Google Rolls out New Invoice System, and Immediately Bills Wrong People!

So, I have a client, all nice and tidy in my AdWords Pro Account. This client has a very large spend (500K+) and frankly, my credit cards simply don't have the space on them. So I set up invoicing with Google.

Google, to their credit, work quickly and are very helpful. Even so, there are delays involved simply due to processing times, etc. During this period, which is rather nerve-racking, I actually have to take out a second mortgage on my home in order to pay Google. The second mortgage also takes time to put into place, so in the meantime, I'm frantically paying Google by rotating through every credit card I have, and I even borrow a card from my brother in law.

Eventually, everything gets straightened out, invoicing kicks in, my client pays their bills, the credit cards are paid off, and my company is now stronger for the experience. All told, although it almost gave me a nervous breakdown, it was an overall positive thing.

(The reason I couldn't bill the client up front and pre-pay is another story, related to contracts and government regulations. Suffice to say that if it had been an option, I would have used it, but it wasn't).

But for now, everything is going fine. Once per month, I'm sent a snail-mail version of the invoice, but since I'm in Canada and the invoice is coming from the US, it arrives later than I'd like. Instead, I log into AdWords, download a PDF of my invoice and pay it. No problem.

Now For The Problem

At this point, life is good, I get paid, Google gets paid and everyone is happy. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, Google sends an email version of the invoice. Sounds good, right? Much faster than snail mail.


  1. The invoice was sent to my client's email address, not mine. Big mistake number one. I'm surprised it even got through their spam filters, much less got forwarded to me. They certainly had no idea what to do with it.
  2. The invoice was billed to my brother in law. You know, the guy who loaned me his credit card once on this account. He's certainly not going to pay it, and my client had no idea who this guy was.
  3. The invoice was sent yesterday - not at the time when the invoices should have been sent. By this point, I had not only received the proper invoice (when I download them, they are billed properly to my company, not to my brother in law), but I had paid it already. Why the invoice was sent AFTER THE DUE DATE and after being paid is totally beyond me.
  4. Finally, it was sent on behalf of Google Collections Canada. Now, we don't work with Google Canada due to some very bad service we had received last year. When I contacted the person listed in the email, she said that her name had been added automatically and she had not directly sent the email. So the email was sent FROM the wrong person (and wrong country)!

So, Google invoiced the proper amount, but did so:

  • To the wrong email address
  • To the wrong billing contact
  • At the wrong time
  • After it had been paid
  • From the wrong country and collections department

Not exactly a stellar start to the new system. If you are an AdWords customer, be very, very careful about this new system, and I strongly recommend you check everything. Twice.

Just like Google should have.


Yahoo (YSM) Mexico Upgraded to Panama

I just received an email today from Yahoo informing me that Mexico is now on the new Panama PPC system.

This is good news for international SEM's like myself, since the old Yahoo kinda sucked. Worse, it was really, really hard to integrate into PPC software like Omniture Search Center.

I haven't played with it yet, but I'll keep you updated.



Original Email (translated into English with personal info removed, I apologize in advance for my bad Spanish):


Dear Advertiser, Congratulations!

The new Yahoo! Search Marketing has been activated. Our system has new and advanced features that are very easy to use and that will help you connect better with the vast and valuable audience of Yahoo! and sites associated with Yahoo! Search Marketing.

Your new Sponsored Results account

Your new user name is' XXX '. Before you can access your account, you will be asked to reestablish your password. After this, you receive an email with instructions.

After you reset your password, you can access your account at If you cannot click on the link, please copy and paste it into your Internet browser.

To help you have a successful start, we suggest you become familiar with your new account by logging in today at Please be sure to have a full campaign and add your billing information. We suggest that you add the page to access your account in your favorites for a easy access in the future.

The new Sponsored Results account structure

The interface of your account is as follows:

Administration - Manage your account information, including information payment and billing. In addition, allocate your daily spending limit, user privileges, and other options.

Please note that all information in your account, including the balance and budget, have been transferred to your new account with Sponsored Results of an account number again. However, we will continue accepting pesos as payment. The amount will simply become the equivalent amount of US dollars according to the current exchange rate.

Control Panel - See a list of all your campaigns, a summary of performance and alerts that require your attention.

Campaigns - Here is where you make the most of managing your account. You can see all your campaigns, ad group, ads and keywords. You can also create or edit campaigns, accessing the auctions and forecasting tools.

Reports - Access to numerous reports of performance to monitor the success of the campaigns, including: impressions, clicks, conversions and costs.

Access to its previous account

You still have access to their previous account (for consultation reporting only), which will be available the next six months, but you may not make any changes.

We are very pleased to have you as an advertiser and we thank you for trusting Yahoo! for your business. If you need assistance, please contact our customer service team at:

Mexico (+52 55) 3003 - 1909 or the interior at no cost to 01800 to 123 - 8593 Argentina (+54 11) 4837 - 8108 Or by email:


Yahoo! Search Marketing and it's Partners

What I Learned in China Last Week

Here is a mostly unsorted list of what I learned in China last week - the lessons will also tell the story...

FYI: what was supposed to happen was that I leave Canada on May 12, stay 3 days in Shanghai (and see the famous water town - China's Venice), then take a train to Nanjing to speak at a conference, then fly to Xi'an to see the terracotta warriors, then fly home.

Lessons Learned:

1. Even if you are an experienced, old-china-hand, been-there-done-that kind of person, you can still do something really stupid like show up in time to board a flight to Beijing with everything ready and in hand EXCEPT A STUPID ENTRY VISA. It's OK to feel like a moron - you are. Slap self silly and run down to the Consulate to see if you can get an emergency Visa in time for tomorrows flight.

2. Earthquakes have a way of messing up travel plans, especially if you have already started off on the wrong foot. Finding out about them while standing in line to go to that country can cause you to doubt your sanity. It also makes your friends and family doubt your sanity (if there was any doubt before, there no longer is)

3. You can get a Visa in the Chinese consulate in less than 2 hours if: a) you've been to China several times before without misbehaving, b) are staying at pre-booked hotels, c) have return tickets already purchased, and d) are willing to pay extra for same-day service.

4. Upgrade certificates to First Class are cool. Air Canada's new "Star Trek" seats are a gadget junkies dream. There are more options to recline and the seat than I thought could exist. I can't justify a business case for first class for my normal travel, but with upgrade certificates, I wouldn't miss it.

5. Beijing's new airport is BIG. No, you don't understand - it makes Heathrow look malnourished and you could combine LAX, Denver and LaGuardia together and they would still fit inside it. Pay attention to where you are going, because if you get lost you'll need a GPS unit, a good map, and a Sherpa guide to find your way out. As long as you don't get lost, it's actually pretty nice. They actually check your baggage tags, so don't lose it.

6. China Spree, my travel agent, booked a really nice hotel in Shanghai that just opened up (the Shanghai Skyway Landis). I liked it a lot. Note to self - choose this hotel for CSMT.

7. My friend Susan Li took me to the watertown (Zhujiajiao) and it was very cool. But the best part was just sitting in a nice tea house talking with an old friend for a few hours. The biggest mistake travellers make is to not allow time for things like this.

The Water Town (Zhujiajiao)

Chinese Soldiers Practicing Search and Rescue
(I assume before deployment to the earthquake zone)

8. Next Lesson: Train stations are designed for pedestrians, not international travellers with heavy suitcases. Lots of stairs, no elevators, ramps or anything useful for moving with luggage. Note to self: never, ever, ever take the train from Shanghai to Nanjing again. Ever.

9. Reading newspaper reports about the earthquake survivor stories can make you cry. Try not to do it in public.

10. The rule of thumb for a presentation is one slide per minute. 20 minute presentation, 20 slides, plus or minus. Forgetting that if an interpreter is translating everything because you are the only English speaker at the conference, it will effectively double the length of your presentation, is just dumb. Racking up a lot of points on the ol' "Ian is losing it" side of the score board here...

11. Lightning CAN strike twice, as long as someone up there is either holding a grudge or the recipient brings it upon themself. Although no one will every believe you, it's possible for you to look at a line that says your plane is taking off at 8:30 AM and somehow manage to read the line above it, that says that a plane is taking off at 10:50AM, thus causing you to miss the flight and the girl at the counter to giggle at you as you are banging your head on the wall.

12. When you have no one to blame but yourself, it's best to just shut up, deal with the new situation and pay the price.

13. My guide, Neil, in Xi'an is a very understanding fellow, especially since he had to wait at the airport all day for me. The Xi'an Shangri-La is a very nice hotel, and the Business Development Manager is very good at straightening out minor luggage issues. This is also the only place in China I've ever stayed in that actually served good coffee (with the exception of Starbucks). A miracle!

14. China has an interesting view on religion. In general, they consider religions to be interesting and colorful, if somewhat outdated. However, if said religion does anything political (like hold a rally, protest, etc) then it will be treated like an organized political opponent and dealt with accordingly. I'm a firm believer in separating religion and politics, but the Chinese take it to an extreme.

15. Xi'an has a very cool Muslim temple dating back at least a thousand years. Tourists can go most places, but only male Muslims can work there or enter into the prayer areas.

You can see the prayer rugs facing Mecca.

16. People care.

All flags flew at half mast for 3 days

Every Hotel I was in Collected Donations
(Naturally I gave - who wouldn't?)

During the 3 minutes of Rememberance at 2:28PM

This guard had tears in his eyes at the end of the 3 minutes

17. The terracotta warriors are cool and should be seen. Apparently, almost none are intact and have to be rebuilt. Between looting, fires, flooding and earthquakes, they have taken a beating. Wait... did you say "earthquake"?

18. Apparently, Xi'An is just north on the same fault-line as Sichuan. Lovely. That night, everyone in China with a cell phone (which is almost everyone) received a text message from the government warning about another potential very large earthquake. This caused some concern. In the old days, the government would not have sent this warning for fear of unrest due to panic - things are changing. And there was no unrest, just a bunch of people who decided that it was safer to stay outside of their apartments for the night. Tons of them. Lesson for the Chinese government: the Chinese people can handle being told bad news. Lesson for the Chinese people: the government is beginning to act like it trusts you. This is a good trend on both sides.

People sleeping outside in Xi'an after second earthquake warning.

19. Blogger is still blocker from inside China. {sigh}
20. It's good to be home.