Why IO, Why?
I have a radical proposition: Get rid of insertion orders for PPC advertising.
Do IOs really serve a purpose? Or are they simply an extraneous carry-over from print advertising? Someone in an accounting department would probably be able to explain to my why this document is necessary… but from the point of view of a pay-per-click advertiser, they are a nuisance and a potential liability.
What information is in the IO? The length of the campaign, the budget, the client info, and the payment method. All of these are defined when you set up an advertising account online. Perhaps this is seen as a kind of protection for the advertiser, to make sure that they do not keep their ads up longer than intended or spend more than intended… but defining and changing the date or budget parameters is simple online. Even setting a max spend not to be exceeded, or an end date…
If it were not so simple to control these factors, or if, as in print advertising, there were a long lead time – so that you can’t cancel an ad at the last minute – then insertion orders would make sense.
OK – so yes, it’s another piece of paper that requires a few e-mails back and forth to obtain and get signed. One more thing to fax back. Pretty minor nuisance. How can it be a liability?
It becomes a liability when the Insertion Order runs out, and the campaign stops – and the advertiser does not realize it immediately.
Oh, wait – maybe that’s more a customer service issue. Maybe the real problem is that customer service reps do not send out notices that an account is about to be shut off because the IO budget or end date is reaching an end. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Or the customer service rep does not assure that a new IO is prepared in a way that will leave the account with no downtime.
Uh-oh. Is this turning into another Google rant?
Yes and no. Neither Google nor Yahoo has been consistent about keeping me apprised of IOs reaching either budget or time limits.
Yahoo has been better about letting me know when one is going to end and needs to be renewed, but not so good about noticing that an account had nearly spent its limit, or was spending too fast.
Google has been wildly inconsistent.
For example. One client has three accounts. The IOs are all set to end on the same day, but they are burning through their budget at different speeds. The rep I work with lets me know, about a month in advance, that this is happening… and that one of the accounts will reach the budget limit early.
I am happy they have done this, and ask that we go ahead and complete new IOs.
I hear nothing back for a week. I am told there’s no rush. I get passed between two account reps, who do not share all of the information I communicate. One IO gets completed, but with a start date that leaves the account with a day of downtime. The others get extended – so that now, instead of three accounts with a single end date, I have three with three different end dates.
I hear nothing further, until I notice that one of the accounts is not running. My client loses money. Google loses money. Why did I not get a call or an e-mail? And why, when I did hear back (two days later, after I followed up again, from a *third* rep), did they act surprised that I wanted a new IO?
This is not the first time Google has allowed a campaign to simply end without following up.
Oh, wait… I guess it did turn into another Google rant. (Hey, don’t get me wrong. The folks at Google are really quite nice. Just not so well organized.)
But seriously, why is all of this needed in the first place? If an insertion order really is a necessity, why can it not be generated easily, by the advertiser, online? If an electronic contract is insufficient, the info could be autofilled from information already in the account, printed, faxed back… Take out a few steps and simplify everyone’s lives.