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  • Over the course of our 17 years in business, we’ve seen some pretty crazy scenarios and heard some outright falsehoods from potential clients. As with all things, agencies have different ways of structuring Sponsored Search agreements.  At Exults, one of our core principals is transparency; you should always have access to your data, know when your money is going, and have a firm understanding of the results your campaigns are generating.

    With that being said, here is some sage advice to keep in mind when you’re going through the process of selecting an agency:

    1. If you’re just starting out on AdWords, insist on your own dedicated account. We’ve come across the scenario several times in which inexperienced account managers (and sometimes even agencies) build out all of their clients’ campaigns into one account. This strategy is a problem for a few reasons.


    Quality Score and cost per click

    Quality score is kind of an elusive metric on AdWords. Your account structure, match type ratio, ad copy, relevancy score, and website are all taken into account to generate your quality score. You’re also bumped up against all of the other accounts on AdWords bidding on the same keywords you are. If your campaign is being blended with campaigns targeting different kinds of products and/or services all across the AdWords network in the same account, it makes sense that your quality score can be impacted by all of the other campaigns in the same account. Because Quality score determine your ad rank and your average cost per click, this is definitely something to pay attention to.

    Campaign data

    If your AdWords campaign is being added to a mass account, the only thing you can take with you if you decide your agency isn’t working for you is the campaign shell. After paying for valuable data like search queries, engagement metrics, and auction insights, it’s a waste to lose it all because you want to change agencies. If you had your own account, you own the data and can simply revoke the agency’s access.


    It’s pretty common for agencies to bill clients a set monthly rate that is supposed to go towards buying clicks on AdWords. If your campaign is set up in a blended account and you’re not paying Google directly (see tip #4), there isn’t a system of checks and balances in place to ensure you’re actually buying the number of clicks you think you are.

    1. Make sure you own everything.

    If you’re hiring an agency to build you an AdWords account, make sure your contract states that should you part ways, you can take everything they developed on your behalf with you. This should include any display creative and tracking accounts (like Google Analytics). If you’re already paying them to build it, you should be able to take it with you.

    1. Make sure you have access to everything.

    Another clause you should add to your contract is that an authorized representative from your team should be granted full administrative access to every account created on your behalf. Access = power, and this rings true for AdWords accounts, too.

    1. Insist on paying the ad network (Google, Facebook, Bing, etc.) directly for all ad spend.

    We’ve seen agencies billing clients for AdWords fees and pocketing unknown amounts as “agency fee” with no accountability. This also ties in directly with making sure you have a dedicated AdWords account AND access to it. You should always be able to see how much of your marketing spend went to Google directly, and how much of it went to the agency managing your account.

    1. NO ONE gets discounted clicks on Google.

    Can we squash this myth once and for all? Click costs are click costs- no one gets a discount. You can reduce your average cost per click with well-structured campaigns, ad groups with very closely-related keywords, keyword rich ad copy, and a good landing page.

    1. Clearly define success metrics that matter to your business.

    Never let an agency determine what they should be measuring as a conversion point. The point of marketing should be to generate business. The true problem with soft goals being tracked as conversion points in AdWords is that you’re not getting a true read on your most valuable keywords. Conversion tracking should be reserved for critical level actions so your bid strategy, budget allocation, geo-targeting, and ad schedule can all be optimized based on real business.

    So what should you be measuring in terms of conversions? Here are a few examples of what we’ve seen in AdWords accounts:

    Add to cart

    What we saw: Add to cart tracked as conversion

    What it should be: successful checkout

    On an eCommerce site, while it’s great to understand how many visitors are adding products to their cart, the real success metric here is how many of them are actually completing a purchase. While every business will have different metrics they like to track, eCommerce is pretty cut and dry: only a successful purchase makes you money.

    View of contact page

    What we saw: Someone visiting the contact us page tracked as conversion

    What it should be: a completed form submission

    While we understand the theory (someone viewed the page to get your phone number or address), it’s not entirely sound. Ultimately, a true measure of success is a completed form submission with contact details for a lead. If there were a tracking number in place, the call could also be considered a conversion point.

    Visited several pages

    What we saw: Visitor that looked at more than 2 pages tracked as conversion

    What it should be: Call, form submission, time on site

    A visitor that is looking at a few pages on your website isn’t very valuable. In fact, we’ve seen that visitors that are past the research phase and ready to buy are only looking at one or two pages before taking action.


    Ultimately, the agency you select to manage your AdWords campaigns is a big factor in the performance of your account. If you haven’t considered letting an agency take over your online marketing, you should know that a professionally managed campaign can drastically improve your ROI making up for any agency fee incurred. With an agency in your corner, you can either reduce your online marketing spend, or get better returns on your existing budget.


    Did you know that Exults offers free AdWords account audits? We can evaluate your account for missed opportunities and budget leaks. Contact us today and we’d be happy to take a look!

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