Google Shoots Itself in the Advertising Foot
By William May
Published: 01/17/09 Topics: Comments: 0
I can remember the first time I used Google. Up pops the browser there sits a simple single line search box. Type in what you are looking for and get some results.
Or use that "I'm Feeling Lucky" button which is still the dumbest thing they've ever done. I can't imagine why they hold onto it except that humans have a had time discarding bad ideas that they think are good.
But the simple page design concept was unique at the time. Even today most website publisher crowd their screens with so much flotsam the user has to spend previous time trying to find what he wants.
Actually the concept of good graphics and simple design are centuries old. The Advertising business has changed greatly in the last few decades but smart ad guys still know that you have to find one or two good propositions and push them relentlessly to consumers. I still can't figure out what the heck a gecko has to do with advertising but it is tough to avoid the messages.
Internet industry competitors seem to want to fight over the accuracy or relevance of the search results but I say Google rise to prominence was mostly because they kept it simple. Over the last few years Google has begun to destroy what it built. Customizing and adding all those gadgets, widgets and flotsam to your desktop may tickle the hears of the Google engineers who built them but the more the user clutters his own screen the more it detracts from that search bar.
Google is on the right track for services however. Can you imagine getting by without Maps, Images and some of the other tools? I hear their Documents and online office type applications have not zoomed into preference as they had hoped. But the services don't have to kill the simple desktop because you can just keep them in the simple menu.
ADWORDS: Every industry can have it picks and pans for how Google has affected their business. At first AdWords (the google paid advertising system) was a God send. For pennies we could get in front of users and onto the first or second screen. Cost versus financial return is the bible by which advertisers worship. At first AdWords were a religious experience.
But Google didn't get rich by giving away ads. Over the years they have devised intricate systems by which the advertiser could manipulate where his ads ran, when, how much he spent, and then could review the results based on Google analytics. All of that sounds pretty good until you realize it has resulted in an ever upward march of ad costs. I don't mean just the price per click (PPC), but I mean the cost to produce each and every inquiry. In short, the cost to benefit ratio on Google is plummeting.
The learning curse is jumping as well. Being proficient and having control of costs requires a PHD in Google University speak. Our firm spends time managing the process but we are coming to the end of the productivity road. That causes us to search out PPC ads elsewhere that can still be purchased at lower cost. It is easy to get lots of clicks at Google but we're taking more time to use alternate.
ALTERNATES: And we work on the premise, correct I think, that a click is a click is a click - no matter where it comes from. In traditional media like radio, TV, newspapers and magazines the forum in which the ad appears does affect the perception of the product advertised. But let's face it, Google, MSN and other portfolio websites are nothing more than glorified nickel want ads. It takes more time to manage additional ad serving services but the cost can be as much as 90% lower - a difference no advertiser can afford to overlooked.
DOWNFALL: Website advertising will be with us forever. Remember when people said Television would mean the end of Radio? Didn't happen and PPC ads won't ever go away. But I predict their current dominance is dimming and will continue to do so. The reason is that the text limits and bland appearance don't leave enough room for creativity.
As a former copywriter myself I love words of course. But let's face it Google PPC ad graphics are boring, bland and did I say boring? Yes Google has instituted the ability to utilize graphic ads and that is nice improvement. But they too are small and not lent to creativity.
The pundits will tell you that manipulating the message, headline, text and offer are heavily manageable factors and I agree. But only the giant companies can ever afford the kind of staffing necessary to stay on top of such factors literally on a minute by minute basis.
Google has made a pile of money by providing ads that small guys can afford and those small guys can't keep up. They have begun to search for alternate modes of advertising, promotion and public relations. And they'll find them too because they can't afford not too.
As Google tarnishes its golden egg other media will rebound.
Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0098 – 01/17/09