Adwords Support Sinks To A New Low

Back in the good old days, when I was doing in-house SEM, we had a dedicated Google rep to help us with our account. While the reps changed pretty frequently, each and every one of them was helpful and knowledgeable. They got to know our business quickly. A few of them even became friends.

About 4 or 5 years ago, Google decided to centralize Adwords support – and they took away dedicated reps from all but the largest advertisers. People have complained about the poor support for years – one guy created an entire blog just for one post complaining about Adwords Support. I’ve done my share of complaining about them, too.

Still, if you work for an agency, sometimes you get lucky enough to have a rep assigned to you on a quarterly basis. Just this week I had a call with someone who I initially thought was our new quarterly Adwords Support rep. As is typical in agency life, we’re really busy and I was hoping to get some help with PPC grunt work.

Wrong.

While the rep I spoke with was very nice, it turns out he deals strictly with new business. He can’t even help me with existing clients at all (despite my repeated requests).

Think about that for a minute. Google’s most proactive reps now are dedicated solely to new business. They can’t even touch existing clients unless they are ready to – get this – increase their spend by 10x. So, if my $25,000 per month PPC client suddenly decides they want to spend $250,000 per month, Google’s all over that. How many clients actually do that? Heck, I wouldn’t even recommend that big of an increase in most circumstances – there’s way too much risk involved. But unless I’m ready to pony up 10 times the cash, I’m stuck with general support.

So, I asked the rep what their “new business” service entails. Since they can’t help me with clients who ALREADY HAVE THEIR CHECKBOOKS OPEN TO GOOGLE, I thought maybe they had some amazing new biz services to offer.

His answer? Are you ready for this? Here’s the extent of their new business offering:

  • Basic education about Adwords. He did admit that for agencies, this usually isn’t necessary. Duh.
  • Initial campaign setup
  • Bid management for the first 90 days – on a daily basis if you’re spending $25,000 per month and up; on an every-other-day basis if you’re spending between $10,000 and $25,000

Yep, that’s the end of the list. No reporting assistance, no strategic insight, NOTHING that would be useful to an agency. Basically, they’re doing crap that I can do in my sleep.

And they’re not doing it as often. Managing bids every other day on a new account? Are they crazy? A good PPC manager will be on top of bids MULTIPLE TIMES PER DAY in a new account, because things can go south that quickly. I don’t care if you’re spending $20 or $20 million – every other day in the early days doesn’t cut it.

Needless to say, I didn’t take the guy up on his “offer.” I told him this whole premise is totally backwards. We need help AFTER launch, not during it. Many clients are just dipping their toes into the PPC waters when they sign on with an agency. Those who have done PPC before are often gun-shy due to poor management by another agency. Does Google really think I’m going to take a gun-shy client, whom I’ve sold on my PPC prowess, and then let Google set up the campaigns? Can you even imagine the disasters those campaigns would be? All broad match, terrible ad copy, targeting search & display together… the list goes on.

Sorry, Google, but in my book your “support” leaves a lot to be desired. What about you? Have you had good luck with Google’s new business team? Share in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Amen! Google seems to be getting so much pressure from Wall Street to improve the revenue numbers that they’re putting the cart before the horse on AdWords support. Sad.

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      Yeah, it was pretty clear to me that this is all revenue-driven. The rep all but said as much. Crazy.

  2. I had a very similar experience. When contacted by the rep I initially spoke with him about some Youtube campaigns that aren’t getting anywhere near the expected number of impressions. He reminded me that he is NB only, and I appealed one more time for support using the chicken and the egg argument – If we can’t drive success on the GDN then we have no case for recommending it for new business. No dice, and still no impressions, clicks, or spend on that Youtube campaign. (last time we asked for help for NB he acknowledged that GDN wasn’t a good resource for that audience and started making search and remarketing recos)
    Not too long before that I had someone claiming they could offer support for a search campaign but it turned out to be sales pitches of features I already know about and weren’t relevant for the client. (CPA bidding for a client that is awareness based and has no conversions, sitelink extensions for a flash website with the same URL for every page)
    It’s not that hard to see that the best way to drive growth is by helping the people who are already advertising with you do so more profitably.

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      The poor guy must be tired of everyone he talks to begging him for the same stuff. :) Lifetime Value 101: Grow business from your existing customers. Google apparently hasn’t learned that yet.

  3. Also once while I was out of town at a previous job, the dept head decided to pass the work off to Google and tell them to launch a new campaign. As you predicted above, it was a COMPLETE disaster. Lots and lots of spend with little to nothing to show for it.

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      Not surprised! I’ve never had a Google-created campaign that didn’t cause me 2x as much work as if I’d just done it myself.

  4. I’m lucky in that if I call on my MCC number I get the dedicated Spanish team in Poland. If I call on someother client’s numbers I can get Dublin or Morocco.

    I know most of the guys in Poland and they are great. The always get back to me if they can’t solve things straight away – the same cannot be said of Dublin and Casablanca….

    And in terms of best practices I get a lot of calls from them asking if I have new clients… it seems that their reps targets are based on new accounts only.

  5. To expand on my Twitter comment, here is one of my favorite exchanges, ever…

    Background – my client has a service area business with one physical location and serves a 4 county area outside a major metro area. We had campaigns for specific services + specific towns & zip codes that brought in lots of calls. Not super high traffic, but effective for the client. When Google changed their location function/setting a while back, suddenly these campaigns all had Low Traffic Volume warnings for all keywords along with the alert that the ads were no longer being triggered. I wondered why and if this was hurting the overall account. So, I called for some guidance. The conversation went something like this:

    Me: Hi. It seems like our geo-specific campaigns are no longer triggering any ads – can you help me figure out why?
    GA: Yes.
    Me: Ok, what is happening?
    GA: Your search terms are not triggering any ads at this time.
    Me: I can see that by the alert. They used to and now they don’t, can you tell me why?
    GA: The traffic volume is low.
    Me: Yes, it has always been low, but it used to trigger ads that performed well for the client. Are you saying these campaigns will no longer trigger ads?
    GA: Probably not.
    Me: Ok, what is your recommendation on how to capture similar traffic then?
    GA: Create a broad or modified broad match campaign and use our new, better geographic settings to restrict where it is seen.
    Me: That isn’t the same thing and would be difficult to execute with the same precision we’ve enjoyed previously for a term + a location. Our customers may be in one town, say at work, and searching for service in another town for their home. Targeting for that just with geo settings will be iffy at best. Is this our only option?
    GA: Yes, I think so.
    Me: Ok, I’ll have to think about this. One last question – is it hurting our overall account in any way if I leave these campaigns running?
    GA: Probably not.
    Me: Probably not or no?!?
    GA: Probably not. You can do whatever you think is best.
    BLAM – Sound of my head exploding. How am I supposed to figure out “what I think is best” without solid info from Google?

    This is pretty typical of the types of conversations I end up having with Adwords support probably 80% of the time. I find them maddening and I am a PPC professional. It is frightening to think about how accounts without experienced people managing them fare. More money for Google I’d guess if people just follow their “advice”.

  6. Sad,

    My initial reaction from your story is it seems like Google support is going to go hand-in-hand (or hand in yo’ wallet) with the push for Enhanced Campaigns, e.g. going after the small “pizza” shop. So, they are going to get this huge push for “pizza” shops loaded into Adwords and like you said just broad match keywords and worse I’ll wager no conversion tracking. So, then theses small guys can’t even measure the effectiveness of their Google Adwords Account :(

    And worse for us #ppcchat ‘ers is it will water down our skill value.
    @gravymatt

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      Sadly, you’re probably right. I guess a zillion pizza shops nets Google more money than us agencies. Sad.

  7. We have had the same thing happen with the New Business account rep thing. It is annoying.

    Surprisingly though I just had a good experience when I called into Google. I was shocked!

    Restructuring one of the account for a client (which seriously needed it). In doing so arbitrarily some of the new ads (duplicates of old ones) were disapproved for saying we needed a phrama cert (PS I hate the stupid Pharma cert stuff). Well that rep on the phone said she would submit for them to be checked again and then said after looking at the site she would submit for an “informational pharma cert” and would do so for the other main account as well.

    One day later I got a follow-up email from her saying they were both approved and the ads were being resubmitted for review. I did a double take then listened to make sure I didn’t hear the Twilight Zone theme song playing in the background.

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      Wow, that’s great! The last couple times I called general support I also had good luck and they were actually able to solve my problem. I just wish we had someone we worked with regularly who knew our clients, instead of having to educate the general support reps over and over again about client goals.

      • Mel,

        I totally agree with you. I miss dedicated reps. It makes me miss being in-house. Every sales position I have been in, and every company I have helped I would much rather help a current customer become more successful than to have to beat the pavement to find a new customer/client. I don’t understand why Google does that backwards. If only a petition on change.org would change this but alas, I doubt it will ever be so. :-)

  8. OMG! I just had the worst call I’ve ever had with two agency reps that have been assigned to us for the next 6 weeks. After that, who knows? Probably some new folks we will have to get up to speed….again. This is our third set in as many months.

    We were very transparent with them on our introduction call saying:
    +Don’t send us links to Help Center. When we reach out to you, the answer is not there or anywhere in your resources.
    +Keep us informed on betas, etcs. We are interested and want in on these. We know what we are doing, we can handle it.
    +Don’t send us optimizations with single kws, broad matches and ridiculous bids in them.
    +When we ask for help with ad approvals, the issue is escalated and clients are not happy. To which they responded, “please don’t email us, call the 1-866 number bc we can’t handle all the emails we get. Only reach out to us as a last resort.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You are the rep, we are your customers. They need to stop using gmail and use a real email system for business.

    They basically said their “framework” wasn’t set up to handle really custom solutions for agencies. (Then you should revise your framework, cause it is not working for us and not allowing us to do more business and increase spend.)

    Right after this call, I had a bi-weekly set up with my brand Google reps and thanked them for not being arrogant jerks. Most of our accounts have vertical reps or brand reps that are actually very good and we have good relationships, but agency reps and their servicing could definitely use a little enhancing.

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      WOW Lisa that is unbelievable. Or actually it’s not – it’s par for the course. You are totally right, though – their system is failing agencies in a big way, and we are probably spending more with them as a group than the mom and pop pizza shops. We should be their best friends b/c we are actually out there trying to get people to use Google. Go figure.

    • Katy Tonkin says:

      Lisa & I were on the same call yesterday. It was terrible.

      The thing that had me scratching my head still about this whole darn thing this morning is how many businesses does Google think are out there that will come to them (through an agency) w/$25K and say “Please, take my money and do with it what makes YOU the most money.”

      So I did some math…
      - they staff a single FTE on 600 or more agencies/accounts every quarter
      - each rep lands 3 of those illustrious $25Kers a month (1.5% CVR based on 600 accounts/quarter for you PPC’ers)
      - that’s $10.8M spend/year that Google just made per rep.
      - Google staffs 200 of these people all over the globe and they’ve just boosted their revenue $2.1B or 5% YoY revenue growth.

      So who care’s how many of these businesses like this – they just need 7200 this year. Spread your people thin and have them find the lowest hanging $25K. Wow. Just wow.

      BUT…they did say they recently redesigned and restaffed the Support Line so that it would be a better experience. I’ve not had luck, but it sounds like reading Bryant’s comment that there might be hope!

  9. Am I allowed to swear on here?
    I’ll start by saying that there are good people at Google, and Google is not totally evil, but they are definitely headed that way.
    I guess they are so much of a monopoly that they think can afford to shaft existing customers in the pursuit of new ones.
    Everyone knows from recent that Microsoft has been guilty of somewhat shady business practices, but at least they know they have a lot of catching up to do with Google on the PPC front and make their support (at least in the UK & Ireland) at least 100 times better than Google’s. Seriously, I am not exaggerating with the 100 times figure.
    Google on the other hand are in the position now that MS used to be in where they can abuse their monopoly position to make as much money as possible for their shareholders.
    I could share so many stories here, but it would take all day and it’s my day off…
    OK – I’ll summarise. Have had similar experiences to the above, along with Google contacting clients directly without speaking with me (even though they are under my MCC) and telling them that they need to be seriously increasing their bids and budgets as “this will increase quality score” etc. etc. etc.
    I even had a Google support guy phone me from India and tell me conversion optimizer (which had gone mental for a day or so on a campaign that targeted the search network) worked by targeting people more likely to convert for me and it did this mainly by targeting the same people who had converted for me in the past. ! I replied that in that case I suppose I had better switch to CPC bidding as the main aim of the campaign was to get *new* leads. He said it would be worth trying…
    Sigh…

  10. And don’t even start me on other stuff Google have done not related to AdWords. (Cancelling GAN after I spent ages getting it set up for a client, using copyright images in Google image search as if they owned them, preaching to other web site owners about how they will be punished if they don’t obey the Google rules (which, of course, do not apply to Google). etc. etc…
    Oh yeah, and I forgot (PPC related), having *completely* non-existing support for Merchant Center in the UK (even when products have been disapproved for no reason – you have to wait 2 days for someone to email you and tell you that they are not sure what the problem is (if you are lucky)).

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      Wow. Just wow. We too have had Google contacting our agency clients directly – I hate that as it only confuses the clients. And they recommend stuff that’s just a disaster – broad display targeting, etc. Crazy stuff.

      • We had a Google rep email one of our clients the following message:

        “Hi —-,

        My name is —- and I wanted to confirm whether you are the appropriate
        point of contact for the following accounts under MCC ID: ———-,
        for which I am the Google Agency Strategist. If not, I would appreciate it
        if you could provide me with relevant contact information:

        Customer Id Account Description
        ———– ——————
        ———– ——————
        ———– ——————
        ———– ——————
        ———– ——————
        ———– ——————
        ———– ——————
        ———– ——————
        ———– ——————
        ———– ——————

        I have been compiling strategies and optimizations for each of the above,
        so I look forward to hearing from you or the relevant contact thereof. I’d
        love to schedule some time to sync on the phone and learn more about your
        clients’ business needs.

        Best,

        ——–
        Agency Strategist
        Google AdWords Team”

        Yep, the emailed one of our clients and provided them a partial list of our other clients, because they somehow thought that client was the MCC manager. Not cool at all.

        • :-)
          You have to laugh.
          That reminds me, I once got an email (good while ago, can’t remember the exact wording) saying that a client account was suspected of having been hacked, and had been suspended… Turned out that it wasn’t one of my clients at all!

        • Melissa Mackey says:

          OK, this is truly a new low. Wow. We’ve gotten those emails, but at least they came to us and not our clients!

          I do have to say that Google brings this on themselves because their login system is so annoying. We’ve had to create countless Gmail accounts to get access. So actually I’m not all that surprised that this happened – who can tell whose Gmail you’re sending to?

  11. And the real kicker is that some of these new business-focused reps aren’t even real Googlers – there are these companies called Revana and Infinity Contact that have new business reps that have Google email addresses and offer to help set up new AdWords clients for you, but aren’t even Google employees. https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/86173?hl=en

  12. Man, not sure how I missed this post!

    And I thought it was bad enough with the dedicated team I have. Even with that it seems they are being stretched too thin between clients.

    It’s all money. Get new; do same with less – except the same isn’t the same.

    Google reps are the used car salesmen of the Internet, saying “Look, it’s still shiny and runs okay; just ignore that knocking sound.”

  13. I’m blown away by the lack of support from Adwords. I’ve been managing hundreds of accounts for over eight years now and the level of support has been on a steady decline.

    The support staff just aren’t given sufficient training or resources to actually deal with most situations. My client is losing in excess of $20,000 per month through invalid clicks and they’re not doing anything about it. Absolutely appalling service.

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