Yes, Google Still Hates B2B Advertisers

Google’s annual big Adwords announcement conference call was held this past Tuesday. As usual, I held low expectations for any great news for B2B advertisers. And as usual, I was right – Google still hates B2B advertisers.

I’ve written about this before, in 2015 and in 2016. It’s getting to be an annual event, as here I am in 2017 still talking about the fact that Google still hates B2B advertisers.

As per usual, Google’s announcement focused on features that are great for large, B2C, ecommerce-focused advertisers, with little to nothing of use to B2B advertisers. One new feature I was interested in was Google Attribution, a machine-learning model for attribution. Attribution can be a bear for B2B lead gen advertisers with long sales cycles. It’s hard to decide which model to choose, because there are so many touches across multiple channels in the buyer journey. Machine learning could be helpful in answering the attribution question for B2B.

Problem is, there are huge minimum data standards to be able to use this feature. According to Marketing Land, “In order to use it, accounts must have at least 15,000 clicks and a conversion action with at least 600 conversions within 30 days.”

Wow. Many of our B2B clients, even those with high click volume, struggle to get 60 conversions in 30 days, much less 600. 600 conversions on 15,000 clicks is a 4% conversion rate. That’s really high for B2B, where search is often one of the first steps in a long journey towards making a big-ticket business purchase decision. And with CPCs in B2B approaching $10-20 or more, that’s a huge monthly budget – $150,000 at an average CPC of $10 per click.

In essence, all but the largest B2B advertisers with high conversion rates are priced out of machine learning attribution.

So many of the other announcements just don’t apply to B2B: measuring store visits is a non-starter, for instance. Google Surveys is an invitation to a customer service nightmare for B2B businesses that are often ill-equipped to handle online badmouthing.

AMP for Ads is a head-scratcher for me – not only are there documented issues with AMP, as Julie Friedman Bacchini describes in this post, but we’re still struggling to get several of our B2B clients to even think about mobile, much less dip their toes into AMP. I know it sounds crazy that in 2017, advertisers are still not equipped with mobile-friendly landing pages, but it’s a fact. We have more than one client who is opting out of mobile entirely until they can get mobile landing pages up and running. The thought of introducing AMP to them gives me a headache.

Buying through Google Assistant, or any other voice search technology, is laughable for B2B. No one is going to ask Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri: “Find me an enterprise level data management system, please.” These are large, considered purchases – you’re not ordering books or hair care products, you’re ordering multi-million dollar business systems, medical equipment, software, etc. While we do see voice searches in B2B, they’re early-stage queries that have little impact on immediate purchases.

Nor do most B2B advertisers care about in-store visits. Many don’t even have a store. Those that do have customer-facing locations are not equipped to handle large volumes of foot traffic or phone calls. While in-store traffic is great for retail and pizza, these features just don’t make sense for B2B.

The announcements weren’t all bad for B2B. Google Optimize is ok, although many B2B advertisers prefer to use a third party like Optimizely or Unbounce. Unique reach metrics are good for media-heavy advertisers who use the Google Display Network – I actually had a client ask me for this number last week, and I was unable to provide it. In-market audiences for search looks interesting, although I’d need to see what audiences are available. In the past, I’ve found few choices for B2B in in-market audiences in the GDN.

In short, Tuesday’s event left me feeling left out. Again. As I do every year. It’s clear that yes, Google still hates B2B advertisers.

What did you think of Tuesday’s announcements? Anything you’re excited about? Any B2B applications you saw that I didn’t think of? Share in the comments!

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