I want to like Google.
They have all those free services: search, Gmail, Analytics… what’s not to like with those?
And I’ve been a customer of Google’s for a long time, too – spending money on their AdWords ads since February 2007.
Google does a lot of good things and I’m sure most people who work at Google are good people.
But the way Google’s UK & Ireland AdWords team has treated me in the last 4 weeks has made me realise that all is not well at Google. In fact, it’s very dangerous to rely on them in any way.
Google Permanently Suspend My Account With No Warning
Four weeks ago, I’d created two AdWords ads. They’d been shown a grand total of zero times.
Then I realised the ads might both be in violation of Google’s ad policy. Not wanting to violate that policy and preferring to play it safe, I cancelled one of the campaigns. And I tried to cancel the other one.
I didn’t intend to break Google’s rules. I made an innocent mistake and tried to correct it as soon as I could.
At this point, I assume Google looked at my ads and decided they did indeed violate their policy.
Fair enough. [though I've subsequently reviewed their policy and can't see any way the ads were in violation. From what I gather, Google AdWords penalise anything that looks like affiliate marketing, though don't make this at all clear in any AdWords policy documentation I've managed to find.]
Next, though, instead of alerting me to the fact that my ads were against their policy and not running them, Google decided the appropriate course of action was to permanently suspend me from using Adwords. Forever.
“Not to worry,” I thought. “Those folk at Google are smart and reasonable. When they hear what’s happened, they’ll realise a permanent ban was a bit heavy-handed and re-enable my account.”
I Try to Contact Google, but am Ignored
So over the course of the next several weeks I politely tried to reach out to Google’s UK & Ireland AdWords team.
I called them. I wrote to them. I wrote again. And again. In return, when they did reply, all they did was to send me template emails that completely failed to address any points I’d tried to raise.
I did speak to an AdWords customer support person on the phone at one point. They were friendly enough, but their only authority seemed to be to pass on a message to someone else. Nevertheless, I hoped this might do some good. A few days passed. Then I received it … yet another template email. Grr.
I filled out their online complaint form, asking for a more human interaction. Again, nothing but a template reply.
Google refused to engage with me in any meaningful way.
Charming, Google. Truly charming.
Barred from Accessing 91% of UK Search Traffic
Google have now barred me from accessing 91% of the UK’s search traffic with paid search. And they don’t bother to even properly respond to my queries about it. Great.
I used to test lots of business ideas by running small Google search ad campaigns. Now I can’t.
Google’s UK and Ireland AdWords has refused to discuss why they’ve taken this action. I suppose this is always a risk when a company has the kind of dangerously dominant (*cough* monopolistic *cough*) market share that Google currently enjoys.
I know there are good people at Google; people who want to do the right thing. Sadly, Google’s policies no longer seem to be letting them do that. Now when I call customer support, the people I speak with tell me that there is nothing they can do: the policy people have spoken and they must be right. It’s like some kind of Orwellian nightmare in there, with policies in charge rather than people.
Google Favour Large Businesses Over Small Advertisers
What’s especially galling about this is that Google don’t treat everyone the same way.
Google treat larger customers with more respect.
I used to work for a company that was (and still is) an extremely large AdWords buyer. When they screw up, it’s a different story. A quick word with their account manager and Google turn a blind eye. Their account isn’t suspended. They don’t have to wait days for a response. And they don’t have to put up with condescending template emails.
It’s the small guy that gets the raw deal. It’s the small guy who gets penalised for an innocent mistake, then ignored by Google.
If you work for Google: we both know your organisation can be better than this. Let’s sort this out. You can contact me here.
If you don’t work for Google, please warn your friend about the reality of AdWords:
Your AdWords account may be shut down permanently at Google’s discretion at any moment without any warning or explanation and with no way of speaking to Google about the decision.
Do you really want to be at the mercy of an organisation that treats its paying customers like that?
- Google’s Love/Hate Relationship with Affiliates
- Google’s Affiliate Network
- Google Adwords Fooled by Scammers
- Google Pays Record $500m DoJ Fine Over Drugs Ads