Google Ads Primer – Lesson 3

I am not very up on fashion and I recognize I need help. One of my favorite things to do is take advantage of the free shopping consultants at stores like Nordstroms. I like doing that but I am also a realist: I know that their job is to get me to spend more money and become more dependent on the store. From an economic standpoint, a “free” personal shopper is probably a bad bargain. I don’t do it for economic reasons or I would not do it at all.

The same thing happens online in the world of advertising and today, I want to address a similar scenario: should you take advantage of Google’s advertising “support” and should you follow their recommendations?

If you advertise on Google, you will eventually hear from them. Nice people will call you and offer to help you. The more you spend, the more often you will hear from them.

It is a shame that business owners have to be skeptical of such things but it is reality. Just like you need to be skeptical of any marketer that pitches an idea to you, you need to be skeptical of Google too. Google is not your friend; they are a business. They earn more by getting you to spend more.

That is not to say that the kind Google employee that calls you on the phone is out to trick you. Likely they really believe what they are telling you. They probably want to help you but they may be giving you information that is not helpful. They are just repeating what they have been taught themselves.

Now, I do believe this about Google; they know that their success is tied to their advertiser’s success. I will give them the benefit of the doubt about that. I suspect they see the relationship as a partnership of sorts. It is really not a partnership however. It is your money on the line, not theirs. Don’t ever forget that.

I had a partner call me recently, alarmed about her Google ad campaigns. Her spending had jumped about 500% almost overnight. Like many advertisers, she was not watching it closely enough and before she caught on, she had lost thousands of dollars. I asked her what had changed and it did not take long to figure it out: a Google ads “helper” had called her and convinced her to change bidding strategies. She was too gullible and took his advice. She was also the one stuck with the bill for his bad advice.

Beyond the obvious conflict of interest, there is another reason to be wary of Google advertising consultants: you may just find that you know more than they do. You will certainly know more about your business then they do but you may even know what will work better than they do.

To be very frank, if you are spending a few hundred dollars a month on Google ads, you are not going to be talking to experienced consultants there. Even in months where I spend $150,000 on Google ads, I am sometimes disappointed in the quality of the consultants I get. It is not what you think it is. Google’s ad algorithms are too complicated even for their employees to understand; you will quickly find they are shooting in the dark just like you. And unlike you, they do not know your business and do not have their own skin in the game. It is easy for them to spit out some untested suggestions and move on to their next appointment when they are not the ones paying the advertising bill. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that they are truly experts; with few exceptions, they simply are not.

So should you talk to Google ads consultants? In spite of these significant problems, I do recommend it. First of all, they can probably tell you about new enhancements that you don’t know about yet. Some of those enhancements and programs are quite good. Second, they actually will give you good advice at times and will point out legitimate problems in your account that you have missed. As an example, a consultant recently pointed out to us that we were running a campaign with only one ad in the rotation. That was a good catch on their part. Google Ads gets very complicated and if they can help you fix those kinds of problems, that is valuable.

In summary, when Google calls, be nice, ask questions, and take notes. Try to avoid making changes in real time (as they will sometimes pressure you to do). Politely decline but take notes and then go do some research. If you decide to give those suggestions a try, test them very small and watch them carefully. It is your money that is going to disappear if they are lousy suggestions. They are not going to give it back. Never forget that.

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