Over the years in this industry, there have been numerous accounts of people being completely ignored on routine e-mail support requests from traffic sales sites in the adult industry. In particular, the sites that only have a contact form and maybe an e-mail address and an ICQ number, but no reference to a phone number, actual office location, etc. should at least raise a red flag in your head as they do in mine before you agree to spend money. At the very least, contact info that leads to actual people with knowledge of the traffic that is available for sale.
The quality of said customer support for ad buys definitely varies from vendor to vendor. At issue for me in the role of ad buyer is getting simple questions answered. Note to agencies: make sure the people assigned to answering new (and existing) customer inquiries are armed with enough info to overcome standard questions and even a few more specific concern areas that many people will (or should) have before they agree to buy your traffic. Issues like whether or not sellers can geo target ads by country, zip code, time of day, hour, etc. Also whether vendors are selling hits, clicks, impressions, raw, unique, etc. should be easily answered and as clear as possible to avoid customers not getting what they think they bought.
In the case of large mainstream search engines, resellers and portals that offer PayPerClick, paid inclusion, etc., I have to pick on one vendor that many of my industry peers have dealt with or will at some point – Google and their AdWords program. The traffic can be great, can make you money and boost your membership counts on an ongoing basis. My issue is simple. Typically, when you spend more than a couple thousand dollars with most ad networks, you can get access to or even be automatically assigned to an account rep of some variety and title who can guide you through most aspects of managing your online campaigns. In the case of Google, it seems to be their express hope and desire that adult advertisers will happily navigate their way through using an AdWords account to satisfy their needs related to buying traffic from Google.
As someone who likes to run bulk campaigns, sometimes using XML data dumps and related advanced options for providing listings, creative, etc., I generally prefer having a rep, ideally a senior one from the ad traffic vendors I buy from help me with various aspects of the set up and management of my campaigns. I am well aware that human support costs money, but I am also aware that it’s less expensive to keep a client who spends good money on a recurring basis than to go out and find a new one. I have tried numerous times to request a support rep or account manager from Google with no luck. I have used their contact forms, express service applications, phone support, etc. and always get directed back to their FAQ pages.
With due respect to Google, I know I can read the FAQ thoroughly, but they should realize that as a customer who will spend a fair bit on their ad inventory, a little human help would be nice. It must be noted that yes, you can use their self serve functionality and still receive quality traffic that will make you profitable sales. They are the only vendor that I continue to buy from where high quality human support is absent. In the end, it’s simple. Colleagues and I spend 10x as much or more on ads with Google competitors than we do with Google due to this lack of human touch as there are only so many hours in the day that can be devoted to managing a single traffic source and you must manage your time accordingly. Customer loyalty in the digital age is at its highest when vendors provide the high tech high touch combination of services with related support.