Hello? This is Google Calling

Written by: Drew Lyon   Austin, Texas

Posted on: March 22, 2011


Ring, ring…When’s the last time you got a call from somebody claiming to work with Google? Well believe it or not, Google’s sales team does call businesses directly to promote some of their services (Google Boost and Adwords, for example). However, the majority of the ‘Google’ calls you are likely to receive are from telemarketers with no direct affiliation to Google. In this article, we’ll discuss some new services Google is pushing and how to identify Google phone impostors…

Identifying Google impostors

First things first. Before you spend too much of your valuable time with a sales rep, you should identify who you’re actually speaking with. Listen carefully to how the caller identifies themselves:

Google Impostor: “Hi, this is ____. I work WITH Google.” or “Hi… I’m a Google PARTNER.”

Actual Google Employee: “Hi…I work FOR Google.”

An actual Google employee can and will directly state that they work ‘for’ Google or that they are ‘from’ Google. On the contrary, an unaffiliated telemarketer usually tip-toes around the truth by saying they work ‘with’ or have some sort of ‘partnership’ to Google. But of course, people who are intentionally misrepresenting themselves may be outright deceptive and claim to be an employee of Google. No problem, there’s an easy way to find out if they’re telling the truth.

Ask the caller to email you from their Google email address. If you get an email from employee@google.com, then you’re speaking to a genuine employee of Google. But remember, you’re still on a sales call.

So when does Google call you?

A Google sales associate will call your business when they see an opportunity to make money. It’s that simple. If you’re an existing Adwords (Pay-Per-Click) customer with over $250,000 annual ad spend, you probably have a dedicated account representative at Google. However, if you’re a small to mid-size business with a new Adwords account (on a slightly more modest budget), a Google sales rep may also contact you offering to help ‘get things started.’

We set-up a lot of new Adwords accounts for clients and we’re sometimes contacted by Google on their behalf. This typically happens when an account has been dormant for over 30 days. Google sees these accounts as fruit ripe for the picking. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with getting a little free help, you have to consider their motivation: Google wants all these underutilized Adwords accounts to be active, so they can generate more ad revenue.

Of Google’s nearly 30 billion dollars in revenue last year, 96% of it came from advertising.

But who cares what their motivation is if it works?

Initial set-up vs ongoing professionally managed PPC

When we first started receiving these calls, we were curious to find out how effective their free account set-up could be. As a test, we created a new account and allowed Google’s Adwords support team to create the first campaign. We let the campaign run for 30 days, closely monitoring the results, and then had our PPC team create a campaign for the same service.

Our PPC campaign outperformed the Google generated campaign in every category (click-through rate, cost-per-click, rate of conversion, etc.). Why? Simply because the Google campaign used only broad-match keywords, a few generic ads and bid prices that were not frequently adjusted. Other industry leaders have noticed similar results. This shouldn’t come a huge surprise considering Google cannot afford (for free) to dedicate the time and resources that a professional PPC management company would towards your campaign.

The most obvious distinction: Google provides only initial account set-up and review while managed PPC advertising is an on-going process that requires keyword bid monitoring, a/b ad testing, conversion optimization, among other things. Additionally, opting for Google’s default set-up will give you little advantage over the competition because they are likely to offer the same generic service to your competitors.

Have you tried Google Boost?

Now that Google is expanding their sales team, they are starting to call local businesses and promote new services like Google Boost. Google Boost is a simplified version of Adwords (PPC) that let’s local businesses quickly and easily create an ad from within their Google Places manager. These ads display in the same space as standard PPC ads or ‘sponsored listings’.

Here is an example of our Google Boost ad:

As you can see, not only does it appear above other Places listings, it’s accentuated with a blue pin-point and location information about the business–it even shows reviews. Since this is a relatively new service, it remains to be seen how effective it may be. However, because of a fairly limited feature set, it should NOT be seen as a replacement for standard PPC advertising.

Going loco for local

This push towards marketing services to local businesses is consistent with Google’s recent updates that promote localization of search results. Localized search is the next big money-making opportunity for Google and other search engines. It’s widely speculated, that Google’s 6 billion dollar bid to buy coupon sharing site, Groupon, was primarily founded on their interest in the company’s robust local sales presence in major cities across the country.

Not to be left out, even large national corporations should be optimizing their Google Places listings. Even if you don’t sell services from a brick and mortar store, these listings add authority to your website and offers another opportunity to show up for a variety of search terms.

So what does it all mean?

This is your reality check

Google is a business. And as they start doing more outbound sales, you should approach their service offerings with the same healthy skepticism you would show a less culturally-ingrained brand. Just because a certain search engine company has their own entry in the Merriam-Webster dictionary (as a verb nonetheless), it doesn’t mean that every product they offer is guaranteed gold.

Furthermore, Google is a search engine / advertising company, not an Internet marketing company. They merely offer the platform for individuals and companies to effectively market their products and services to a targeted audience.


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