My First Google Reps
In the dinosaur ages of Google AdWords (early 2000’s), my small paid search company was assigned our first Google agency team. I loved the idea of having someone I could talk to who could help me resolve client problems quickly. In my case, by the time I needed Google support, I was way past the capabilities and understanding of the Google help team at that time. The main purpose of my Google team in those days was to send my support request straight to the technical team.
My Google team was also the first to hear my rant when I realized that Google’s definition of a search partner included parked domains. At that time, I saw no value in having my client pay for clicks from parked domains. I demanded that Google change their policy. I knew that I was a small voice hoping for big changes but from experience, I also knew that Google listened through their agency teams. After my rant, I threatened to turn off Search Partners for EVERY client unless Google changed their policy. Within a week, I had a huge box delivered to my office. It was full of Google swag including pens, coffee mugs, t-shirts and lava lamps but it wasn’t enough to win me over to their new definition of search. I left partner search turned off for (most of) my clients for the next several years out of protest.
Large Agencies and Dozens of Reps
From 2007 to 2008 I worked at iCrossing as a media manager. I was in Google Rep heaven! I had over a dozen different Google “teams” that I worked with. Each vertical had a different team. One of my clients had four separate teams! When one team was slow, another one of my favorite reps would always come through for me with that report that I needed yesterday.
Google Reps – From Support to Sales
Do you remember when Google tried to go around the agencies and began offering to set up and manage all kinds of new accounts for our clients (display, YouTube, widgets, to name a few)? I decided to go straight to my Google reps before they could get to my clients and I worked out a deal with them. I would help make all the arrangements for the Google reps to come to Dallas to meet with the client and to pitch one of their newest AdWords strategies. My agency’s team had averaged one to three company reps at our meetings. When Google showed up with swag and arranged for lunch at the Mansion, our client brought in 15 people for the presentation and lunch. It was a win, win, win for all of us that day.
iCrossing also had one AdWords rep assigned to the agency. She was our source for updates, betas, training and she could help with arranging support if we needed technical support for a client. She and I hit it off during the time when agencies were beginning to warm up to the idea of the “content network” (now known as the display network). She was a tremendous resource for me and I provided some great feedback to Google on the agency perception about their content network during that time frame.
Changes – No Reps For Small Agencies
When I got laid off in late 2008, I started accepting small paid search clients again. This time, my company wasn’t large enough for AdWords agency reps. With a new focus on revenue growth opportunities, instead of client account support; Google only assigned agency reps to very large agencies and accounts. If your client base was too small (and mine was), your agency had to call the same 800 number and go through the same Google support email that everyone else did. For me…that was really tough after working with great Google agency reps for so many years.
Google Engage for Agencies
In 2011, AdWords introduced Google Engage for Agencies. What I liked more than anything during those years was the information. For the first time since I had started working with Google AdWords, I got a head’s up before most major Google updates. In the past I would just wake up and have half my client accounts completely down because Google had decided to stop allowing something we had been doing for months or even years. With Engage, I could plan ahead for changes that I knew were coming.
Engage was also a way for AdWords to start teaching smaller Agencies how to pitch AdWords and upsell new services. Through Engage, Google began to give away free money to encourage agencies to sign up new clients.
Google Engage is Now Google Partners
In 2013, Google Engage became Google Partners. The rules changed. Not only did you need to have an MCC, be AdWords certified and reach a certain spend threshold but under Google Partners there was a new requirement called the “best practices” grade. Your entire MCC would be evaluated to see if you were using what Google considered “best practices” on your accounts. There was a lot of chatter over how to improve a low “best practices” score.
Google Agency Rep Turnover
I have been through three sets of Google reps since the first reps were assigned to Advice Interactive Group in October of 2013. I teased my Advice paid search team that our first assigned Google rep was 5 months old. She had just graduated from college and had been with Google for five months. In spite of her age and lack of experience, the one thing she knew was how much power she had as my Google rep…power as in getting what she wanted from me and from our agency. I have no doubt that she had goals and incentives and if our agency didn’t help her meet them, we weren’t going to get what we needed from her. She never had to say that to me…it was unspoken but understood. She and I hit it off and she ended up being a great source of information, especially about beta opportunities. One of the things she sent me every month was a “health” report for client accounts and I really appreciate that report because it tells me exactly how Google sees my AdWords accounts.
Bad New Account Build-Outs and Good New Account Build-Outs
Somewhere in the mix of my early Advice Google reps I was assigned an additional team to help build out new accounts. My first build outs were a disaster. Google’s keywords and ad copy were not even close to being on target with the client’s business model. My team salvaged what we could and rebuilt all the campaigns.
My second full set of Google reps at Advice was really good. I had a new account build out done in collaboration with AdMob and my team learned a lot from that build out. For another traditional paid search campaign, Google’s agency support team was invaluable even though we treated their build-out as a foundation and finished out the campaigns with all the extensions, site links, remarketing and then restructured it to work with our bid management platform.
The New Agency Rep Model – High Pressure Sales
Last Friday I got on a call with my two new reps. I pulled up one of their LinkedIn profiles to get to know them. Google has gotten really smart. If the new reps all fit my new agency rep’s career path with Google, then Google starts them all in sales first. If they are good, the rep moves up the ladder to something like small business development (another form of sales). Then they move them into the agency rep model. Of course, as an agency, I am expecting support. But from our introductory call, the new agency rep made it clear what his goals are…to grow my client accounts. I’m certainly not against growing my client accounts but I’ve learned that the more open I am to recommendations that bring in new accounts or expand existing accounts, the more responsive my Google reps are. If I start losing accounts or that big deal doesn’t come through…it’s hard to get them to reply to my emails.
Getting the Most From Your Google Adwords Agency Reps
- Be polite.
- Get to know your rep(s).
- Understand their goals (incentives or bonuses for increasing your client spend)
- Be open to their ideas and suggestions
- Take advantage of their reports (insight you may not get anywhere else)
- Take advantage of beta opportunities
- Take advantage of their access to support
- Ask about news, updates, changes and new AdWords features
- Let them do account build outs and learn from them
- Be genuinely thankful (emails, verbally) for their help, ideas and support
What has your experience been over the years with Google Agency Reps? Has it been good? Bad? How has it changed? What are your tips?
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When I worked at an agency, I could see there was some benefit to having an adwords agency rep. They were able to solve a few issues and clear things up. I didn’t stick around long enough to realize their potential if any.
I left after a few months, when an opportunity to work on my own presented itself. Since that time, I’ve only been assigned account reps dedicated to a particular client id. In my experience, these people are just trained to sell. I try to explain to them that they are not speaking to the business owner, but rather someone who actually knows Adwords, but I’m convinced they’re deaf to it.
They rotate these reps every few months, and the reps just pitch you new features and try to upsell. I’m convinced that these folks don’t understand that my clients are not looking at clicks, they’re looking for profitable conversions and their solutions always aim at spending more. When you push back and tell them that you’ve already tried whatever they’re proposing, they change topics and move on. If they sense that you know what you’re talking about, they just curl up into a shell and never follow up with you again.
Overall, the company’s support has gone to the dumps. I often find that they don’t actually know how Adwords works and can offer little of no insight outside of features that adwords offers. I get all of my help from blogs like this one and the adwords help forum where other SEM professionals answer questions. Even at the help forums, the reps that troll there just point you to basic useless Google literature made for complete beginners.
At this point, I consider their the majority of their support, particularly account managers, useless at best. Thanks for the great article.
Shelley Ellis says
I really do hear your frustrations. I’ve felt the same, a number of times over the years.
It hasn’t been that long ago that I was working with a young Google rep, fresh out of college who had been with Google barely five months. I knew my AdWords experience and knowledge was much greater than hers but she also knew that she had power in her position (she didn’t “say” that but I could sense it). I showed her respect and we ended up working well together for about six months. There were things she could push through for me (requests, complex technical issues) that I could not do on my own. In return, she asked me to review her reports every few weeks showing recommendations to improve my AdWords accounts. What I learned was a little about how Google saw my individual accounts and also how Google was grading my partner account. The rep after her never followed through. Nice guy…just never returned emails or followed up on my beta requests. That rep was short lived…maybe he didn’t make the cut at Google. What I DID get out of him was an introduction to the AdMob team which turned out extremely valuable over the next couple of months.
Just don’t let your reps feel your frustration if you can help it. I’ve learned that there are always gold nuggets when I’m working with new Google reps. Tips, support, connections, beta opportunities…things I can’t get without my reps.
Love this post. I lead a digital team at a small-medium size independent agency and I just had lunch with my Google New Business rep who happens to be leaving Google. Thankfully I knew her from her previous job and we had a great relationship so she was very helpful to me as my new business rep and I was very beneficial to her as a new business rep, helping her find loop holes for my clients so that she could claim new revenue against her extremely aggressive sales targets.
She informed me that in the next few months Google will only be helping agencies who have agency teams, all other reps will be moving client direct and will only accept bookings from clients, even if the clients book through an agency. It’s part of an even more aggressive tactic to up sell… Essentially if you’re a small agency or work freelance expect a lot of issues, Google reps will be reaching out direct to clients and will require email confirmation from your client to set up an ad words campaign.
I miss the golden days where we had helpful reps to get jobs done and get things serviced.
I forgot to mention, although I had a good relationship with my rep, I can tell you she was poorly trained, she was extremely smart but lacked some of the basic knowledge about their products such as true view and often miss quoted it to me or clients and I would have to correct her.