Google AdWords is arguably one of the most important advertising platforms in history. It has given advertisers of all shapes and sizes the ability to reach a global audience in a highly-targeted fashion on almost any budget, and in an accountable fashion.
So it's no surprise that advertisers, ranging from the world's largest brands down to local mom-and-pop businesses, spend billions upon billions of dollars every year buying AdWords ads. They do so despite the fact that Google has never offered free, general phone support to its advertisers.
Yesterday, Google announced that this is changing. Have a question about AdWords, or your AdWords account? Just call 1-866-2Google, Monday through Friday from 9am to 8pm Eastern Time, and Google will actually take your call.
In what may be the understatement of the year, Google says it has added phone support "for a simple reason" -- customers asked for it. This, of course, is true. But...they've been asking for it for a good part of the past decade!
The fact that Google hasn't offered phone support for AdWords customers until now is truly quite remarkable. Last year, Google generated close to $30bn in revenue from advertising, the majority of it from these ads.
In short, AdWords is the engine that drives Google, enabling it to invest in everything from mobile to social. Yet there can be little doubt that Google has lost countless AdWords advertisers, particularly small businesses, because its customers can't pick up the phone and ask for help when they need it.
Obviously, to reduce the number of advertisers who drop AdWords when they run into problems or because it's too confusing, Google needs to offer more than phone support -- it needs to offer quality phone support.
But if it can do that, a Google that's more accessible to the customers who pay its bills could help Google acquire new AdWords customers, particularly at the local level. More importantly, it could also help Google retain advertisers, keeping them spending on ads.
The timing of Google's announcement is interesting. On Monday, Google co-founder Larry Page took over as the company's CEO, and he reportedly hopes to lead Google to a prosperous future by helping it rediscover its startup roots.
Whether that's the right approach -- or even doable given Google's size -- remains to be seen, but if phone support for AdWords marks a true shift in Google's perception of its relationship with customers and a newfound understanding of the importance of 'customer support', Google's best days may yet be ahead.