It was YellowPages in the Library with the Candlestick!
A couple months back, Alexandre Brabant posted his experience helping a client decipher what was going on with their Ad Words campaign being run by the Yellow Pages Group, what he found was they were employing some shady techniques to increase the amount of money they were receiving for running the campaign – all behind the customers back. This gave us the idea to give you, the reader, some questions to ask your Yellow Pages rep or any rep who is running Ad Words on behalf of your business.
Question 1 – Can I have access to my Ad Words account?
If they say “no” to this the next thing you should do is ask them what their cancellation policy is. There is no reason an Advertising agency should not give you read-only access to your Ad Words account. If they don’t want to give you access that is a red flag that they may be inflating the numbers they are reporting to you.
Question 2 – Does my CPC (cost per click) in the account match with what they are reporting?
In Alexandre’s article Yellow Pages is telling the client that their cost per click is $5.19, when the actual account is showing $4.97 – that is a difference of $0.22, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider they had 2,629 clicks, that can add up. Depending on how Yellow Pages takes their fee this could be a way for YP to increase their commission. Or – as Alexandre puts it – “could it simply be a difference based on $USD currency vs $CAD currency? Assuming it is the case, why can nobody at YP Canada explain it?”
Question 3 – Is what the company charging me and the amount of spend in the account similar?
This is simple math. If you are paying your agency $5000 in ad spend and it shows that the account only spent $3000 where is that other $2000 going? Well you can guess where it is going. As the article points out, this discrepancy means Yellow Pages is getting 47% in management fees, which is outrageous. In dealing with Yellow Pages about this Alexandre mentions “YP has refused adamantly to either admit any wrongdoing or be helpful in resolving this with the client in any fair manner.”
It is important to note that in most cases, your spend and monthly budget will not match exactly. If your account over or under spends, your agency should be rolling that over to the next month. If you do see a large discrepancy check to see if the month previous over or under spent. Don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation.
Question 4 – What is my management fee?
Google’s SMB Third Party Partner policy states that any management fees must be clearly disclosed and made available to advertisers. In Yellow Pages case, their actual management fee could not be found in their invoices, reports, or contracts.
Make sure you know how much you are paying your agency.
Question 5 – What type of leads are being reported?
What is a lead? A lot of different people can come up with different answers to that questions. If your agency only gives you a single number saying “that is the amount of leads”, ask for more information. What you consider a lead and what they consider a lead may be completely different. Were those form submissions? Phone Calls? Certain amount of time on site? Make sure they break down where your leads are coming from, this way you can better gauge how well the account is doing. Strathcom considers Form submissions, phone calls (lasting longer than 30 seconds), and Get direction ad extension to be leads. We also report to our clients something called “Significant Actions” these are things that we don’t consider a full blown lead but something still valuable to report on because it could denote serious buyer interest. Significant actions can be users coming from an ad and opening a live chat, hitting a certain page, signing up for a newsletter (this could be considered a lead depending on your goals), or spending over a certain amount of time on the site.
Question 6 – What currency you are being billed in?
With the Canadian dollar being what it is right now, if you’ve been using an American company for your PPC you may not realise that they have been charging you in USD, essentially causing you to pay 30% more than you would if they were charging you in Canadian.
I don’t write this to freak everyone out and make you suspicious of your Online Advertising Agency, but it is always good to keep an eye on what is going on and make sure that everything is being done on the level. If you do believe that your current agency is not being open and honest with you, as a Google Channel Sales Partner we have access to Google as an unbiased 3rd party to audit your account.