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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.

Patricio Robles

Published 6 April, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2380 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Issa Qandil

It’s great to know that Google will actually be contactable on the phone. However, our company has an account manager and account executives at Google AdWords, Ireland. They try to do their best to help, however, their experience is so limited with how AdWords system work, and we some time end up telling them how to do things. Obviously they are inexperienced individuals who have a manual that they read from. On many occasions contacting them was a waste of time...

If Google AdWords will do the same with the public, they will be able to answer basic questions. Other than that, i fear that they will confuse their customers and they will end up going else where or dropping the whole PPC idea.

When you don’t have any one to contact, you might blame yourself for being inexperienced. But if you have someone to contact, you would start blaming them and have a negative opinion about their customer support, as a result in Google AdWords.

That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong of course..

Issa

over 5 years ago

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Booteek

We've just talked with Howard at Google through this service - and I have to say - it was a thoroughly pleasant experience. Well done Google!

over 5 years ago

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William King

Google Advertisement has meant a lot, either in the form of Adsense or the Adwords. It is always beneficial. While Microsoft has claimed that these Adwords are one of the reason of spamming, and Google said that they are working on it. And now this facility of phone calls is remarkable. It is the source of income for three parties so it should not be stopped.

over 5 years ago

Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw, CEO at Epiphany

This will be an interesting one to watch.
I've dealt with SME's for many years in this space raising awareness of what Adwords can do for their business which in some cases has been transformational. However, for every small business success story I have met hundreds of small businesses that have tried the platform and failed, many of whom should have a service that suits the on-line advertising model.
Many of these people simply say "I tried Adwords and it doesn't work" but in reality I think it is simply down to not having the time to dedicate to running the campaign.
I know Google see the SME market as a massive untapped market (which it is) and this may be the catalyst that makes a difference. Even for the smallest company it is easy to spend several hundreds if not thousands of pounds/dollars each month on Adwords. There are few other monthly costs to a business where you wouldn't have access to at least phone support if not an account manager.
It will also be interesting to see what this does for those agencies that have created managed services on PPC specifically for SME's. This may impact their business growth or conversely may actually awaken the market for them and provide even more opportunities.

over 5 years ago

Rob McCreedie

Rob McCreedie, Assistant Marketing Manager at Nu-Heat

I had a call about a month ago from a really helpful Irish lady from Google.

Basically said that account is in good order and pointed out some tweaks and changes to make.

It's always good to hear that things are being done correctly.

over 5 years ago

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