I had the chance to go to Google in Mountain View this week, and what an amazing conversation I had with some Comms and PMs. We were able to have a true back and forth on a lot of things (especially PMax Insights and SMB support), and I really enjoyed the Googlers I chatted with.
That being said, I've talked with a lot of (non-rep) Googlers over the years in person. Execs, Engineers, PMs, Comms, account strategists, etc. I believe that every individual Googler I’ve ever talked to actually cares about providing a great product for their advertisers, but…
…but many advertisers and operators have become increasingly frustrated with Google over the years, trust has decreased, it’s not good for the long-term health of the industry. There are likely many reasons, but I dislike the “easy shot” answer everyone (on my side: advertisers) runs to: “Google just cares about their own revenue.” Okay, sure. Fine, yes. But like, that doesn’t explain the current friction between advertisers and Google. Think of a brand you LOVE right now. Like, brands people get tattooed on them. They’re no different than Google. They care about their revenue as well, and in our capitalistic society a relationship between brand/consumer can remain healthy. So why is there such a disconnect between the advertiser and Google?
IMO, a lot of it boils down to the fact that the people making the decisions within Google are not typically communicating directly with actual advertisers and/or operators in the weeds. The ones actually making the changes, and the ones actually doing the work are hidden from each other between layers of Google.
Worse, the main Googlers who connect the most with advertisers (account strategists, Googlers and third party support) aren’t even technically support staff! They are self-identified sales people. Google has built a customer feedback loop that focuses primarily on selling interactions. That's... not great for building customer satisfaction. Imagine going to a mechanic and never being able to talk to the person fixing your car, but always having to discuss everything with a used car salesperson!
So, I have a thought. Google: if you actually DO want to build a great product for advertisers (like I know you do!!!), then meet and talk with your customers for the sake of learning.
I don’t mean talk with Large Agency/Corp execs at GML who don’t know a TROAS bidding model from a TCPA bidding model. I don’t mean random short surveys within the UI. I mean actual, true back and forth conversations with a LOT of different actual, true advertisers. It probably needs to be a ton of advertisers since we all have different opinions and skill levels, and you’re going to need to sift through the mess to find the necessary feedback (nobody said customer listening was easy). But I think there needs to be something like this.
Sure, keep having GML to announce your public stuff and objectives (big picture strategy is always helpful to know), but I think there is a need for Google to build smaller, “regular” meetups between engineers/PMs and advertisers of all sizes and levels.
Do I think this will solve everything? Nope. Do I think this will slow down “innovation” and “move fast and break things”? Absolutely. But in the same way that “safety checks” of an airplane slow down the speed at which planes could get airborne again… sometimes, efficiency and innovation needs to be guided.
So, I’m not asking for perfection at this point, I’m just asking for Google to begin putting the engineers and the advertisers together for healthy back and forth’s. What if they tried it for a year? What if that’s the thing that helps build a product that helps rebuild trust in the platform so advertisers are MORE on board with automation changes?
I guess we won’t know until you try it ;)