• http://www.androider.de/ Johannes “Jojo” Siemers

    “to hire 20,833 people to work 8 hours a day, just to keep up.”

    Well, so they should do that. Should cost them less than 2 billions a year …

  • http://twitter.com/Emily_Persing Emily Persing

    I’ve had the exact same thing happen and I didn’t know anyone who worked at Google. It took weeks to get it straightened out. Even the ads they created were rejected!

  • Pat Grady

    Thanks for being vocal David, it’s a problem that needs more attention.

  • Pat Grady

    As an agency, we often run into very complex issues – I’ve had reps close tickets on me and ask me to call them back up and open a new ticket. So a problem, one that had related downstream problems, because more complex (and more slow to fix), because it gets handed off to someone new, someone who doesn’t know that earlier relevant details. It’s obvious the reps are graded / rewarded on closing tickets – managers need to know their internal systems are contributing to lesser service. Irony… starting a new Google Analytics session makes one complex visit look like two simpler ones, and makes analysis harder, not easier.

  • Pat Grady

    As an agency, we often run into very complex issues – I’ve had reps close tickets on me and ask me to call them back up and open a new ticket. So a problem, one that had related downstream problems, because more complex (and more slow to fix), because it gets handed off to someone new, someone who doesn’t know that earlier relevant details. It’s obvious the reps are graded / rewarded on closing tickets – managers need to know their internal systems are contributing to lesser service. Irony… starting a new Google Analytics session makes one complex visit look like two simpler ones, and makes analysis harder, not easier.

  • http://twitter.com/netmeg netmeg

    The problem is, Google fundamentally doesn’t believe in Customer Service. They never have. They only do it grudgingly for products where money (or maybe laws) are involved. They believe it’s an outdated concept that doesn’t scale. And as long as that’s the philosophy from the top down, this sort of thing will keep happening.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    You are welcome Pat. I try to speak truth to power ever now and again!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    The left hand often doesn’t know what the right hand is doing at a company as big as Google!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Interesting theory Netmeg, I’ve never thought about it from that angle, but it is definitely consistent with their notion of “solving problems programatically”!

  • http://twitter.com/netmeg netmeg

    It’s all there in the book “In The Plex”

  • http://www.esocialmedia.com Jerry Nordstrom

    In general the reps try their best but have very little real world experience thus their understanding of your issues and the solutions they offer are often wrong or so basic they are of no value. We once worked with an “advanced adwords team” to help set up a new campaign structure for a large National advertiser with complex needs. The existing strategy was working well, but we and the client wanted more. We relied heavily on their advice believing they understood the nuances of their own system. The new strategy bombed. We reverted back to the old structure and never again sought advice or guidance from the Adwords team.

  • http://twitter.com/bigalittlea aaron levy

    So here’s the thing. I fall into the same boat as you, I’ve had a few clients get the Google backhand in my career (some legitimate reasons, some not), and I always get the same fuzzy response response even when I chat with my highest-up contacts. I frankly don’t expect this to change, and there are two reasons why.

    From an employee perspective (e.g. hiring enough people to handle all the requests) I’ll simply say have you ever been into the AdWords help forums? I’d venture to guess that 70-80% of the questions/requests there are from people who ironically didn’t search faq’s or what have you for their answer. To staff up and fork over the ~$1b it would take to attend to all these requests simply doesn’t make fiscal sense.

    Regarding the vagueness of Google’s responses – the internet is a shady place, full of shady people and a whole ton of money to be made in shady ways. Google’s policies are vague by design. Think about it: the more information they give about how you can just snake by and make yourself compliant, the more likely that information is to be abused in malicious ways and degrade the quality of the product as a whole. “Oh, this is double serving but we’ll let you off this time as long as you do this” would get out of hand quickly. It makes much more sense to just say “hey, you’re a jerk. you’re gone” as much as it sucks if it happens to you.

    Just my $.02 on a very touchy topic.

  • http://twitter.com/danaditomaso Dana DiTomaso

    I had a similar situation happen. Thank goodness I had a real account rep to reach out to or the client (with a time sensitive campaign related to a holiday promotion) would have been SOL.

    And to echo Meg, Google doesn’t believe in Customer Service. It’s true – I’ve heard it from current and ex-employees. But that doesn’t make it right. Things do need to change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Aaron, to an extent I agree – there are definitely tons of slimeballs out there who have poisoned the well for the rest of us. But that doesn’t mean that Google can’t create a more sophisticated system that tries to separate the scammers from legitimate advertisers caught up in an overly-broad sting operation.

    Again, to me, this is reminiscent of criminal law – imagine a legal system where people accused of crimes were presumed guilty instead of presumed innocent? And couple that with non-responsive, vague customer service and you’ve really developed a system that is fundamentally unfair!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Jerry, my perspective on advice from AdWords teams is thus: AdWords reps know how to optimize *spend* but they don’t know how to optimize *profit*! Big difference there.

    That said, I do find AdWords reps very helpful at identifying trends in the industry – our AdWords rep has fundamentally influenced our investments in new service offerings like display advertising.

    So I think you have to know what an AdWords rep can do well, and what they can’t do so well!

  • http://twitter.com/bigalittlea aaron levy

    Oh I definitely am not saying the system works by any means, but more explaining why it is the way it is.

    I actually like the legal analogy a lot; in the past when I had issues, I was at least told what “law” I had broken, but figuring out how to fix it was on me…

  • fran farrell

    You can keep your IBM logic template for now. If you abuse it you’ll have to turn in your logic…the mgmt

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryan.e.14 Ryan E

    Oh David how so right you are, I just got black listed today from google because I was using too many promotional coupons or some competitor turned my ads in for policy violation as we all operate in gray areas ,( as well as competitors ) what a cheese ball snake way of getting an edge on your competitors , complain about a policy violation and google just bans it and doesn’t even ask questions . You gotta waste the next entire week trying to resolve and begging at the mercy of some google cubical slave to make money , I think some new legislation and lawsuits are in store for Google Ad words and their unfair free trade policies . From this point on I think it’s in the best interest of all developers and SEO specialist to unite together and take this monster monopoly down in a legal battle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Guilty until proven innocent *and* you are not told what crime you are accused of . . .!

  • les_madras

    Adwords customers do not have an alternative since Google has a monopoly on search advertising. None of the others you mention such as Yahoo, Facebook, Bing etc have viable search engines to compete.

    Remember that Google has 70% market share in the US and 90% outside. No advertiser can afford to ignore 70% of his customer base.

  • les_madras

    Google’s gross margins are nearly 100% since the cost-of-goods sold is near zero. So optimizing spend is optimizing profit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    My point is that the market is diversifying more and more, hence, now would be a great time for Google to start improving its customer service. Because some day they may not have the same market share that they do today and its best to start building loyal customers now!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Troll much?

  • Allie Edwards Williams

    I was surprised to see this post was about AdWords customer service; my experiences have generally been good. They get back to me within 24 hours, and usually provide answers or insight. I’ve had the occasional moronic response, but calling them on it tends to kick things up in the right direction.

    I’ve gotten the Bing backhand, which was a major pain to resolve – over two weeks for an account to be reinstated after it was flagged by their automated editorial crawler for suspicious content. No changes had been made to the site, and no alert was sent to notify that the account was shut down. Four calls, seven email exchanges and two weeks later it was working again. Two reps told me to suggest the shutdown alert notification as a desired features on the product forum because “management doesn’t listen to them”. What, seriously?!?

    AdWords customer service isn’t perfect, but between the two I give AdWords customer service the edge for timely responses and (generally) providing useful information.

  • http://twitter.com/rowemore Rowe Morehouse

    What can be done? Who can I speak with? I have done everything to be in full compliance with TOS AND QUALITY GUIDELINES. can anyone suggest some tactics or action steps to get off the blacklist? My agency manages accounts as large as VMware. But one client may have to go out of business from the revenue hit. Any thoughts from you folks? Cheers, thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maurice-Walshe/501626909 Maurice Walshe

    Are you saying that FTSE100 companies should get priority over VC backed start ups – would make my Job a lot simpler :-)

  • les_madras

    David, Google’s market share has been increasing over time despite the competition. They now lead in display advertising as well, since they use search history for targeting display.

    There are well documented oddities such as the one where Google accepts ads from SugarDaddy.com, but refuses ads from CougarLife.com. See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/fashion/16cougar.html?_r=0

    In the absence of regulation, Google will not change its ways.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    Good stuff, David. I am sympathetic to the difficulty of crafting policies and enforcing them evenhandedly, particularly at scale. As I wrote a couple of years ago (http://searchengineland.com/googles-advertising-policies-a-plea-for-understanding-56174), I suspect there are plenty of frustrations on both sides. To me the key is the track record of the advertiser and management firm. The default behavior should be to give the benefit of the doubt to folks who’ve acted in good faith over the years.

  • Scott

    I am the small business person you described as getting banned, for no damn reason, that has NO human at Google to talk to. I called the AdWords team at one point but got a less than knowledgeable rep that simply repeated the emails I’d already received … and even read them to me verbatim.

    I switched to Bing and I’m having some success but I want back on Google even though they piss me off so much. What are my options? Please help!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Sorry to hear that Scott. Persistence is the best policy here. Either that or try to find an agency that is willing to “go to bat” for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Great point George. Track record is no doubt important. Though I still generally believe that all advertisers should be given at least some benefit of the doubt, even newbies! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Great points Michelle! I definitely agree with on point #1 and that’s a perspective that I never considered. If you accept a lot of clients, you should take responsibility for providing enough customer service people to respond to your clients! Point taken!

    Regarding your second point, I don’t entirely agree. Let’s face it, there are plenty of folks – law firms or otherwise – who see Google’s deep pockets and will look for *any* reason to sue them. This is probably a case of the weakest link in the chain spoiling it for the rest of us (sorry, I think that was a mixed metaphor). The sad truth is that Google needs to be really careful about their interactions with customers to limit their liability.

    That said . . . I still think the conditional logic I outlined in the article could help to mitigate some of this liability and improve the overall customer experience!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Rowe, if you have an agency rep I would strongly suggest you contact him/her. They certainly don’t have a magic wand that they can sprinkle over your account and get it unblacklisted, but they can generally at least do some digging internally and get you an answer on why your account was blacklisted and whether there is anything your client can do to get back in Google’s good graces. Hope that helps!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Thanks for that perspective Allie. As the underdog, you would hope that Bing would bend over backwards to provide great service to customers. I guess they have some work to do as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    The signs point to the FTC not pursuing antitrust litigation: http://allthingsd.com/20121120/will-the-ftc-blink-on-the-google-antitrust-case/?refcat=news

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky


  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    As I said, Google can steal it if they want, I am happy to help!

  • robthespy

    “no customer-facing billing support.”

    The only positive thing about dealing with Adwords support is being able to compete the satisfaction surveys.


  • http://www.708media.com/ Chris Edwards

    This is very true. They have a programming mentality. Build something that you feel is great and that makes sense to you and forget anyone that can’t figure it out. It does start from the top down.

    One thing that is debatable (which I do not want to get into here) is that Google products are now on par with Apple products if not better (I like to think better). Where Apple wins and Google looses out is Customer Service. If I have an Apple product, I can go down to a physical store and find someone to help me. Google does not need to go this far, but, I should have the option to at least talk to someone if my account is banned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    i’ve had accounts suspended for ridiculous invalid reasons. i wish they
    would communicate with advertisers *before* suspending an account.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gohawks David Rodnitzky

    Right, give us a “warning shot across the bow” or something!

  • Bonnie Russell

    Knowing doesn’t help. I know someone at Google. A couple of someones. But for the past several months I’ve been asking Google to send the car to map the street of a client. Radio silence, followed by continued radio silence. And not mapping it is a safety issue. Google has not responded except to say, “Next time.” So I’m not exactly thrilled with Google.

  • http://www.kishoresoft.com Sai Bharadwaj

    I think I have a better picture of how the interview process since I reside in India & fortunately (not) have attended for an Adwords position through a third party sometime back.

    Adwords support team is not managed by Google and it gets outsourced to different other companies which hire employees and they are allowed to work at Google Workplace (under different payrolls).

    This is how my interview went:
    1) Attended some company

    2) Some Introduction with 30 odd members (I’m no good with my English but, to my surprise the rest 29 were terrible than me) & I was the only one who got selected in my batch.

    3) HR round – conducted in an open hall filled with a lot of noise & too many people waiting for hours & hours just for their next round. She said I’m not fluent but just put me through as I was okay with slight improvement over my previous company CTC.

    4) Versant round – Computer based & I cleared it.
    5) Then, they asked me whether I would attend for a Google voice position? I said sure. They put me through a mock call & I was unprepared..stammering. Just went with the flow & I cleared it.
    6) Later, they asked me to write an Online Test (Google Forms) & it had a cut off for 80%. I thought I would never clear it. I cleared it (was informed next day)

    7) Then, they asked me to go to Google Office. It was raining heavily & I was not allowed to step in unless I have a temporary badge which will only be provided by security if the manager / HR calls saying this guy is listed in the interview sheet!! I had to wait in rain for 3 hours. yes!! 3 hours..standing & calling that “X” company about when I will get my temporary id & she said manager who was to take my interview is in a meeting. I waited. (my friends smsed in the meanwhile..”get the hell out of there”)
    8) Later, I entered the Google workplace & some “not so techie” but a manager came to me and said “oh! so you are Sai. I got up & was about to shake hand, he said I will be back in 10 minutes..I did not have my lunch”. I said no problem. He then took an hour more. Came back & took me inside a room.
    9) He asked about why I needed this Support job. I gave my explanation. I said him I’m more of a techie guy but not a programmer/designer ..and love the support side talking to clients & resolving complex issues. He was not impressed by me using the word “techie”. He asked me bunch of questions and started being rude. I was surprised & just tried to smile. He said I will work in the company for long since this is not a techie job, I said I won’t since its an Internet support side with a smile. He let me go after some questions. Next day, got the news that I was not selected. (Which was not surprising looking at the manage behavior.)

    The point I’m trying to make here is, the selection process is quite easy and bit flawed (at least in my case) where they conduct an Internet based test (containing web related questions) and on the other hand, they do not want someone who understands these terms but a fluent speaker.

  • Greg Price

    Same problem with Google +1 for Business/Places. At least with Adwords you have someone to talk to. Why does Google Places:
    1) Allow anyone to request a change to the basic information in a places account with a claimed listing without being the owner under “report a problem”?
    2) Why donesn’t the information input in places verified listing (particularly business categories) appear on the actual places page? And when you report a p[roblem because the two don’t match the email from Google tells you to log in as the owner and that is where to make the changes. If they only knew.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.yaugh James Yaugh

    An interesting article with some well-expressed, constructive points. A few things however:

    a) It should be addressed that there is a clear disconnect between the rhetorically suggestive title of the article and the policy-centric content it focuses on.

    b) The legal analogy is ludicrous — it is neither a human nor a civic right to advertise using Adwords. The American justice system is a far cry from a set of terms & conditions set out by a for-profit tech giant. These are fundamentally two different institutions and should not be seriously contrasted.

    c) The “quick math” performed by a previous poster in regards to hiring 20,833 new Google employees is, 1. a wildly inaccurate and gross underestimation of the real business cost associated with this kind of massive hire, and 2. not in any way addressing the issue of poor customer service (outsourcing 20K+ hires to India? Really??).

  • Justin

    Google banned my adwords account and I had never even gotten a click. To get my $50 voucher the system at the time REQUIRED I set up a campaign (I was not ready to.) I did not know what to do, so I picked the most expensive keyword I could think of, make money, and bid a nickel- I KNEW I would never get a single ad served, that was the whole damn point. The landing page was my blog, with zero on the whole site about any sort of get rich quick scheme. I email them and each time I respond I get a new reason… They also had poor grammar so I suspect they were in India. Basically they banned me for supposedly promoting Get Rich Quick which was complete bullshit. Sadly there is no real appeal, just people who give a litany of canned responses. This company needs to be broken up. Monopolies are legal in the US so long as they do not abuse their power… so now I am banned for LIFE. What a joke.

    If they FIXED the erroneous bans and just deleted campaigns they felt suspect, along with a required tutorial to help you understand, they wouldn’t need anywhere near the extra dollar cost people here are talking about in customer service.