Google Does Not Care What You Think

Yesterday’s announcement by Google AdWords that as of the end of September, all keywords will include close variants set the PPC professional community off on Twitter yesterday. I agree wholeheartedly with the general sentiment that this move sucks for advertisers, especially professional advertisers. But here’s the thing – Google does not care what we think. And really, why should they? We will piss and moan about this change for a few days now and after the change is implemented, but will any of us move major dollars away from AdWords because of this? No, we won’t and Google knows it.

Listen, I have said this before – Google is a mega corporation with immense earnings pressure. When they miss analysts’ estimates by even a tiny amount, their stock price can drop by several percent instantaneously. That is some serious pressure. They need to continually find new ways to not only support current revenue levels as advertisers and searchers become more savvy, but also find ways to grow their revenue. This latest change merely follows this path – by forcing more matches and showing ads more often, how can they not increase revenue? For Google, it will most certainly be a win, financially.

I think part of the outrage being felt in the online PPC community, particularly with PPC Chat participants, is that this seems to fly completely in the face of what we were told by AdWords’ Matt Lawson during his interview with PPC Chat ONLY LAST WEEK. He gave us all the impression that there are people at AdWords who are actively paying attention to what the PPC professional community (and PPC Chat in particular) has to say and that the feedback we provide is in some way valuable. A few of his tweets from the August 5th PPC Chat:


AdWords, if you’re reading this, it is this kind of thing that makes PPC pros feel like you give us lip service when it comes to hearing our very valid complaints about major changes to your product. Hey, it’s your product. You can most certainly do whatever you want with it. But do us a favor, will you? Don’t act like you care what we think when you actually don’t, ok? Honestly, I think many of us might respect you more if you just said, “tough luck, deal with it” than to pretend like you want input from PPC pros. I’m guessing that the majority of your accounts are not managed by professionals, so when you talk about “advertiser feedback” driving platform changes, we often hear that as input from PPC professionals, when in reality, you are most likely referring to non-professionally managed advertisers.

Again, that is fine. We are adults. We are professionals. We can deal with whatever you throw our way. This change is a big deal for those of us who are deliberate in our PPC strategy. In our experience, your idea of what constitutes a “close variant” is often not very close. Interestingly though, Matt Lawson also talked about user intent during PPC Chat:


I’m not trying to pick on you Matt, I know we all really appreciated you agreeing to be interviewed on PPC Chat. You provided some really useful information and it felt good to have someone from AdWords interacting with us so directly. But here is what we PPC pros want to know – if, as you say in your tweets above, that “keyword intent remains an incredibly powerful signal” how on earth can you at AdWords justify removing a powerful tool which allows advertisers to be specific regarding keyword intent of searchers?

I know, the argument will be “just use an exhaustive list of negatives to keep intent as you’d like it”. Well, anyone who has been working in PPC for a while knows that (a) it is impossible to create an exhaustive list of negatives, as that list is a moving target and (b) even if you think you’ve covered most bases in your initial list, I guarantee there will be a lot of surprises and wide variety of terms that creep in to your query reports that you could never have imagined – all of which cost advertisers real money with zero chance of conversion.

So, another day, another big announcement from AdWords that will cost our clients money – both in additional ad spend and in additional management time to deal with this forced expansion of keyword matching.

Thanks Google. I’ll add this to my list of items that I’ll need to work on for clients that was not expected (see my post from last week for more on that topic!).

What about you – how are you feeling about this announcement? How will you talk to your clients about it? How will you manage things differently after September?


  1. Well said and it needs saying. I wonder how his friends at Marin are taking this news. Don’t they make their stock in trade by squeezing the most profit out of campaigns for very large advertisers where precision control of head terms is key to the effort.

    To the possible forthcoming best practice recommendations to add negatives, I believe this will only reduce the impact slightly, and of course, have no impact on exact match at all.

    • Neptune Moon says:

      It is disappointing, but really not that surprising, unfortunately.

      Haven’t seen anything from the third party PPC programs on this yet. I wonder if they will weigh in?

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