An Ex-Googler’s Perspective on Google Customer Management

It’s one full year since I left Google’s New York office to “take my talents to the agency side,” as a certain newly-minted NBA champion might, unfortunately, say. Working at Google was like nothing else – bright people, an energetic culture, and the feeling that you’re part of a company that brings fun and efficiency to all corners of the Internet. Those still-warm memories are good to have, because my current position and company haven’t taken me too far from Larry and Sergey’s search engine.

As part of a digital marketing agency, I’m interacting with Google on a near-daily basis. And it’s been interesting (if not a little jarring at first) to work with Google this time around as an outsider. As someone who can now speak from both perspectives, I thought it would be worthwhile to share some things that have taken some getting used to now that I’m outside of Google’s walls.

“You Have Violated Google’s Terms and Conditions”

This message, or something of similar verbiage, is a roadblock that any advertiser working with Google’s network will encounter at some point (and in many cases, something an advertiser will deal with repeatedly). The reasons for Google’s “you can’t do this” messages can vary, but the rationale and information coming from Google can often be vague, leading to more questions (and frustrations) than answers.

I’ve been getting used to this first-hand. For example, I wanted to know why one of our ads had been turned off, seemingly for no reason, while a competitor’s ad continued to run wild and free. The lack of specificity with the automatic and canned responses from Google can leave an advertiser frustrated. With a little more time and effort the answers can be uncovered, but no longer having that immediate knowledge of how and why something works in Google’s complex algorithms is frustrating.

The Client Cost of Google Reorganizations

Google’s always been incredibly strategic with how it organizes its human resources. If there’s a way to more efficiently and effectively use a person’s strength, Google will try it. My advertising sales teams at Google were no different, which led to regular reorganizations. Re-orgs can be effective, but they can also be a frustration from the advertiser’s side. When teams are changed, we can find ourselves essentially starting from scratch with a new Google client services specialist, who must learn about the advertiser’s business and what their AdWords objectives are. And of course, no matter who the new Google team member assigned to us is, their first bit of advice is always expected: “Why not try raising the daily spend by 10 percent?”

Relationships With Agencies Continue to Improve

These two (relatively minor) grievances aside, Google’s relationships with digital marketing and advertising agencies have improved immensely over the past couple of years. Yes, Google rightfully cares more about the end client – the company funding the advertising spend – than a third-party, intermediary agency managing the advertising account. But Google’s gotten better about recognizing the important job the agency plays, and has taken a more active role supporting agencies in a more sustainable way.

A great example of this is Google giving time to our company to go through a client presentation deck together. Google’s willing to work with us and other agencies to put forth a united front to make sure our clients (who double as Google’s customers) are serviced properly. In short, it’s much better relationship building for the long term, which starkly differs from the previous, mostly self-service approach (especially for lower budget clients).

Do you work with Google either in-house or as an agency? What have your relationships been with the company – have you noticed differences over time?

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