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?