Google Ads Account Ownership – Why You (The Client) Need to Be in Charge

We recently on-boarded a new client here at IMA. During that process, we learned that the agency, who we won’t name/shame, refused, flat out refused, to grant the client any access to their Google Ads account and they wouldn’t transfer ownership or admin rights to us.

We need to talk about why you must own your Google Ads account, formerly known as AdWords, or you’re screwed. It’s pretty simple.

We recently on-boarded a new client here at IMA. During that process, we learned that the agency, who we won’t name/shame, refused, flat out refused, to grant the client any access to their Google Ads account and they wouldn’t transfer ownership or admin rights to us. They just said, “Sorry, we can’t do it”. This is awful for a number of reasons and I’m going to review them in this post. So let’s get into it.

In this post, we’re going to cover three things:

1.We’re going to blow up the excuses that agencies give as to why they can’t give you your account.

2. We are going to show you why it’s so important to have the account ownership and the negative effects that happen if you do not.

3. And we’re also going to cover what to do if you don’t have ownership of your account and what steps you need to take to get it.

Also, at the end, I’m going to share with you a secret that you may not know, or that your agency may not be telling you, that can save you if you get caught in this situation down the line.

So let’s blow up the excuses that agencies give for not giving you access to what’s rightfully yours, which is your account. So one thing that they will says it that it’s their proprietary information. It’s their I.P. The theory is that their approach to Google Ads management is so unique and brilliant that if they were to share that information their competitors would jump on their secrets and put them out of business. This is just patently false. It’s not true in any way shape or form. Now granted, yes, they may be doing something unique or interesting or whatever but if you look at the best agencies out there, they’re actively sharing how they manage accounts for their clients in their blogs, Facebook, Insta, etc. If you look at the leaders in this space, companies like WordStream or people like Neil Patel, they tell you exactly how they do things in their content. So the idea that there’s some secret sauce that this specific agency has that would ruin their business if it got out is just bullshit. It’s terrible. When it comes to account management, there are really specific things to do but everyone knows what they are and, at the end of the day, what makes a campaign sing is to have a proven strategy for the account structure, a laser-focused approach to keyword and bid management (preferably manual in most cases) and a lot of optimization at the account level and at the landing page level. In short, you need to be in the weeds actually doing the work on a consistent basis to improve the performance of the account.

There is no secret sauce here. There are no hidden secrets. There’s no patent on account management in Google Ads. That’s just patently false. It’s BS and I hate when I hear that kind of thing. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

The other thing they might say is, “We set it up from scratch and so it’s ours because we set it up and everything.” So listen, if your agency has to set up an account for you from scratch and they don’t charge you a setup fee for that time, which is a lot of work to do, then shame on them. They should have charged you a setup fee. If they did charge you a setup fee, and then you canceled their services after a few months that’s ok because they got their money, they covered their costs, all’s fair. So that is a nonsense excuse. Don’t fall for it. It’s kind of ridiculous to even bring up but it just happened with this agency that shall not be named. They actually said this to their, or rather, our client.

The next one is a complete lie. A 100% falsification. And it is, “We can’t uncouple or detangle or move your account off of our Google Ads Manager Account (formerly known as an MCC). This one is ridiculous. It really pisses me off. The whole concept of Google’s Ad Manager is to share accounts with third parties while retaining or transferring ownership. It’s baked into the DNA of Ads Manager. Be it different levels of permissions, admin rights, read-only rights, that’s what it is built to do. When they say, “We can’t uncouple or disconnect or…whatever” it’s a total lie. If anyone says that to you, run for the hills. Now.

Now let’s talk about why it’s important to own your account. For one thing, it’s really important because there’s a ton of data that’s accumulated over time in these accounts and, if you’re paying for that on your credit card, then that should be your data.

(Quick aside – If you are not paying for your account, if the agency has their own credit card on file with Google and they invoice you a set amount each month for media then you need to get detailed invoices breaking down what you’re spending with Google each month. In addition, you should also request the invoices that Google can generate for your account each month. If the agency doesn’t provide those to you then you should be very skeptical about their billing practices. There is zero reason for your agency to keep this from you. Zero. Unless they are hiding something. Think about it. If you don’t know how much of your $15,000 per month goes to Google and how much goes to your agency for management fees, what’s to keep them from pocketing 50% of that $15,000? If you’re not happy with your campaign performance, not a problem, the agency just drops their take to 40% and you see a bump in performance. Problem is, no one pays 40% for management! Bring them out of the dark. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If you are in a situation like that right now change, you’re being cheated. Demand better and get your credit card on file and use those points from the card to take a trip to Maui.)

Ok, back to the data. There is a ton of data and you’re paying for it. You should own that data. A key part of that data accumulation is building negative keyword lists. Negative keyword lists allow you to trim off the fat in the account by removing closely related keywords that aren’t actually relevant. This allows you to decrease the amount of spending on Google. When you start from scratch, you don’t have those negative lists in place, you have to build them. You do that by reviewing the data from what people are actually searching for in the Search Terms report. This is invaluable and will save you countless dollars and will lower your Cost Per Lead or Cost Per Acquisition costs.

The third reason to have Google Ads Account Ownership is that these accounts get better over time. It’s kind of like a good cast iron skillet, right? It seasons over time. It gets better and better and more and more nonstick. (I love cast iron skillets, just for the record). So why do they get better? Well, one of the key things is Quality Score. Quality Score is graded on a 0 to 10 scale. If you’re going to dominate at the Local or National level, if you’re going to get your campaign performing like we at IMA like our campaigns to perform, then you’re going to need to have Quality Scores in the 8, 9, or 10 range. If you are starting from scratch, it takes a while to get to that range. However, if you have a well-seasoned account, if that account has been improving quality score over time, you want to own that account, right? It’s crucial and it’s going to set you back if you don’t own you Google Ads account and have to start from scratch.

So what should you do if you do not currently have access to your Google Ads account?

First, if you’re working with an agency or if you’re shopping for agencies, make sure that they are going to give you Read-only access to your account. If your current agency will not provide Read-only access, get rid of them. Find a reputable digital marketing agency that treats you like a partner, not a hostage. If you are in shopping mode and the prospective agency you’re thinking of working with denies you Read-only access, take them off the list, scratch out their name on your Rolodex, never give them your money.

You are 100% entitled to having Read-only access to your account. You have to and it’s in your best interest. Note that, Read-only is not Admin access but what it means, what is key, is that in the eyes of Google you have access to the account. If you should find yourself in a dispute with your agency, having this access will go a long way towards getting control. You might ask why shouldn’t you have Admin access. It’s a good question. Most good agencies, IMA included, prefer our clients to have Read-only access while we’re managing the account to avoid a client or their employees going in and clicking something they shouldn’t or inadvertently affecting our work. Our clients can always see everything we’re doing. If they decide to leave IMA then, boom, we switch them over to Admin access and they own the thing.

There is another key piece to this puzzle. Payment profiles. You want to make sure that you have a payment profile on your Google Ads account with your credit card on file. For this payment profile, you do want to make sure it has Admin access. Having your own payment profile means that you’re clearly paying for your ads and you can update credit cards and things like that on your own. This gives you full control and ownership over the financial aspect of your Google Ads account. This is crucial.

Alright, let’s talk about the little secret I teased at the top. It’s really simple.

You are 100% entitled to know your Google Ads account ID number according to Google’s terms and conditions. If you get into an ownership battle, this can be very important. The account ID number is the unique ID number associated with your account. Google’s terms and conditions clearly state that any third party, so any agency or PPC contractor or consultant, must provide you with your account ID. A lot of agencies won’t necessarily tell you this fact. They might not even know about it. But, if they’re acting in bad faith and doing the types of things we’re outlining in this post, it’s good to know that you have Google’s lawyers on your side. Do you know your account ID? No? Ask for it today.

You’re probably wondering why is this so important? I’ll tell you why. If you have your account ID and you have a payment profile and you have Read-only access to your account, you will be in a very solid position if your agency tries to withhold the account from you. If they try to withhold your account you can call Google directly and say, “I have my account ID, I have a payment profile with my credit card on file and I have Read-only access on the account.” If you have those three things the chances are very good that Google will give you account ownership in the event of a dispute. It’s not guaranteed but it’s pretty likely that they will do it. If you have those three things. If you don’t have account access, they won’t do it. If you don’t have an account ID you can’t even start the process. If your payment profile is not set up it’s going to be hard. So make sure you have those three things. That’s the crucial piece and that’s a little secret that some agencies, unfortunately, don’t want you to know.

So what do we learn today? We learned why it’s so important that you have ownership of your account. We learned how to see through any BS excuses that an agency will give you in regards to why they can’t give you your account. We learned how painful it can be if you need to start over building up those negative list and your quality scores, not to mention all the data that you’ve lost. You also learned a little secret about how you can get your account ID and have that is 100% your right to know it.

Most importantly, if you’re dealing with an agency that is pulling this on then run for the hills. Do not work with them. That’s just the start of the kind of bad practices that they’re likely doing. This is one of the most egregious things that I see and it really pisses me off. I want to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you. Demand better.

Good luck with your campaigns!

If you’re interested in working with an agency that sees you as a trusted partner and treats you accordingly, while delivering excellent results, schedule a 15-minute call with our CEO here.

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