The Adwords Red Bar of Death Is Killing Me

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Ever try navigating within your PPC account and seen this?

red bar of death
It’s affectionately called the “red bar of death” by PPC advertisers, and it used to show up relatively infrequently. Starting about a month ago, I noticed more and more tweets on the PPC Chat hashtag from people saying they were seeing the red bar of death. Most of the tweets at that time were from our friends in the UK and Europe, so I figured something was going on over there.

Then I started seeing it myself, more and more. Then I saw this:
adwords down
And this:
adwords down again
Mountain View, we have a problem.

It seems as though everyone is seeing the Adwords red bar of death:
rbod tweets

It’s gone beyond ridiculous at this point. Twitter users point out that the issue happens in nearly every instance of Adwords daily usage: in every browser, navigating from one campaign to another, filtering, segmenting, editing… the list goes on. And nothing we do seems to make it go away for more than a day or so.

Adwords has maintained near-silence the whole time this has been going on. Last week, after the tweet I sent in the image above asking why the silence, they finally sent me a direct message on Twitter.

The DM contained a link to report the problems I was having. Finally! I thought. We can all get a resolution on this, if for no other reason than to bombard Adwords with form fills from the sheer number of PPC pros having this problem. So I tweeted out the link.

I promptly got another DM from Adwords – this time, asking me to delete the tweet. Why? Because apparently they handle these issues on an individual basis, so the form was meant for “specific cases” only.

Fair enough. But newsflash, Adwords: TONS of users are having the same problem, and it’s gone on for weeks! Why create a form meant for single users when this is a nearly universal problem? It almost seems like you’re underestimating the extent of the issue.

To their credit, Adwords did send me a public link to contact support, and I deleted my earlier tweet and sent this out instead. But this is just a link to their general support options. We all know how well that works (i.e., it doesn’t). Meanwhile, we’re still getting the red bar of death and other errors on a daily basis.

Hey Google, in case you haven’t noticed, the holidays are fast approaching. PPC advertisers need to get all their holiday campaigns teed up, launched, and managed. We don’t have time for continual outages and errors. Several people said they couldn’t access their shopping campaigns at all yesterday. That’s a major problem.

This fiasco is yet another indication that Google may be getting too big to fail. And it’s not the first time we’ve gotten terrible support from Adwords. But this goes beyond silly feature announcements and uneducated reps. This is a system-wide, worldwide outage that’s been going on for at least a month.

Adwords, it’s time to step up and fix the platform that’s your bread and butter. Now.

What about you? What have you done when you’ve gotten the red bar of death? Has Adwords reached out to you individually? Are you noticing any patterns in when it happens? Share in the comments!

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  1. It actually seems to have improved for me again. I’ve hadn’t had an error in the best part of a week now, though sometimes it is *very* slow compared to what it should be (and I check other sites to make sure it’s not my internet connection and it never seems to be).

    Though I have had other Google / front line support problems lately that have driven me totally to distraction (a blog post will follow if I can prove my suspicions…)

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Interesting. It was your tweets that initially made me aware of the problem. Maybe there’s hope?

      Can’t wait to read your post on the other support problems. It’s a never-ending saga. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Even more annoying: The message about AdWords being down for maintenance has its own URL. If you reload that page, you only reload the message. Using the back button leads me to a page that says I don’t have access to the account. The only way back is to go over the MCC and then click on the account again. Then everything is fine… but if it’s fine anyway, then why tell me the system is down in the first place?

    It’s incredible how Google seems ignore such huge problems with its moneymaker AdWords, but they seem to have developed a routine for such things. Managing shopping campaigns over the interface has been a nightmare from the start, with long loading times often followed by the “red bar of death”. Still, Google Shopping is probably a huge success for Google. It’s inconvinient and it drives up the cost for handling AdWords, but apparently this isn’t a big enough motivation.

    We’ve had a somewhat similar behavior from Google in Germany. A court ruled that Google Shopping didn’t comply with German law since shipping costs weren’t visible without a mouseover. Advertisers who actually had shipping costs were at risk of being sued by their competitors. Google “evaluated” the problem for four months. Some advertisers got sued, some stopped advertising – but the vast majority ignored the problem and was fine.

    As annoying as it is – Googles way of doing business seems to work for them.

    • I agree shopping campaigns are a joke, and Google’s attitude sucks big time.

      Interesting about the shipping thing in Germany, I didn’t know that.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      I think you hit the nail on the head. These things are problems for us, but not really for Google since the money keeps rolling in – even when they are in violation of local laws as in your case. Too big to fail.

  3. I mentioned this on Twitter, but I thought a comment on your post would be helpful as well for others reading it.

    Adwords support got back to me and suggested I try using a Chrome Incognito window to access the clients I was getting the RBOD on. Surprisingly, this actually worked so if you are stuck and waiting on Adwords, give that a try.

    Admittedly, I don’t love jumping through hoops for simple campaign management, but in this case I was just relieved to get access to Shopping Campaigns again. Hope it works for others until the real problem gets sorted.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Thank you for posting here, Kirk. I’ll definitely be trying this the next time I get the RBOD. We shouldn’t have to do this, but we also need to get our work done.

  4. Pretty much EVERYTHING I DO generates an RBOD these days. I figured it was personal.

  5. I see that I am not alnoe!

    Adwords support really said that you should try using Incognito window? Nice help, really 😀


  1. […] After issues with the Red Bar of Death (#RBOD on Twitter), I heard back from Adwords support to try using an Incognito window in the […]

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