Hey Google: stop making AdSense (and start making human sense).

Beg to Differ talks sense to the “big suits” at Google

You’d think that Google would have online branding figured out. After all, this they just earned $6.77  billion revenue in the first quarter of 2010 – the vast majority from advertising. So they couldn’t possibly make more money with a simple, human-friendly branding change… We Beg to Differ.

Byrned again 2

Once in a lifetime.

In my office mailbox today, I got a letter from Google addressed to ADSENSE PUBLISHER. Well, I’m the guy who handles the online advertising – and pretty much everything else at Brandvelope – and over the years I’ve placed pay-per-click ads with Google, and I have other people’s Google ads running on my sites.

mailer scanSo I opened the letter, and found a little gift from Google (at right) with a letter that read:

Dear AdSense Publisher,
We’d like to thank you for your participation in the Google AdSense program. To express our gratitude, we’d like to promote your website with Google AdWords – free.

The Brandvelope Chief Financial Officer in me thought: “Cool! 100 free bucks from Google for more Google ads!” The Chief Marketing Officer in me started thinking about what new Google ad campaigns I could run, while the Senior Consultant in me silently congratulated Google for developing a virtually cost-free promotion that made me feel valued, reminded me to try the product again, and gave me an incentive to do so.

Take me to the river.

But when I rushed to my computer, read the instructions, and typed in the URL www.google.ca/ads/adwords I found myself… confused and lost. I couldn’t see any place to enter the code. I logged in to my account and clicked around a bit, but without any luck. So I gave up and filed it under “figure this out later”.

An hour later I looked again at the letter lying on my desk again and realized the problem: I was supposed to go to www.google.ca/ads/adsense.

I’d gotten AdSense and AdWords confused in my little pea brain. Silly me.

What was the place? What was the name?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with these two multi-billion dollar offerings, one is for Web site owners who want to advertise on other people’s sites, while the other one is for Web site owners who want to include other people’s ads on their sites. Now if I could just remember which was which…

Hey it’s Google, so I Googled “what’s the difference between google adsense and adwords” and got this link:

Hey product managers: if you need a page like this on your site, YOU'RE NOT DOING YOUR JOB!!!
From the Google Help files. If you need a page like this on your site, THERE'S A PROBLEM!

I don’t know about you and your pea brain, but me and mine still can’t keep this straight. Part of this is just that the terms “Words” and “Sense” don’t help me understand or remember the difference as another blogger has pointed out. Also, the AdWords program is starting to make more money from image-based ads than “Word” ads.

But the biggest problem is this: the two names are forcing me to think about a distinction that’s important to Google, but it’s not important to me. In my brain, a Google ad is a Google ad is a Google ad, no matter where it appears or who’s getting paid for it.

Having one product name for ad creators and a different one for hosts is like calling it “Heinz Ketchup” to consumers but insisting that grocery stores purchase it as Heinz K-Sense. It’s all ketchup!

Found a job.

So Google, here’s some free consulting advice that will help you make billions of additional dollars:

There is only one Google ad product, and it’s called a Google Ad.

That’s it. You don’t need two names. You don’t need two web sites. I don’t need two separate accounts. And most importantly you don’t need to impose your corporate logic on me. I don’t care.

You just need to ask me one simple question: “Do you want to create a Google Ad, or host Google Ads?”

Done. Now get out of my way while I make more magic money for you.

Nothing is better than that… or is it?

The image above, and the headings for this post were taken from the Talking Heads 1984 masterpiece Stop Making Sense. Enjoy this clip  from the film.

5 thoughts on “Hey Google: stop making AdSense (and start making human sense).”

  1. As much as your logic makes “sense” — get it? — you have to admit that you can’t really say their awful branding has been much of an obstacle to success.

    I would argue that the naming per se of these services is irrelevant. As most search gurus identify these services by the catregory name search marketing and then the network either Google or Bing etc.

    After all is said and done a product can be successful in spite of its name. I mean what the heck were they thinking calling it ketchup?

    1. I totally agree that the names of these products – or any product names – aren’t the whole story, or even the most important part of the story. That’d be like saying the first 30 seconds of a business meeting are the only part that matters. Nope. It’s the CLOSING that matters most. Trouble is, you’ll never get there if you confuse, fail to interest, or don’t show relevance in those critical first few seconds.

      Google will do just fine if they don’t address this problem. My point is, they’ll do a bit better if they do – and in the case of Google, who earned $23.65 Billion revenue in 2008, a *bit* better can easily mean a billion bucks over time.

      Oh, and “ketchup” is a funny word indeed now that you mention it. I wonder how many problems that caused in the early days? Was that Catsup? Katchup? Oh, you mean tomato sauce!

      More of my thoughts (and Malcolm Galdwell’s too) on ketchup.

  2. Good article, agree as I have waded through the google stuff myself …

    More importantly though, I love the Talking Heads references through out and the videos! Brilliant! Brilliant!

    As a teenager and early 20 guy of 80’s really brought a smile to my face. And the video 🙂 say no more


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