After realizing it had to pay a “ransom” to Google Ads in order to be listed first for its brand name, the project management software company Basecamp created an ad, which read, “We don’t want to run this ad.”

CEO Jason Fried then tweeted out his complaint – which resulted in over 12,000 retweets and 36,000 likes.

Fried’s complaint is that competitors are using a version of the Basecamp brand name in their ads (a Google Ads no-no) and that without buying an ad for its own trade-name, Basecamp doesn’t appear until the fifth listing (or first for Organic).

Jason Fried tweet
Jason Fried’s original tweet thread.

Clearly, he hit a chord.

For less savvy users of Google’s search engine, it is difficult to tell the difference between Paid and Organic search results.

Companies today do have to pay if they want to be listed first for their brand name in Google’s search engine – especially for competitive keywords.

The keyword “basecamp” for example, receives on average 165,000 searches each month, with the estimated top of page bid cost ranging from $8–$16.

However, not all “basecamp” searches apply to the software product. Garmin has a GPS product trademarked BaseCamp™, Airstream has a travel trailer named Basecamp, and another company named Basecamp offers academic course reviews.

In our opinion, Fried is protesting a little much as his product isn’t the only “Basecamp.” And too, he has competition. That’s business!

Before Google, phone directories (or the green Thomas Register books) were used to find companies offering the products or services we needed.

If you wanted potential customers to find your company, you ponied up the bucks and advertised in yellow page directories, which were published by the phone company for your region or state.

To stand out, you paid more for a bigger ad size, color, etc. because your ad ran alongside dozens of other ads for the same category. And, if you realized your ad wasn’t working, tough luck, you had to wait a full year to change it.

We have a love-hate relationship with Google Ads and their constant changes and less-than-stellar automated recommendations for improving campaign performance.

But, we also appreciate that smaller manufacturers can place ads and grow sales cost-effectively – coupled with the ability to change things on-the-fly based on precise data you never got with phone directory listings.

Contributor: Rachel Cunliffe