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Why I’m critical of Google Partners, while also leaning into it

Business + Digital Marketing
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Recently I received an email from Google Ads advising that my agency has been placed into a “grace period” to allow us time to not lose our Google Partners status.

Like previous times, upon receiving these communications, I jumped into our Google account to see what criteria we had lost ground on. Every time I've done this in the past it has been a case of a ‘Certificate of Learning’ that has lapsed, requiring a need to be retaken by one of the team. This time however, it was different; it was about performance, not about certification. 

For the past 15 years working in search marketing I have worked under the presumption that adhering to the criteria provided by Google allowed us to have a working partnership with them. 

The truth is quite far from this. This matters to our clients largely because it is a tool used across all of them. 

When dealing with Google we are provided an “Account Strategist” who seems to change every three to six months. The Account Strategists are usually third party contractors who do not offer any more insight than the automated recommendations the Google Ads platform provides. They seem to have a primary agenda to get us to increase our clients’ budget and spend. There has not been one meeting where “increasing our clients budget” was not a lead-in suggestion. I refuse to take their calls anymore. 

But hey, they are Google. They dominate search and the advertising platform is still the best form of digital advertising. I don’t think we will ever stop using it.

However, there are flaws with the partnership that can’t be ignored. 

So back to that email... 

When I looked into the criteria around status that discussed performance, this was the recommendation:

I realised at this stage that the partnership badge did not matter anymore to me, as obviously over the years it has mattered far less to Google. What the above is suggesting is to apply automated recommendations that the Google Ads platform puts forward.

Guess what is the most common recommendation and has a heavy weighting, “Increase budgets”. Sure there are times where this is needed as optimisation of ads has reached its maximum potential, however I can guarantee when I open up the recommendation list for each of our clients accounts, I will always see the “increase budget” as a lead recommendation and it is quite disheartening that it is the main push from Google for every client we look after.

One of the privileges of working as a digital marketer is the opportunity to partner with clients and to help them to grow their business and meet their objectives. Google Ads continues to be a platform that helps me with these results. However the constant push by Google to increase budgets as a recommendation and now to have it as a factor that puts our partnership at risk is not right. I will not forsake what I am trying to achieve for our clients for the sake of a badge. Sure, there are other recommendations that I do use and test, some are helpful, however most follow the line that will generate more revenue for Google.

So, in short, I am not going to change my approach to managing and generating results for our clients campaigns for the sake of the Google Partner’s badge.