 'single point of failure' is inevitable disaster. One customer that represents a disproportionate percentage of sales, one employee that knows and does everything in a key aspect of the business.....

Try to get to a place where new customers account for 20-40% of your business. That way, if your acquisition model goes belly-up then you at least have some wiggle room to develop your next plan.

A great goal, but much depends upon the niche. I have a site that lives on repeat business - it costs money to get a customer and we work hard to keep them. I also have a site that lends itself to one-shot sales. Referrals from positive customer experiences is the best that can be reasonably hoped for. Some niches are one-sale businesses.

First thing you can invest in: SEO...

Why pay for top placement when someone can help you get there with some good old fashioned white hat SEO.

Second thing you can do, open a real walk in retail store. Get some local business to support your internet business.

Third thing, realize the world of advertising is a lot bigger than adwords. There is print ads, radio, telivision, etc... Expand your thinking a bit.

If we had this kind of cash, we'd be retired. Have to settle for diversification. Multiple sites, multiple niches; spread the risks, look to hit a jackpot/cash-cow along the way.

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