Get Your House In Order by Rob Griffin , Monday, June 1, 2009
At the most recent Search Insider Summit, I was on a panel about the future of search. It was fantastic and I loved hearing the new things that Gary Milner from Lenovo is doing. What a great time to be in digital media, and especially search. At the end of the panel, the moderator asked our esteemed group of panelists what advice we would have for the audience in these exciting and fast-paced times.
Mine, after much deliberation, was to get the basics right before you trot off and start testing all the new things that are available. It's easy to lose your way and not have anything to benchmark-test against.
This is true of agencies, advertisers, vendors, and the search engines -- though what defines the basics will vary for each. Those of us on the advertising and agency side have felt the pain of the engines often not adhering to any such rule, as new products get rolled out in a fever pitch to beat the competition to the punch. This became painfully obvious recently while working with a new client, Wrapsol, that makes really cool phone and computer protection systems. (On a side note, can I say how much I enjoy working with clients that have products I love? So great.) OK, back to the proof in my pudding.
In this case, our issues were with DoubleClick and Google -- or as I have fondly come to refer to them, "DoubleGoo."
They have some of the best products on earth, but a growing concern I have always harbored is not if, but when, they will lose touch with their foundation. Wrapsol set up Google Checkout and Google Analytics and we have been rolling out PPC on AdWords with DARTsearch. You would not believe -- then again, maybe you would -- the issues Google has getting GA to track GC and integrate them with an AdWords campaign managed with DoubleClick. Granted, much of the Google Analytics issues can be site-dependant, but some better insight certainly would reduce the pain and time to get it right. And with Google Checkout, the confirmation page lives off the advertiser's site, and getting a pixel on that page requires an intimate knowledge of GC or digging through "self-help" sites regarding implementation. Why not employ a seamless link from my cart to an analytics radio button as required in GA setup for tying paid search to GA?
Our DoubleClick reps are running around trying to be helpful, but have yet to produce anything meaningful. Google has expanded so quickly that they can't seem to find the right experts to help us either. My guess is that this is compounded by staff reductions across both companies, but either way we are left sorting this out via trial and error. And today the news we get is that Google can't track order information with Google's own Checkout product because of various variables being passed around. Heck, the last time I checked, GA and AdWords don't even have the same click-counting methodology.
I think Google needs to back up and get their basics in order so they have a foundation to grow from or they risk a breakdown. This is especially true as TV becomes addressable and their Google TV product continues to gain momentum.
But if Google wants to continue on their march for dominance they need to do a few things in my opinion that are the make up of their basics:
Get the foundation in order. This means provide better transparency and better tracking for the core AdWords and AdSense products. This includes better integration with Google Analytics and DoubleClick's DARTsearch.
Better integrate their new products. They have to keep innovating to diversify revenue as search is growing up and I doubt it can maintain the hockey stick growth we have all enjoyed for much longer. But they can't diversify very successfully if the tools create inefficiencies in use and can't cooperate to drive performance.
Learn to be a service company. One, their self-service area is fraught with issues, and if you don't get it right the first time, you will lose valuable data. But also, look at the level of services Omniture offers to get set up right, and look at the hefty fees they get to charge to help clients do it. Good money there. Right now with Google, we figure it out ourselves, or we can potentially outsource this to any number of self-proclaimed Google tool experts.
How or why would Google let this happen? The answer goes back to the advice I gave at SIS. They need to get their basics in order before they keep expanding their march for "world domination," because if they don't they'll end up looking more like " Pinky & The Brain" versus the superpower, new-economy company that they have every right to be.
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