Dear Saint Google 2019

Bob Dumouchel

dear st. google

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the net,
Not an event was occurring, not even on a bet.

The Google Ads were hung by the SERP with care,
In hopes that conversions soon would be there.

The Google Ads Experts were nestled all snug in their beds.
While visions of higher quality scores danced in their heads.

We had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
While automation rules rolled out new bidding caps.

When out on the ‘net there arose such a clatter
I sprang to my Surface to see what was the matter.

With coffee in my hand and my keyboard at the ready.
I gazed afar and held myself steady.

And, what to my wondering eyes should appear.
But, Saint Google and eight Google Ad Engineers.

The Engineers sprang to their terminals and opened their code,
Exposing the luster of embedded objects below.

The code flew with such fury that smoke arose from the editors.
As new features flowed from alpha to beta and they were so much better.

We watched in wonder as new features appeared.
Improving performance, in my head, I cheered.

Saint Google sprang to the sleigh and to his team gave a whistle.
And Engineers flew towards the sleigh like heat-seeking missiles.

Taking their seats with excitement anew.
They logged in and flew back to Mountain View.

I heard them exclaim, ere they drove out of sight—

“Merry Googling to all, and to all a Google night.”


Since 2008, our Google Ads Experts have written an open letter to Saint Google. We believe that at least one of Saint Google’s Elves or maybe even the big SG himself reads our blog because we have gotten lots of things, that have been in our letters. Regardless, we find this to be a fun tradition for a company that eats, lives, and breathes Google Ads. So here are our 2019 Christmas wishes for Saint Google.

  1. Negative Search Term Tab

Ruth Porat, Google’s CFO, needs to read this one because Google is leaving billions on the table. We have been advocating this since our first Dear Saint Google letter in 2008 and it’s still here. The idea is simple – report to the advertisers the search queries that they lost because of a negative keyword. Negative keywords are one of the most powerful Google Ads features but with great power comes great risk. The risk is that you remove traffic you really want and once you do this, the system is silent. Inside the logic of Google Ads there is a piece of code that jumps out when it matches to a negative keyword. All we want is to know is that it happened. This request has been around for so long that we had to update the name from “report” to “tab”.

  1. Responsive Keywords

Many keywords follow a common pattern resulting in lots of keywords and lots of keywords make managing the account difficult. The idea here is that you create a master keyword and use lists to iterate the keyword. An example would look like this: 

Plumber *1City *2Qualifier

The asterisk indicates a list, the number indicates the order of iteration, and the text is the name of the list. If a plumber had this keyword with 10 cities in the city list and four service qualifiers in the qualifier list this would replace 40 keywords. A Qualifier list for a plumber are things like emergency, 24/7, Open Saturday, Open Now. In many businesses, keyword extenders would be reused many times and having them being list based would reduce the maintenance involved in the entire account. This is another one where Google is leaving billions on the table. Ruth are you listening… we said Billions!!!

  1. Quit Jamming your strategies down My Throat

Google interface designers can be sneaky from time to time. Nowhere is this more apparent than when Google pushes a specific strategy. For example, Google has a Mobile First strategy and it appears they will stop at nothing to sell that inventory. Everything defaults and resets to support their strategy. If you go into the campaign settings and change the device setting to allow mobile traffic it will reset your device bid override back to 100% with no notice. Try to change something that is not on the Google strategy path and you will find it hidden and moved on a regular basis. I love the changes in Google Ads because it ensures my job security and some changes make sense but its too consistent to be random chance. Don’t believe me? Try to get rid of mobile app traffic from your account. It’s the billionaire’s version of whack-a-mole.

  1. Minimum Bid Control in GDN

I cannot believe that I am writing this one but I want to control how low the bid can go in GDN. The issue is that at the bottom of the barrel in GDN lives some very questionable traffic. Some might even call this, as I do, trash traffic. They are sites that deliver questionable value to their visitors and the traffic acts more like a bot than a person. Many times we want to target the best of the GDN not the unwashed masses. We would rather see GDN sites graded by real people that live in the market they are grading. We know that using smart people instead of an algorithm is as anti-Google as you can get but I doubt this will get cleaned up any other way. If sites were rated with care we would be fine paying more for that traffic.

  1. Include or Exclude based on SEO position from lists of sites

Different clients embrace different strategies when it comes to the Google Ads and Organic Listings. Some do not want an ad running on a page that they already have a first organic position on but others do. Some want to be more aggressive when the page is populated by certain other sites. This would give us the ability to target this and to modify bidding based on the SEO position. We would like to specify the website, location range, and bid modifier.

  1. Data by word across all the keywords

We often roll this data up ourselves but it would be nice if it were part of the online editor. What we want to see is data by word with the ability to drill into the keywords. This way we could see the performance of each word regardless of how many keywords it exists within. Ideally we would like to be able to modify bids using these words.

  1. Annotations by Campaign, Ad Group, Keyword, Ad

Google Ads is complicated and we work as a team, as do many others. It sure would be nice if we could leave notes for ourselves and others on our team. This does not have to be fancy just a simple implementation like the one in Google Analytics. We could leave dated notes of why we made specific changes so our team members can understand our thinking at the time.

  1. Remarketing Age Brackets – to support drip campaigns

We have developed ways to do this but it could be way easier. The idea is at the ad level we could create an aging bracket and then attach an ad to that. In this way we could deliver the equivalent of a  drip campaign across our audiences. Set up an audience, then subset that with age brackets of 30, 60 and 90 days and then link to the ad copy that. Instant drip campaign!

  1. Grade the GDN

We put this last because it’s the least likely and the most un-Google like. Create grades of A, B, C. A is the top 5%, B is the next 15%, and C is the unwashed masses. Sites should be allowed to file for an A or B ranking and if they get it they will be rewarded with more revenue. This review should cost money to apply for with a minimum wait period before you can reapply. We realize that is has a big overlap with #4 but we thought what the heck lets ask for what we want, early and often.

adwords expert grinch

The Grinch section of our letter is for things  we used to have but were taken from us. The Grinch is an evil, sneaky, and despicable soul that takes control away from us. Leaving the true experts handicapped by their user friendly ways.

  1. Accelerated Delivery

Accelerated Delivery was put out to pasture or executed depending on the metaphor you like. Either way it’s gone and we would like it back. We can see how this change benefits Google by letting them manage the spend rate but we really don’t care. Many of our clients, and that includes us, believe that within a business day you should take the traffic when you can get it. Spreading it out over the day runs the risk of not spending the budget and lowering the total traffic. Google thinks there will be more traffic later and you pay for it if they are wrong.

  1. Keyword Matching Control

We are old school Google Ads Experts and we LOVE control and we study our client’s needs much deeper than Google ever thought of. We understand the value of the close variant but we also know the problems it creates. When it comes to misspelling, it is hugely valuable but when it jumps to another word because Google thinks they are the same. That is not cool!

  1. Minimum/Maximum Position

In the olden days, we could specify the minimum and maximum positions that we want to buy and it worked. Several years ago the Grinch took this away and WE WANT IT BACK. There are lots of reasons for wanting this and it’s probably our native desire for control. There are plenty of times where we do not want the top position and we also do not want the second page and we are closer to what our clients want and we represent their interests. So please give us this one back.

  1. Average Position

Google retired this somewhat flawed data point this year and we hate to see an old friend go. We fully understand the flaws in this data but it is a useful tool. We know that the new data that replaces it is more accurate but it is so complicated that explaining it to the client managers we report to is very difficult.

  1. Placement Controlslocation settings

In the olden days we had the option of “People in the Targeted location” but that went bye-bye. This was replaced with the targeting above, which is not really the choice we need. We love the fact that they added people regularly in your targeted location. The issue is that option 1 and 3 are false options. If the person shows interest in the location, a data point without definition, they are part of option 1. So pick it or don’t pick it (option 1 and 3) and you get it either way.

So let’s wrap this up and put a bow on it

We know we are asking for a lot but we are not expecting everything… although that would be great. If there is a Googler that needs a purpose for their 20% time, feel free to adopt one of ours. Call us and we will be glad to add more detail to any of these ideas.