Google Employees Running Adwords Accounts - Conflict?

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AdRank, Affiliate Marketers and Max CPC
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DougS pointed out this thread at Webmasterworld where on the second page, an anonymous Google employee confirms that many Googlers run Adwords accounts. As you can imagine, this has fueled much debate over the ethics of such an arrangement, particularly in light of the original posters situation, where it really does appear that there are very few explanations as to why his account has suffered - Insider knowledge is the prime suspect.

From Google:

By policy, AdWords employees may certainly have AdWords accounts. Please rest assured, however, that they are thoroughly monitored and governed by a list of requirements as long as your arm - designed to ensure no conflict of interest.

It is perhaps worth noting that everyone concerned with AdWords, whether an engineer working behind the scenes, or the person that answers your email, is actually encouraged to have a small AdWords account. The purpose of this is to make sure that everyone who works on AdWords knows exactly what it feels like to be an AdWords advertiser.

[...]

Bottom line: Many Googlers have AdWords account. IMO, It's a good thing, and it certainly is no secret. I can understand why this is concern to some of you, and I can also say with a great deal of confidence that you may rest easy.

The response directly after that sums up the feelings of wmw members perfectly:

"Wow! So you and I are playing poker but you get to see my cards?"

So, is there a conflict - i'd say yes, there most definately is, but im not sure what the answer here is, and I can't argue that first hand knowledge of running an Adwords account is a bad thing either - in fact, it almost has to be a good thing.

But you can see where the conflict lies.

Thanks very much to DougS for the catch!

What do you think?

Comments

The employee AdWords accounts they should be worried about..

..are the ones that they do not know about, not the declared ones.

Any G employee sitting on millions would not be tempted, but newer junior ones just might be tempted - or statisticallty a given portion of them.

No computer system can be make insider proof, just a quesion of knowing the access codes.

In UK the Police National Computer has been notorious for outsiders getting information on the contents. Airline computers are quite handy if you want to know what the empty flights are. Access to AdWords on G would be quite handy if.....

problem is

They don't give out the info as to how to make adwords work, but Google employs have that info.

As mentioned like playing cars with guys who know what cards are in the pack and ready to be dealt.

DougS

I would suspect that..

..Google know they cannot stop employees having AdWords accounts, therefore try to contain/control it by getting such accounts registered with the company.

That of course does not preclude unregistered accounts, no matter what the penalties are , if there is enough money to be made by "insider trading"

To give a cricketing example, crickers are not allowed to bet on results of matches they are playing in. But the authorities have found it difficult to stamp it out. High profile people caught included a "much respected " South African cricket captain.

With the knowledge, you can make money from a system such as AdWords. I would like to bet (!!) that many TW readers could make a fortune if they could access the inner workings of AdWords.

I know I could make a lot more money with more knowledge of AdSense inner workings... bids, smart pricing, keywords... The arguement would apply to Google employees running AdSense accounts too.

most people aren't very ambitious

you could argue this risk applies to everything and all companies though - and while people here might find it a strange concept most people don't think constantly of another way to make money - most Google Adwords people almost certainly work 9-5, enjoy the perks, wouldn't think of playing the system and even if they did think about it wouldn't risk a nice job at Google with the perks it brings for what benefit they'd gain.

I'm always amazed that no one who works at Google ever really blabs. Either the culture's so strong or they're so scared of repurcussions that amazingly little gets leaked. I guess the same applies to insider knowledge.

Yup

I watched a documentary last night about card counters from MIT going out in teams to vegas and making millions playing blackjack. The students didn't make hardly a penny, all the millions was paid back to the "strategic investments" group that put up the initial cash. These are smart people working their weekends and handling hundreds of thousands a night, it didn't occur to them to use the system they had been taught for their own profit. Only three out of 120 split off to do their own thing and make their own fortune.

who cares if they do it or dont do it

The issue is here that a company is allowing its staff to do it.

If I work for a lottery company I can't bet, if I play cricket I can't bet on matches I play in, if I am a stock broker I can't trade in shares I have inside knowledge of, even if I just get told by my mate down the pub. All of these things are illegal and most companies don't allow it incase it becomes a PR disaster.

From someone who uses adwords a great deal and spends a lot I like to think that everyone has an even playing field and not that my competitors are people work for adwords.

Please if there is anyone out there who spends a lot and doesn't care about this I would love to know. People who don't have large spends please don't participate, as I don't feel you are close enough to this to care that much.

DougS

Moi

I have no probs with it what so ever and never have done, and there is quite a bit that goes through me or clients I advise ? 6 figures £ monthly ...

With all the respect in the world Doug, methinks you are barking up the wrong tree here man.

Nearly as bad as the SEO who was convinced that every morning Matt Cutts logs into his gmail and checks it before going to work.

Shak

Shak me lad:)

It just don't feel light.....honest it just don't feel light....like the spelling so you can understand?:)

They may all be angels, but it is not the image in shows. The thread in wmw means there are a lot of people who feel it aint right, hence it has potential to be a PR mess. With my PR hat on I am sure I would be advising someone to watch this banana...

DougS

I wouldn't worry

DougS says it's "like playing cards with guys who know what cards are in the pack and ready to be dealt." To the best of my knowledge (and I worked in the ads engineering group for a year), the Googlers that do use AdWords use a budget of under a dollar a day--just enough to be familiar with the program and understand the common problems that advertisers face. The WMW thread mentioned that "Y!SM employees also speak about having their own accounts as well." I think it's good for Googlers to know about AdWords and how it works; you don't need to worry that you're bidding against a Googler on a big-money keyword.

thanks Matt I won't worry then:)

Matt

I appreciate it would be good to know how it works, but in a lottery there isn't a rule that says an employ is allowed to only buy one ticket. The rule is they can't play.

Sorry to be being exact here, but in the wmw thread it states:

"A literal handful of employees advertise 'for profit', and these accounts are subject to an exceptional level of approval and scrutiny. Employees in this category tend to be people who were AdWords advertisers before they were AdWords employees - and they continue to advertise under strict guidelines and oversight. Evidently bttmfeed met one such advertiser at a merchant meeting."

That doesn't sound like a $1 dollar a day spend to me.

All I would like to know are what are the rules? Some google employs can bid some can't, some can make profit some can't?

DougS

AWA is more expert

AWA knows more on this issue than me. I haven't heard of a Google employee doing "for profit" bidding, so if it happens it's extremely rare and I'd guess that it's monitored to make sure nothing untoward is going on (perhaps if someone was using AdWords before they joined Google?). I'll defer to AWA, but again the only Googlers I'd heard of using AdWords had the $1/day budget so that they could give solid feedback on the UI/system without causing any issues.

I'm on the receiving end of a mailing list where Googlers can report suboptimal searches--and we get quite a few useful reports--so I would totally believe that our advertising system can get similar benefits from Googler feedback. I do think it's good for Googlers to be familiar with the frustrations and the strengths of AdWords so we can improve it. For example, if you experience a long load time on a page yourself, you're more motivated to make it load faster.

It sounds like 3 things may

It sounds like 3 things may have happened:
1- Adwords employee knows the secrets to Adwords
2- Adwords employee saw someones account info and used it to their advantage
3- slamthunderhide might be making some of the info up, or caused his own campaign to quit working.

I do not think there are any secrets to adwords, you write a good ad, get a good CTR, spend money and it should work...so that gets rid of 1.

I think any of us would agree that having a google employee familiar with the adwords system is a good thing, but it sounds like someone is using clients account information for their own advantage rather to help the users they are hired to support.

My complaint would stem from the fact that I spend time and money building out succesful campaigns and someone "inside" can take a peak at what is performing and replicate it on their own time (maybe in their 20% google fun time?) for their own use, and which cuts into my earnings, or completely wacks me from a result.

Matt I am guessing that every Adwords rep movement is tracked throughout your system, I know all tech support/email is tracked/logged/ and in a central system...so the logical investigation to me would be to get the account info of slamthunderhide, figure out exactly what changes were made in the last 90 days to the account, if it turns out slamthunderhide did not kill his own account somehow, I would then figure out which employees had access to his account and see what other adwords account are in the same territory/keyword space. He said he an affiliate so that would eliminate regular merchant sites. I would then figure out which newcomer to the keywords knocked slamthunderhide out of the results, trace his/her account info however far you needed, then use the law if neccesary.

I would just to know that the situation is at least under investigation.

police monitoring the police

emmmmm......

DougS

All PPC Providers Have Employees With Accounts

This is not limited to Google and Yahoo. In my experience with other engines I can certainly say that all of the PPC players employees have accounts. It's not to be for competitive bidding although they could certainly be used for such. Rather it's for helping them learn the system from the advertiser's perspective.

You can't properly consult a client unless you have well rounded knowledge. Some customer service and sales reps are better at this than others but for the most part those who have owned and sent traffic through their own domains will have a better understanding about being in the advertisers shoes.

All of the salespeople I have ever trained on PPC ad management also have accounts with all of the other major PPC's as well. This is so they can know what you're talking about when you refer to your accounts on other systems.

It's smart for the PPC's to do this. Although there should be limits and constraints placed on their spend and/or bidding. Simply saying there are restraints on it "in house" is not enough in my opinion. It should be disclosed in the TOS and regulated there as well.

Hell, it's not half as bad as giving away free account credits to advertisers to "try out" pay per click advertising. Doing that on large scale like many PPC's do really inflates the bidding and competition among advertisers. This coming from the guy who was responsible for Kanoodle's mass promotion of the "Free $5.00" account (and account credits in general from any PPC. I was doing this a full 6 months ahead of Google an Yahoo back then).

However there was a reason for the $5.00 limit and hence why we did not go above and beyond with most partners to the higher credit amounts of $25.00 or more. $5.00 burned quickly and didn't artifically inflate the advertiser's bidding process. When you get into credits of $25.00 or more then you see (on lower volume keywords) the bids inflate dramatically in some cases because of the free $$.

I tested different account credit amounts for nearly two years with over 100,000 advertisers in and out of the system over that time frame. Low credits won't effct the overall cost per click. But high credits certainly do.

I just want to know the rules

It is that simple......

Many years ago google said "trust us" we know best. Then I would have accepted it....now come off it.

I am not bashing google but as a $80 billion dollar publicly quoted company, many people interested in making cash, with a motto of "Don't be evil" I want to see the proof in the pudding. How hard can it be to publicly disclose the info.

It would be alos nice to see the other se's do it also.

DougS

This is a problem

Matt I think you are being very naive or trying to disseminate bogus info.
To the best of my knowledge (and I worked in the ads engineering group for a year), the Googlers that do use AdWords use a budget of under a dollar a day--just enough to be familiar with the program and understand the common problems that advertisers face

That is all nice but what about the people that know what words are getting solid traffic and no advertisers and they can then buy it and resell for higher amounts....
Or if they are competing with others in a heavily PPCed area... they would have access to what the real numbers are... what the Max PPC of all the competitors and thus be able to bid an exact number to grab the spot (number 1, 2 or whatever)...

To think they are all bidding a buck a day to learn for their customers is very naive.

What do you learn on $1 a day?

$1 per day is such a small amount that I can't even understand what they would learn from it.

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