Protect Your Business: Avoiding Dishonest PPC Agencies and Taking Control of Your Advertising Investments
When it comes to outsourcing your PPC management, there are risks involved. I have witnessed many times agencies take advantage of their clients, leaving them in the dark about budget allocation, performance, and ownership of their data.
In this article, we will discuss how to discover dishonest agency / freelancer and provide you with actionable steps to protect your business.
First things first, there is no problem with an agency helping manage your PPC account(s). In fact, that's what I do for a living, and I've been doing so for about 20 years now. There are many advantages to having a professional manage your PPC, but this is not what this article is about. The problem is when an agency or a freelancer decides to take away account control, which is essential for transparency, auditing, and access to first-source data platforms. Let's dive in to learn about all the red flags and what is considered the best setup when you outsource your PPC management.
When you entrust your PPC campaigns to an agency, it is crucial to ensure transparency in their actions and reporting. Unfortunately, not all agencies are forthcoming with the information you need to make informed decisions about your marketing investment. One red flag to watch out for is a lack of transparency and accessibility. You should have a clear understanding of how your ad campaigns are performing and what your PPC agency is doing to improve your results.
Aside from periodic reports that outline key metrics such as ad spend, clicks, conversions, and other relevant data, you should have full access to the ad account, analytics, and any third-party platforms that produce analytical data important to the success of your campaign. You should own the following accounts with full admin access: the ad platform (e.g., Google Ads), website analytics (e.g., Google Analytics), CRM (e.g., Pipedrive), Google Tag Manager, Google Search Console, tracking platform (e.g., CallRail), and your website, including any platform that manages your landing page (e.g., Unbounce).
When I say "own," I mean you should be the one to open the account, have control over two-step verification (if applicable), and delegate access using user provisioning, not by sharing your username and password.
Many agencies will set up and manage your PPC accounts, including Google Ads, using their own credentials. This can create a dependency on the agency, making it difficult for you to access and control your data. To protect your business, it is essential to establish ownership of your PPC accounts and data from the outset.
You should have administrative access to your PPC accounts, allowing you to monitor and manage them independently. By having full control over your accounts, you can ensure transparency, and have access to first-source data. Additionally, owning your PPC accounts gives you the freedom to switch agencies without losing valuable historical data.
Another common issue is agencies billing clients for both ad spend and management fees while keeping them locked out of their own data. This practice can make it challenging for businesses to understand how their budget is being allocated and whether they are getting a fair return on their investment. To protect your business from this scam, it is essential to establish clear guidelines and expectations with your PPC agency.
First and foremost, make sure your contract outlines the scope of work and the breakdown of fees. Clearly define how much of your budget will go towards ad spend and how much will be allocated for management fees.
The only setup you should agree to is the agency billing you for management fees, and you pay directly to Google for ad spend. Keep the two separate, always.
To maintain control over your PPC accounts and data, it is recommended to grant access to a Manager Account (MCC) provided by platforms like Google Ads to your agency. MCC accounts allow your agency to link multiple client accounts to a single, centralized dashboard. This way, you can grant access to your agency without compromising ownership or control and terminate access when you see fit.
From the account you own, you can assign different levels of access to your agency, such as read-only or limited editing permissions. This ensures that your agency can effectively manage your campaigns while still maintaining control over your data. If your agency insists on having direct access to your account and refuses to use MCC, it may be a sign that they are not prioritizing your best interests.
In extreme cases where your PPC agency refuses to grant you access to your Gmail account or provide credentials for your Google Ads account, you may need to consider taking legal action. However, before pursuing legal avenues, it is advisable to exhaust all available options.
Start by reaching out to the agency and expressing your concerns. Request that they return control of your account(s) immediately. If they refuse to cooperate, you should contact Google support directly and provide them with all the necessary details. Be prepared to provide evidence that you are the indeed the owner of the account, such as previous login information, billing records, or any other relevant documentation.
If you have a Google representative assigned to your account, reach out to them for assistance. They may be able to escalate the issue and help facilitate the resolution. However, if you do not have a designated representative, you will need to contact Google support directly and explain the situation. Be persistent and provide as much information as possible to strengthen your case.
To avoid falling victim to dishonest PPC agencies, there are several steps you can take to protect your business and make informed decisions about your marketing investments.
First, establish clear guidelines and expectations with your PPC agency from the outset. Clearly define ownership of your accounts and data, as well as the breakdown of fees for ad spend and management. This will help ensure transparency and accountability throughout your partnership.
Second, always separate the management fee from the ad spend. The management agency should, under no circumstances, collect ad spend unless they own the ad platform (e.g., you run ads on their website, etc.).
Finally, conduct thorough research before choosing a PPC agency. Look for reputable agencies with a track record of transparency, accountability, and client satisfaction. Seek recommendations, read reviews, and ask for case studies or references to gauge their expertise and credibility.