• http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com DragonSearch

    Darn! Total transparency was one of our competitive advantages at DragonSearch… Now, if everyone else HAS to provide the same transparency, we’ll need to focus on our other advantages.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    Brad, this is a fascinating piece. Thanks for providing insight into the world of the aggregators. The cost of serving tiny accounts is problematic. The Trada model is interesting, but ultimately faces the same problem: if the margins are too thin, the quality and quantity of work will stink; if the margins are too thick the advertisers might walk. Self-management makes sense but only if the tools are so good that the small business doesn’t have to do much management, and they aren’t there yet.

    I think transparency is the right thing in the long run, even if it forces aggregators into different types of discussions: “Look, for a management fee of $700/month I can manage your AdWords program. You can probably only spend $300/month profitably, but the $1,000 in total spend will still be worth it. You in?”

  • http://www.MySEMexperts.com MySEMexpert

    Brad, great content, thanks.

    I agree with you that Google’s intentions are to create customer loyalty to Google. However, clicks, impressions and spend is not nearly the transparancy my clients are seeking.

    Even though clients often ask to know more, they’re only doing so in order to establish trust with their agency. Once that trust is established, my experience is that few, if any, really want to get into the “guts” of the PPC program.

    In my experience, agencies whose attitude it is to keep the client “in the dark” may avoid the initial difficult process of explaining the ins-and-outs of the client’s campaigns, but they will never gain the trust and long-term relationship that any growing sustainable business needs to acheive.

    Thanks for laying this new news out for us.

    All the best,
    @MySEMexpert

  • http://www.saasaffiliates.com ledermanu

    It is about it that Google steps up like this..

    I spend allot of my hours explaining to my customers what it is that I actually do for them and how these changes reflect visibility, clicks & conversions.

    I know that my clients appreciate it and it certainly sets myself apart.

    YES, I sometimes work myself out of a contract.. but that is ok because they always send someone else.. :-)

  • http://www.bgtheory.com Brad Geddes

    Just to play devil’s advocate…

    Here’s something an aggregator can do that most people can’t.

    Let’s say a company has 1,000 plumber clients. And that 80% of them are in their top 20 marketers (not uncommon).

    That means that the aggregator can track phone calls, driving direction requests, contact forms, etc for all 1000 plumbers.

    Now, if they start doing confidence matching from the ad, keyword, etc to conversion activity across all 1000 accounts they are no longer optimizing 1 account that spends $200/month – they are optimizing an account that spends $200,000 with a lot more data points.

    However, they don’t have to stop there. They can then start to regionalize the optimization efforts and start to see how ads change conversions by region and then optimize to those data specs.

    Now, they probably also have 1000 electrician clients. The business type is very similar to a plumber (service industry, home improvement, etc). So, they they can take some of the ad copy data from the plumbers and apply it to the electricians (especially on a regional basis). And of course, they could the electrician data and associate it to the plumber.

    Now continue that example by a large set of industries.

    Now, that assumes they aren’t a yellow page company who can actually coordinate data points between the web and offline – that’s an interesting proposition.

  • http://www.cucumbermarketing.com Helen Stepchuk

    Wow, I had no idea that some agencies do not provide minimum information like CTR, impressions and adspend! Wow!

    Also, I am shocked that clients would accept reports without this basic information!

  • http://www.sbmteam.com georgebounacos

    Great piece, Brad, and what should be a best practice becomes the rule soon.

    Like you, I ran a local aggregation service at one time, and I HATE the model we used. When a client is confused, an agency will always face issues with churn.

    I vowed never to do that when I went out on my own. For clients who are data hounds, I share everything, sending them automated reports from 3rd parties, from the engines and platforms and so on. Some even get full search query reports.

    Others say, “My ROI goal is $X. We agree to calc attribution this way. Report the return to me every Monday.”

    But pricing models (performance, percentage of spend, upcharges, consulting time) are huge transparency levers. Where possible, I try to steer clients to flat or project rates. It’s not as profitable, but I don’t want to be in a position where my client is afraid to authorize more spend because they don’t want to pay more fees or where they don’t want to call to discuss strategies.

    That trust brings me acquisition through word-of-mouth brought about by transparency. Being a partner means I don’t have to hire sales reps. And at least once a month, I no longer get an AdWords or PPC virgin. I get someone who the aggregators ripped off. That client when treated TLC and transparency will never leave.

    The more troubling aspect is when Google reaches out to them directly for other services. I know Google can see that the account is in an MCC with others. To me that means that Google should never contact them directly. Alas, that doesn’t happen.

  • DaveAd

    Great piece. I think transparency is a great thing in most advertising relationships but I’m wondering about affiliate relationships(the few that are left out there) and how they will be affected by this.

    If i’m driving traffic to someone’s site on a commission basis and the adwords account is mine with all my information including CC will I still be obliged to report my spend to the client?