AdWords Smart Goals Built For Dumb Asses

December 15, 2015 - 7 minutes read

Smart Goals For Dumb Asses

*** Disclaimer – I do not in anyway believe that small business owners are stupid. I have mad respect for them, which is why this whole thing pisses me off so much!

Announcing AdWords Smart Goals from Analytics

Last week Google decided to do the world a favor and drop Smart Goals through Google Analytics on the world. The funny thing is, I think that people over at Google have a problem understanding the meaning of words. This is apparent by their use of words like “enhanced” previously and “smart” in this instance.


You could of called this “Black Box Automated Goals”, but to call them smart goals, because you wanted to stroke the egos of the engineers that developed this one sided algorithm is a gross misuse of the word smart.

Why The Hell Would Google Do This?

The short answer, is because they need to find ways to simplify things, while also influencing advertisers perceptions that AdWords provides a good value for them.

The long answer is a lot more complex than that. As Google mentioned in their announcement post:

hundreds of thousands of small and medium businesses aren’t measuring their website conversions today.  Some businesses may not have a way for users to convert on their website and others may not have the time or the technical ability to implement conversion tracking.

The first reason this is a problem, is because how can Google possibly talk about the number of conversions it drives for advertisers if there are no conversions being tracked.

Secondly, how can Google tell advertisers that they are driving business for them if they don’t have a way to measure that enabled.

So Google in their infinite wisdom decided to look at what data they did have access to, and try to extrapolate and infer conversion data for all the websites where they don’t currently have insights. That’s like me looking at my transaction history for my bank account and inferring that most Americans purchase binkies multiple times a month because their toddlers are addicted to them. That’s just stupid, and as I said earlier a gross misuse of data analysis.

But Larry Kim Said They Are Cool

Larry wrote a blog post recently that said “smart goals are not dumb“.

Larry’s thought’s center around the fact that WordStream deals with massive amounts of clients that don’t have conversion tracking enabled, so this solves a problem for them.

I love Larry, but I feel like this is very one sided. This enables Wordstream to “prove value”, with regards to the number of conversions they are helping drive for their clients.

However this does not accurately provide “some form of conversion tracking” as Larry suggests.

In order for this to qualify as conversion tracking, a conversion event would have to be defined! There are no conversion events defined by definition in the smart goals documentation. All of the conversion data is based on “visit” data, not conversion data!

Business Owners What You Need To Know

Google not only wants you to view Adwords Smart Goals as information, they want you to make decisions based off of it! They want you to worship at the altar of AdWords and bring your offerings of money in ever increasing amounts to quote them “In this way, you’re able to optimize your Adwords spend based on the likelihood of conversion as determined by our model.

In what alternate reality is it smart to allow the person charging you for a service, to determine if you received value from that service?  That’s like letting a restaurant write your reviews on Yelp for you.

Google did not create Adwords Smart Goals as an analytics enhancement for your benefit. They did it for their benefit.

Anyone who proclaims that this is awesome, is not looking out for your best interest.

If you don’t know if the money you are spending on AdWords or any other marketing is actually leading to increased sales and conversions, then you need to work with a professional to figure it out.

Be smart! Invest the money on yourself and your success by working with people who know what they are doing and have the integrity to tell you when something is not to your benefit.

Installing conversion tracking is not as complicated as they make it out to be. Most small businesses are built on WordPress, or another similar platform, which all have plugins or options to integrate at least basic analytics.

Marketers You Need To Protect Businesses Not Mislead Them

It is your responsibility to educate and inform businesses. You are the ones that should know better.

If you are not informing clients, or bosses that certain things are not to their benefit, your actions are unconscionable. We are the gatekeepers of what works and what doesn’t.

Just because Google or Bing or Facebook or any other company says something is awesome, does not mean that it is. You should vet everything that they push out and if it doesn’t really benefit businesses you should let your voice be heard by them and your clients.

Could you say that advertisers could use these new Adwords Smart Goals as a directional indicator like Quality Score? Sure you could, but should you use them to proclaim the efficacy of all things AdWords. Hell. To. The. No!

AdWords Smart Goals, were built to take advantage of the unwary and uneducated, just like AdWords Express.

Are you planning on using AdWords Smart Goals?

For more info – Julie Bacchini wrote a great post about this last week –