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With any technology, as more features are added, it often becomes harder to use. Google's AdWords continually adds new features, as does MSFT AdCenter. If you know what you're doing in these products, you can put together some amazing online marketing campaigns. But this week's "Discussion of the Week" asks: Has it become too much for the average person/average small business owner to use? Is PPC advertising too complicated now for "regular folks" that don't live and breathe paid search?
Comments18 Comments  

Comments

Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I think Google has pretty much admitted that AdWords is too complicated by introducing Google Tags for small business owners to be able to have a simple, paid advertising product in local search results.

Speaking for myself, I'd answer yes to the question above. I've never been great at PPC and only do it begrudgingly for my wife's real estate business, and did one small campaign for a client about 18 months ago -- and I've long since had a clue how to get the most out of all the various options and tools and optimizers and features and reports and everything else. I think it's reached the point where you really need an expert to do it right and not waste money. Way too complicated.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I would also say yes, at least if you really want to do it right and have it make money for you rather than just use it as a branding tool.

Unfortunately, it's even too complicated (apparently) for some companies that claim to offer Adwords services! We've seen so many horribly managed campaigns come to us to be fixed up, and it's hard to believe they were using a supposedly professional company.



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from Nunney 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I've been working as an online marketing pro for 10 years now. I've helped plan and then edited a book on PPC. But I still use a PPC specialist to really do it right. So yes.



Avatar Moderator
from toddmintz 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 0

The more important question to ask IMO is if Google Analytics is too complicated for the average person?  For if a small business owner doesn't understand Google Analytics, it really doesn't matter how well they understand AdWords.  If you can't measure your advertising, it doesn't matter much whether or not you understand how to set it up.

And, I think Google Analytics is much harder to understand than Google AdWords for the average person.



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from netmeg 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Absolutely yes, and I've been yelling about this over on WMW for at least three years now.  We see the small business owners struggling with it over and over before finally giving up.  Instead of trying to *fix* the problem and retain the people who have already shown interest by giving it a try, Google just mass produces more $100 advertising vouchers in a scattershot approach hoping to get a few that will stick. (I've often noted that Google AdWords vouchers are the AOL CDs of 2010)

It's even more ironic, because that scattershot approach is exactly what Google's quality score was designed to squelch.  Or at least part of it.

However, that said - Microsoft adCenter is just as bad, maybe worse.

Neither Google nor Microsoft get the fact that business owners have businesses to run. Money is not the only constraining factor; it's also TIME.



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from fivetech 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 0

How about the fact that almost ALL of Google's products are difficult for a SMB owner or the average person to use.  Claiming you place page, setting up or running AdWords, Analytics ... they all take a lot of time and learning.  Clarity and usability are lacking all around.

The amount of compeitition within AdWords is what really drives the needs for a pro to handle these campaigns.  Even if you get things set-up, you're likely not making the most of your spend.



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from scottclark 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I would love to see SMBs look at consulting fees as a short term expense for a long-term gain.  A halved cost per acquisition over the course of a year can make you forget all about hiring a PPC expert for a few months' time.   But they still do the accounting based on the immediate expenses!  Drives me nuts.



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from elistevens32 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It really depends on the niche or market. Overall yes, Adwords is too complicated and there are too many competitors for the average business to make any really profit.

But for smaller niches some businesses can dominate without fear of the big guys really squeezing them out. But those are minimal...



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from jreddyhoff 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yes I think it has. I am sure that it is now much more complex to understand and to do really well than SEO. We usually find that a campaign needs a major overhaul before we can manage it on a regular basis for a client who has looked after it themselves for a couple of years.But I don't agree that it is not possible for the average business to make a profit from AdWords - precisely because so many campaigns are badly run!



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from netmeg 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 1

There's also the issue of support.  I do a lot of business consulting, and I've about reached the point where specifically recommend AGAINST Google products because of the lack of support.  When I saw the PC Magazine site recommending Google Voice for businesses, I plotzed. You should NEVER build your business around products where you can't get support.  And I don't consider funneling people with mission-critical (and potentially company confidential) issues to user forums to be support, either.



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from brianajft 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yes, I always explain that it take a lot more than just signing up and starting a couple of campaigns. Almost every time I speak with a client who attempted their own profile I hear responses like... "Ya, Ive tried PPC, and it didn't work well for us.." "lost a lot of money" the more practice, the more efficient. and now there are so many variables and reports and things to tweek. You could even take a course just on writing effective ad copy.



Avatar Moderator
from Sebastian 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yes.



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from crimsongirl 1422 Days ago #
Votes: 2

One thing some of you are missing: From Google's standpoint the increasing complexity isn't a bug; it's a feature.

It's a method to extact more from customers through Price Discrimination.  Customers (advertisers) who spend lots of time and money or who hire contractors to manage their accounts can squeeze the cost per click down.  Those who don't pay a higher cost per click.

Other industries use complex pricing systems to extract more money from their customers, too.  Think airlines, especially before the Internet made their fares easy to find.  100 passengers on the same flight may have paid 100 different fares.  The passengers who took the time and hassle to investigate the fares and who had the most flexibility in flying times, got lower fares than those who didn't.

Customers resent Price Discrimination, but economists love it.  It's perfectly rational that Google designs AdWordss to be complicated, as much as we hate it.




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from DavidBlizzard 1421 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I don't see how something as complex as PPC could be made simple. Personally I'm glad that we can show the benefit of professional PPC management, it's another avenue of revenue for us. When we turn a customer's failed attempt at PPC into a success it usually ends up being some of the best advertising we have, word of mouth. On the lighter side it is often very entertaining when you get your first glimpse at a client's attempt to do PPC. I remember a lady had a budget of $10 per day for a vacation rental and one of her keywords was "valentines day". The budget was spent every 2-3 hours and she would go back in and increase the budget multiple times throughout the day never understanding what was going on or where the money went. She would have been better off playing the slots in Vegas.



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from Scottie 1418 Days ago #
Votes: 0

As an AdSense publisher, I am really annoyed that Google has made such a mess out of AdWords.   To me, ads ARE content- if they don't relate to the topic of the page, they are junk.  And when you make the process so difficult that the small to medium business owner abandons the whole idea, not only do I lose interesting content that monetizes resource sites, those businesses also become resistant to other forms of online advertising.

I have steadily watched the ads on my sites and related sites becoming less and less relevant.  Doubleclick was introduced to fill in the gaps where G has no one bidding for those terms and that's all it is... filler.

I've gotten 3-4 $100 vouchers this year myself and I do think it signals a desperate attempt to regain advertisers.  But the idea generally is that you entice people to try again when you have something better for them to try. It's just gotten more complicated.



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from lukealley 1417 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I second what David said. When new clients allow us to go into their old accounts, there is always a key ingredient that is missing. The problem is that there are MANY key ingredients! If a SMB misses just one thing it can throw off a whole campaign.



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from Eloi 1417 Days ago #
Votes: 0

For a SMB owner, yes. Purely because he shouldn't have to spend time on it, as he hs other things to worry about than the technical details of his advertising program. It's not his job.

Just like SEO, it requires a specialist.



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from deepfootprints 1386 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yes, it takes time and effort to run a quality PPC campaign and you simply cannot leave a campaign running without daily supervision (assuming spend over about £50/day). There are just too many things that can change and problems that can occur.

If a small business owner wants to run a low maintenance campaign without too much difficulty then the minimum requirement nowadays is to avoid broad match (even with modifiers).

It's where you find the new niches but it is also where you find the unexpected issues.



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