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Stop Lying to Me Google

June 16th, 2008 · No Comments

I have a client who is very cautious with his credit cards on the internet. Perhaps, hyper-cautious is a better definition. For instance, he uses a pair of credit cards for all of his online purchases, and keeps their limits extremely low to avoid any possible fraud. Now this is a prudent policy that more people should emulate.

However, since this client also spends a few thousand dollars every month on Google AdWords advertising this can and frequently does lead to snafu’s. Regularly, his Google AdWords account issues the following warning:

From a Marketing and Management perspective this is a fine way for you to inform your client of an extremely import issue. Unless of course, it’s a lie.

Google Ads Actually Running When they say they aren\'t

In the two years I’ve been running this client’s AdWords account the ads have stopped exactly one time. And the time that they stopped the message didn’t alter one iota. Yet the “Your Ads are not running…” message is displayed at least once a month. I’ve seen this message on numerous other client accounts both large and small. And it never actually reflects a stoppage unless the account is seriously behind in payment.

In case you are not familiar with the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” It’s about raising the alarm when there is no emergency. The moral of the story is that you should only SCREAM FIRE, WHEN THERE’S AN ACTUAL FIRE!

So my question is this;

Why does Google, typically a sensitive and intelligent company resort to crying wolf like this?And does it damage their customer relations?

I think they cry wolf because they rationally and scientifically tested different messages and found this to be the most effective. And they want effectiveness because stopping ads directly impacts their bottom line cash flow. However, scientific web analytics often overlooks the psychological impact on the client.

I do think that it damages their customer relations in several ways.

  • It makes Google seem more monolithic, uncaring and machine like. Hard to do for a monolithic machine driven corporation, but true none the less for those who are impacted.
  • It desensitizes clients to real warnings when they occur in the future. (the last one didn’t mean anything.)
  • It creates a hole in the “Infallible Mystique” Google has built around it’s reputation. Which may be the most serious blow of all.
  • Frankly, Google I’m tired of being treated like a child. Treat me like an adult and tell me the ads are going to stop if I don’t do something. As a Google Certified Advertising Professional why do I get the same message that Joe’s Bait Shop gets about account status?

How could Google or any company fix this?

  1. Tailor messages to account levels. Higher spending accounts should receive more professional messaging. Especially for Google- Certified Advertising Professionals- (who studied for, took, and passed your test and paid your fees) should receive professional level reporting and warnings.
  2. Treat your customers like adults. Amazingly, when treated like adults the vast majority actually respond like adults. However, when treated like children…
  3. Don’t lie. (Remember the old corporate motto Google? “Do no evil” Many of us feel lies are evil, and the beginning of a slippery slope.)
  4. Don’t lie to your customers. (Do I really need to expand on this concept?)

These are my thoughts on this GoogleBoy Who Cried Wolf story, what are yours?

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Tags: Reasonable Techie Advice · Reasons For Net Marketing

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