You’re stuck and you know it. Sure, certain aspects of your life might be going quite well. New job, new office, new feeling of self-efficacy and the promising scent of upward mobility. But towards the end of your first product meeting, just after you could no longer restrain the urge to make a good impression and seize the initiative by volunteering to oversee what a single bullet point likely described as “real-time programmatic media buying in sponsored search engine placements,” you experienced a pang of dread. What, exactly, the hell have you gotten yourself into?

Now that it’s next Monday, it turns out you had raised your hand to expertly manage a dedicated budget on Google AdWords, a platform that has been described by experts as “The Citizen Kane of user-unfriendliness.” But you recall hearing somewhere that Google earns 96% of its considerable revenue from AdWords, all from thousands of advertisers like yourself – how difficult could it be? And didn’t Owen Wilson pull off this same feat in that one movie?

You cancel your appointments, push your calls, take a reaffirming gulp of coffee, and decide to log in to see what’s what.

No idea what you're doing? Call Google Phone Support!

Graphs. Tabs. Datasheets with not just rows, but columns too. Campaigns, ad groups, keywords, something called ad extensions, and the ominous upper-righthand indication of “Opportunities Found Within Your Account.” It’s terrifying. It’s beautiful. It’s Google “Anyone Can Do It” AdWords and it’s altogether much too much.

You close your laptop and contemplate giving up.

But just before you tender your letter of resignation, you pull out your smartphone, type in your predicament to Google and find yourself reading this very article about Google phone support.

It’s OK To Ask Google For Help

Hello, fellow advertisers. I’m here now to tell you to relax. Everything is going to be okay! We here at Digital Reach were just like you at one point, with the exception of Nick Rennard who was actually born with 10/10 Quality Scores. But when we got stuck, we didn’t get dejected. We got even. We turned to a higher power for answers. We called Google.

Most advertisers are not even aware that Google AdWords offers phone support. In this age of atrocious phone support from aloof megacorporations, it reasonably follows that Google would be just one more library of useless help articles which seem more preoccupied with you helping them help you than actually helping you. But since 2011, Google has been “woke” to the bafflingly obvious recognition that helping advertisers get started on AdWords in plainspoken language actually helps their bottom line.

Yes, You Can Actually Speak With a Human

Google AdWords phone support is available in the US, Canada, and dozens of other fine countries from 9am to 8pm, Monday through Friday, in both English and Spanish. You can reach them at 1-866-2GOOGLE (1-866-246-6453). And they support not just AdWords, but Google Analytics, Google Merchant Center, and Google MyBusiness (formerly known as Google Places) as well.

In an upcoming post, I’ll give you a walkthrough of how to make the most of your support experience with Google. In the meantime, it’s worth a few notes on what Google support reps are and aren’t capable of providing.

Google Reps ARE:

  • Technologists. Expect them to be thoroughly knowledgeable on the AdWords technology. Even if your first rep gets stumped, he or she will often consult another rep in their call center who knows more on the subject.
  • Explainers. AdWords policy is has had a convoluted history, weaving in and out of lawsuits and user revolts. Want to know why you can’t use remarketing ads for a divorce attorney? They’ll tell you. Want to know how many times your ads rank in the top placements? They’ll walk you through it.
  • Problem solvers. Reps are required to take ownership of your issue, and if they cannot solve it immediately, will always offer to open a support ticket and escalate you to a more definitive authority figure.
  • Friendly and professional. They’ll always treat you with respect and offer perspective. Treat them in kind and you’ll be on your way to a solution in no time. After your discussion with the support agent you’ll be transferred to a short follow-up phone survey on the agent’s performance. Always answer it, and be honest. Don’t conflate a frustration with Google’s technology with the agent’s ability to help you or not. You can always make a feature request directly to Google’s AdWords program management.

Google Reps ARE NOT:

  • Marketers. Remember, if Google reps were as good at getting results for paying clients as they are at answering tech support questions, they would have your job. They’re qualified to help solve a technology problem, not run your business. Reps may know best practices and what’s worked or not worked for similar accounts, but only you know your customers. Treat any recommendation that requires you to budget more money with caution.
  • Policy deciders. Policy decisions can be reviewed and escalated – even, to a degree, online through an algorithm – but no Google rep will be able to overturn a policy decision over the phone, no matter how persuasive your argument.
  • Programmers. If your AdWords org is littered with custom scripts or if your website was proudly coded from scratch on DreamWeaver 4, support reps will understandably have a difficult time diagnosing any issues dealing with the hand-off between AdWords and your website. For issues that do occasionally implicate something on Google’s server side, you can confirm your suspicions here: https://ads.google.com/status
  • Robots or high-functioning AI’s (Yet). Trust that a Google agent is never reading from a script or the same help document you can find online. Their advice will always be personalized to the context of your account and your issue.
  • Necessarily near you. Google is a worldwide company, and just because you might be calling from Sacramento doesn’t mean you’ll reach an agent in Mountain View. Be prepared to explain the scope and context of your problem. Be prepared to hear accents and agents for whom English is a second language.
  • Necessarily fair. Just because you see one advertiser getting away with one strategy doesn’t mean you are entitled to emulate it. If you feel another advertiser is wrongly gaming the system, report them here: https://support.google.com/adwords/troubleshooter/4578507
  • Facebook, Bing, Amazon, or LinkedIn. Don’t ask them for support on platforms they don’t support.
  • Agency Support Reps. If you are a with an advertising agency that has made any serious initiative on AdWords in the past 6 months, or is a certified Google Partner, you should be eligible for Google Premier Agency support and have expanded access to a higher-lever support squad. More on this in a future blog post!
Google phone support can help you do this.

Right you are, AdWords Yoda.

The Author’s Take

If I had to hedge a bit, I’d say that in my career with AdWords I’ve called in to the Google phone support hotline no less than 1000 times. Even more confidently I can say this: I’ve been satisfied with Google’s recommendations 98% of the time. Try to look at them as a completely free resource of knowledge and experience. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

What’s even more amazing is how much of a rarity it is for any tech company to provide such an exponentially superior support channel than the next competitor. Gone are the days when you could call Facebook Ads support and reach nobody lower than a Vice President. Amazon feeds your support tickets directly into a shredder. Bing Ads support could be called a joke, one that would be funny if it weren’t sad. (Anecdote: I did once get connected to a clearly inebriated Bing agent who confided in me that the callers were his only friend.)

Make no mistake: I have also encountered some truly nightmare scenarios with Google support. I have had accounts suspended and unsuspended. I’ve had years worth of historical quality data lost forever. I once spent three continuous hours on the phone while a Google programmer in South Africa literally talked me through hacking AdWords Editor to retrieve some .aes files that contained a critical build. I know the melody of the hold music by heart.

But in all honesty, even as my work continues to put me in the ring with newer, larger, and more terrifying technical challenges, I’ve never felt stuck. Because I do what you should do. Pick up the phone and call a bigger nerd.

 

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