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Is it good for Adwords to be unpredictable for advertisers?

     
5:13 pm on Jul 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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What is the reason behind mcdonald's success for so long?
What is the reason behind starbuck's success for so long?
What is the reason behind any other franchise business' success(majority of it at least)?

One key differentiating factor for these businesses are that they are consistently predictable(their system make sures that you get your service consistently) for all their suppliers and customers, people want to deal with them and do business with them... because it is very orderly...

What is the reason behind Google's success? For sure for advertiser they consistently change things and frustrates tons and tons of advertisers.... or maybe its just hype.. and eventually the successful company fades maybe? Anyways, on the front end for their end users its pretty consistent that's at least one thing going for them....

Why do you enjoy going back to businesses that gives you consistent service? and is Google doing the same for their adwords customers?

Just want to see what people think....

5:31 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It goes way beyond just a feeling of comfort we get from predictability. Most businesses simply cannot perform basic functions without some degree of predictable revenue stream.

- you can't shrug your shoulders when investors ask you for your revenue targets
- you can't lease an office when you don't know if you'll be able to make rent
- you can't find, hire and lay off employees fast enough if your work and revenue swing wildly

And perhaps most relevant to Google, if you're an Adwords professional, you can't exactly tell your clients 'dunno' if they ask you what they can expect from your work.

It wouldn't suprise me if hubris and irrational faith in the power of algorithms blinded Google to this fact.

6:17 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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What is the reason behind Google's success?

Being able to deliver an audience.

You can argue over which came first--the chicken or the egg--but in the case of Google, the audience came first (and apparently still does).

6:21 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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If you look at where people click when it comes to PPC ads, these moves make more sense. The top few ads get a such a huge percent of the clicks. They have monetized the traffic now they are just cleaning it up. The people who fall off the bottom are just not worth much to them.
6:29 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm pretty sure Google doesn't see themselves as a McDonalds or a Starbucks.
6:35 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I must admit that google does have the audience. Only time will tell if this latest round will keep them on top.
7:14 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The people who fall off the bottom are just not worth much to them.

I think Google's possible *oops* moment comes if uncertainty causes advertisers to shift spend out of sites that were unaffected by the 'quality score'. I'm sure Google expected affected sites to get upset and take their spend elsewhere, but I'm not so sure they forecast the effect of uncertainty on unaffected sites.

I have several sites running on Adwords. Only one was affected, but I have been aggressively shifting away spend on all of them. I'd kick myself too hard if I let them ride and got burned twice.

I can't be the only one.

7:21 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Predictability, unfortunately, enables abuse. Transparency is absolutely needed (arguably much more than current) - but, only to a certain degree.
7:23 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I dont think the people hit constitute just the bottom

The only explanations I can think of for this algo change are:

1. they didnt know if it would work - and so they rolled it out on a few sites before full roll out hence the apparent randomness (they didnt mean to do what theyve done)

2. they are creating uncertainty in prices for a future stealth rise that is coming

7:26 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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that's why they don't hit the big businesses.

How many multi million dollar (Starbucks, McDonalds level brands) have been hit?

How many of the Amazon, ebay type advertisers send you to high quality relevant landing pages?

I think this answers your question pretty much. They really have decided they can do without you but god forbid they pull the same trick on anyone they consider big.

8:14 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I was hit to a smaller extent and I can see words where no one is there compared to before. But I have to think overall, people were dropped off and others moved up. If there was 7-8 advertisers and now they are down to 5, previous studies have shown that the lost revenue would be small.

I do not agree with how they did it. I just noticed that it probaly will not effect them. More people will sign up and their space is pretty full now.

8:46 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Predictability is GREAT.

It's really as simple as that. Main reason being that you can focus on other things instead of worrying about whether you will survive this day "unaffected".

For Adwords, predictability...

1) ...enables you to do a business plan based on assumptions that may be fairly right. Sure there is always a certain risk when you do business, but this should be within tight borders, not swings so wide that you can not predict anything at all.

2) ...enables you to do serious A/B tests to improve your campaigns. If traffic from campaigns swing too much, you can't see the difference. Hence you can not improve your campaigns, which affects the ROI for you as advertiser.

3) ...frees time to improve your site to have a better user experience (instead of wondering why 50% of your campaigns are inactive).

For Adsense publishers, by the way, is predictability also important, mostly for the same reasons.

9:47 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Compare G to the franchise model.

McDonalds lets an individual buy and run a restaurant as long as:
they run a store that conforms to McDonalds rules and regs.
In return the store gets the benefit of McD's name and advertising.

Google lets an individual buy advertising at a reasonable rate as long as:
they run a store that conforms to G's (vague) rules and regs.
In return the store gets the benefit of G's traffic.

Are they turning the advertisers sites into little franchises of the big G?

10:11 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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No, they just don't want the user to click on a ad for hamburgers and be taken to a page that offers little or no "useful and accurate information" on that topic.
10:32 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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No, they just don't want the user to click on a ad for hamburgers and be taken to a page that offers little or no "useful and accurate information" on that topic.

Unless that page is willing to pay $1 for that user, then Google could care less about the user experience.

I've been hit hard by the google changes, and i'm very frustrated by it, but what I feel is extremely wrong by it all was this...

1. They gave little warning about the changes. They may have posted it on some blog or it may have gone around WebmasterWorld 2 months ago, but not every advertiser knows about the blog or WebmasterWorld. They also should have given specific warnings to accounts before they shut them off.

2. Allowing a higher min bid to show your campaign screams double standard when you're preaching about user experience. If they are concerned about the user quality, and they find a bad page, they shouldn't allow the page at all until changes are made.

3. Just be a little more descriptive on what you expect from sites. I don't feel they should give away all their 'trade secrets', nor do I feel they should give you a step by step page on how to get approved. People will in fact abuse that, there is no doubt about that.

That being said, when you have two sites (greenwidgets.com and bluewidgets.com), both are identical in layout, colors, etc. The only difference are the affiliate codes on each page.. greenwidgets.com only has green widget sponsors, and blue only has blue. Yet one is considered low quality and the other is allowed to have .02-.04 CPC and rank 4-5 getting 10k+ imps a day, you tend to become a little confused.

When you ask them why one is ok and the other is not, they reply "ummm, you need to improve the quality score on the other".

That is not cool. I've spent the last week staring at my landing pages trying to figure out just why one is ok and the other is not. I've been making tweaks, changes, etc with no luck. I even pointed my ad to a completely different looking page on a completely different domain and the 'inactive' keyword price didn't change.

When you pay money to advertise somewhere, usually they're a little more helpful on telling you what you're doing wrong than something vague like "increase the quality score".

I've been searching this board for tips, trying to filter out the arguments going back and forth, but even the people who are defending the changes can't explain it. This isn't to you specifically EFV, but if someone has any idea or tips on what they may be looking for with these changes, i'd be thrilled to get a PM from you. My mind is spent, i'm drained, i'm clueless, and i'm losing money every day I can't figure it out. I'm not trying to 'beat' any system either, I want to know what they're looking for so I can make my sites that way.

Thanks for any help

10:55 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Google doesn't anticipate that advertisers will actually pay those unrealistically high minimum bids. See the statement on that topic in the second paragraph at:

[adwords.blogspot.com...]

This won't solve the problem of "What do they want?" (unfortunately, there's no simple answer to that question), but it does show that their goal isn't simply to collect an outrageous amount per click (as some WW members seem to believe).

Addendum: In your specific case, it sounds like the algorithm just isn't working right. With luck and enough bug reports, consistency will (should? may?) improve over time.

[edited by: europeforvisitors at 11:00 pm (utc) on July 20, 2006]

11:00 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It's pretty obvious they don't expect people to, but why give us the option?

It's because if people really want to pay outrageous prices, google will sell out and not care about the user experience.

It's like a band that is all about the art and music and won't change it for anyone.... until they see a big check, then suddenly they're re-writing their songs so they can play on the radio, tv, etc.

11:08 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It's pretty obvious they don't expect people to, but why give us the option?

Basic human psychology. It's like the technique the local children's hospital used when my 5-year-old son needed anesthesia. They didn't say "We're giving you gas," they asked: "Would you like strawberry gas or bubble-gum gas?" (or whatever the flavor options were at the time).

Public relations might have been a small factor, too. If you worked at Google, which would you prefer to read in the SEM press:

"Google announces landing-page quality scores, raises bids for non-compliant pages"

or:

"Google announces landing-page quality scores, bans advertisers."

11:09 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Addendum: In your specific case, it sounds like the algorithm just isn't working right. With luck and enough bug reports, consistency will (should? may?) improve over time.

Well I hope that's the case, but more in line with my inactive pages should be listed and not the other way around. I'm scared of that as well, so not only am I going around making changes to my inactive pages, i'm making changes to my active pages so they don't get slapped off the listings in the next round.

That's the frustrating part, they wouldn't even tell me. What kind of support is that? Are all my pages good and I should just wait it out, or are all my pages bad and I should be working on fixing them? Google's reply - "You should improve the quality score the pages that are inactive" Thanks Google Customer Support. Here is a tip for you, to save on staffing costs, just have a recording saying that very thing to all affiliates who call!

Sorry, i'm just a little frustrated by it all. I just wish I knew better what is good and what isn't. Even searching google doesn't tell me anything. In my niche (which isn't autos, so this is a random example) I can search for Toyota Camry and what will display will be 5 completely different results. Some will have info on the Camry, some will just be general Toyota, and some will just be a page on cars. That makes me want to smack my head into the computer because i'm clueless what they want right now, they're absolutely no help, and the adwords community usually holds their cards pretty close to their chest once they figure something out.

11:14 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Public relations might have been a small factor, too. If you worked at Google, which would you prefer to read in the SEM press:

"Google announces landing-page quality scores, raises bids for non-compliant pages"

or:

"Google announces landing-page quality scores, bans advertisers."

I can see that, seeing as they didn't have the class to do #1 in my complaint list, which was shoot out warning e-mails to advertisers who have pages that were going to be slapped by the inactive stick.

Had they done #1 and allowed people to clean it up before they made the change, the press release could be something like...

"Google de-activates numerous accounts in an effort to clean up their adwords / adsense search results"

Maybe who got the warning and fixed their accounts could sit back smiling at an announcement like that. Hey, saves people money with less competition, which is probably why those who didn't get slapped with the changes are thrilled right now.

1:39 am on July 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I took the door of the refrig they sent me and am using it for a large kitty litter box.

She likes cool kitty litter and it has gotten rid of the Google smell.

My cat and I feel better now, thanks.

5:34 am on July 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Dammit man!

I laughed so hard my beautician will retire on what she's gonna charge me to to fix the damage!

[edited by: Alex_Miles at 5:35 am (utc) on July 21, 2006]

5:43 am on July 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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How is it unpedictable. The rules were adjusted is all. They are not in ever-flux. This was a change that impacted some people, but the outcome and the future does not magically become unpredictable because of the changes.

If your price is $10.00 and you don't change anything, I can readily predict, your price will stay at $10.00.

5:48 am on July 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This thread is putting forth a great point. If advertisers cannot be sure to get the same price as others advertisers because of some unknown black box algorithm for landing page quality, they won't risk building a business with google. Plain and simple. Google is going to scare away business. Remember that its the small businesses that grew America and google is tossing them out.

Quality Score = New Coke = Major Blunder

I just read on the Googles YAHOO stock forum. Even google investors are posting that this is a bad policy and they are getting nervous about it. Sometimes you just have to admit your wrong and reverse a bad decision.

Without predictability you cannot advertise with google. Those that are sitting pretty and unaffected could be destroyed on the next algorithm.

Google professionals who advise clients, are now at risk of getting sued.

Its the most ridiculous blunder I have seen from a major company since the NEW COKE.

9:49 am on July 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I haven't been hit yet but that doesn't fill me with much confidence. It's the anxiety caused by the 'will I be or won't I be' notion.

I spend about $1000 per day on adwords and even though I haven't been hit I have spent the last week setting up campaigns on alternatives and moving the spend across. I will be moving my adwords spend away from Google and I am not even affected. I should have been more diverse in finding traffic sources anyway so this was also a wakeup call.

Even if I get hit and successfully appeal the prospect of who knows how many days lost business due to the uncertainty is not an option.

Google has shot themselves in the back big time with this, sure they may have got rid of some problem advertisers but I would say their bigger concern is the uncertainty they have created amongst those left behind.

No-one who is running a online business for the long haul is going to invest time and money managing campaigns that could be online oneday and offline the next. People demand some level of certainty and Google have just gone and blown it. I don't believe that I am unique at all in this position. The reason I am moving my spend is the uncertainty and that alone.

And those run of site 'quality' ebay ads they still have running just reaffirm the 'quality' stance as total deception. I am sure a few competition and pricing watchdogs are starting to stir and good luck to them.

3:23 pm on July 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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And those run of site 'quality' ebay ads they still have running just reaffirm the 'quality' stance as total deception.

Have you considered the possibility that maybe (just maybe) Google's algorithms aren't perfect? Or do you believe that programmers are infallible?

To each his own, but I tend to believe that the most obvious explanation is usually correct--especially when it's supported by historic precedent.

5:55 pm on July 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I do agree with chrisuk wholeheartedly, its no guarantee that this won't happen to folks who didn't experience this algo change...feels more like going into a bar nowadays... sometimes you get lucky sometimes you don't... and if you did get lucky.. there's no guarantee that you'll get lucky again.. hehe..

anyways... just a quick question for those who deal with their clients.. do you keep on changing what your clients are expecting of you? and what is the end result? do they love you more or do they get psssted?

I also just got a note from john r. that this algo change opens up an opportunity.. its true and also changes like these are for the better that's what most people say.. but with the ever growing expensive labor cost and time constrains that a business has to deal with, can you seriously spend so much time fixing your adwords account and not do the rest of the things that your business requires?

true that predictability brings abuse.. but unpredictability brings chaos... so who's the lesser evil... in the eyes of the advertisers?

maybe ultimately what most people are asking is that.. yes google can make an algo change as a system improvement to improve the overall quality but they would hopefully tell us in a clear and professional fashion that it is changing, what's changing and what to do to keep up...so as not to keep everyone in the dark.... in another thread some google rep did actually tell the advertiser what to do.. and it seem to have helped... why not just do this in a larger scale and inform all advertisers?

4:11 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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well, europe, theres imperfect and then there is incompetent to the highest degree.

For me, its the latter and with google there is no precendent.

Secondly, if it is an error, why didnt they roll it out on a far, far, far smaller level? I imagine they would have done if they were at all aware and not completely incompetent and arrogant - which i dont think google generally are.

To answer the thread, no, it is certainly not good for advertisers, which in turn is not good for google.

I would be slightly miffed if McDonalds started to switch things up at random, the difference is I am not too concerned with the ROI of my Big Mac.

6:13 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Have you considered the possibility that maybe (just maybe) Google's algorithms aren't perfect? Or do you believe that programmers are infallible?

For something as drastic as this where many peoples entire companies are at stake, I would expect a little better out of their algorithms. For the type of release they did (little to no warning), it should have been near perfect.

We're not talking about an online computer game where a bug in a patch just causes a little inconvenienced on the players of the game. We're talking about real lives, real companies, real people, and most importantly, real money. Many people (myself included) don't use Adwords as a hobby. It's a primary source of income, and to not announce these changes well in advance, then to release an imperfect algorithm shows how incompetent that company can be.

You're an adsense user, correct? Try picturing waking up monday morning and finding most of your channels showing little to no impressions (without any warning to you), and then you have to seek out information, find out google decided not only were they cleaning up Adwords landing pages, but Adsense pages and were no longer displaying their ads on pages that don't meet their criteria. You search all around for what exactly that criteria is, and can't find a solid answer. You call Google and they tell you "improve the quality score on your website, have a nice day". And there you are, left out in the cold with no income and no clue where to begin.

Would that bother you a tad? Would it bother you more if you seen clear signs of a broken algorithm like one channel being active on one domain, and another channel disabled on an identical site on a different domain.

And don't shrug this hypothetical question off like it can't happen, especially to you. Like I said, broken algorithm, so it's quite possible if they did make these changes, you could be in line to get hit and you didn't even realize it because you didn't have proper meta tags or something small like that.

3:30 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Vanillaice, I was responding to the statement that:

And those run of site 'quality' ebay ads they still have running just reaffirm the 'quality' stance as total deception."

That was the hyperbolic statement that prompted my response. What Google should or shouldn't have done with its software rollout, and whether people were or weren't hurt, are different issues altogether.

Also, this thread isn't about you or me, so whether I might be hurt by a change in Google's algorithms is irrelevant. (As a matter of fact, I have been hurt by changes at Google in the past; 70-90% of my Google referrals disappeared for two months last year.)

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