Comments and observations on business, marketing and life: by Martin Donohoe

Tag: Adwords

BP, reputation management & adwords anger

As with any field, it’s so easy to forget that people outside of  that area don’t have the knowledge that you take for granted.

Leaving aside the obvious environmental aspects and the political blame game, there’s another fascinating element involved (in my opinion). BP clearly have a handle on their PR and are trying to conduct damage limitation, one facet of that is using Google Adwords so that searching for terms like ‘bp oil spill’ brings up a ppc ad which links to a page on their site explaining what they are doing about the oil spill. To someone like myself, who is very familiar with adwords and how it works, this seems like a straightforward and practical thing to do. Whilst the message might be debatable, the mechanism strikes me as ethical and transparent (in the sense that anyone could be using it – the ethics of Google are a whole different conversation).

But, wait, what’s this? Lots of people are complaining that this is somehow underhand and unethical, that Google shouldn’t be jumping into bed with BP (I know!) and that these ads should be banned. Take a look at this page from the bbc site and look at the comments. A quick trawl through other sites reveals similar comments and stories.

Clearly, lots of people are not aware of the mechanism that controls ppc ads like Google Adwords. It strikes me as well that many of the journalists commenting on this story aren’t that clear either. Otherwise, instead of speculating how much BP might be spending on their ads, they’d look at the search volumes, check the cost through an adwords account and make an accurate estimate (just like any online marketer would do).

If I was running BP’s reputation management / damage limitation exercise online, I’d currently be looking at influencing the organic search results using social media, paid links (dodgy ground) and content generation – amongst other seo tactics & tools. If people are getting concerned about the ethics of ppc – how would they react to that! Needless to say, if I was doing that, I’d be doing it discretely, but then isn’t that the essence of online reputation management?

Google off line – fish out of water?

I’ve received several copies of a letter from Google UK recently, promoting their Adwords (pay per click) advertising product. Nothing wrong with that, as an online marketeer I use Google’s products, so it’s good targeting. Or is it?

Firstly, I already have more than one Google account where I manage reasonably sized Google Adwords accounts. Clearly Google are failing to make the link that some of their registered users already have that service in their Google accounts. Secondly, the letters, whilst addressed correctly and with the right name (!) have a job title that reads something like “SEO Manager / Online Manager / Internet Manager”. Come on Google, direct marketing 101, use the right information, or don’t include it at all!

Perhaps most annoyingly, the letters contain vouchers (typically £30 or £50) to use on an Adwords account, but it has to be one that has been opened in the past 14 days – so no use to my existing accounts.

So to summarise Google UK’s direct mail efforts:

  • Badly targetted – I already have the service being offered
  • Uses an incorrect / non-existent job title (not hugely annoying but not professional either)
  • Making a useless offer which potentially alienates existing customers – “hey new customer here’s something for free, but for you loyal customer spending many hundreds of £’s – nothing”
Compare this to Google’s slick, precise and targeted online presence and it really makes you think they should stick to the virtual world and avoid envelopes! Of course, this will presumably have happened all across the country to others involved in online marketing – much wasted paper and money!

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