Why Do Google Reps Keep Calling & Scaring My AdWords Clients?
How Google Is Poisoning Their Own Google Partner Community & Simultaneously Taking Advantage Of AdWords Customers
What the Eff?!
If you have managed AdWords accounts for any significant time, you have likely found yourself in this familiar situation — a representative from Google has contacted your client directly, telling them that their account is underperforming and they want to help fix it.
The implication is that the situation is so dire that Google sought them out and called to help.
The Google rep offers a short-term, free service to optimize the account. Your client assumes you are negligent or incompetent. Any trust you have established with the client is suddenly in question. They are pissed they have paid you to underperform, and they gladly accept free help from the AdWords specialist.
Having managed a Google Premier Partner agency for a number of years, I have navigated this situation far too many times. I spoke with our Google Agency reps and anyone else who would listen. The calls kept coming, and my frustration led to an investigation.
Where were these calls coming from?
Why was Google undermining the very agency relationships they were attempting to cultivate through other teams?
How could/should I respond to these situations when they occur?
Here Is The Deal.
After a lot of digging, I have discovered these calls typically come from “Google Offices” in Tempe, Arizona and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The rep claims to work at Google, and they even have Google email addresses. But they do not work at Google or in a Google office.
They work for an independent agency with whom Google has a contract. The agency has Google employees on site, providing oversight. I suppose that allows them to pretend they all work for Google.
Having spoken to several former employees of the Tempe office, they are paid based on the new accounts and new ad spend they generate. So, they are absolutely incentivized to recreate accounts and optimize for spend (vs. results).
It’s SUPER sketch.
Why Would Google Do This?
Honestly? I have no idea.
I suppose I understand why Google would have people cold-calling business owners, looking to scrounge up new AdWords business. However, I do not understand why they would incentivize their sales force to setup poorly-performing (high spend, low results) accounts for clients. I would imagine this leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many business owners.
More so, I can not fathom why Google would allow these folks to call upon accounts that are under the management of certified Google Partners. Google has a whole agency team in their New York office who try to establish fruitful relationships with these agencies. This program largely undermines their purpose and the health of the Google Partner community as a whole.
How Should We Respond?
In the macro…
I am sharing this info to help other agencies falling victim to this scheme. If you have additional details to add, please add them in the comments below. I think the more information agencies have, the better they can protect themselves against this predatory program.
We can warn our clients. Whether proactively or reactively, I hope this post will serve as an unbiased, third-party account of how this program works. If your client has been spooked by one of these faux-Google employees, perhaps this will help put their worries to rest.
If your agency has a dedicated (legit) Google agency rep, share your frustrations with them. If anyone at Google should care about the ill-effects of this program, it is them. The Google Partners program exists to provide legitimacy to AdWords managers around the globe — measuring their experience and performance. Google should be helping these partners, not throwing them under the bus.
In the micro…
When this situation occurs, I suggest scheduling a call with both your client and the “Google rep.” Prep the client ahead of time, mentioning your familiarity with the program, the details you know, and your concern with proceeding. Then on the call, casually interview the rep right in front of the client. Ask them which office they are located in. Ask them about their recommendations for the account (before any changes are made). Ask them for expected results — both in terms of clicks/conversions and the impact on the ad spend budget. If you have a good handle on the account, if you prepped your client well, and if your instinct is correct, the situation should resolve itself.
In a few select situations, where the client’s trust had been decimated, I made backups (via AdWords Editor) of the client account before the fake Googler optimized it. I watched over their shoulder (see change history), as they proceeded recklessly, unaware of the details of the client’s business. Once “Google” was done with the engagement, I unpacked the account changes with the client — allowing them to transparently see what changes were made and why I had not previously taken that step. In the majority of those situations, we rolled the account back to the backed-up state. In the minority of those situations, we would allow the new account to run for some agreed upon time and then compared the account performance to pre-“optimization” stats. I have never seen this optimization lead to a higher-performing account.
If you have additional information on this program or approaches to protecting your clients, please drop me a line and I’ll add them to this post.