Has Google Ads lost all credibility? Why one advertiser says it’s time to leave

Google stunned the PPC community after openly admitting to quietly adjusting ad prices to meet targets. The confession comes eight years after Google Ad executive Jerry Dischler denied the search engine manipulates ad auctions at SMX Advanced in 2015.

The backtracking has infuriated digital marker Gregg Finn – so much so that he now believes advertisers should consider leaving Google. But will others follow?

Here’s a recap of Greg’s comments from the Marketing O’Clock podcast.

Google has lost all trust and credibility

  • “This is disheartening. First of all, the biggest detriment is that Google has lost all trust and credibility.”
  • “All you have in life is your word.”
  • “Google has admitted to trying to hit quarterly numbers so that the morale of its people living in high-cost areas is up – but that’s at the expense of the small businesses that it pretends to care about.”
  • “Money doesn’t just appear, it comes out of every small business and big business’ pocket that is using Google’s platform.”

Stop calling it an auction

  • “We all knew this was going on, but you want to give people the benefit of the doubt.”
  • “Google says it cares about advertisers and all these other marketing lies, but the minute it has to hit these marks, the staff ratchet up the spend, and they ratchet the revenue up to 5% or 10%.”
  • Greg went on to share some of the reactions he’d seen from the PPC community on X (formerly known as Twitter), which he appeared to support:
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Stop lying

  • Greg read out a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) from ex Googler Ben Kruger, which read:
    • “Guys they are running a business, they can do whatever they want with their prices just like you and your clients can.”
  • Greg called Ben’s words “fair” in parts, but called Google out for its lack of transparency. with advertisers
  • “You can do whatever you want [with your prices], but just don’t tell me that you’re doing things in my best interests.”
  • “You can no longer say that, and I can no longer trust you on anything that you say or do because you’re out here, tuning up, and shaking the cushions to hit quarterly profit numbers.”

Google’s terminology is ‘misleading at best’

  • “It’s fine if retailers increase their margin on the backend, but in Google’s case, this is marketed as auctions with bids and bid strategies.”
  • “That terminology is increasingly misleading at best.”
  • “There are factors outside of your control and factors that only matter to the sales team that live in high-income areas that are going to hurt your campaign.”
  • “I guarantee Google has never moved costs down 5%.”

RGSP is ‘ridiculous’

  • Google Ad executive, Jerry Dischler, said during the federal antitrust trial that RGSP boosted Google’s revenue by switching the auction so that the second-place bidder was in the top advertiser slot and the initial winner was in the second position.
  • Dischler told the court: “We flip them, otherwise Amazon would always show up on top.”
  • Greg branded this approach “ridiculous”. He added: “People are out here bidding. What world are we living in? What world is this? It’s ridiculous.”

People should leave!

  • “This whole thing just makes me so unbelievably sad. I’ve read everything and heard all the reactions – and I know it’s going to get progressively worse as the years come by.”
  • “People should leave. There should not be one ounce of trust that any advertiser has in Google Ads or in any of its platforms, speech, any of its propaganda or anything it puts out.”
  • “Google has lost all credibility with this. There is nothing left.”
  • “Everyone thinks I’m a Google conspiracist, and everyone thinks I’m nuts – but I’m not. I’m right on this. And that’s why everyone is so hesitant to switch to auto-applied recommendations or use AI or PMax. Google is doing these things to make more money, and they’re admitting it in court. Sad.”

Deep dive. Read our Google antitrust trial updates for all the latest developments from the federal trial.

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About the author

Nicola Agius

Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book ‘Mastering In-House SEO’.

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