In this article, I discuss the perks of being an official Google partner agency. What that means for us and for our clients.
In being an official Google partner agency, Google offers my agency a variety of perks. One of those perks are rewards points based on how much our clients spend along with how well optimized our clients’ accounts are based on Google’s criteria of automated metrics.
These reward points have never done much to incentivize actions with us at True Online Presence. Our focus has always been to do what is right for our private clients first and foremost. My sole goal with working with a private client managing their Google Ad spend is optimize their Google account with the purpose of increasing both their sales and profitability.
Now as a disclaimer, I did redeem some Google reward points about a year ago for a shiny new Google colored bicycle that I sometimes tool around my neighborhood riding. So, even though the points don’t incentivize us, I’m admitting to you that I do sometimes open and look at the Google reward point updates and some of the swag gifts they are offering.
Before I go any further, I’m not accusing Google of being diabolical and out to get their advertisers. However, truth be told, like with any mega company, Google has their own agenda that sometimes may not fully align with that of their advertisers.
I think that Google’s rewards system is genius in nudging agencies to optimize clients’ accounts in the direction that Google would prefer. It is a classic example of positive reinforcement and the bigger the rewards that Google offers the more effective this strategy becomes.
With all that said, a few days back I opened the Google rewards updates email that I received as I wanted to see what Google was currently promoting.
The first page that opens for a Google Partner Agency is an introduction page to Google’s Product adoption. Google refers to product adoptions as “challenges that are designed to help you improve the quality of clients’ accounts. Product adoption targets are specifically tailored to your company’s clients past performance”.
For my product adoption, Google was offering 11,000 points for converting at least 27% of my private clients shopping campaign ad spend into Smart Shopping campaigns (I’m currently at 0%) and 6,600 points for having at least 12% of my client ad spends dedicated to using display advertising (I’m currently at 3%).
Translating that into goodies and swag gifts, an agency would need 10,610 to redeem for a Google Ping Pong Table; 15,300 for a Google Pixelbook; and 16,260 for an official Google Foosball Table.
Now there are other ways for an agency to earn Google reward points; however, Google is currently being very aggressive with trying to have agencies such as mine move clients into using Smart Shopping campaigns and to spending more with Google display ads.
This begs the question as to why?
First, let us look at Google Smart Shopping campaigns and what they are.
By using Google Smart Shopping campaigns, advertisers no longer define their bids, negative keywords or devices they wish to advertise. In addition, the option to adjust bids by time or day or location no longer exist. Instead, advertisers are trusting Google to make those decisions for them.
I have written about both smart shopping campaigns and different automated bid strategies and the drawbacks from using them quite a bit at blog.trueonlinepresence.com, if you are looking for more information on the pitfalls and exactly why you should mostly avoid.
However, in a nutshell the biggest drawback of using these automated strategies is that Google assumes the control from the advertiser on how and where to spend their ad dollars. Instead, advertisers blindly trust Google to make the best decisions with their advertising spend.
Another factor to consider is where your ads appear now and where they will appear using Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. Currently, when advertisers create a standard shopping campaign, they are opted into Google’s Search Network. Google’s search network includes all Google sites as well Google.com.
In addition, ads are by default opted into also being shown on Google Search Partners, YouTube, Gmail and Google Discover. However, currently advertisers with a standard Shopping campaign have the option to opt out of showing ads anywhere other than within the Google search network.
However, with Smart Shopping campaigns the option to remove certain networks is no longer an option.
In addition, with Smart Shopping campaigns advertisers cannot see specific product bids, what keywords their ads appear for, what networks their ads appear in or in what device their ads are running. This takes a whole lot of trust.
And trusting Google is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, wouldn’t you say?
Why would Google prefer advertisers even use Smart Shopping campaigns you may ask?
Of course, Google wants its advertisers to be successful. Because if advertisers are not profitable using Google, they will most likely not advertise anymore. I think we can all agree on that? But there are different levels of success when it comes to advertising with Google.
If Google is slightly reducing advertisers’ profitability while substantially increasing an advertiser’s ad spend and at the same time also being able to test different lesser used marketing channels such as display ads, then this may make perfect sense for Google.
However, is this an ideal strategy for you the advertiser?
If Google’s Smart Shopping Campaigns and other automated campaigns performed better, I would have no problem implementing them across all of my client’s accounts.
In fact, it would make my life much easier and allow my team more time to work on other things to help increase client’s conversions.
However, I’ve tested all of these types of automated campaigns extensively and only once has an automated campaign outperformed one of our private clients manually optimized campaigns.
Now granted, we are doing more than the majority of agencies optimizing accounts particularly using Google Shopping strategies and best-practices as I detail in my new book Make Each Click Count Google Shopping.
However, heed my warning. When you are working with an agency or interacting with a Google representative, be aware that they are getting incentivized to increase your spend and to have you switch to using automated bidding strategies (which also will increase your spend).
I believe that the reward system is a very effective way for Google to make sure agencies are incentivized to help Google push their automated strategies.
However, my agency first and foremost works for our private clients. Our private clients with their goals of increased sales and profitability is our sole focus.
Given that, it doesn’t look like I will be earning the rewards points for changing my clients over to Smart Shopping campaigns anytime soon.
Now On To Display Ads
Remember when I told you earlier that Google was offering 6,600 points for having my clients total spend for display advertising reach 12%?
Display advertising for those that may not know is when ads appear within the Google Display Network outside of the Google Search Network.
There are over 2 million websites within the Google Display Network.
Now display ads are typically promoted as being effective for building awareness and brand recognition. However, since they appear when users are not actively shopping or searching, they have a much lower conversion rates and generally are not nearly as profitable.
That is why the only display network ads I typically run for my eCommerce clients are dynamic retargeting ads. Dynamic retargeting ads work to show a product that a shopper looked at on your website where they did not purchase.
These type of display ads I find to be much more effective and therefore they are the only type of display ads that I typically use.
Dynamic retargeting ads work to keep businesses and products where a shopper has shown interest in the forefront of a shoppers’ mind. In addition, these type of display ads also give shoppers the impression that you are a large company that advertises across many sites.
In addition, to standard display ads not being effective, they are also riddled with fraud. If you listened to a recent Podcast episode that I did with Neil Andrew of PPC protect, he says within that interview that up to 80% of display ads are actually fraudulent clicks.
When it comes to display ads, it is important to keep in mind your advertising goals. With my private clients, the goal is typically profitability.
With display ads is your goal in advertising profitability or for brand awareness?
I love that term brand awareness. Brand Awareness means advertising knowing you are not going to get many if any sales. Instead, your goal is letting people know who you are and what you are.
And especially for those of you that are a small to mid-sized eCommerce company, who the heck cares they see your name if they aren’t going to buy?
So, with Google rewards system, they are offering 6,600 points for increasing clients spend to advertise more on a network that historically provides poor results and is riddled with fraud.
Darn, it doesn’t look like I’ll get the Google rewards points for display ads either!
Google continues to redesign their search results trying to determine the optimal layout for its users. The more users continue to use Google the more advertisers will seek to advertise.
However, the number of advertisers is not infinite. If an advertiser is not successful showing profitability in their sales (depending if that is their goal) then most likely they will not continue to advertise with Google at least not for very long.
The more advertisers, the more competition and the more expensive Google will become.
Fortunately, for us, our private clients and those who have read and implemented the strategies inside my book Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, using Google as a marketing channel continues to work driving profitable sales.
But those companies where their Google advertising may not be as well-run may indeed find becoming profitable using Google ads a challenge.
For those advertisers, they may be better off letting Google handle their ad placements and ad spend through Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. In fact, why they are at it, they may want to try to increase their brand recognition through some Google Display Ads (although I would highly advise against it for most eCommerce companies).
By letting Google manage campaigns in this way, they will most likely see better results than just setting up a single shopping campaign that has all their products with just one bid. This is what I unfortunately see all too common in companies starting to advertise with Google Shopping that do not have a plan.
However, with either letting Google run their ads or setting up a Shopping campaign and not optimizing it, these companies are missing an opportunity to use Google Shopping as a significant and profitable marketing channel simply because they do not know how it works or do not have the time to manage it.
Fortunately, for our clients, this is not that case.
Although, sadly it doesn’t look like team True Online Presence will get that new Google Ping Pong table anytime soon!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.