Media Insights

Dear Google, No YOU’RE Stupid!

We have all come across that person who is very knowledgeable in a particular topic. Whether it be nuclear science, or simply being able to recite the past NCAA basketball champions (along with their MVP’s) for the past 40 years. Whatever the topic of brilliance it may be, that person wants you to be sure that you know they’re smarter than you are. What if I told you those weren’t the worst “smart people” on the planet? What if I told you that the company you’re utilizing to grow your business thinks you’re an idiot; but they think you’re so dumb, that they’re not even going to tell you about it?

As one of the original beta testers of Google AdWords, I’ve seen my fair share of Google improvements over the years. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen changes that are deemed improvements, but truly are designed to remove any form of thinking from your AdWords account management. If you’re familiar with the AdWords interface, look in the settings for your “Ad rotation” setting – and you’ll see that your best option (according to Google) is to simply let them optimize your ads. This has pretty much been the story the last 5+ years now, in that what once used to be a great platform for marketing optimizations has now turned into a few check boxes that allow Google to take over your account.

If marketers really didn’t want to think, they should use AdWords Express or Smart Display to spend their money; but for those of us who believe in testing every variable, and have set processes for everything we do in order to maximize ROI for our clients…  Guess what…  It turns out, Google thinks we’re stupid too!

As I don’t believe all marketers are stupid and lazy like Google does, allow me to provide you some supporting evidence that shows how we’ve been duped. Take a look at the screenshot on the right. This is a local news station that redistributes Google ads through AdSense. My daughter happens to be in love with all things horses so I was helping out with promoting the local summer horse camp when I came across the remarketing ad pictured. Perfect – remarketing via the display network is working, as I was obviously a visitor to the barn’s website, and now here I was, within the geo footprint I had determined. The only problem is – although that’s my ad copy, that’s NOT my imagery. I double checked the ad choices icon to make sure the ad wasn’t picked up by an affiliate or some form of crazy alien bot I had never heard of, but nope – it was my ad. Just not my image. I double checked my set up and settings, and still nothing. I reached out to support, and they have no record or evidence that I’ve used Google Ad Gallery or that the screen shot above should be live anywhere – yet, there it is.

The fact that the image Google chose to place was that of a tent indicating overnight camping, it makes sense in an AI sort of fashion allowing the context of “camp” and “camping” to trigger an ad. However, legally our insurance does not cover us for overnight camping, nor does the government allow for tax credits on overnight summer camps. Some may argue that you truly can’t control where your ad lands contextually on a site. Yet in this particular case, there was a giant box drawn around my text ad and Google’s included image, lumping them together as an “ad”. So now we have false advertising toward the consumer, but because we’re pretty small potatoes – my biggest concern came from the marketer in me. All of these years we’ve done very strict copy testing via AdWords with the strategy of then moving from ad copy to imagery and even rolling out successful ad copy into traditional media.

Maybe it’s because most agencies and marketers don’t have enough time to update their ad copy that Google thinks it’s in your best interest, but what about agencies like ours that pride ourselves in optimizations? Google, you’ve effectively said that your AI is smarter than we could ever be – and all so you could improve your own bottom line. Our founding principal at Media Two is if we help our clients grow their bottom line, then we’ll grow our bottom line as well. While Google’s intentions may be good, they’re taking advantage of businesses for their own gain. This is the stupidest thing I’ve seen them pull and this is not why we sign up to run ads with Google. Ad boldly™ Google. But don’t ad stupidly.

****UPDATED 6/1*****

After much back and forth – it again turns out that Google indeed does believe you are stupid.  As you notice below, even though there are no notifications that were sent, and this definitely was not in the ad when it was set up and launched, Google has “upgraded to responsive ads for better performance.”   To which I politely ask – better performance for who?

If you are not sure if this is happening to your accounts now, it will NOT show up in your “View Change History”  the ONLY way to know is to go to the Ads tab where it visually displays your text ad as you set it up, but then click on the edit (pencil icon), acknowledge that you know you’re looking to edit it – and then you will see a screen that starts out similar to mine on the left.  In theory, you can also build a report using the “Ad type” attribute, however, although “Responsive Ad” is one of the options to select under ad type, my reports are only showing Text ad and Expanded text ad.  So again, this is something you will need to manually watch to ensure your campaigns are properly running.


One Response

  1. Michael Hubbard says:

    5/30/17 Update – go figure, but I was able to see my ad again, on the exact site – with the same exact incorrect imagery. So I sent it along to the Google outsource help desk, along with the click URL this time. We’ll see if NOW they can see anything. In the meantime, I’ve shut down the account and asked for a refund. This at least tells me it wasn’t a one-time glitch, and it also tells me that they should have to elevate this to someone who can actually look into the issue.