I call myself a Google-a-file. I am a huge fan. I know first hand that they do keep private information private, that the system rewards effort and ingenuity, and that it is the most cost effective advertising channel available to any business with a Web site.
What I have never been able to figure out though is why Google thinks they operate in a vacuum when it comes to tools for big advertisers.
Google recently released Automated Tools, which allow administrators to create rules at the campaign, ad group, keyword and ad copy levels. The power of these tools and what can be done with them, at this point, look limitless. Small & medium enterprises (SME’s) that don’t integrate other online marketing platforms can avail of this tool now to achieve increased savings, incremental sales and ROI, but big brands and businesses may not find this so easy.
With Google’s automated tools, advertisers can set campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ad copy to automatically pause if target click-thru-rates (CTR’s) aren’t reached over a set time period, keyword bids can be automatically increased or decreased based on the parameters you choose, or you can automatically increase daily spends if sales reach targets on any given day. (This in and of itself is worth the price of admission.) How many times have you lost out on incremental sales when your PR or some other factor kicks in because your daily budget ran out too soon? With this tool, that may never happen again.
And there is so much more. For small and medium businesses that focus most, if not all, of their online marketing budgets on Google AdWords, this is a truly brilliant tool and gives them much more functionality than third party bid management and tracking tools used by the big boys. Welcome to the major leagues, now you have the power to really play game.
For big brands that use multiple channels on online and require third party tracking to integrate their efforts, this new tool might be out of reach. The problem is that most big brands (at least in Ireland) use third party tracking like DART Search & Double Click, which cannot incorporate any of these new tools. Since Google owns Double Click, this issue might be a bit of a head scratcher if you don’t look at the bigger picture.
For those who aren’t aware, third party tracking allows big advertisers to track display and paid search advertising in tandem and can de-duplicate sales driven by both channels. Meaning that if someone clicks on a banner ad one day, and a paid ad the next day that drives all the way to purchase, the system only records one sale from both clicks rather than a sale for each click (the last click gets the sales attribution). De-duplicating sales data is not the best way for advertisers to track their online marketing efforts, but I can’t imagine Google took this into consideration since almost all of the bells and whistles available in AdWords are not available through third party systems, but it does put this issue into a bit more focus.
In the Irish market, where Bing/Yahoo! platforms don’t yet offer paid search (this is meant to change in May-ish), it would be incredibly beneficial for advertisers to opt out of third party tracking to be able to avail of this new Google tool. For everywhere else in the world, where third party tracking also integrates multiple search platforms like Bing, opting out of third party tracking for the power of this new Google tool might not be worth the effort. Opting out means you have to administer two different platforms (or more) separately which could be a right pain in the ass, but will give you the power of all of Google’s AdWords tools.
Lastly and possibly, most importantly, opting out of the third party tracking means that advertisers will have to opt in to Google Analytics (ah, a half-penny drops), but that’s not the best option for advertisers either. Analytics favours organic search, which really should be tracked separately from paid search because Analytics short changes the value of paid search at the conversion level. Paid search ROI attribution on Analytics looks lower than it should and cost-per-conversions look higher than they really are because the last click before conversion gets the sales attribution (this is the same de-duplication used for display and paid search) which is not the best way to determine the effectiveness of paid search marketing budgets.
But let’s get back to Google’s new tool. Are Google thinking that advertisers will weigh all of these considerations and choose a Google only approach? Possibly. Is it more likely that they just created a really powerful tool because they can – that many big brands won’t be able to use? More likely. Does it push a Google agenda, yes – and aside from the Analytics issue, that might be a really good thing.
Ultimately, to use Google AdWords to the best of its ability, advertisers need to use Google as a unique platform, separate even from its own Double Click platform. Though this may seem counter intuitive, Google is compromising Double Click, which has been a waste by the standards of a fair few of us in the business, to further it’s mother ship. The problem is that this puts big advertisers in a very frustrating position and will mean a huge overhaul of advertising practices if large advertisers and agencies have to disentangle AdWords campaigns from third party tracking platforms. But the bottom line for AdWords advertisers is that this is exactly the right thing to do for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is putting their new automated tools into action.