My experience with Google Adwords

applemacSo you have a product you wish to sell and by now you have learned and/or have been told that Adwords is THE way to achieve just that.

Welcome to that elitist circle of people supposedly in the know, because how on earth could you dare to ventilate anything critical, let alone negative, about Google Adwords? You would look like someone saying ‘Well, I do not trust this phone because it has no cord. How can it work?’. Basically you would be the one who does not ‘get it’.

There is even more reason to believe that AW works because ssooooooo many use it now. If you do not get the desired results, there are oodles of websites out there telling you to invest more time (i.e. money), fine-tune, keyword testing and what fuck not. To these people I like to say, if you buy a car, a computer, a camera you expect it to work right away. You do not want to read a 250 page manual … Sorry, with the exception of handling the BMW iDrive of course. But then again, that was engineered by Germans and they hail from the country of poets & thinkers.

Before I set out writing this I googled ‘my experience with adwords’ and top on the the results page was an article by an Indian. Oh good Lord Shiva I thought, it can’t start worse, sensing that this person would try to sell me his (black hat) SEO services. I was wrong! His article is very good and I can totally relate to him.

Here is my experience with Adwords:

In essence it was (yes, was!) an on again, off again, on again, off again tainted love affair just like Bag Lady.

My first episode

I promoted a single product some 9 years back. I do not recall my max. amount per click anymore. Anyway, after one month I checked and realized that I had run up US$140.00 in ads costs. These 140 buckeroos did not generate a single email enquiry, let alone a sale! It was a very select product, I might add, not anything run-of-the-mill type of thing. Needless to say I stopped Adwords for a couple of months.

My second episode

I decided to blow $250 on Adwords. This time I even went as high as 85 cents per click to get to the first page. It took about about 2 months and a week until I had hit $250 and stopped all ads.

The result was two emails obviously from the competition and one rather blokey type of phone call pretending to be interested. No sales whatsoever! I swore myself to never go higher than $0.25 per click.

My third episode

This one was in 2012 and it turned out to be decisive. Until June ’12 we ran AW on a very low level, deliberately so, and had a billing of not even $5 per month. We felt totally comfortable with this kind of “investment”. Then we stopped the ads in order to see how page views would develop, but with the sure intent of starting again end of Oct. ’12 for the Xmas season.

For the Xmas ad season we added some ads, yet no ad had a higher pay per click rate than $0.20 maximum, so we were expecting ad costs of not more than $8-10 per month. What came then was an absolute surprise: Google said we had run ads to the amount of $78.50 in two months. The billing details showed that Google had charged up to $ 2 (dollar two in words ) per click. We found that hard to believe, checked the ads one by one and found that one ad had a max. pay per click set at $2.00. We had never set that amount and certainly not with my prior experience.

It got even better. Ads with a max PPC of $0.20 were charged up to $1.40 per click. We refused to pay, pointed our reasons out yet Google (probably them guys in Ireland) insisted everything was just fine and continued to answer in evasive replies copy/pasted from their template sheets. One day they even called and a German bloke told me G was right, had provided their services and were expecting to be paid and we were of course wrong. That was it for us!

So we won’t advertise at least the whole of 2013 and probably not even 2014. Google has developed into a crooks company. From what I hear more than 70 search algorithm changes in 2012 alone. They say to improve search results. Hah, look at some search results and ask yourself why is this showing up? It is unrelated to what I am looking for. No, Google keeps changing the search algorithm so that people feel the need to invest more into advertising as the terrain will change due to those algo changes. I came across this website which I follow on Twitter @rmcanderson. He keeps repeating himself fairly often but he certainly makes some very critical points about Google (Disclosure: We are not using the services of this company).

Lest I forget, Google even sends out ad vouchers worth €20, 50, 70, 100 … To my surprise I received one years back and exactly at a time when ads were not running and my mood was low. I googled about this and found that people sell them as low as 5 cent to the dollar and some throw the voucher away. That’s BTW what I did with a €70 voucher.

AW can bleed small businesses dry in a very short time. Small businesses do not have the time to get deeper into keywords research. Here is a NY Times blog about the subject. Here is a post with a very informative comments section, go straight down to ‘comments’. If you thought you were already bidding high, well then look at these outrageous bids for ‘insurance‘ at $54.91 for ONE SINGLE click!

Apart from one person I do not know anybody who still uses Adwords. The ones who tried it were all not satisfied and stopped.


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