The Real Cost of Google Advertising

US MarketingAgency Client Management, Google Ads Setup, Marketing, Pay Per Click, PPC, Uncategorized


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Our work with hundreds of clients’ digital ad campaigns has given me a unique perspective into client expectations and behaviors. Since becoming a Google Agency Partner in 2011, I’ve seen small, medium and large clients. We are all products of our education and experience. The human relationship factor is key to good client work. While being a Certified Google Agency Partner with certification is necessary, it is not sufficient by itself to do good work.

Human Relations Case Study

So let me give you an example. I recently worked with a successful tour operator that has a legacy website with non working Flash media. Oh my God! When I asked her about it she told me it was being replaced very soon. As I worked with her I found more than once that she was so enamored with her own work that she couldn’t understand why I was critical of her website structure. She quickly made changes to some pages and we directed her Google Ads to them.

Because her Google conversion tracking was not properly installed we repaired it and began running her ads. And it was not even one week that she paused her ads without telling me. I asked her why and it was clear she did not have enough money to advertise. Complaining to me Google spent $500 of her money and didn’t produce any results so she turned it off.

I work hard to make clear to clients they must give Google an absolute minimum of 3 months. The first month is the test phase. In this phase we review search terms, keywords, match types, bidding strategy, ad copy, and landing pages. We carefully review the geographic destinations where ads will show, the day part schedule or times of day the ads will show and we obtain the client’s approval on budgets.

Even though our client agreed to all of this it quickly became clear she really didn’t mean it. So this brings me to the title of the post “The Real Cost of Google Advertising.” I’m an entrepreneur and small businessperson. So like many of my clients I pinch pennies too. But, the real cost of Google Ads is the ads not the management!

Fixing Rather Than Replacing

The picture below of a taped up repaired old axe handle applies. Another example that few people use any more is replacing the mother board of a computer instead of just replacing the computer.

We are all guilty of making these mistakes. But consider this. Even if you have a very modest $500 per month Google Advertising budget in a small geographic area, you will spend $1,500 over 3 months on ads. If that $1,500 doesn’t produce anything, that is the real cost. So many clients squeeze pennies by trying to set up and optimize ads on their own. But they have very little knowledge of the thousands of settings, menus, drop downs and options.

The Human Factor

Client ignorance of the complex and nuanced nature of Google advertising inevitably leads to a patch, duct tape, and glue. Sometimes these repairs are not even in the right place. In desperation the client quickly searches for help. Sometimes they hire someone without any recommendation they don’t know somewhere offshore because it’s cheap. In more than one case we see these duct tape offshore quick fixes lead to even more problems. Conversion tracking is not set up right. Account organization is messy and does not follow the client’s website. Mismatches between ad groups, keywords, ad copy and landing pages are common. Poor or no use of ad extensions. Location connections not established. Incorrect phone numbers in ads.

When a real pro like myself shows up they quickly agree to all the terms and conditions as well as our fee. Yes they say we will run it for 3 months minimum. Yes they say we can afford that budget amount. No they say they won’t interfere with the work. And then they panic.

My analysis is this is the human factor. Perhaps the client’s internal dialogue conscious or unconscious is “I’m in trouble! I need sales! I screwed up by hiring someone without proper vetting. And now I have to pay a real pro to fix it so I’ll suck it up like a car I failed to maintain. So I’ll bring the car to the dealer and pay their price, but I don’t like it and as soon as I can stop paying the pro I’m out.

End of the Case Study

After fixing all the problems with our client’s tour campaigns she got conversions! And you know the rest of the story right? We were fired. The excuse was something like “we get more conversions with social media.” What really happened? We may never know. But my guess is now that everything is working this client just didn’t want to pay us anymore. They will likely let the car get into disrepair again and again have to call in a pro to fix it.

As of this writing the client’s website still has broken Flash media and no new website.