Update, 7:51 a.m., July 20: The AdWords gods have sent me other notes recommending Amazon-style features but for now are letting me use the service without them. – D.R.
Good news, Google fans. The AdWords gods in India were finally satisfied that I didn’t have to do a mini-Amazon act and include certain store-style features to qualify as offering “unique” content through the Solomon Scandals site.
And now my ads for Scandals are live after countless emails dwelling on the obvious—-that this isn’t just a wicked gateway site.
Sound crazy? It was. You can see why I wondered how eager AdWords was to let me send people to solomonscandals.com, considering that a big, fat Amazon ad appears in the right sidebar. Actually, my Google sales rep here in the States tells me I can even link directly to Scandals’s Amazon page, which I’m trying now. Unless the AdWords gods in India get in the way again, that takes care of anti-trust issues as they affect me right now.
As a small Google shareholder, however, I wonder how common horror stories are among AdWords customers dealing with ad-evaluators working half a globe away. Is it possible that the AdWords evaluation operation for the U.S. really should limit itself to American staffers who understand the nuances—and that Google should also localize in other countries? This works great in the sales area if my experiences are representative. Steve Vasquez, the Google sales rep, is a veteran online marketer and knocked himself out to help me with the same practical, to-the-point advice he’d given ten or so other book-writers. And it helped that Steve was just two time zones away, knew American Web and commercial practices, and could easily talk to me, not just swap emails. His investment in time will be worth it. Now that I’m up and running with AdWords, I’ll be able to use it in the future on other projects whether or not it’s the right advertising medium for Scandals itself. Like plenty else in advertising, this is an experiment.
Here’s another bright side. If Google is showing good financial results now, imagine how it would benefit if it whipped the AdWords operation into shape (assuming my nightmarish experience is as common as I fear) and improved the customer experience. That would also help Google on the antitrust front. With an American-to-American approach and the better communications that would result, fewer customers would suffer unnecessary uncertainty about links to the sites of Amazon and other companies competing against Google in various ways. I know. American salaries are higher than those in India. But the gap is closing with the rise of the Indian middle class. And I suspect that with happier customers, Google will reel in still more business and enjoy better government relations in antitrust and other areas, given the general improvement in goodwill, especially when so many American need jobs.
Again—let me emphasize that localization shouldn’t just be confined to the U.S.. The AdWords people in India who were so frustrating for me to deal with might work out terrifically helping Indian customers, especially on the phone.
Internationalization is fashionable, and often desirable, too: I want it to be much easier for brilliant Indian students at U.S. schools to stay here and build businesses creating American jobs. But when it comes to customer service-style activities, closer to home can be so much better.
Details: No, I’ll not reproduce the actual ads at this crucial time, lest the finicky AdWords gods in India say I’m being too promotional. Also, let me point out that the Solomon Scandals site already offers interactivity via the comment forms appearing with almost every entry even if the “user participation” is not Amazon-style.