FYI, Your AdWords Rep Is a Salesperson

by Susan Wenograd  |  Published 3:35 PM, Thu November 14, 2013

salesrepSometimes nothing drives me crazier than getting “help” from an AdWords rep.

You know why?

Because their suggestions are almost always geared towards getting Google more money, but there’s still a perception that Google is altruistic. Years ago, the AdWords rep was less sales, more educator/technical contact. I loved my reps. They were a great lifeline for new features, helping troubleshoot account issues, etc.

They are now salespeople. They are compensated like salespeople. They will admit that if you ask them. (Some will, anyway.)

Why does this bother me?

I don’t necessarily blame Google. They’re a business, and AdWords is their cash cow. It’s a great product.

I just see so many businesses listening to their AdWords reps to sometimes complete exclusion of logic. I understand why many of them do in their situation, but they can really get taken when it comes to getting return on their PPC ad spend.

“But PPC is so complex. I don’t know what to do with it, and they do.”

PPC is intimidating. It sounds deceptively simple, but it’s not. The user interface has a bunch of tabs, lots of numbers…there’s simply a LOT going on in there.

Your rep will give you suggestions, and it can be tempting to cling to those, because at least someone is telling you what to do with all that crap in there.

Some of them are helpful things, like “Hey, you should implement some negative keywords.” If you didn’t know what negative keywords were, and they helped you see that, they’re your hero. (And good on them for helping you.)

Don’t let your hero complex with Google affect the decisions that are made.

The most common “helpful” suggestions I see from reps are:

  1. Up your bids
  2. Up your budget
  3. Add the following keywords (oh, and all broad match!)

All of those lead to you potentially spending more money. They have quotas to fulfill. (Of course they don’t tell you that part.) If you haven’t read this great summary by Melissa Mackey, you should.

Their suggestions MAY drive more sales for you, but not if you just blindly follow what the rep tells you to do. They don’t have insight into your PPC customer when they hit your site. For example, they might see something converting at a high rate within AdWords, but it could be your lowest margin product so spending more on it doesn’t make sense monetarily.

They don’t know your business. You do. They know AdWords and they know all the levers to pull – this should make you more skeptical of their suggestions, not less so!

The Free Tool Aura

The other factor in the willingness I see for folks to completely trust and follow their reps’ advice is that almost everything else they use from Google is free. This gives an altruistic feeling to the client’s relationship with the Google brand itself. (Those in the digital marketing industry feel differently, of course.)

AdWords helps fund all those free tools that are otherwise used. Remember that 99% of what you’re using from them is free, but they’re paying for it somehow. Part of that way is you spending in PPC.

Think of your rep like a car mechanic

You don’t know how your car works, so you take it to a mechanic. You have a healthy skepticism of him most likely – just think of that when you deal with your AdWords rep. It’s the same thing. They’re probably making decent suggestions based on what they see, but of course they’re going to want to mark it up a bit, or comment on your tread wearing thin even if you can get another 3,000 miles out of the tires.

“If I can’t trust them, how do I not screw up my account?”

It might sound hypocritical of me to say to engage a PPC specialist to be an objective third party since you’d have to pay them, but I do have some applicable logic, I promise.

If you can afford to engage a specialist to help you on a flat-fee model (you can still tie to spend, but they should be really large spending windows), you have an objective third party. They don’t work for Google, and you’re not giving them incentive for “up your budget” recommendations if they don’t make extra money every time you spend a few bucks more.

I’ve had some people comment they can’t justify paying someone. The thing is, you’re paying Google if you are running PPC and don’t really know how to do it properly. It doesn’t feel that way, because you’re not getting a separate invoice from them, but you’re likely winding up paying FAR more to Google on a CPC basis than you would to pay someone to manage it.

I had a skeptic on my hands last year. They really thought their rep was just the equivalent of having a PPC analyst like me. Normally I don’t bother trying to prove the worth to someone, but he was a very logical person and I could see so many easy wins in his account it just drove me nuts.

I told him I’d give him a set of instructions to implement for one of his small campaigns. He could implement it, and we’d look at his return on ad spend (ROAS) before and after. He agreed. His starting ROAS was 38%, and two months after implementing the recommendations, it was his best-performing campaign with a 76% ROAS.

When you applied the math, he was monetarily far better off engaging a freelance PPC specialist to help him rather than just click “accept” on all of the suggestions from Google and his rep.

“How Should I Use My Rep?”

It’s not that you shouldn’t talk to them. They are really helpful to have a relationship with if things get stuck in the approval queue, or something is rejected that should have been approved. If you’re not exactly sure how some of the mechanics work, they can definitely teach you. Utilize them, but be cautious in advice that leans to strategy or anything to do with the monetary aspects of your campaign.

“Now I’m Concerned.”

That’s ok. You can get help, I just recommend it NOT be from the company that’s already profiting off you. If you can’t afford ongoing PPC management, there are many awesome people and firms who will do an audit of your account for a flat fee. They’ll outline where your areas of improvement and concern are and give you a game plan. The best PPC is always watched and optimized, but an audit is a great way to calibrate your current setup and set you up for success moving forward.

Your money is better going there than to your CPC, don’t you think?


Susan Wenograd has spent the last 10 years in the digital marketing space in both client and agency side roles. Her career path has enabled her to work in many facets of the online universe, including copywriting, editing, overseeing email marketing, display/rich media advertising, and paid search management.

She has worked with and for many household names including Circuit City, Hamilton Beach Appliances, GMC, Chevy, Buick, Dodge, and Cadillac. She's managed teams from 2 to 20+ people, and accounts spending $1,000 to $1mm+.

Currently, she's Sr. Manager of Digital Marketing for Garden Ridge, a 60+ store home decor retail chain located throughout the south and midwest. She also frequently consults and advises clients on things like paid media and agency/client relationship management.

  • Warren Whitlock

    I think it’s great that sales reps at Google are good enough that you are surprised they have salespeople. Every company needs sales reps.

    Your advice to use caution in getting advice for a company rep, regardless of their title or compensation plan, is good.

    Interesting to note that the worst accounts I’ve seen (thousands of dollars a month spent with zero sales and 90% going to a 404 error was a company that chose self-direction when they didn’t trust Google). The sad thing was. They thought that any lead mentioning their site came from Adwords.