I was trying to avoid writing this post, but I just can’t…
It has been quite a couple of weeks in the PPC world with the seemingly constant malfunctioning of the AdWords interface. Reports of issues have been all over Twitter lately and the level of frustration is understandably high. I’ve been tweeting about it too – when I am trying to manage clients’ accounts and I can’t make the changes I need to make, let’s be clear – it is costing real businesses real money. When I can’t adjust a bid to make sure my mobile heavy client remains in the 1st or 2nd position, they are losing exposure and therefore losing business. There is nothing theoretical about that. When I can’t add negative keywords to stop traffic that will never convert, that costs my clients real money.
To be fair, I did get a pretty quick response from AdWords on Twitter after my burst of tweets last week, but most other tweeters did not. The person on my case does seem to be trying to work on resolving the issue and I appreciate that. It does seem kind of ridiculous that the issue is clearly widespread and the support team needs screenshots and to know exactly what you were trying to do when the issues occur. There is clearly something very wrong with the system right now.
It has been over a week since my initial contact with AdWords support and they are still “unable to replicate the issue” which for those who don’t work directly with programmers or engineers, means they are probably considering it a non-urgent or intermittent problem since they can’t make it happen. If engineers can’t replicate it, they will almost always tell you they can’t fix it, by the way. Which blows my mind because there are often problems that happen outside of a company’s network that are not present when the site in question is accessed from the internal network. I have seen this happen on many sites over the years. But, I digress…
More importantly, this issue brings up a larger question – what does AdWords owe its customers? My answer to that question would be, at a minimum, a system that functions virtually all the time. Their answer seems to fall a bit short of that position. They clearly seem to feel like “Thanks for letting us know and rest assured we’re working on it” is an acceptable status for days or weeks on end. It is not.
In case you’ve forgotten AdWords, the way your business model works is that you show ads, based on how your customers set up their accounts and then bill when ads are clicked. If you have a situation going on where I cannot access my accounts to make desired changes that impact what my clients spend in AdWords, that is a MAJOR problem. And the errors that have been happening for weeks, mean just that. Changes are not saved. Bids are not modified. Negative keywords are not added. Keywords are not added, paused or unpaused. Research into account performance is not able to happen. The list goes on. All of these things translate directly into increased cost for your customers, period.
Are you sensing a theme here?
You owe it to your customers to fix this in a timely manner. More than 24 hours is not a timely manner. A company the size of Google has virtually unlimited resources to throw at an issue like this, if it is a priority. If a client’s credit card expires, you stop showing their ads immediately. If your system is experiencing a major meltdown, you say you’re “working on it” with no indication of a timeline for resolution. It simply is not good enough.
The basic agreement between you and your customers is that they control how their account is set up and run. When the system malfunctions for an extended period, you are violating that basic agreement. You are taking away choices and the ability to control our spend. You’ve built up your position as the de facto search engine for the entire world. With that position comes a responsibility of epic proportion. You do owe us status updates. You do owe us an explanation. And most importantly, you owe us the fulfillment of your half of the business agreement. Anything less is unacceptable. Anything less is a breach of that contract.
What about you – have your accounts been impacted by this issue? How are you dealing with it? Sound off, we’d love to hear your thoughts!