The Dumbing Down of PPC

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Have you ever noticed that when a product or technology has been around for a while, it gets dumbed down?

Take the personal computer. My first experience with computers was in 8th grade – we got an 8K Commodore PET. It ran in BASIC and had a cassette drive to run programs. For my 8th grade science fair project, I wrote a Hangman program in BASIC – and got an A+. It was the most popular project at the fair.

commodore pet

Anybody else remember these?

Nowadays, who writes their own programs? Computers have grown more complex, and yet easier for the masses to use. Want to run a program? Just double click or tap the icon! A 5 year old can use today’s computers, which wasn’t the case with those early models.

As technology becomes widely adopted, it gets dumbed down. That’s great for the masses, but not for professionals who want to dig deeper.

And that’s what’s happened with PPC.

As PPC has grown and been adopted by more and more people, it’s now geared to the lowest common denominator. Just yesterday, I lamented Facebook’s ad approval process on Twitter. Instead of immediately disapproving ads and letting us appeal the disapproval, they let the ads run for a short time, and then disapprove them. It ends up taking more time in the end. I’d rather be disapproved right away, and then figure it out or contact Facebook to fix it, rather than being approved and finding out later the ad was disapproved. But I suspect that inexperienced advertisers like it the way it is.

Just look at any social PPC interface and you’ll see what I mean. They’re not designed for power users. They’re designed for the local business or social club to be able to use them. Twitter is particularly horrible. Have multiple campaigns in Twitter Ads and want to navigate between them? Sorry, you’ll have to return to the Home screen to do that. Want to run a custom report with all the data you need? Sorry, there’s one report and that’s it. Want to download recommended targets or by-tweet reports for promoted tweets? Can’t. It’s horrible. Inexperienced advertisers probably don’t do these things, but some of us want to!

LinkedIn is just as bad. Terrible reporting, terrible navigation, terrible campaign editing – the list goes on.

Facebook at least has Power Editor, but even that is glitchy. It’s frustrating.

And what about Enhanced Campaigns? I believe Enhanced Campaigns were rolled out to reduce complexity in Adwords. Why else would Google have focused so heavily on pizza places in all the Enhanced Campaigns webinars and documentation?

For those of us who wanted complex campaign structure, along with device control, we’re now out of luck. While there are many positive things about Enhanced Campaigns, there are also many negatives. Unfortunately, the negatives probably only affect professional campaign managers, not inexperienced advertisers.

I still hold out hope that the social PPC platforms will improve, and that Google will give us a tablet bid modifier. Do you think I’m dreaming, or is there a chance things will get better? How have you experienced the dumbing down of PPC? Share in the comments!

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  1. I really wish they’d roll out true Pizza Per Click pricing. Then Google would really be rolling in the dough.

  2. It had to be dumbed down, because most people can’t devote their time to learning it. But there’s no reason the advanced tools and options can’t be available to the people who know how to use them. I’m sure they’re just afraid people would bite off more than they can chew – which obviously would sour them more on the program than they already are.

  3. Funny – I wrote few weeks ago about how Google’s biggest advantage – it’s accessibility – is also it’s biggest disadvantage – that out of the box it just doesn’t work. ( Here’s the thing…. no matter how simple you make it – without the business acumen to understand what it is you are trying to achieve – you will not make PPC work unless you are extremely lucky. And if you are that lucky you should be buying lottery and playing poker instead of running a business.

    The biggest problem as I see it is that the prices are inflated for everyone by people who don’t know what they are doing – and – let’s face it – by the Google coupons which new advertisers can take advantage of – just how much of your average account’s budget is spent trying to keep up with coupon spend on the one hand and a the big few advertisers such as Amazon,, ebay etc who seem to be in every vertical?

    Dumbing down – yep, it’s happening – and it’s unavoidable. And here we stand like King Canute pleading for some kind of professional minimum standard.

    P.S. the first time I used a computer was at college – we didn’t see the machine, we had to write the program and then punch out cards which the professor then took away and fed into the machine, coming back a week later with results we could have written down in three minutes in a notebook…. with a pencil! Why do you and I always end up bragging about how old we are?

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Ha, Steve, I remember the punch cards! CPS 115 – computer science intro course at MSU. We did just what you described, only we spent hours at the computer lab trouble-shooting when things didn’t work. Oh my.

      You’re spot on, though. A minimum level of understanding is necessary for success. The bottom line is that PPC is complex. It’s not something just anyone can do – and yet that’s where the engines seem to be headed.

      Great post – I missed this one. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I think Google are realising that the ROI savvy people can get from AdWords is sometimes just too good.

    As long as the AdWords ROI is better than the alternative budgets will switch to AdWords and Google’s revenues grow. But it is better for Google to have the ROI 0.1% better than the next best alternative; having ROI 10x better just means they make less money.

    So they aggregate good traffic and bad traffic together. We pay for the mix because the good traffic has high enough value to make up for the bad. But if we had more control we’d pay only for the good

  5. We’ve been saying this to our Google rep since ‘”Enhanced” arrived – give us a bloody tablet bid modifier… pleeease!


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