Things Google’s Advertising and Analytics Teams Should Do Yesterday

Ronald Reagan Visiting The Set of Star Trek: TNG. Your Argument is Invalid!

Ronald Reagan Visiting The Set of Star Trek: TNG. Your Argument is Invalid!

This is a bit of a rant.  There are a variety of annoyances I’ve been encountering with Google’s Advertising and Analytics products, and I thought I’d collect them here.  It’s written as a sort of a letter to the Google product teams (addressing them as “you” and so on).

Not to say they are not doing a great job on a lot of fronts!  I love the attribution features in Google Analytics…the mobile support AdWords added last year (although problematic) may, admittedly, have been the only realistic way to support mobile devices in a reasonable way; they really do have a lot going on.

Here are some very low-hanging fruit for improvement though – anyone else with suggestions please jump in and comment, who knows, maybe someone from one of the product teams will read this some day.

In no particular order:

1.) Add “Campaign” as a ValueTrack parameter.
What a hassle without this!
Eliminating the search keyword is forcing those of  us who want to do “closed loop” marketing to take the approach of using a lot of  exact match keywords, and to pass the matched keyword (not what the user typed, what keyword was bid on) in the referral string.  This is desirable for  other systems besides Analytics, i.e. SalesForce, Hubspot, Marketo, etc – for closed loop lead tracking at the keyword level.  It’s a great way to accumulate data over time about what keywords are worth and is invaluable for bidding and budgeting.   But we also want to do attribution analysis in Google Analytics – which means we need to pass the Campaign along, since improving budget management is where attribution really shines – and budgets are managed at the Campaign level.  Listen, I really don’t want to mess around with Excel on every ad and differentiate each Campaign explicitly in each destination URL, it’s silly that it’s not just a parameter, just add it.

2.) Change “Starts With” in Google Analytics to instead say “Ends With”.  
It’s just as incorrect and ridiculous to call it that, as it used to be when it used to be called “Head Match”.  Come on people, you’re embarassing yourselves!

3.) YouTube Analytics?  
Seriously?  Why does this even exist?   Or were you going to develop a separate Analytics product for every other marketing channel too?  No?  I didn’t think so.  How about you just add some features to Google Analytics and let’s all just use that.  Thanks.

4.) YouTube Keyword Tool?  
Guess what – no one even knows this thing exists, and few that do bother to use it as far as I can tell.  By the way, I did some searches and it looks pretty terrible, totally unrelated words coming back!  How about instead integrating some “Universal Search”  features into the AdWords Keyword Tool?  “Universal Search” has only been around  for well over five years now, maybe you could get around to it sometime.  Thanks!

5.) AdWords Good/Better/Best
With AdWords you have two products right now, AdWords Express, and AdWords.  They could be termed “Adwords Good” and “AdWords Best”.  Or maybe even better “AdWords Autopilot” and “AdWords Incredibly Technical”.  Where’s “AdWords Better”?  Tell you what: add some features to AdWords Express and call it “AdWords Better” – then maybe business owners who want to pick up a book and try using AdWords beyond just writing the one ad and putting their credit card in will have a prayer.

6.) AdWords API - Get Rid of the Minimum Required Featureset
Get rid of the requirement of implementing a minimum featureset when people want to license the AdWords API. This is a huge burden for anyone wanting to come out with an AdWords feature – you practically have to create an entire cloned subset of the AdWords system with very broad management capabilities.
All this very high bar has resulted in is a lack of  innovation, which has now been end-run by the AdWords product team itself anyway by coming out with the (in my opinion) ridiculous “AdWords Script” approach – essentially it acts as a huge loophole people can run through, using Scripts instead of the API.
But I don’t want to write or copy  scripts, I want to subscribe to SaaS products that solve problems for me. But the bar for creating a SaaS product is way too high with AdWords – you’ve made it impossible for single feature products to proliferate.  Big missed opportunity. If you dig into it I bet you’ll find that someone put that requirement in place 10 years ago and no one even remembers why now anyway!

7.) In Google Analytics, just give us a single first-click/last-click attribution report
…With the lookback window set to 90 days, that compares both models (at the Campaign, Ad Group, and Keyword level ideally).  That’s all 90% of people are going to do anyway – download the one report, download the other, do VLOOKUPs, and get them into one sheet.  Just do all that for us and get rid of all the other models.  (sorry, no one really cares about attribution modeling that much beyond comparing the last-click basis to the first-click basis.)  I would bet that 90-95% of the use of that feature today is running the first-click report and the last-click report, just so they can be compared.

8.) In AdWords, change the system so if we specify “Near Match” being off, it respects that
…regardless of how the keyword matched.  And try not to look so guilty!  LOL.  Seriously, this setting is important for controlling what comes in, and when you send me junk keywords that I am trying to keep out, it drives me crazy and makes me feel like you’re being sneaky.

9.) In Adwords, get rid of the double-confirm process when granting someone access.

This is a huge pain in the neck.  At least get rid of it if someone is only being granted Read-Only access – seems like pretty minimal exposure in such cases.  I’m not clear as to why this was put in place, years ago, and wonder if there’s any reason to have it in place anymore.

Conclusion
If anyone has any other (constructive) suggestions for Google’s AdWords or Analytics teams, feel free to rant below!

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