Feb 32009

What do we want from Google?

Last week I was invited to join Google's SEM Advisory Council. I'm tremendously grateful for the opportunity, and think it speaks volumes about Google's commitment to its advertising community.

It's entirely possible that this is not quite the honor that I fancy it to be. I also received an invitation to the Presidential Inauguration, which made me quite proud and honored. On closer inspection it appeared that the invitation only entitled me to be in Washington DC on the day of the inauguration, and I'm pretty sure I didn't need an invitation to do that...then they wanted me to buy some stuff...

I'm not sure how exclusive this club is -- entirely possible that up 'til now I was the only one excluded -- but I plan to take full advantage of the opportunity to "speak truth to power". We meet next Monday at the Googleplex in advance of SMX West. Google will give us a tour of some of their new products and plans for 2009, but we also get to talk to their product development teams about their current products.

What RKG wants from AdWords and AdSense can be summed up pretty easily: transparency and control. We want full control over keyword matching, we want to know every variable that goes into Quality Score. We believe that with all the controls at our fingertips and the fingertips of other sophisticated practitioners, advertisers will be able to best target the traffic they're willing to spend money on and control where that traffic lands. That will maximize conversion efficiency, allow the most aggressive bidding, and provide the best user experience.

There could be two types of Google Accounts: the automated Google-knows-best accounts for folks who can't manage the complexity; and the "Self-serve" account with all the knobs and dials exposed for the "power users".

This level of transparency would benefit Google financially, as improved targeting would generate higher CTR and higher CPCs for almost every search: one company's dregs ("used yamaha piano clevland") are another company's gold. It might also head off government regulatory agencies who are becoming increasingly concerned about Google's control of the industry. To the extent that transparency would prove that like the stock exchange, Google is just a marketplace for buying advertising, Google could save itself a great deal of trouble down the road.

Let me know if you'd like to grab a beverage at SMX, or if you have other specific requests to make of Google. I probably have as much clout with Google as does their cleaning staff, but what the heck, I can pretend can't I?


11 Responses to "What do we want from Google?"
Marc Adelman says:
Congrats on the invitation to join Google's SEM Advisory Board. It will be intriguing to see the extent that the advisory board's feedback and guidance directs Adwords evolution in 2009. I agree wholeheartedly, that #1 on the list for 2009 should be more transparency and control. The suggestions you have above are great. Here is something that can be notched under that column. I have bugged our Google team for a year to split Google.com search from Search Network. They're two different networks that perform differently, have different user behaviors, and most importantly different levels of ROAS and effectiveness. Right now its a 1 bid - 1 ad, two network system. I personally find the Search Network's performance to line up much closer to the Content Network then with Google.com search. Wouldn't it be great if Google could split these and have three networks all with their individual aspects of control.
Interesting post. Just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading this blog. Have fun at the Googleplex and I hope they listen to your requests. :D
Thanks Francisco, There's a small chance that they'll either rub me out or try to make me "drink the cool-aid". If after I return I start writing about spending lots of money on the "early stages of the consideration/conversion funnel" please track me down and shoot me :-)
Glenn Edelman says:
George, Google Earth just made the oceans transparent, http://bit.ly/szWY. So, that's a start, right? Good luck! --G
Marc, great suggestion, I'll add that to the list. Right now, we advocate having two versions of campaigns, one set as Google.com only, one as Google.com + Network. Bid more on the Google.com version, less on the hybrid owing to the difference in the value of traffic and you'll essentially have the control you seek. However, you're absolutely right, they could make that far easier to manage the Network by having a Network only option. In our research, pieces of the Network perform reasonably well: AOL, Alta Vista, Ask.com, but the rest is sludge. We'd love to have the ability to pick the Network partners! George
Marc Adelman says:
George, The mirrored campaign strategy is how we currently approach this (not fun), but I would like further control and increased strategic flexibility. We also have identified less than 5 sites from the Search Network that actually add any value. There are all kinds of sites in the Search Network, most of them not being actual search sites. It would be a good step, if they could allow us to select the Network Partners as you suggested (the preferred option) or create categorized groupings similar to content, that would at least allow a level or two of deeper targeting. Marc
Ryan Pryor says:
George, as always great to hear your thoughts... do your best out in Mountain View to push for the increased transparency, by all means. :-) Best, ryan
I would recommend that your wife have your DNA sampled before and after you go so that if they attempt a switch she will be able to prove it. Actually, a cheaper idea would be to talk to you after you go. If you don't start ranting about affiliates within 10 seconds, they have successfully substituted a Google clone. I think this is a great opportunity George, and I know you'll push them on everything your clients need.
Perhaps, recommend a new level of directory submissions for Google's business category placement. This would be a big move on the advertising front. Sorry for the late post.


Check out what others are saying...
Alexandre says:
[...] to spend money on and control where that traffic lands. This level of transparency would benefit Google financially, as improved targeting would generate higher CTR and higher CPCs for almost every [...]
[...] to spend money on and control where that traffic lands. This level of transparency would benefit Google financially, as improved targeting would generate higher CTR and higher CPCs for almost every [...]

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