Hey, Google: Here's How To Win Back A B2B Advertiser's Trust

You didn’t need to read the recent headlines from Google’s antitrust to suspect the media giant was developing a big trust problem, but those headlines sure put the problem in the crosshairs.

Google’s inflating auction costs, and a first-position bid, isn’t what it seems. This is especially frustrating in the wake of Alphabet’s very good Q2 earnings report.

As an agency owner heavy with B2B/SaaS clients, I’ve grown frustrated with Google on multiple levels. Maybe most frustrating -- and at the lawsuit’s core -- is that Google is currently too big to fail. The way today’s landscape looks, my clients need Google.

That said, I do not trust Google right now. Anything Microsoft or DuckDuckGo or other competitors can do to justify diversifying our search budget would be welcome.

Can Google win back my trust and the trust of my B2B marketing colleagues? Yes, with some specific initiatives.

Give us back control. Google has moved so hard in the direction of automation through machine learning and AI that advanced marketers have a fraction of the targeting and bidding controls we had five years ago. (The ultimate example of this is the black box known as Performance Max campaigns.) If you’re a great marketer fighting to earn your brand or clients a competitive edge, your job today is to influence the algorithm itself, not to go granular in applying best practices at the campaign, ad group, and keyword levels.



AI does have its advantages -- it can find audiences we otherwise wouldn’t -- but there’s such a lack of visibility in keyword targeting and on which properties (which is a separate and massive problem) that it’s not worth the tradeoff. It calls into question how much we can put our faith, not to mention our money, into Google

Pull back the curtain on auction dynamics. What we’ve learned recently about Google’s auction dynamics just raises a ton of additional questions. Google’s auction is not an auction, so how does it actually work? What additional dynamics are in play? We might not love the answers, but it would be valuable to get them. Since nothing erodes trust like ambiguity, specifics would be a great step for Google.

Shed some light on CPCs. Even Google’s admission that it inflated CPCs is sketchy – the 5%-10% estimate it gave is downplaying things.  Some industries (are getting absolutely hammered by higher prices. Any insights Google is willing to share on CPC dynamics -- particularly for verticals subject to greater inflation -- would be welcome.

Innovate for our industry. In 2023, the lion’s share of Google’s product updates (including some helpful ones) have been focused on ecommerce and B2C campaigns. In some ways, that’s good for B2B -- for instance, we don’t have to use Performance Max campaigns unless we want to. But overall, Google has been slow in addressing particular needs and challenges of the B2B purchase journey, which suggests they’re not too interested in creating a better product for us. Google, if you’re reading, I would welcome a conversation about features that would help us drive results for our clients.

I broke into search marketing over a decade ago, and Google has generally been a good partner – and my career lifeblood. Getting a better experience from the platform would be the best outcome for me, my clients, and Google no matter what happens in the antitrust lawsuit. The biggest recommendation I can make to Google: Listen to the people spending money on your platform to decide the best way forward.

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