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I've casually used Google's Adwords over the last few years, mostly to have some familiarity with how the system works. Being that my main business is Website Hosting, unless you're the el-cheapo hosting provider, this type of advertising has proven to be pretty much useless. Now that I'm also promoting my music CD, I've taken a renewed interest in the program.
I did a little looking around at the types of ads that came up for various keywords, and was suprised to see that when I searched google for "Canadian Idol" there were no ads coming up. Well, to my thinking, since I seem to have a pretty mainstream modern/classic rock sound, it seemed like a great opportunity for attracting site visitors that would be well suited to my style.
It all started off well, I placed my ads, selected my zones, set the max price per click I would be willing to pay, and targeted "Canadian Idol" as my search term. The ads started displaying right away, and within a couple days I had over 7000 impressions and a couple of clicks through to my site. I was quite happy with the progress of the campaign, knowing that it usually takes a lot of impressions to generate a single click through.
Then, all of a sudden, I noticed that there were no new impressions coming up for a couple days. Wondering if I had messed up my settings, I went back into adwords only to find that, instead of the $0.65 max bid per click I had been running under before, Google now wanted me to bid a minimum of $6.18/click to reactivate the ad! I thought to myself "what the heck?", and proceeded to run a search on Google for "canadian idol" to see if I'd been outbid. Well, last check, no one is advertising for that search term. It appears that someone at Google, in their infinite wisdom, has decided that a 1000% increase in price would not alienate the only person currently willing to bid on this search phrase.
Certain that there'd been some mistake, I contacted Google's support, only to have my direct question about the price increase dodged. The reply was: "When your keywords don't have a high enough Quality Score and maximum cost-per-click (CPC) to show ads, your keywords may be placed in an inactive state."
Based on this situation if find myself wondering what kind of business Google is running. I've always thought that the bidding system for keywords was a great idea. If I'm willing to pay more than you for a certain keyword or keyphrase, then within reasonable measures, I should be able to aquire those keywords for my marketing my product. It's a great, self-serviced solution, completely market driven.
So today I figure I should share this information with the many people whom I have suggested use adwords to promote their websites. It may be that my limited use and understanding of adwords mislead me to believe that the system was more market-driven than it appears to be. Perhaps over the years, the policies have changed and Google has found they can attract new advertisers at low CPC's and increase them exponentially to minimize the low paying clients while maximizing the higher paying ones. Whatever the reasons, I find myself less convinced that it's a good idea to promote this method of marketing to the smaller companies that may benefit from selecting some light marketing.