It all started so innocently, I own a vacation property on Cortes Island that I occasionally rent out for some additional income. Rentals were few and far between this year and a friend of mine suggested that I run some Google Adwords as she had been told it increases your profile on Google. I checked into it and it seemed like a cool idea. I could associate my ad with key words like “Cortes Island” and “Hollyhock” so when prospective vacationers googled Cortes my ad would show up. Foolproof. It was seductively easy to create the ad that linked directly to my site www.potlatch-haven.com and I chose to set a maximum of $10 a day. For $140 I could test it out for a couple of weeks and one rental would pay for it.
Now I made a huge mistake, ignoring Don Miguel Ruiz’s sage advice in the Four Agreements that one should ever make assumptions, I made not one but four. First I assumed that Google would provide me with regular weekly reports the way Facebook did. Secondly I assumed that they would only run my ad in association with the words I had selected. Thirdly I assumed they may tell me when they charge my credit card. Finally I made the huge error I assumed that when I heard nothing that no-one was clicking on my ad so I was not spending any money.
Summer finally arrived in Vancouver and one of the gifts of not renting was spending close to a month on Cortes. Frankly Adwords never crossed my mind once and the first sign of disruption in the sweet order of my life was that on arrival back in Vancouver I encountered a piece of glossy ad mail from Google. From one perspective it is a miracle that I opened it as most of this type of mail is assigned immediately to recycling however I think I was intrigued by the pleasing design but one glance at the contents and my positive frame of mind was shattered. It proved to be a glossy report of my ad’s performance and how well it had been doing. I had spent $128.00. Although alarmed, the full enormity of the disaster did not sink in until I realized this was referred to as my Q2 report. To my absolute stunned amazement I had spent $128 in 13 days, and had received absolutely no contacts. NOT ONE!. It gets worse, far worse. I rushed upstairs to check my account to find that I had spent $642. Every day I had reached the maximum of $10. My stomach sank almost as deep as the Titanic. How could this be?
At first I felt incredibly judgmental of my own stupidity. How could I have let it go this far? Then after sharing with a couple of friends they confirmed that it could easily have happened to them too. One said, ” they are an electronics company, how could they not send electronic updates?” and followed this with, “they do it on purpose, imagine how many people get caught just like you did.” I decided I needed to share my frustration with Google; this was a less than satisfactory experience; I think I got connected with a robot that was programmed to be nice to me while offering nothing except a credit for $100 – yes you guessed it – more Adwords! I questioned why my most of my clicks seemed unconnected from the key words I had chosen, I am told that I opted in to what was referred to the Google Advertising Network. So unknownst to me my ad runs on the Google weather channel and equally undesirable places. So BE WARNED, read the small print because I had absolutely no idea I had opted in to something that had absolutely no value to me but a ton of revenue for Google. To be fair had I not been overconfident I should have picked this up; it was an example of hubris being punished. Finally I was offered this platitude, “please understand that Adwords is created solely for our advertisers and at the end of the day it is your satisfaction that concerns us the most”. Of course, if you believe that please contact me, I have a very nice bridge I would like to sell you.
At least I can express and share my experience and hopefully will help someone avoid the perils and pitfalls and extreme waste of money. I would love to hear if anyone else has suffered the same way.
Final note: Imagine my surprise when after approximately 70 days without any electronic communication with Google telling me how my ad is performing – during which I was charged the maximum per day for 64 of those days, imagine my surprise when I get two e-mails in the same day. The first expressing concern because I have not been running my ads and the second a report telling me how well they had performed. Coincidence? Decide for yourself