We often get clients coming to us that only have a rudimentary knowledge of how Google Ads works. Let me just start by saying that it’s COMPLETELY fine not to be an expert in how online advertising works; if you were, then what would you need ME for?
What’s not okay, however, is when agencies take advantage of this lack of knowledge and potentially open you up to being ripped off. How does that happen? Well… let me give you an analogy.
Let’s say you drive a car to work every day. You bought the car from a friendly dealership down the street, and the guy was SUPER nice and got you into a vehicle you enjoyed at the start. You even worked out a great deal: you give the dealership a monthly payment, and in return, THEY take care of fueling it, the oil changes, and maintenance! It seems like a large number when you stop to think of it, but hey the car gets you to work, and everything runs fine.
As time passes, you decide that you want to take a drive out to the coast.
Hey, it’s your car, and you go where you want! You tell the dealership, and they tell you that you’ll need to up your payments to cover the increased costs. “Seems reasonable, I want more so I pay more!” You pony up and take the trip.
As more time passes and your payments rise and fall, you think that there seems to be a disconnect between how much you’re spending and the fuel efficiency of the car. You go to look at the fuel efficiency and realize that you don’t have access to the data… the menu option is gone! You ask the dealership, and they say “well yeah… WE own that data, we’re the ones paying the bills!”
You decide that answer sucks, and hey it’s just gas and maintenance, YOU can do that now. You manage to wrestle control from the dealership and realize that they’ve been using low-grade fuel, barely doing the maintenance, and doubling the length of oil changes. You’re suitably pissed, but what’s done is done, and how could you have known?
If you had access to the data, you would have known! It’s easy to assume that experts know what they’re doing (and in general you SHOULD trust them) but if you don’t have access to any of the things you pay for, what can you really check?
Google Ads is the same way. We advocate that each of our clients SHOULD own their accounts. This means that they pay Google directly for the ad spend. This does two things: it removes any obfuscation we could do to game the reports to show we’re doing better than we really are, and it removes us from the equation when Google comes calling for their pound of flesh.
While we don’t want our clients trying out their own optimizations (again, why did you hire us?) we want to operate with complete transparency and honesty. There’s no reason to hide what we’re doing from the people paying us to do it. We’re proud of our work!
There are some non-nefarious reasons that an agency may own your Google Ads account, but none of them are really all that great.
Some like to have all spend consolidated under one roof as they think that they will look more important to Google and therefore get “better service.” We’ve never encountered anything that would suggest this to be accurate, and furthermore, Google is smart enough to notice that one agency being on multiple accounts is the same as that agency owning those accounts in terms of any calculation of “clout.”
Some agencies want to “make sure the bills get paid,” so there are no interruptions to their ad delivery strategy. Again, this is a poor attempt at controlling something that shouldn’t even be your concern; you are contracted by the company to manage their Google Ads account. It’s not your business to pay their bills or to become the middleman.
We’ve seen (VERY FEW) accounts where the agency was skimming some of the budget for other purposes, and this is IMPOSSIBLE to detect if you as the client aren’t getting the bills!
Lastly, some agencies believe that by owning the account and locking their clients out, they avoid the client meddling with their strategy. This just comes down to client management. If you can’t explain to your client that YOU are the one who should be doing the work since hey, that’s why they hired you… I don’t know what to tell you, but maybe agency life isn’t for you.
Please please PLEASE make sure that you own your accounts. You need to have at least the ability to fact-check your agency, and if they’re any good at what they do, you can see how spending affects your bottom line.
Many of our clients see our results and look to increase their budgets as they see how truly effective digital advertising is! If you need help clawing back ownership of your Google Ads account, please contact us today, and we’ll help you wrestle the keys to your company out of another agency’s grubby little hands.