Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More problems with AdWords -- Audio Ads

Back in January I posted about a problem with AdWords, the advertising service I use for sponsored links on Google searches. I do generally like AdWords and continue to run ads. I also carry Google ads (AdSense) on our traffic court directory.

AdWords has a new feature for "Audio Ads," and I'm trying it out. Once I started with it I had some problems and requested a review. I'm not satisfied with their efforts. The e-mail conversation is down below, edited for brevity and perhaps for privacy where appropriate.

I found this "conversation" extremely frustrating. It appears to me that "Varun" did not read my e-mails or investigate my concerns in any way. The most offensive part is that some of my radio ads appear to have been static (I wonder if that station might be dead), and I raised that in my e-mail and "Varun" says he didn't find it. This guy is supposed to be a specialist and I'm just learning it, and I found it easily.
I'm also irritated that he did not understand, and did not try to understand, the difference between Pittsfield and Albany-Schenectady-Troy. You would think Google would spend some money for better customer service than what you see below.

My first message:
> > From: wredlich@gmail.com
> > Subject: Audio Ads - not really in market, not playing
> > Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2007 21:18:13 -0700
> >
> > I listened to a few of the ads for my Audio Ad campaigns. I then learned that apparently all of my ads are playing on Massachusetts radio stations. There appears to be some limited coverage in the very edge of New York State, but almost none of this is what I would refer to as the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area.
> > A second problem is that the "Listen" link on the "Oldies" ads are all static. It appears my ads did not actually play.
> > I would appreciate it if someone would review this and contact me. I'd like to know if any stations that are actually in Albany, Schenectady or Troy (or maybe other nearby cities/towns in New York State) are participating. I'd also like a thorough review of my ads to see if they actually played -- especially the "Oldies" ads.

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The first response (long), with my comments in **stars**:

> On 7/16/07, AdWords Support wrote:
> > Hello Warren,
> > Thank you for your email. I understand that you are concerned with the targeting of your Audio Ads. Also, you are not able to use the 'Listen' link on the 'Oldies' ads and are not sure if your ads are playing. I have looked into your account and am happy to inform you that all your Audio Ad campaigns are active and running. They are successfully accruing impressions and Ad plays. Below, I have addressed your concerns in detail.

**The next several paragraphs explain how Audio Ads works - I already knew this and it did not address my question**
> > First, while we don't offer the ability to select specific stations on which to play your ads, we do allow you to fine-tune a number of targeting options. These options include the types of station on which to play your ad, to ensure that your ad reaches your desired audience. It's also worth noting that each station in our network is rated by Arbitron (http://www.arbitron.com), a third-party company that measures the number of listeners likely to tune in to a station at any given time. Once your ads air on the radio, the call signs for many of the stations in our network will be visible in the Report Center, accessible from the 'Reports' tab in your AdWords account.
> > Adding additional, relevant markets will increase the likelihood your ad will win a spot in the auction and air on the radio. Follow the steps below to edit your target market selections:
> > 1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com/.
> > 2. From the Audio Ads tab, check the box next to the ad group you'd like to edit, and then click 'Edit Settings.'
> > 3. Click 'Edit' next to 'Target Audience.'
> > 4. Use the search box to find additional target areas by market, state, or zip code.
> > 5. Click 'Add' next to any of the markets in which you'd like to play your ad.
> > Second, we want to make sure you know exactly how your money's being spent, so we've provided detailed, real-time reports of your ad plays in the Report Center accessible via the 'Reports' tab in your AdWords account. From the reports generated from the Reports Center, we can often provide a link to an 'air-check' - a recording of your ad as it played on the radio, including a short snippet of the surrounding broadcast for your reference.
> > There are times when we're unable to provide an air-check, either because we haven't yet placed a recorder in your market, or due to technical issues. In these cases, there will be no link from your reports, but we will have record of the exact time your ad was played.
> > For additional information about Audio Ads, please visit http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=11986
> > If you have additional questions, please visit our Help Center at https://adwords.google.com/support to find answers to many frequently asked questions. Or, try our Learning Center at http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/ for self-paced lessons that cover the scope of AdWords.
> > Please feel free to write me with any further questions. Google looks forward to providing you with the most effective advertising available.
> > Sincerely,
> > Varun
> > The Google AdWords Team

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My response:

> From: "Warren Redlich"
> Subject: Re: [#174165184] Audio Ads - not really in market, not playing
> Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 09:29:01 -0400
>
> I'm sorry to say your failure to read my original message is becoming typical of AdWords customer service.
> As I said in my original message: "A second problem is that the "Listen" link on the "Oldies" ads are all static. It appears my ads did not actually play." The Listen link does work for "Oldies" ads, but unlike the other ads, when I click on it what comes up is an audio file that is just static. I don't hear my ad or anything else intelligible.
> Your message also fails to address my concern that radio stations in Pittsfield MA are not really in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy market. All three of those cities are in the State of New York, approximately 1 hour from the border with Massachusetts, and Pittsfield is not on the border. Technically it may be that Pittsfield is in the correct DMA, but I still think it's deceptive to market these stations as part of the Albany market.
> I spend a lot of money on AdWords, generally over $1000/month. If customer service continues to assume I don't know what I'm talking about when responding to my questions, my spending will drop significantly.
> Warren

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The next response from Google/AdWords:

On 7/17/07, AdWords Support wrote:
> Hello Warren,
> Thank you for your email. I understand that you have questions regarding your Audio Ads. I apologize for your frustration and any inconveniences caused. Below, I have answered your questions in detail.
> First, If you can't find your city in the Metro areas available list, try entering your selection in the search box just above that list. It's possible that your city isn't listed as a top-level metro area, but is instead included below a larger area.
> If you still can't find your city, it's likely because we don't have any stations available there yet. We're constantly expanding our network of Audio Ads radio stations, so keep checking back to see if we've entered your city. In the meantime, try selecting a major metro area nearby.
> Second, I have looked into your account but can't find the 'Oldies' ads that you are referring to in your email. I would be happy to assist you further if you send me more specifics about the same.
> If you have additional questions, please visit our Help Center at https://adwords.google.com/support to find answers to many frequently asked questions. Or, try our Learning Center at http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/ for self-paced lessons that cover the scope of AdWords.
> Please feel free to write me with any further questions. Google looks forward to providing you with the most effective advertising available.
> Sincerely,
> Varun
> The Google AdWords Team

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And my latest response to that:

Tue, Jul 17, 2007 at 11:22 AM
To: AdWords Support

Thanks for another generic response to a specific question.

Regarding the audio ad that is static, please check out the following Air Check, which shows up on my latest Audio Ad report:

Morning Drive Time n/a* Oldies Albany-Schenectady-Troy MA, NY, VT
Jul 13, 2007 8:43:00 AM EDT Jul 13, 2007 8:47:25 AM EDT Redlich -
Code Red Listen 1,800 1,800

**The above is the detailed report on one play of my ad on an unspecified Oldies station.**

The listen link points to:
http://services.dmarc.net/dbRecordings/0/1526/12507645---.wma

The file is attached.
** Readers can download the file at:
redlichlaw.com/12507645---.wma.

Warren
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