Have you ever questioned the alignment of your Web advertising interests with that of Google’s? Have you ever found yourself yearning for a “better feel for” the tangible value being provided? Ever feel like you’re paying Google protection money — buying PPC ads in return for protecting your natural search results? You’re not alone. I often run into people who do — from small business owners on up to larger brands. Here are their stories and how you can take first steps toward uncovering the value of your Web ads — or lack thereof.
What You Buy Is NOT What Google Sells
Google is not your friend, a helpful source of traffic (maybe “the most”), however they are in it for them.
So says my very experienced colleague, JP Werlin who boldly suggests that Google’s interests are not in line with yours — period. It’s your job to fix that. When serving up ads, Google makes automated choices based on a number of factors — what it considers to be a “relevant ad” based on the searchers query. It’s widely known that Google’s secret AdWords algorithm weighs click through rate heavily.
In the end, the more people clickin’ your ad the “better” the ad so far as Google is concerned — they get paid PER CLICK!
Google doesn’t get paid based on anything that aligns with your end business goal — a qualified lead or a sale coming within certain cost parameters like Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), Cost Per Order (CPO) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).
JP’s rule is simple: “When evaluating the success of ad copy on Google, be sure to tie it back to a monetizable event (a sale, a lead, etc.). Failure to do so will turn you sour on paid search marketing very quickly.”
Attribute Your Leads/Sales
Even if the “monetizable event” is not realized in the short term you need to attribute the click to a larger chain of events. Eventually the clicker will purchase/transact and you must attribute the click/action to your end goal. If you don’t you’re wasting time and your budget. Google doesn’t “auto-align” with your ultimate goal.
This means understanding where your visitors are, at the moment, within their “Chronology of Purchase Intent”, measuring and organizing around it. One means of achieving this is by using personas and “persuasion architecture” (hat tip to Jeffrey Eisenberg of FutureNow).
Search Engine “Protection Money”
There is a growing, fear-based need among buyers of Google AdWords ads that is another sign of the mis-alignment between most advertisers and Google. Many advertisers feel compelled to continue buying Google ads — for fear of losing existing placement in “natural” or “organic” search engine results (SERPS).
… (the advertiser’s) belief was that Google somehow rewarded its paying customers with better SERPs as part of a quid pro quo relationship. And by keeping a small AdWords budget, he was giving Google a little something to keep the company happy. Protection money, if you will.
You’ll hear this refrain consistently and among a majority of folk who buy AdWords ads… although it rarely leaks out onto the Web. Of course, many will deny this we have no real way of knowing if this is true — or to what degree.
Derek Schwitters of search marketing agency, LodeStar Marketing Group says there IS a connection between having relevant content on your Web site and your AdWords campaigns.
“However, this has nothing to do with if or how much you’re paying Google… rather, it’s a factor of the content at your site matching up with the promise made in your ad copy,” Schwitters says.
Today, you are asked to trust Google on setting the ad price for you — AND, in some cases, measuring the effectiveness of that ad via Google Analytics! Would you do this with a TV, radio or print ad buy? Of course not. This introduces the potential for price fixing. Yet where do most businesses invest a majority their precious Web marketing dollars? That’s right — pay-per-click (PPC) search ads.
Google’s Brand Value v Real Value
I see a strong disconnect between where and how advertisers are investing and what they say is important to them. Many are not comfortable in their own understanding of online marketing. Yet they’re compelled to invest in it — to the extent they’ll invest blindly. Hence, the likelihood of serious advertising waste increases.
Most Web marketers I interact with have a very loose grasp on the value Google’s ads provide at the end of day. Yet Google maintains THE highest “brand trust” rating as compared to more established business brands. How can this be? Marketers don’t understand “how Google works” yet they fully trust its secret sauce. Oof!
Growth Masks a Multitude of Sins
Today’s most important purchase criterion is high value (61.3%) followed by low price (52.4%). Yet in Google’s case, value is purely perceived, not realized among most of its customers. It relies on this fact. Price is locked up in a black box, kept secret. No longer is it an “honest open auction” as Yahoo! once provided (where advertisers bid for placement against each other — without “secret quality algorithms”). Google’s auction is closed, guarded. Why?
Clearly, marketers are willing to invest without knowing and this is backed up by research coming from The CMO Council.
Anecdotally, who’s trusted LESS than Google? FedEx (63.1%), UPS (62.4%), HP (61.6%), Microsoft (59.2%), Sony (51.4%), Dell (47.6%), Staples (47.1%), Office Depot (45.4%) and Sam’s Club (41.2%). According to Bredin Business Information (BBI) Google sits atop these brands. Shocked? I am.
Least important to small business owners is “buying from a leading brand” (1.9%). Yet that is precisely what they do with Google.