Yesterday I was babbling on about Google’s recent acquisition of a drone company…which is a bit of a diversion from their traditional online advertising world which is where their actual revenue still comes from. Their recent forays into everything from modular cell phones to self driving cars (which are causing some concerns among financial pundits about their fiscal profligacy) prove that they have a strong appetite for both the long game and tech baubles. Meanwhile back on the farm where the sausage and the money actually gets made they continue to conduct trench warfare against their real enemy…their advertisers.
This rant is more than a little inside baseball…so you have my permission to move on to your next agenda item…but just because I can I’m going to rant. What makes me perhaps most mad is the sheer disingenuousness of this most recent development. Here’s what’s up:
For the longest time if your web page or search ad was clicked on Google would tell you two very interesting bits of data; the search term which led to the click and for ads, the exact keyword which drove the click you paid for. That was helpful for website writers (ie SEO) as it allowed insights into who is searching for what. It was doubly useful for advertisers because we could better target search terms which led to clicks which led to conversion. It’s been an open secret for a long while that Google is not a huge fan of SEO and does as little as it can to give SEO folks anything to work with so taking that that away from them made a grim kind of sense. However given that we the advertisers who actually pay the cash which lets them buy cool stuff like robot companies and drone manufacturers used that information to help us plan campaigns and spend money on Google you might think that sharing information which lets us spend more efficiently (and thus probably more over the long term) might be seen as a good thing. Not so fast there hos!
Nearly two years ago Big G started encrypting the search terms from anyone logged into to any Google product under the guise of protecting searchers privacy. At that point they were still passing the search term and key word…coz…hey money is money.
The other day Google announced that they are now encrypting the search term for paid clicks also. They will allow you to get an overall list of search terms which overall drove the clicks you paid for but where the end user is logged onto any Google service or using a Google Chrome browser we have now lost the ability to attribute the search term to the click which drove the conversion. The fig leaf they hide this act of aggression against their life blood of advertisers is that it helps ensure end user privacy. The same end users who are essentially anonymous anyway.
What this really does is make the job of the advertiser who is attempting to spend marketing dollars on search terms and keywords which do convert that much harder. Fortunately we still have data from the non logged in minority and Bing isn’t playing these sorts of games….but it’s still super annoying. I get that Google is under pressure to keep the revenue solid even as the average per click price slips and the desktop, but doing it by simply making life even harder than it has to be for the people who are actually paying the bills seems a little short sighted.