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A very warm welcome happy readers! In this week’s PPCChat session, experts looked back and discussed some of the situations where they had to face major PPC yikes moments and how did they handle those scenarios. Here is the screencap of the discussion which was hosted by Julie F Bacchini.

Q1: Have you ever been in a situation where a client or stakeholder wanted to do something in PPC that you thought was really ill-advised? How did/would you handle it?

Had an exec bring us a legacy G-Ads account with lookalike audiences containing millions of members, telling us to use it in our targeting. It was dubious, to say the least! @heyglenns

Definitely. This is just part of the job of being a client and/or campaign manager. I would always put together a case for NOT doing said ill-advised action and support that with data, resources (help articles, blogs, etc) and sound rationale. @John_A_Lee

Ill-advised things can come in multiple flavors in my experience. There are just bad ideas or strategies that are best managed by showing them WHY you think said thing is a bad idea. (Document all of this, trust me on this one). @NeptuneMoon

That happened a number of times. I clearly remeber the worst: An AM was desperately trying to optimize a campaign to get more clicks but the budget was too tight. We loosened the targeting and delivered tons of unqualified clicks and the client was happy. @soanders

Luckily no..not recently that I can remember. We are lucky to have great clients. @duanebrown

Yes, frequently! From terrible creative through to a hundred keywords in an adgroup. Usually I calmly explain myself, document my reasoning, listen to their reasons and we decide together. If we decide their way, I document to cover my butt when it doesn’t work. @AmaliaEFowler

There was also the time that quantity of clicks was prioritized over quality of leads – and the client fired us because they were getting less clicks, but qualified and closed leads had gone up 500% @AmaliaEFowler

Literally all the time Ethical questions should be worked out with the stakeholders to learn “what is the line” Strategy questions should have been answered before you started playing with the account. Tactical questions can be projected, even if just conceptually @ferkungamaboobo

Then there are things that move into cringe or worse categories, like ads in poor taste, etc. Those can be trickier to manage as client is bringing this idea to you and it has been through at least one person on their end. Being honest and not accusatory is key. @NeptuneMoon

One of my favourite stories was a creative with a woman in an apron in a kitchen juxtaposed with a man in a suit in a boardroom and I was like umm…. guys… you don’t see it? @AmaliaEFowler

I find if I start my objections/questions with something like “you may not have thought about this angle, but…” and then lay out why it is problematic is the best approach. If they insist on doing it anyway, document your reservations about it. @NeptuneMoon

Too many times I think we as practitioners worry about fighting city hall when it’s easier to make tactical moves that work with city hall – even if city hall is doing something we think isn’t in the best interest of the company/marketing. @ferkungamaboobo

Clearly told them what I thought would happen & why I recommended not doing it. They pushed harder. I implemented, again telling them it was a bad idea. They fired us for the results. In the end it’s their account. I did what they wanted which I would do again. @selley2134

Two scenarios come to mind here: When the thing they want done is unethical for whatever reason we say no (This one has only happened once). When something is a bad idea we advise against as best we can, but it’s the client’s money. @hamboy_PPC

Run ads without having all of the tracking in place. While it can make sense for small businesses — I’ve had to walk away when my guidance isn’t accepted. Esp. if they are asking to scale the account/spend. @hhawk

Nothing that went public ever, but this is why having a diverse team and reviewing content calendars is very important.  @lchasse

Q2: Have you ever been in a situation where the client or stakeholder did something really ill-advised outside of PPC that impacted your work? How did/would you handle it?

I had one situation recently where I was being asked to drive low-quality signups because person giving instructions was being judged on signups, rather than quality. (Or what was in best interests of the org.) How did I handle it? I said no and was fired. @stevegibsonppc

Nothing outside of PPC, we’re lucky with our clients that way, but sometimes the client contact for a couple accounts likes to go in and implement everything in the Recommendations tab. So when performance tanks, I usually go to the changelog. @AmaliaEFowler

Clients do tons of things that can affect PPC and if my opinion is not asked, I am just happy when they let me know. I think that is the key to it all: always to understand the context of the brand and the site we are marketing. But we are not always in the loop. @soanders

I had a client that got a bunch of bad reviews in a short period of time. That was a problem in their closing of leads. So my PPC performance was fine, but their booking of jobs was suffering. So I helped them to address it professionally. @NeptuneMoon

Do yourself a solid and set up Google Alerts and any other social listening you’re doing for all of your clients and their competitors. @NeptuneMoon

A lot of website issues. We annotate in GA & in monthly reports A client raised the prices way above competitors but wanted the same results from us. There wasn’t much we could do – we tried to narrow keywords & add audience lists but the account tanked. Fired again @selley2134

Plenty of times. Anything from changing web pages I wrote and tanking conversion, to changing urls/deleting pages the PPC was using. I handled it politely. @stevegibsonppc

Redesigned their site with zero regard to SEO (domain authority, backlinks, headers, canonization, etc). It tanked PPC results and took many months to identify how much revenue they lost as a result. It was a case study for the ages but I can’t say much more @timmhalloran

Yup. Deleting landing pages or website content. Changing product/service information that made ad copy irrelevant. Shutting campaigns off without notification (yeah, definitely a pet peeve of mine). I could go on and on and on here.. @John_A_Lee

As with most healthy relationships…. we talk it out. Changes to the site is a big one. @duanebrown

Q3: What was your biggest PPC “yikes moment” thus far? How did you handle it?

When I was an intern I put in $16,000 instead of $1,600 into the account. I didn’t handle it, my boss did. I somehow got hired at the end of my internship @AmaliaEFowler

My biggest PPC yikes moment ever was that Max clicks setting without a max CPC roof. At least one click was more expensive than I am willing to admit publicly. @soanders

Our google merchant center got disabled for a week as a result of the Shopify API changing our shipping settings and support telling me we’d pass the review. We were able to replace a lot of the lost business in other channels but I didn’t sleep all week as a result. @hamboy_PPC

Think of budget-blowing mistakes; these fall into 2 categories. Errors of ommission/commission by me personally, and those done by others (jr hires, clients). The latter are scarier to me bcuz I should have foreseen them @heyglenns

In the entirety of my career? Well gosh, clients & coworkers follow me on here, I need to leave some things unsaid, lmao. I will say early in PPC I spent a client’s budget on the wrong part of the business leaving $0 for a big initiative launching that summer. @timmhalloran

Forgot to pause campaigns that were disapproved at the start of COVID and then they got approved and started running. I refunded all of my fees and offered to cover the Google Ads charges (client only took my refund, which was kind). We all make mistakes! @NeptuneMoon

My biggest oops happened several years ago. Had set up a test on the GDN for a client with specific budget and timing parameters. Completely missed the mark on both and overspent by, let’s say, A LOT of money. Paid every dime back, too. Whoops @John_A_Lee

Q4: Is there a scenario that you worry about causing a major PPC “yikes moment” that keeps you up at night? Have you done anything to try to prevent that scenario from happening?

I worry that google will eventually destroy their product (it really seems like they’re trying) and put me out of a job. I try not to think about it too much. @hamboy_PPC

I don’t work on weekends in accounts, as a hard and fast rule, so for my larger spending accounts I sometimes wonder what is going on when I’m not looking at it. Previously I’d worry that my team was setting daily budgets too high to accommodate Target CPA @AmaliaEFowler

The biggest one is launching with incorrect info (budgets, copy, locations, mostly) Create QA Processes! The first time it saves your tail, the time QA-ing paid for itself. The second time, the time creating the process has paid for itself. @ferkungamaboobo

Ultimately I try to remember that our job is not life or death. At the end of the day nobody is going to die because we mess up, and I’m a better marketer and human when I’m rested and have space to live my life outside of work. @AmaliaEFowler

Platforms constantly changing is something that can easily cause issues with our very busy schedules. What if someone on the account accidentally enabled Google’s recommendations on me or authorized one of those reps the ability to make changes? @lchasse

My worry is also with new campaigns that I input something wrong that will be a disaster (like budget or targeting or a typo in the URL). I now methodically go through everything twice before launch so I can know it is all as it should be! @NeptuneMoon

QA checklists & pre-launch processes are key. We had whole Asana templates at my last agency and I always, always get a second pair of eyes. I’m good at this but I’m also human. Can only stare at the same thing for so long before something gets missed @AmaliaEFowler

No, actually I am not afraid of PPC yikes’es But maybe it is because I am very sceptical about things in the first place And a bit paranoid too And then I have a PPC Panic checklist which I am going to present in a webinar in 15 minutes over at @soanders

Running the business keeps me up at night….my brain is always thinking. With check and balances in place, nothing client wise keeps me up. Most things can be reverted. @duanebrown

Q5: What are some things that clients or stakeholders do that make you cringe that you wish they wouldn’t do or would at least consult with the PPC team about?

Changes to the site, promotions or programs that they don’t realize affect PPC, but do. I’m not psychic, Bob, when you change your prices that are listed in the ad extension, I can’t know to update them intuitively. @AmaliaEFowler

Change URL structure or redirects, thereby breaking tracking. Causes a HUGE amount of work for us, often unknowingly on the part of the client. @beyondthepaid

Take a call with a platform rep without me there on the call with them. They are salespeople & they can be pretty slick at getting them to agree to things, then we have to pick up the pieces. Close second is changing product pages, site URL structures, etc…@lchasse

I will echo the website changes issue. Even just a heads up is helpful. I have made it part of my regular client questions it has happened so often. – URL changes – Changing where a lead form goes (and breaking conversion tracking) – Adding 3rd party service. @NeptuneMoon

AND ANOTHER THING… assuming we can turnaround promotions in a 24 time period. “We’re launching this Monday, I knooooowwwww its Friday at 3 pm but you can create ads for this right?” It’s certainly faster turnaround than traditional media but I’m not superhuman. @AmaliaEFowler

For paid social – change audiences/targeting without telling the agency/PPC manager. Suddenly volume and spend tanks, we spend hours trying to figure it out. @beyondthepaid

Q6: What do you view as your level of responsibility to alert clients or stakeholders when they are thinking about doing something ill-advised? How do/would you handle this situation?

I have told my teams and also firmly believe that we have a duty of care to let clients know when something could be problematic. We did it even if it was unlikely to directly affect PPC / our scope of work. There is too much unethical BS out there. @AmaliaEFowler

I’ve gone as far to assist a client who was leaving us, warning them that they were thinking of working with a new agency with red flags all over the place. They didn’t listen and actually ended up back in my DMs a month later apologizing, because I was right. @AmaliaEFowler

At a minimum, it is your responsibility to alert them to potential risks, pros/cons and any related information. Help them to make informed decisions. @John_A_Lee

I feel a very strong duty to help my clients not either do something dumb or something that will hurt their business. Have even offered to read contracts from provider they were leaving me for to make sure they weren’t going to get screwed or at least understood. @NeptuneMoon

We analyze: (1) will this directly impact our managed channel? If so, we have a responsibility to communicate our concerns. (2) will this impact their business but NOT directly our channel? Then it depends on the relationship, as well as our confidence in our concern. @PPCKirk

I enter partnerships with clients w/the goal of being an extension of their team. I work for them like they were my own company, so I am very open and honest. Something like PBR though if they went forward and I voiced my concern, I would walk away. @lchasse

PPCChat Participants

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