I have a great deal of respect for Google as a company. Their platforms work well for users and have shown the world how cloud computing can be a part of everyday life. As a marketing services company Google AdWords is a vital part of the outbound messaging mix for many of our clients. For me personally as an experienced direct marketer I like the clear and measureable metric provided by Google AdWords and the facility of making changes on the fly at any time of day or night.
I’ve never felt that Google was inherently evil (the sometime Google motto ‘Don’t be evil’ dates back to 2004 (or 2001 by some accounts) and originally was a direct shot at Microsoft. The days when Google was an upstart are far behind us and with the brouhaha regarding Google Street View and the way that Google was obtaining information (i.e. filming streets all over the world) has many people doubting Google’s commitment to not being evil.
While I won’t offer an opinion on Google being more or less evil than was once the case, I will opine that with the changes announced on Wednesday in the way agencies and marketers will have to pay for Google Adwords on mobile devices, it appears that Google is at the very least greedy. This should not come as a total surprise considering Google has nearly 80% of the entire search market in the United States. After all what would you expect from an 800 pound gorilla?How is Google being greedy? In Thursday’s Wall Street Journal Google announced it will require current advertisers using AdWords to pay for ads on some mobile devices, like tablets, for the first time. That, in and of itself, is not egregious. However Google already is bringing in more than $40 billion (that’s billion with a ‘B’ folks) in annual revenue from AdWords. Google is positioning the change as an ‘enhancement’, calling it “enhanced campaigns,” and it also said it will require advertisers to pay for ads on tablets even if they just want to reach personal-computer users. In case you thought there might be a choice in the matter all AdWords advertisers will be “upgraded” to “enhanced campaigns” by mid-2013, Google said in its blog post alerting advertisers to the change. The only thing really being enhanced here is Google’s pocketbook.
As the Journal pointed out ‘In a blog post, Google said “enhanced campaigns” would allow its more than one million advertisers to set up an AdWords campaign that allows them to control how much they pay to show ads to people who have allowed Google to track their location, time of day and the type of device they are using. Previously, advertisers had to manage multiple campaigns to get similar results.’ I guess that’s kind of an enhancement but for most marketers managing AdWords campaigns on behalf of clients the work around has not been all that difficult. The idea that advertisers will not be able to target and pay for showing ads on particular devices does not serve clients well at this point in time.
Obviously as time passes and mobile becomes the primary means for access in the United States (it already has done so in many other parts of the world) having a single platform makes sense. But why now? It makes sense for companies to make their websites optimized for tablets and mobile devices but many companies are not there at present nor do they have the resources available to invest in optimizing their site to work across the tablet, mobile and desktop environment.
So exactly how does Google’s throw down serve the advertisers that employ AdWords as a vital part of their marketing mix?