Trust Us. We’re Google.

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Back in December, Search Engine Land ran an article called What You Learn From Talking With Google’s Largest Advertisers All Day, Every Day. Written by Matt Lawson, it’s an interview Lawson did with Google’s chief search evangelist, Nick Darveau-Garneau.

Nick answers questions about trends, automated features such as smart bidding and dynamic ads, and the lifetime value of a customer. He gets into profitability, saying that rather than obsessing over CPA or ROAS, advertisers should look at their profit. I agree with that advice.

He also says, “Buy all the relevant keywords.” Lawson asks, “All of them?” Nick says, “There’s no need to carefully select our keywords anymore. The machine will automatically figure out which of those work for us.”

That got my attention. And I totally disagree with him.

At first glance, the article reads as helpful and forward-looking. We are all going to need automation if we are going to scale our campaigns and keep up with the competition. But when you read deeper into the recommendations in the article, most of them are basically saying “Trust us. We’re Google.”

Here are all the tools Nick suggests advertisers use:

• Dynamic search campaigns
• Smart bidding (target CPA and target ROAS, in particular)
• Data-Driven Attribution
• Dynamic Search Ads
• Optimized ad rotation
• AMP for Adwords
Parallel Tracking

Oh, and don’t forget to bid on all the keywords.

Do you notice a pattern here? Every single recommendation in the article is to just use all of Google’s tools to optimize your campaigns.

Trust us. We’re Google.

I’m not saying that no one should use any of the tools Nick mentioned. In the right circumstances, each of these options makes sense. But I would not use all of them, all the time. I never use optimized ad rotation. I prefer to use third party bid automation tools rather than Google’s bid rules. And dynamic ads and campaigns are a nightmare for B2B advertisers.

I’ve never been a fan of handing Google the keys to your marketing campaign success. I’ve seen time and again where using Target CPA bidding can throttle the volume of your campaign, killing revenue and profit. I would never simply bid on every keyword possible. That is a worst practice, bordering on irresponsible in my opinion.

But hey, trust us. We’re Google.

Nowhere is Google’s arrogance more apparent than with the new Adwords UI. This week’s PPC Chat on Twitter was all about digging in to the new UI. I had a client meeting and had to miss most of the chat, but you can find it on the #ppcchat hashtag. While participants praised a few elements in the new UI, the overwhelming sentiment was that it’s much harder to use, missing key features, and slows down workflows.

Take the Extensions section, for example. Users find the labels confusing and meaningless.

That’s just one example of the many, many issues people have with the new UI. When host Kirk Williams asked for a list of suggestions for Adwords, he got a ton of them:

(I know you can’t read that – just making a point.)

Julie Bacchini sums it up well:

Exactly. GA has moved things around in the past. When the most recent version rolled out, the transition was seamless. It was easy to find what you were looking for. Adwords supposedly crafted the new Adwords UI to act more like GA – but it misses the mark. Nothing is where you expect it to be. Key features are missing or hidden. Custom columns are gone. And there’s horizontal scrolling.

It does not appear that Adwords designed the new UI with input from actual users. But why would they? They think it’s better, so it must be. Trust us, we’re Google.

Do you agree? Or should I put away my cane and stop telling people to get off my lawn? Share in the comments!

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  1. Trust us. We’re Google.
    “I’ve never been a fan of handing Google the keys to your marketing campaign success.”
    I agree with you and I am a long time internet marketing expert. My marketing experience pre-dates Google, and I have been using Adwords since the beginning, a couple of years before they had their certification process.

    They are a for profit company. Adwords is a system sort a like the matrix, in this system you can do things or advertise in ways that are not immediately obvious. You will never find out these ways if you set everything on automatic.

    It seems that Google wants to take control of your advertising campaign. All you have to do is look at the way the want you to stop rotating ads indefinitely. Or they will automatically add ads.

    If Google wants to develop trust and be helpful they really need to figure out how to keep businesses from wasting money on their campaigns. I mean how much money to they make from advertisers that are just simply waste their ad spend? I have audited hundreds of Adwords accounts, only to find a large portion of their budget, just absolutely wasted.This dollar amount can be in the 100’s of thousands of dollars.

    Trust us. We’re Google. That trust was gone after 2004 the year they went public.

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      Well said, and I agree. People forget that everything Google does is done to benefit their bottom line. If it also benefits the advertiser, great; if it doesn’t, oh well. I’ve seen the same as you in audits – so much waste.

  2. OMG! Yes, the emperor has no clothes! I thought I was the only one that saw that! Thank you Melissa for saying what many of us have been thinking for some time now. Google thinks they know EVERYTHING when in fact they know very little about who their agency customers are and what they want.

  3. If we see this all the way through to the end, why not just put a credit card on file, enter the URL to our website and let Google do the rest? Because the marketer ads value, we know our goals, we understand the proper customer intent which directly relates to the way we structure our campaigns. So where is the balance between providing tools to allow us to be more effective and simply giving up all control to Google? I don’t want to be willfully ignorant of advances within Google, but past experience has shown all of these automated systems have delivered very poor results. The tipping point for me has to do with the nature of the goal and the account’s traffic volume. If I’m selling a common widget with thousands of daily visits, automation makes more sense. If I’m trying to convert visitors seeking a complicated B2B solution with a long sales cycle, much of it offline… Automation rarely makes sense.

    • Melissa Mackey says:

      Absolutely agree, Jerry. That’s why the “bid on all the keywords” comment really stuck in my craw. Automation is great for managing budgets and bids – with oversight from an experienced PPC manager. It is not great for deciding which ad to show at the right time – Google almost always picks the wrong one, in my experience.

  4. I read that article and thought much the same thing – glad someone wrote it up, thanks! It read like fanzine, and it had me wondering whether the writer was after a job with Google…

    Large companies with shareholders have high growth targets. One way to increase revenue quickly might be to help poorly run advertising accounts be ‘better’ – with AI and partner managers – to better ‘compete’ with well run campaigns. Introducing more competitors with automatic performance learning will raise bid prices from those of us achieving overwhelming value for many clients (modesty aside). The point being, would you say that we have had the ability to make it cost prohibitive for new entrants to discover performing keywords – if that is so, you could understand if the main motive of these ‘features” isn’t to waste people’s money, but to encourage higher bidding – at least that would be honest. That said, you can’t help but wonder why the platform makes it consistently harder to ‘see’ value. Everything is purposefully an average – they could do better, but choose not to. Behaviour speaks volumes. Lets now spend twice your budget on day one .. trust us.

  5. Excellent article Melissa.
    I totally agree that automated setting should only be applied in a small degree of accounts and be monitored closely to ensure that they are achieving the companies KPI’s.

    New marketers and business owners may very well look to use more of the automated settings within AdWords. This may be due to little knowledge of SEM performance or for those with a ‘set it and forget it’ mindset.

    Although experienced PPC marketers should know the boundaries of manual settings and when to use automation.

  6. Agree with you on most points about automation. It’s foolish to allow complete automation in each area and something that should be done only with ample testing per each account.

    However, we have seen some automation like CPA bidding in particular, outperform manual in several cases. In fact, in one of our biggest client accounts – CPA bidding and optimized rotation have outperformed manual search (even with tight Exact matching and SKAGs) and I think it’s due to the vast data that Google has collected on the history of this account (6-7 years), and just having that extra data that we aren’t seeing about when the ideal conversion will happen per the user, per the device, per the time of day, etc.

    Everything you said about the new UI is completely true. It just seems like it was sent to the developers to create something slick, with no input from actual users. We have tried, and we still keep a couple client accounts in the new UI, but we just can’t go 100% to new. It just slows us down and is still very frustrating to use even with a few months now of using it in a few accounts. I’ve never seen such a large UX/UI fail.


  1. […] Trust Us. We’re Google. — Should we always do what Google tells us to do? Heck no. Melissa Mackey explains why. […]

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