Ready or Not: Here Comes the New AdWords Interface

Sometimes you have to force people to make changes. I can appreciate that — it has lead to many of the significant social changes of humanity. But when a company does it, or an industry, there’s a need to be supportive.

Grace Boyle’s interesting article about the inconvenience of change came to mind while watching all of the activity around the pending mandatory Google AdWords interface change.

“We are creatures of habit. We find comfort in regularity. When something out of the ordinary comes along, forces us to dig deep and make a U-Turn instead of keep going straight, it’s jarring. All of a sudden the comfort and familiarity are gone and we’re alone — not quite sure what to do next. Why is change so inconvenient? I think it is connected to our brains and psyche,” Boyle noted.

Seems us search marketers are undergoing this right now. Barry Schwartz found that 56 percent of AdWords users he polled were against the change. Maybe not a significant group of protesters, but if you read the comments at the various forums — Search Engine Watch and Webmaster World are an indication — that percentage may be a lot higher.

My biggest complaint is that Google didn’t use much of a transition. No doubt they launched it in beta to get the bugs out — of which there have been many listed and some addressed — but they should have done more marketing to their core constituency to make them aware of the impending change.

Many resources detail the new interface — AdWords blog posts and videos, like this one:

But I haven’t seen a concerted effort to make people aware beyond the notification of the fait accompli e-mail to its users. As Andy Beal called it, “Your Interface Will Self Destruct in 30 Days.”

Google should have used the same approach the U.S. government did for the change to digital TV. Major announcements everywhere. Hey, starting a time clock a few months ago inside the AdWords accounts would have been smarter than just giving people the option to choose which one they wanted, as if this would be a permanent option.

Sadly, yet realistically, Google doesn’t care that much about their captured audience. So let’s suck up the inconvenience of change and move on. The interface really has a lot of things to offer and, as Google gives it more bandwidth and attention, the load times will be seamless and the benefits praised in six months from now.

It’s just that you have to be a little nicer to your customers, guys. We aren’t children who have to be mandated actions to — we’ve had a long history of generously giving you feedback on things to add to your products and insights into what would be popularly adopted.

Maybe the T-shirts for the Google Dance during SES San Jose should read: “This new interface rocks!” By then, it could be the new outlook.

Chris Boggs Fires Back

Frank, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to throw a fantasy sports analogy into the mix in our columns. Thanks!

Within the last few years, Yahoo has rolled out a slew of updates to its Fantasy Sports. One of the most alien to me was when they implemented a drag-and-drop functionality for daily player update games, including baseball, hockey, football, and basketball. Fortunately, I was able to rebel, and choose via selector instead to go with the “classic” functionality.

Slowly I picked a team here or there where I would train on the new interface, and I grew to like it. The key is that I could do it at my pace.

Wouldn’t it be great if Google would allow account managers to turn this off and on as they become accustomed to it. I doubt the data and functionality that Yahoo needs to put out in its fantasy interface holds a candle to the AdWords management system (I’m not an expert at rating those differences), so that could be a major undertaking. Yet it sounds from the crux of the complaints that people want choice above all in this matter.

If I had a master account, and a few clients wanted to try it out, it would be a great way to train a team. If Google is able to do this, it could be a great way to foster a little goodwill.

Let’s hope for T-shirts and some Google fun at SES San Jose, no matter what. Perhaps replace a few robo-wars sets for the slow learners/adopters to the new interface, eh? My Yahoo Baseball teams all still give me the option to go back to classic, by the way, but I’m used to the new and more visually helpful drag and drop.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies Toronto, June 8-10, 2009, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto.

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