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Google, its advertisers, and the end-user 2003 – 2010

09 Sep 2010
By Simon

The launch of Google Instant has created a mighty online stir with Google users and advertisers alike. Having previously worked for Google, I know the focus has always been on the end user and Google Instant will ultimately benefit Google’s users.

However, from an advertiser standpoint many Google customers will be re-thinking how they build, analyse and evaluate their AdWords PPC campaigns. The launch of a new product like Google Instant isn’t the first time Google has changed the rules, there have been a number of them over the last seven years, most notably:

2003 – Moving from an initial cost-per-thousand (CPM) model to PPC.

Why? Google has always been firmly focused on relevancy, so why should an advertiser with more money be able to pay more in order to rank higher than a more relevant advertiser with limited budget?  The launch of AdWords meant a level playing field for all.

2005 – Introduction of Quality Score (QS)

Why? Well, some advertisers were being penalised because they found their minimum bids on certain keywords were too high even though they had a very relevant QS flow from keyword to ad copy to landing page/content. QS allowed for minimum bids to be “variable” per advertiser / keyword rather than per keyword across the whole advertiser community.

2006 – The relaxation of trademark restrictions.

Why? Google argued that if a company sells a product manufactured by another company (i.e. a hardware retailer such as PC world selling HP laptops) why should they be prevented from advertising it? Similarly, if a user searches on a specific brand name, why should the search results not show ads for other companies similar to that brand?

Google actually has never been under any legal obligation to protect TM usage and merely offered TM monitoring as a complementary service.

2008 – Making visible and destination URLs match.

Why? Google felt that some advertisers were deliberately misleading users. Before this change took place, you could effectively have a visible URL in your ad which pointed at a completely different, unrelated destination URL. There was plenty of malpractice over the years, and with its users in mind, Google put a stop to it.

2010 – Raising max bid caps

Why? The sceptic would say Google just wants to make more money, I don’t know what Google’s official line is on raising the bid caps, but am guessing that if some areas were getting too competitive (i.e. personal injury, finance, loans) then a higher bid ceiling would be the answer in order for advertisers to compete effectively and play ads in the auction.

Ultimately, as Google and its products change and continue to change, advertisers will need to change too; forget about complaining and instead spend their time thinking of new, innovative ways to appeal to potential customers. The end-user should always be front of mind.

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