The Google Scoop™
Google's Adwords and Adsense may well be the best cash generating black box ever devised.
If Google looks like it won't hit its numbers for the month, someone just twists a knob on the outside of the box and *presto!*, the numbers are hit.
I experienced what webmasters call the "Google Scoop™" this past weekend. There's an AdWords Group in one of my campaigns which normally burns up a few dollars per day. We're talking single digits. Partly because it's such a trivial portion of my monthly ppc budget, I have basically let it slide due to a focus on tweaking bigger campaigns.
Well, this last Sunday (March 30th), I saw the Google Scoop™ in action. While taking a peek at my Adwords expenditures for the day, I noticed a huge bulge in one campaign. After clicking it open, I saw that the expenditures were all in the group I mentioned above. By Sunday evening the Adwords group which averaged about $3 a day had shot up to $29.35. Some digging revealed that my ads started appearing on a basically a junk site that same day which then resulted in the spike and no sales.
Yes, I'm ultimately accountable for choosing to allow my ads to be shown across Goog's Junk Network, but I'm still annoyed over this. The site in question has nothing to do with business nor did those clicks generate any sales. I asked, tongue in cheek, for a credit and of course, as always, Google's online live chat person told me that hell would have to freeze over first.
For more on the Google Scoop™, read this recent article, titled "Google's riches rely on ads, algorithms, and worldwide confusion" in The Register:
Of course, there are days when a campaign doesn't reach its daily budget, when an ad receives fewer clicks than normal. And that's where Google's late February email comes into play. The email notified certain AdWords users that Google was tweaking their ad campaigns to include something called "automatic matching." With this AdWords "feature," Google automatically grabs an advertiser's excess budget and uses it to post ads against keywords other than those the advertiser is actually bidding on.
"Automatic Matching automatically extends your campaign's reach by using surplus budget to serve your ads on relevant search queries that are not already triggered by your keyword lists," Google's email reads. "For example, if you sold Adidas shoes on your website, Automatic Matching would automatically crawl your landing page and target your campaigns to queries such as 'shoes,' 'adidas,' 'athletic,' etc., and less obvious ones such as 'slippers' that our system has determined will benefit you and likely lead to a conversion your site."
In other words, Google will automatically take the money an advertiser isn't spending and spend it on searches the advertiser hasn't explicitly approved. For the average advertiser, this is not a good idea.
I'm reminded of an announcement that came across the radio a decade ago while I was riding in a taxi to Toronto's Pearson Int'l Airport. It was a PSA about a band of pickpockets who were working the airport that day. It ended with a warning to watch your wallet.
The same advice is appropriate for anyone using Google Adwords: watch your wallet.
Be especially vigilant at month's end.