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Computing Thoughts
Google Adwords: Stick with "Adwords Basic"
by Bruce Eckel
December 14, 2008
They goad you into "Standard Edition" but once you change, you can't go back. No matter how bad it is. Change at your peril.


It's pretty amazing for a company that gets all its money from ads, and who has won over the world on simplified user interfaces, to have a UI this bad.

Immediately upon moving to "Standard Edition" I was thrown into a dizzying set of pages, and the hardest thing to do -- which was the simplest in "Basic" -- is to actually find your ad and edit it.

So I tried downloading their "Adwords Editor," an app that runs locally on your machine. This way I could put in a number of other keywords more easily, so it claimed. But now the Adwords Editor started giving me warnings that it wouldn't post the keywords, because my "ad group doesn't have an active ads." OK, maybe I missed something. My one ad appears to be part of the ad group. I can't see how else to add it; the only thing you seem to be able to do is add another ad group. You tell the ad itself what ad group it's supposed to be in, but mine appears to be in the ad group that Adwords Editor is claiming is empty.

Help doesn't help, nor does Googling -- others had this problem and got the unhelpful advice "put an ad in the ad group!"

So I close Adwords Editor and go back to the web interface. It doesn't have anything in it about empty ad groups, but it does have an error message: my ad was rejected because the display URL goes to instead of to, which it doesn't like. I change it. Everything seems fine, so I guess it's working, but it's hard to tell.

I go back to Adwords Editor and refresh the data to see if it's any happier now. No, same complaints as before. It never told me about the rejected ad, and gives me this apparently bogus warning but because of the "problem" it prevents me from adding any new keywords.

I guess I understand why changing to "Standard Edition" is a one-way trap door. They probably had too many people trying it, then rapidly switching back. But forcing your users to use a horrible UI (after claiming in a popup window that it will be all wonderful) is not a great user experience.

Please, could someone at Google revert me back to the "Basic Edition?" I have better things to do than try to figure out this mess.

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About the Blogger

Bruce Eckel ( provides development assistance in Python with user interfaces in Flex. He is the author of Thinking in Java (Prentice-Hall, 1998, 2nd Edition, 2000, 3rd Edition, 2003, 4th Edition, 2005), the Hands-On Java Seminar CD ROM (available on the Web site), Thinking in C++ (PH 1995; 2nd edition 2000, Volume 2 with Chuck Allison, 2003), C++ Inside & Out (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1993), among others. He's given hundreds of presentations throughout the world, published over 150 articles in numerous magazines, was a founding member of the ANSI/ISO C++ committee and speaks regularly at conferences.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2008 Bruce Eckel. All rights reserved.

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