Valentine’s Day was marred for many by failed or faulty delivery of bouquets to loved ones, as we covered here, last week – and many consumers and retailers had things to say.
A popular florist blogger commented in a Feb. 17th post titled “Valentine’s Day Flowers Adwords: Feasting on the Bones of Local Florists”:
“Vultures. It’s the only way I can think to describe Google’s Adwords ads this past Valentine’s Day holiday. ‘Don’t be evil’ flew out the window and Google opened it even wider for the birds of prey to strip consumers and local flower shops of their hard-earned dollars.
First, we had ProFlowers telling shoppers seeking local florists BY NAME in Google searches that the stores were sold out of flowers. It’s a completely despicable ad tactic that diverted consumers by lying about local flower shop inventories. Despite having plenty of beautiful blooms for Valentine’s Day, the drop-shipper tried to suck in late buyers by falsifying the flower availability at these shops. Shame on Liberty Media. Shame on ProFlowers. And shame on the Google staffers who approved those ads."
We asked Google to comment, and they replied by email.
"Google allows advertisers to bid on competitor keywords as well as to use competitor terms in the ad text itself as long as advertisers do not make any false or inaccurate claims in their ads (see more here)," we were informed when asked for Google's response to the Valentine's Day debacle. "We use a combination of manual and automated processes to enforce this policy. Ads that are found in violation of our policies will be removed."
Clearly, manual and automated processes weren't up to the task of policing floral ad campaigns around Valentine's Day. Many local florists took note of the ambush Google AdWords campaigns and a few others blogged about it, including:
"Loads of local florists are going through this time-consuming exercise daily. Google has long been a company I’ve respected, but this holiday they put ad dollars way, way ahead of truthful advertising and consumer/user interest. Google: Don’t tell your users drop-shippers are ‘located nearby’ and don’t let advertisers misrepresent the inventories of real local florists. Both are evil and are far more vulture-like than the Google brand I’ve respected for many years. Lose the trust of local businesses... and buyers...and you lose a whole lot.”
A final word of caution from floristdetective.com:
“Consumers should keep in mind, when they order from "national sites" and not directly from a local florist, that most of the time, the monies paid in Delivery/Service fees are not passed along to the local florist and kept by the "brands". Also, so called "deals" where you buy a coupon for dollars off of flowers, can actually cost you more in the long run as these fees often eat up any discount you may have received. Consumers will always get a better deal, dealing directly with the local florist that will be delivering the gift, and the local florist will receive the funds they need to do the job right.”
Next up – Mother’s Day. Caveat emptor – and the sellers too.