Google Calling?

I was recently invited to participate on a Google AdWords advisory panel. The microevent was held at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA, at the end of last month.

It was an interesting experience, to say the least.

At first, I was just curious when I got the call from Google. Why me? Why now? I’d heard from an AdWords representative the week before, an oddity of its own.

It wasn’t an email blast, a post in the Google AdWords blog, or a new feature highlighted in Google Friends. An AdWords rep actually called me to tout new travel and accommodation advertising opportunities for a client whose campaign I’d terminated six months prior.

I remember hanging up the phone and thinking, “Hmmm… Google calling?”

Usually, communicating with Google is quite the opposite. It’s an email conversation begging for a prompt response to a trademark ownership issue. It’s a real-time chat about a billing question. It’s an online drill-down about how best to use new demographic tools. It’s almost never an unsolicited phone call.

When Google called again to extend an invitation to join an AdWords advisory panel, I had to accept.

I cleared my schedule and filled out a PowerPoint questionnaire that would eventually serve as the crux of a presentation to about 100 Googlelites.

What was this AdWords advisory panel all about? Much like it sounds, Google was soliciting feedback on a core product line. The AdWords team wanted to know what advertisers liked and disliked about the product, and how the team could better serve advertisers.

I was one of four past advertisers on the afternoon advisory panel. The morning group consisted of current advertisers; mostly agency people, from what I was told. This was the first time Google brought in advertisers who had terminated AdWords campaigns.

We gathered for lunch at the Googleplex. It was free, of course, which is nothing special, considering meals are free for everyone, but it was fun all the same. After dessert, we headed across campus to make our presentations. We were a bit to learn the presentations were telecast to the New York office, but we rolled with it as the room filled and introductions were made.

The group of former AdWords advertisers was well-balanced. It included a small business, a midsize business, a marketer for an educational institution, and me, an in-house SEM (define) wonk.

The audience consisted of product managers, programmers, and AdWords team members, including bloggers and customer service personnel. What impressed me most about the group was their eagerness to listen, learn, and actively question us about our experiences with AdWords.

If eagerness is a hallmark of innovation, Google will to continue to set the standards for PPC (define) advertising for years to come.

Although Google played catch-up recently around the demographic functions offered by MSN adCenter, most PPC advertisers simply can’t afford to ignore AdWords’ depth and reach. So long as an for ROI (define) argument can be made, advertisers will continue to flock to AdWords.

What challenges did we discuss with the group? Here’s a brief, but not all-inclusive, amalgamation of our wants:

  • Clean up the AdSense network; eliminate the splogs (define) and other spam sites.
  • Create a transparent environment for handling click fraud.
  • Consider offering agency discounts, not necessarily in a coupon format.
  • Create better industry-specific vertical opportunities.
  • Create a better way to select or deselect AdSense partners.
  • Offer the ability to upload and store trademark documentation to streamline the ad approval process.
  • Provide easier import and export of reports into customized templates for clients.
  • Furnish an ROI calculator in AdWords Tools and Reports.

At the end of the day, most AdWords advertisers just want a little love and attention from Google. They want faster and better answers to campaign-specific questions, and they want the information to come from Google. Currently, that’s an essential role played by agencies and in-house marketers.

Consequently, the average small to midsize business is routinely left out of the PPC equation due to budget and time restraints. That’s probably going to change soon. The intense level of competition between Google AdWords, Yahoo, and MSN adCenter will force the change.

Don’t be surprised if you get a call from Google soon, too.

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