Dumbass of the Week: AdWords Support Staff

DuhLet me preface this post by saying that I love Google and I’m a big supporter and very early adopter of AdWords pay per click advertising. BUT a recent experience I had with AdWords support staff left me shaking my head and my fist in frustration. And it wasn’t an isolated incident.

Sadly, a level of bureaucratic lunacy seems to have pervaded Google AdWords in terms of ad approvals and editorial policy in the past 12 months. Here’s the latest example:

My client, a psychotherapist based in New York, had asked me to create a series of new ads for his AdWords campaign based on a new service he was offering. His site domain is unusual in that it contains 44 characters – way beyond the standard 35 character limit allowed by Google for display URLs in text ads. So we had been using a non-existent but similar shortened version of the URL as the display URL for years, with Google’s approval.

Scores of ads were still running successfully using the fake display URL so when it came time to draft new ads a couple of weeks ago, I used it again. But every time I created a new ad, it would show up as “disapproved” within minutes. I double checked the running ads to make sure I typed the display ad correctly and tried again and again. Every time the ads would be approved and then show up a few minutes later as “disapproved” with the display URL being cited as the cause of the problem.

In despair I emailed AdWords support staff to ask for their help. The first response I got was from Manvee, who wrote:

“The ads are getting disapproved when you are using another shortened version. Please know that I reviewed your client’s account and found that their ads are being disapproved because they are using display URLs which do not match their destination URL. Please know that we have allowed your client to use only specific shortened versions like [shortened display URL]. Therefore, their ads will be disapproved if they use any other version that we have not allowed.”

Sure. Except that the specific shortened version they suggested WAS the one we were using. So after another week of disapprovals and an increasingly frustrated client, I sent a follow up email asking AdWords staff to please have somebody login and manually approve the ads or explain why the display URL they recommend was no longer acceptable, even though it was running fine on older ads.

The next response I received from AdWords support was from Ruchi:

“Thank you for your email. I understand that you are concerned about your ads being disapproved even after you have made the required changes.


Our AdWords Specialists found that there was unauthorized access to your AdWords account [account number removed]. No campaign changes were made to your account on that date, but we believe that the security of your account has been compromised.”

Huh? What? Did I not just explain that my client and I both have full access to the account via separate logins? Could it be that you think one of us is a hacker? And even if the account was compromised (which it wasn’t), how on earth would that influence the approval or disapproval of my client’s display URL? And why haven’t you addressed my actual problem?

As you can imagine, my patience was fast running out.  I emailed my frustration and asked Ruchi to escalate the issue to a senior account manager. The response I received was not the one I was expecting:

“Thank you for your response. I apologize for any frustration experienced by you. We suspect unauthorized access to you account by a 3rd party. We have reactivated the MCC and child account. However for the client account: [account number removed] we still need you to check and confirm that all the changes made in your account were authorized. As soon as your confirm this we will activate your account.”

So not only did they NOT offer any assistance with the problem at hand, but they de-activated my client’s account without warning! At this point, my client stepped in and called AdWords support directly, which was probably a good idea given my plummeting patience and rising stress levels. This time we both received a response from someone called Priti:

“Thank you so much for your patience.  I received a response from our specialist team, and it looks like in order to use an alternative URL for your ad, the URL must be of a non-functioning website.  Currently, [shortened display URL] is a functioning site (this is possibly a recent development), so the ads cannot be approved for this URL.

We definitely want your ads to be approved, so here are the steps that need to be taken:

1) Please change the display URL for these ads to [shortened display URL (a)]
 or [shortened display URL (b)] (both of which are non-existent websites and within the character limit)

2) Please then email me back you once you have done so.

3) I will then send your ads back to our Ad Review team for expedited review, and follow up with you once they have done so.”

Phew! At last somebody at AdWords support was offering us a solution. I logged into my client’s account, made the changes to the ads and emailed Priti immediately. Problem solved right? Wrong! Within a couple of hours, my client received the dreaded You Have Disapproved Ads status notification.

By this stage, my client’s stress levels had caught up to mine and he sent back an email to Google that simply said:

Here we go again! When will it ever end!?

I was dumbfounded by 3 weeks of fighting AdWords bureaucracy and decided it simply wasn’t worth pursuing any further. It wasn’t until 4 days later that my client received the following email from Priti:

“Thank you again for your patience.  I apologize – I was not in the office over the weekend, and so did not get your email nor Kalena’s email until just now.  I do see that you have made these changes in the account, and I am going to send this to the ad review team immediately so that they can approve your ads.”

She then expedited the process and the ads were up and running within the hour.

Hats off to Priti for finally resolving things, but shame on Google for hiring support staff that don’t seem to have the ability to solve relatively simple problems and for creating so many unecessary layers of bureaucracy for advertisers to jump through in order to do so.

Given the number of web sites inflating the size of the Internet on a daily basis, it’s likely that domain lengths are going to increase as fewer short domain names become available for registration. In light of this, you would think that perhaps Google would consider increasing the allowed character limit of display URLs, or at least suggest alternatives at the point of ad creation.

Anyone else got a tale of woe to share about AdWords editorial policy?

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