What Google Doesn’t Want You To Know About Paid Search

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “What Google Doesn’t Want You To Know About Paid Search.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Is it in Google’s best interest to better promote certified companies/individuals? Why or why not?

  • Yes, Yes, Yes. Continued fails by those who experience poor PPC will be negative branding for G. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
    • I agree, but Google would argue (not in public) that poor PPC management = more money for them. Obviously not the greatest moral way of doing business, but would bring in more for the big G. – Matt Umbro
      • Only if businesses can’t figure out if an advertising channel is good or bad. This is the real question here. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
        • If only exposure to channel is poor mgmt (that they don’t know is poor) it reflects badly on channel. – Kirk Williams
      • Poor PPC management could = short term advertiser = less money for Google. – Steve Gibson
  • Promoting the companies means clients more likely to trust and invest in them and Google gets more money in turn. – Lawrence Jones (@HomeOfJones)
  • Loaded question. You woud assume yes, since it would encourage people to have better success and committ to it more. But you wonder how much money they make on poor spending. Set it an forget it types or Adwords Express. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
    • Nearly every client I get was on the fence with whether to shut off adwords completely bc of past poor performance. Majority of them was because of poor mgmt, not because of channel issues. – Kirk Williams
      • I can see that, but how many dont you know about? I sometimes wonder how much “unmanaged” spend there is. – Mark Kennedy
      • I think G is starting to honor good agencies since FB is going super strong on PPC. – Farzin Espahani
        • Well, that’s a real good point. Better competition may push them in this direction. – Mark Kennedy
  • Its definitely in Google’s best interest. It means more competition in all industries – and thus higher CPC’s across adwords. – Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
  • Google should promote because certified co’s should produce better results, which is better for everyone. – Jim Lastinger (@jimlast)
    • Agreed – better management over the long run means better results and better reputation. – Matt Umbro
  • Google’s certification only tests for proficiency using the platform, not neccessarily the strategy and accumen to apply it. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
  • I think so, they recently had a survey asking how to improve the Google Partners program. – Ross Kaplan-Winn (@RossKWSEM)
  • On balance, probably yes. BUT passing a test does not a good acct manager make (necessarily). – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • Definitely. If the companies have good rapport with Google, that means they’re helping Google make money with past success. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • If Google can get “qualified” people managing PPC accounts, then Google makes more money in the long run. – Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)
  • It sure is, but why they don’t do it? – Farzin Espahani (@FarzinOja)
  • Yes and I’d say because of ‘trust factor’. The more people that say “you should use adwords” that are not Google, the better. – Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
  • Yes, as agencies we act as Google’s sales team. Certified agencies are likely to push bigger spends w/ mgmt being based off a %. – James Kravic (@JKravic)
  • Only if the certifications meant a damn thing. They don’t, so why promote yet another meaningless “rubber stamp” like partners? – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • That’s a BIG fat YES. Promoting companies means businesses are more likely to spend more on AdWords. Google likes a fat wallet. – Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
  • Interesting that people assume “certified” = “better”. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonPPC)
    • Who has assumed that? My feed is almost the opposte. – Richard Fergie
      • I see “better management” answers. e.g. “certified co’s should produce better results”. – Steve Gibson
  • No. This “limits” the “qualified” talent capable of managing adverts’ accts.
    Adverts pay more to enter. Not good for engines. – Matt Vaillancourt (@SEM_PPC_MattV)
  • I think yes. More “educated” management of accounts = more relevant ads for searchers = happy Google thoughts, repeat users. – Amanda Sides (@amanda_sides)
  • I’d like to think so. PPC is hard if youre new- ppl get frustrated easy &G wants to retain people. Start them on the right foot. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89
    • Certified could mean they think that passing a test makes you an Adwords manager – i.e. things tested are important. – Steve Gibson
  • Also agree with everyone on the point that a “certified” individual doesn’t necessarily mean a “better” individual. – Amanda Sides
  • Better managers will help to increase budgets and retain advertisers/clients for longer as well = more $ for Google (and us). – Ross Kaplan-Winn
  • They seem to think so (for now). Not sure what’ll happen in the future. – Jordan McClements (@PPCNI)
  • Google has recommended to some clients to not pay agencies and to have Googs teams manage PPC. Conflict of interest? – Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson)
    • Absolutely! It’s like when a distributor approaches into reseller territory. – Matt Umbro
    • Interesting, haven’t encountered. Although always turning down reps’ requests to “help build accounts”. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Also, promoting agencies, etc only expands the AdWords sales force. – Coy Robinson
  • Remember- The agency growth teams only work with agencies. They can push out beta’s faster. They push us to push their new products. – James Kravic
    • Beta testing is definitely a good way to measure performance & efficiency on new features in Adwords! I think its Good. – Juan Restrepo
  • Certifications…Do you need a Computer Science degree in order to know how computers work? No, but if you want a job, it helps. – Olin Downs
  • It at least shows G is attempting to “train” and educate it’s users. Certification = theoretical understanding of the basics. If Google is recommending dump agencies to managing spend themselves to increase REV the certification doesn’t matter. – Christi Olson

Q2: Why do you believe Google is so guarded about Search Partners in terms of opting in/out & which sites are part of the network?

  • I liken it to cable TV bundled channels – you want the good, you also must take the crappy. Keeps their ads more places. – Julie Bacchini
  • Money! Why do colleges offer general education classes? If they didn’t you would graduate in 2 years! – Matt Umbro
    • Tthink that explains why they lump them in. Julie says similar. But why so secretive? – Richard Fergie
  • There is less wastage with Google than with traditional media in general. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
    • Well, it should be, certainly. But G has plenty of room for churn before retention gets critical. – Julie Bacchini 
      • Agreed – but There’s prob more being written about Google scamming people than how people have had success right now. – Steve Cameron
  • Honeslty, those certs mean nothing. Anyone can cheat on them, I’ll take real world experience with great results any day. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • Because in 9/10 cases search partners suck. – James Kravic
    • As a whole I don’t have a problem with Search Partners – I find they often perform fine, but would like the ability. – Matt Umbro
  • The same reason they don’t let us opt out of tablets: lousy ad inventory being forced on advertisers. – Steve Gibson
  • I think they ‘all of nothing’ of search partners is a way to make more $. It keeps it simple for beginners while unfortunately, taking control away from people who would be advanced enough to add exclusions. – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
  • My guess is that is is so large and ever-changing that it might be difficult to manage. – Mark Kennedy
    • Also what works for one may not work for another and vice versa. – Steve Cameron
  • Not sure but as Bing catches up in search volume I have a feeling it will change. – Ross Kaplan-Winn
  • Probably the same reason they’re guarded about “anonymous” sites on GDN. – Mark Irvine
  • Because advertisers, especially less savvy ones, wouldn’t believe that people actually use those sites. Noise rather than info? – Doug Thomas
  • Contracts? I’m sure there are deals that they make with some (if not all) for placements and ad revenue for those partners. – Coy Robinson
  • I’m not sure if “guarded” is the right word. Maybe the issue just hasn’t reached the right people. G is weird that way. – Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
    • Maybe not guarded, but not forthcoming. – Matt Umbro
  • They have legacy contracts which won’t allow them to allow folks to opt out. Who knows how long those last. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Goes back to Google making more $$$. If they keep it oblivious, then we can’t get rid of the crap and reduce wasted clicks. – Erika Schmidt
    • Basically this. It has nothing to do with protection. It’s another revenue lever. – Jesse Semchuck
      • Yep, Google is all about rolling in the dough. The more targeting they take away from us, the more dough they can make. – Erika Schmidt
  • BingAds allows advertisers to view/exclude search partner performance though. – Mark Irvine
  • They lump tablets/desktop in together but aren’t secretive about the performance of each. What is different about search partners? – Richard Fergie
  • I have seen a ton of wasted spend go into Search Partners, Particularly on Mobile. B2C is also usually better than B2B. – James Kravic
    • Discovered this recently: Dedicated reps have the ability to drill down on the back end. You just have to ask. – Matt Vaillancour
  • Guessing it’s a case where G tries to “oversimplify” ad networks for noobs, deprive pros of options, & “bundle” to make more $. – Andrew Miller (@AndrewCMiller)
    • Kind of like “get into mobile advertising!” – Matt Umbro
  • Unfortunately for the average user, it’s proprietary information. Google has to protect it’s business interests too. – Spencer Hudon (@SpencerHudonII)
  • Less transparency means less management time and resources to build out systems to support. Easier for the massses. – Christi Olson

Q3: If Google had to make the Enhanced Campaigns announcement again, what do you think would have been done differently? Why?

  • Acknowledge the fact that it was going to be very different and initially painful. And allow tablet modifiers. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
    • If they wanted to allow tablet modifiers, they would have done it by now. Still frustrating they don’t give us control. – Jeremy Brown
  • They wouldn’t have used “Enhanced”. – Steve Cameron
  • I honestly think would have broken it out into smaller releases with less PR. Similar to how they’re doing things now. – Gil Hong
  • Allow for opt in of Enhanced Campaigns. Let those who have time/resources choose if they want to build out Mobile/Tablet! – Christi Olson
    • Yes! Make it the default – like combined search/display – if they must but let us choose to separate. – Amy Hoffman
  • Not much. We have all adapted and the outcry was (relatively) small & concentrated, sadly. – Julie Bacchini
    • True, but I knew of lots of mobile heavy advertisers who were upset. I guess you can’t please everyone. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Probably get feedback from the industry beforehand? Also called it Adwords 2.0 or something. Enhanced was just… bad. – Jessem Semchuck
  • Honestly, they’d push it live in a shorter time frame. – Mark Irvine
  • Considering BingAds is now doing the same thing, prob nothing. Most bellyaching was same chorus of grumbles with every change. – Doug Thomas
  • They probably wouldn’t have sent Paul Feng into the Lion’s Den at HeroConf to try to justify it! – Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM
  • I think they would have been more upfront about the heavy mobile emphasis, and not so much the “ease of campaign management”. – Matt Umbro

Q4: Do you believe metrics like estimated conversions and in store visits are a legitimate attempt to make the platform better? Why?

  • Yes, but they need more transparency. We want to know what’s in the sausage. – Jeremy Brown
  •  I think they are a legit attempt to make advertisers *feel* better about the $$ they are spending there. – Julie Bacchini
  • Legitimate attempt to make better, yes. Are they great… no. Clients don’t pay us for Estimated Conversions. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • In-store conversions is a big yes. The last mile is vital for clicks to bricks and there’s big $$ for getting it right. – Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
  • Additional metrics are helpful to understand x interactions. I’m still a cynic and use them for directional not as “truth”. – Christi Olson
  • Search is getting saturated. They have to claim extra conversions/sales to grow the channel. Don’t think they care too much about whether or not it is legit – just need to make AdWords look better so gets more budget. – Richard Fergie
  • The theory yes since PPC does help offline channels, but as a B2B guy I’m clueless in regards to its accuracy. – Joe Martinez
  • Not necessarily but I do think they are legitimate attempts to get advertisers to spend more money (perceived value). – Coy Robinson
  • My problem with these metrics is that I can’t give a definitive answer to my clients about them. – Matt Umbro
  • Depends on goals. FB works as direct response platform. So, hire DR person for FB if want profit. – Steve Gibson
  • It’s definitely starting to stretch us to view things in a larger marketing sense for our clients instead of numbers. – Gil Hong
  • Absolutely. Being able to track ALL conv activity is a big plus for my clients. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • But I can’t take estimated converisons to the bank. Way too vaporware feeling. Just a spend more metric. – Steve Hammer
  • I don’t know about better, but definitely the start of a conversation. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • This touches on the point that they’re not at all quantifiable/verifiable…which is why so many of us love PPC. – Jonathan Maltz (@MaltzPPC)
  • No, because only a small % of advertisers will have the scale to get statistically stable data. Rest will be misled. – Andrew Miller
  • It is a legit attempt but not sure how effective (accurate) the reports can be. – Farzin Espahani
  • Ok, I have to say it – it is hard to put much faith in these estimates when their other ones are SO far off. – Julie Bacchini
  • Yes, they are using their massive amounts of data and advanced algorithms to give us more/better data (hopefully!). – Ross Kaplan-Winn
  • I think it would be more legitimate if we could actually work to improve the results. – Jonathan Maltz
  • Attribution is a very difficult thing to lock down. That “alternative” conversion types exist is better than if they didn’t. – Matt Vaillancourt
  • I think Google’s estimates are b&l useless. You can model them better yourself based on client’s experience. – Steve Gibson
  • Follow-up: When are we getting Engagements into AdWords? Not all “conversions” are equal & knowing which is which helps manage. – James Svoboda
    • You can currently segment by conversion name. Great tool! – Jonathan Maltz
      • Yep. But we have relative groups of conversions based on how they matter to the funnel. Current system is lacking. – James Svoboda
        •  Agreed. Would also like to see how many users that converted on x conversion also converted on y conversion. – Jonathan Maltz
      • I haven’t seen segment by conversion display reliably enough to be useful. – Gil Hong
  • I believe they’re trying to make AdWords better w/ these metrics. Offline conversions happen, but they’re hard to track. – Erika Schmidt
  • Tracking the source of your biz is not a new problem, leads are just coming from more places faster now. – Julie Bacchini
  • I would not say completely without value, but not definitive metrics I would place specific value on in reports. – Timothy Jensen
  • It also allows physical locations to have a better reason to pay for PPC = more clients = more $ for google (back to that). – Ross Kaplan-Winn

Q5: How can the agency/individual relationship with their Google rep/team be improved?

  •  If reps stuck around longer and were more knowledgable about things other than “upsells”. – James Svoboda
  • Our reps are helpful, but they have to understand it’s not always about spending more. It’s about the return for the business. – Mark Kennedy
  • It would help if they could start with the assumption that I know what I’m doing – and doing it for a reason. – Steve Cameron
  • By not having the “I’m being transferred” call with a rep every quarter? – Joe Martinez
  • I would love to see longer terms of rep longevity as well as one rep/group assigned to each MCC. – Kirk Williams
  • Hard to answer without knowing Google’s goals, because that determines what they’ll spend (in $) to help a customer. – Steve Gibson
    • Not necessarily, I wouldn’t mind if there were caps each month – just something to help beyond upselling & reports. – Matt Umbro
    • FWIW, last rep I talked with had reviewed accounts ahead of time & had specific action items ready. – Timothy Jensen
  • I strongly believe in the power of face-to-face meetings. Have lunch or dinner with your reps/clients. Grow trust organically. – Spencer Hudon
  • Position yourself as an ally, show that your goals are aligned. No one wants to fight a battle with Google. – Mark Irvine
  • Longer term reps (as opposed to quarterly), more focus on strategy vs. hard sales. Just started w a decent rep…hope he lasts. – Timothy Jensen
  • Instead of automated reports being sent, I’d love to see reps provide specific action items & even be able to do work. I preface “able to do work” with the notion that the rep actually does his/her way around AdWords. – Matt Umbro
  • My issue with reps has been that they change every 2 weeks. – Jim Lastinger
  • Quicker responses, more integration on the ‘strategy’, as it feels that rep relationships now focus on agency growth (sales). – Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
  • They NEED to ask about our goals & experience weeks before meeting. Recently I was talked to like I was a total newb. – Erika Schmidt
  • I’ll echo the lack of longevity problem – getting the most from an acct requires historical knowledge & experience. – Julie Bacchini
  • It has to be a partnership where Google talks to the agency & client to help further the client goals not just “SPEND." – Christi Olson
  • Had multiple reps deny answering ?s on a few accounts in my MCC to focus on specific ones they had ready. Leaves a bad taste. – Joe Martinez
  • Clear communication of goals of the agency with rep(s), to secure the benefit of agency and its clients. – Farzin Espahani
  • I think having an agenda set up before the call on talking points can definitely help so its not a complete waste of time. – Gil Hong
  • Most reps call without having visited the client’s website. – Steve Cameron
  • Knows AdWords and has looked at the account to understand what has been tested in the past! – Christi Olson
  • I entirely agree.
    You know they are compensated on growing business.
    Find ways to get them to help YOU achieve both goals. – Bryant Garvin
  • I’ve had reps who don’t email back – now that is frustrating. – Matt Umbro
  • Protip – Ask to speak to an Analytical Lead. They’re less incented on spend, more on retention and adoption of products. – Mark Irvine
  • More access to their internal data for better analysis (e.g. eCPC results). Longer-term relationships. – Andrew Miller
  • Like most relationships, I think the quality of relationship w/ Google is as much our responsibility, as it is theirs. – Coy Robinson

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Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amanda Sides (@amanda_sides)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Andrew Miller (@AndrewCMiller)
• Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
• Farzin Espahani (@FarzinOja)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• James Kravic (@JKravic)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Jim Lastinger (@jimlast)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Jonathan Maltz (@MaltzPPC)
• Jordan McClements (@PPCNI)
• Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Lawrence Jones (@HomeOfJones)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
• Matt Vaillancourt (@SEM_PPC_MattV)
• Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
• Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Ross Kaplan-Winn (@RossKWSEM)
• Spencer Hudon (@SpencerHudonII)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonPPC)
• Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Things Google Doesn’t Want You to Know Streamcapper

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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