“Dont be Evil” but intentionally deceptive is ok
Had an issue with Google today that pissed me off so much, I decided to blog about it so that others can avoid the problem.
Basically we had a server issue this morning and while everything was being sorted out, we went to all of our PPC campaigns and paused the traffic so we were not paying for clicks that were gonna go nowhere. Google makes this very easy, you can click the little white button under pause on the summary page which selects all of your campaigns and then click on pause and it is basically a quick way to pause lots of campaigns.
Once the problem was fixed we reversed the process by clicking the white button and clicking on resume, quick 30 second restart to the account.
About an hour later, one of my analysts noticed that an ad campaign that we had not run traffic to in over 2.5 years was getting clicks. We then saw that half a dozen or more of our Deleted campaigns had somehow received clicks and impressions - one campaign at almost $10 per click. To make it worse, our tracking link scheme had changed and all of these clicks were either going to dead pages or to websites we dont even own or have relationships with anymore.
We quickly paused all of these campaigns and sent a note to our Google reps letting them know about the problem with their system and asking for a credit for the $3200 or so in clicks we got on these deleted campaigns due to their system error.
A few hours later, we got a nicely worded note that said in the event of “user error” Google would offer us a one time credit of half of the problem.
Hold on a second - User Error? From the campaign summary screen the status of each of these campaigns reads in big red letters as it did before, during and after the issue - DELETED, from the ad group summary screen each adgroup had a status of “Ad Group Deleted” once again in red letters, and from the individual adgroup pages, right next to the ad box, it once again said Deleted in red letters. So on three screens I see prominently displayed in red a notice that the campaign, adgroup and ad are all deleted. I am very definetly not seeing user error here.
Google explained that since I had selected all campaigns and hit resume that they interpreted the request to apply to all ads in the entire account regardless of campaign, adgroup or ad status.
Quick aside on Webster’s dictionary definitions of certain words -
Deleted : to eliminate especially by blotting out, cutting out, or erasing
Resume: to return to or begin again after interruption
The first word clearly implies permanent, the second clearly implies restarting after a break (which could also be considered to be a pause).
Google does not allow users to actually DELETE a campaign, despite flagging campaigns as such, in fact for their purposes there is little real difference between Delete and Pause.
The money means almost nothing, it was a tiny fraction of my spend with them today and will hardly affect my profits at all. The principle on the other hand means quite a bit.
Here is a company that holds itself out as holier than thou, yet at every turn seems to be willing to compromise its principles, which is a big part of the reason most advertisers I know are rooting for Yahoo, or Facebook, or Microsoft or pretty much anyone to actually compete with Google. They are a monopoly and act like one frequently.
In closing (and the reason for the post in the first place - other than to vent some frustration), how can you prevent this from happening to you?
First off find all the deleted campaigns or adgroups in your account, then go and change the maximum bid to $.01. That way if you accidentally resume something you have deleted you will probably get very few impressions or clicks.
Pretty easy actually but it should not be required.
They basically tricked us out of $3200 from in a few hours and who knows how much from others over time, by being intentionally deceptive about the function that is pretty universally understood to not mean temporarily. When was the last time you thought, I ought to hold on to this item in case I need it again, I will just delete it.