Google is about to hold a Google University event in Bulgaria on the 13th of March. The six hour event will take place in the Hilton Hotel in Sofia with a main topic – “How to succesfully advertise in Google”.
So far so good – mighty Google turns its eye on Bulgaria and tries to promote its Adwords advertising platform. Invitations were sent out to a number of selected people (selected on basis of… ?) and these were given a link to www.googleuniversity.eu. The page says to register for the event as fast as possible since the number of attendees is limited and registration is done on a first-come, first-served basis.
One of the selected people, who also happens to be a well-respected blogger among the SEO and internet marketers crowd here, published the invitation he received on his blog. He also had commented about the legitimity of the event because the invitation doesn’t fit in what one expects from Google.
The language is not the style you are used to seeing from Google, the domain is registered on behalf of some unknown Polish company and the contact info on the page itself leads to that same Polish firm. Quite a few people suspected this was a scam, including me. Actually I remember saying that if it turned out not to be a scam I would be very suprised. And I meant it.
Nevertheless, even under the suspicion that this is just an email harvesting scam or an unscrupulous advertising company trying to use Google to attract attention, a couple of hundred people could not resist taking part in the event (if real) and enthusiastically signed up for it. News about the event quickly spread around the blogosphere and the various social bookmarking sites.
About 24 hours later they all received an answer from the Google Adwords team saying “We regret to inform you, but your registration have been rejected because this event is invitation only”. These letters caused quite a lot of disappointment among these who registered and had been rejected. There were even some people who initially got their invitations confirmed and THEN CANCELLED!
What happened is – Google never disclosed to those invited that the invitation they received is personal and that information about the event should not be distributed. They also failed to implement a say, unique code solution so that only people who received a correct code could register.
This does not end here though. Letters were sent and phone calls were made to some bloggers and even to a blog aggregator service, demanding that information about the event registration is to be pulled down. As you can imagine, this resulted in even more reaction demanding official apologies from Google and better handling of the situation they created.
A few people, including me, wrote to Constantina Stoyanova from Google EU Headquaters as she is responsible for Google Adwords in Bulgaria. No answers have been received so far. Having a one-way communication is definitely not good in this case.
I do not know how you’d call it, but for me leaving some of your biggest supporters and fans, current and future clients and evangelists of your services so disappointed is quite a disaster and deserves more attention than what we have seen so far.
Multilingual-Search.com will keep you informed of developments.