Why Agencies Need Better PPC Support

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There has been a lot of chatter in the PPC community recently about Google Adwords support, or lack thereof. I’ve written more than my share of rants on the topic. It’s no surprise that Google would bear the brunt of PPC pros’ frustration – after all, they are the market leader and therefore are the platform we all use every day.

But step back from your daily annoyances and think about the big picture that is Google Adwords. They actually have built a decent platform for agencies, with MCCs and sub-MCCs. They have Adwords Editor. They have Google Partners.

I know Google Partners is nothing to write home about. But have you tried working in any of the social PPC platforms? Tried contacting their PPC support team? Gotten any nice gifts from them?

I thought so.

Here’s the thing. Agencies handle many (not all, but many) of the large PPC accounts out there. We are frequently the ones getting advertisers to try new things like Pinterest Ads. It behooves the search engines to give us the support we need to spend our clients’ money!

I’m sure that many of the questions crossing the desks of the engines’ PPC support staff are basic, and likely come from mom and pop advertisers trying to do PPC themselves. So why should the PPC engines offer any support to agencies when our numbers are relatively small? Isn’t general support enough?

No. And here’s why.

We are not beginners.

Sure, agencies hire new PPC staff all the time, and frequently these new hires have no experience with PPC. The fact of the matter is, though, the newbies aren’t always the ones calling Google or Bing for help. In the agency world, many of us who call are very experienced in PPC. Experienced PPC’ers see support calls as a last resort. We’ve already exhausted all other resources, including reading the help files and tinkering with the interface ourselves. We’re stuck, and that’s why we’re calling.

Therefore, we need dedicated PPC support staffers who are experienced themselves. This is where Bing really shines. We have a dedicated team at Bing, and they are experts. They are not the latest new hires cutting their teeth on the 1-866 number. They get that we get it, so on calls we dispense with the basics and talk strategy; and when we have a problem, they don’t read us the help files – they go in and fix it.

That’s what we want from you, Google – and from all the rest of you: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… LinkedIn only offers support via email, and I don’t think Facebook or Twitter offer it at all. So when we do have a question or something isn’t working, guess what? We often pull our money and spend it elsewhere.

We handle multiple clients.

Like I mentioned earlier, Google is the leader by a long shot in making it easy to work with multiple clients. Bing has gotten better, but their MCC-equivalent leaves a lot to be desired. Facebook has a decent interface for multiple accounts – and they have Power Editor which is awesome. But their reporting is pretty terrible, and both the online UI and Power Editor are glitchy at times.

LinkedIn? Well, they sort of have an MCC but its usefulness is totally overshadowed by the fact that their ads interface times out after about 5 minutes.

A few weeks ago, I was creating a campaign for a client who wanted to target 100 companies. After painstakingly spending an hour entering each company one by one (since LI has no bulk upload function whatsoever), I hit “next” and got the login screen. Thankfully, LI did save my work – but why give people that heart attack?

Agencies are in PPC interfaces all day. Don’t time them out! Facebook and Twitter never time out on me, and neither does Google. Bing only does after several hours of inactivity. C’mon LinkedIn – if you want agencies to spend money with you, don’t force them out of the ads interface every 5 minutes.

I joked on Twitter a while back that I was going to write a blog post called “The Top 3 PPC Engines That Don’t Want My Money.” Let’s hope we get some fast improvement, or I may yet write that post.

What do you think? Is agency PPC support just a pipe dream for all but the largest spenders? Found a way to get better support? Share in the comments!

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  1. Great post, Mel!

    I don’t think it is a pipe dream, but I also don’t think that it is something that will come easy or in the very near future. The conspiracy theorist in me says that Google and the like see salespeople in lieu of real support as a moneymaker – forcing lower QS and higher CPCs because people fail to optimize properly, but the realist in me thinks that it all boils down to internal politics.

    With everything Google has going on (and i keep going to Google, but they are the biggest), being adWords support cannot be the most glamorous position they offer, so I really doubt people want to move into that, much less stick around forever when there are way cooler things Google is doing that they could get into.

    And the truth is, some of those old-school support personnel are still around, they are just in more managerial positions and aren’t normally involved in day-to-day calls and issues anymore. At my last company, they used to come visit once or twice a year, and I would get more real insight in that one day from the senior account managers than a month sitting on the phone with our account manager.

    So the short version is: They’re there…I’ve seen ’em! And i do think there is hope, it will probably just take more than us complaining on twitter 🙂

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Thanks for your comment Jeff – all very good points. I know many of us have complained directly to the engines, but in Google’s case it seems the complaints have fallen on deaf ears. I’d like to say we should vote with our checkbooks, but is there anyone out there who can afford to give up Google? Tough situation all around.

  2. Well put, Melissa.

    I think another thing that I learned in working in-depth on display with other networks/publishers….Google really doesn’t want agencies handling PPC. They want to be the agency. It’s ridiculous, b/c they can’t be unbiased, but they have teams that try and go after clients directly. I bumped heads with them a few times. There was an instance where they had a team that specialized in the political vertical. I hear through the grapevine they tried to get the account, we did instead, and then they were our “account specialists” for that vertical.

    I can’t speak to Facebook or LI, this was solely my experience with Google. To Jeff’s point, it actually behooves them to have SMBs handling PPC and not knowing the ins and outs…they make a lot more off the CPCs.

    I really feel like it started to go downhill when they made them salespeople with quotas. Such a mistake on the credibility front.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Interesting thought, and you may well be right. IMHO it’s short-sighted of Google to focus on SMBs and leave agencies to fend for themselves. We are buying way more than just Google and many clients don’t want to deal with publishers/engines directly. And sadly, it does behoove them to have inexperienced people managing PPC.

      All that said, I remember a day when newspapers felt the same way: they were king of the hill, charged whatever they wanted for ads, and didn’t offer much value-add to advertisers or agencies. Look where they are now.

  3. Social ads platforms are definitely playing catch up and in infantile stage of advertiser support. If you are lucky enough to manage a high enough spend, you can actually get social ads reps that are pretty helpful. If not, use your network. Some ex-Googler or Yahoo reps are now working for these platforms and sometimes ccan get you connected to some answers. It shouldn’t be this difficult, but it is.

    Google agency support is same as it ever was. Going from poor to fair to poor over the last few years. Vertical/industry and Fortune 100 reps are great/consistent/know your business. Agency reps and turnover of reps inhibits that model from ever being successful as they are focused on attaining new business and accounts and not growing/expanding their base, which makes no sense whatsoever. Unfortunately, it all depends on who gets assigned to your account. And the good ones will get re-assigned to something else in 3-6 months.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Good call on finding someone in your network to help out with social PPC. I probably need to try harder. 🙂

      Very insightful and true statements in your comment, my friend. Thanks for sharing!

  4. What I cannot get through their heads is that I have (literally) unlimited budget for campaigns that work, but I don’t have unlimited time. The more time they save me, the more money I spend. I’ve been trying to get that across since the OVERTURE days, to no avail. If I have to deal with front line support, explain myself four times, and if you don’t give me the right tools or make me jump through completely unnecessary hoops (*cough* Bing Accounts *cough*) that’s less money you get from my clients.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Exactly. This is where my “engines don’t want my money” comment comes from. I want to spend money with them, but there are so many barriers and so little time. Crazy.

  5. While I’m no huge fan of Google support and their methods for how they decide to support agencies, it takes all of a day to realize how bad Facebook’s support is. It’s worse than bad. At times I really wonder if they care, which is funny because, like Google, Facebook needs advertising to survive, therefore you would think they would beef up their level of support to beyond just email to encourage more businesses advertising with them.

    And don’t assume it changes once budgets increase or you’re running campaigns for a Fortune 100 company. Yes, you may finally get a contact to reach out to directly, but in all honestly, the level of knowledge from account/ad reps at Facebook pales in comparison to those at Google, for the same spend. Yes, we often see Google reps go behind our backs and reach out directly to clients, at least they reach out. I have NEVER been contacted by a Facebook rep proactively, despite working on a relatively sizable account (some months spending $75K+). Agency support at Facebook? Hah! If it exists, please tell me!

    All that being said…I did recently find out that Facebook offers a type of “beginner” level of support. That is, you can get a direct contact if you’re setting up an account for the first time. Once spend exceeds … $1000/month I believe, they disappear though and you’re on your own.

    My opinion here is probably a bit biased, but we run quite a bit of ads on Twitter and they’re support is easily the best I’ve worked with. Granted, the client is relatively large, but even during those months when spend declines significantly or even dries up completely, they’re still there and willing to help out.

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