How to Choose a Google Ads Agency

Updated: Feb 17, 2022 | Brian Sullivan | 2 min.


In the 3rd quarter of 2021 $53 billion was spent on Google Ads.

The top online touchpoint on the path to purchasing a new car is a search engine – this is above the OEM and dealer sites.

Your buyers will return to Google throughout the path to purchase, and advertising across the Google network offers the ability to reach and influence them as they research.

Google Ads work!

So how do you make them work for your business?

Google ads management is time-consuming and to do it right takes a lot of specialist knowledge and experience.




Every business owner, GM or head of marketing we have worked with is short on time.

So how do you get the most out of your Google Ads campaign and ad spend? The natural solution is to find a Google Ads specialist to manage the PPC campaigns and Google AdWords account. This is where a PPC agency comes in.

Choosing the right Google Ads agency (AKA Google AdWords agency) can make a big difference to your business. Choosing the right partner can help transform a strong business while choosing the wrong agency to run Google Ads can burn a lot of cash.

Why use a Google Ads Agency?


Google has done a great job of connecting buyers with sellers on the search engine results page and making the Google Ads platform easy to use for advertisers: just plug in your credit card, pick some keywords, set a budget and go live. Easy!

In our experience, it is also easy to use badly.

We have taken over many self-managed accounts where up to 70% of the budget was wasted ad spend. 😬 The main culprits tend to be:

  1. Poor keyword selection and lack of understanding of how keywords work

  2. No plan on how to treat brand terms (which can make bad accounts look great)

  3. Set and forget “management”,

  4. Targeting the wrong locations

  5. Lack of clear goals. Traffic is a poor goal – we should be aiming for goals like leads, that will turn traffic into customers

  6. Not connected to Google Analytics

  7. Ad fraud – particularly on the display network

These and countless other reasons can generally be attributed to one thing – The in-house ‘Google Ads manager’ doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to make Google Ads work. 

Why use Google Ads?

Google Ads is broader than just text ads on a search results page. Google Ads actually serve across 4 platforms: Search, Display, video (or YouTube advertising) and the shopping network.

Combined or independently, they offer an effective adverting solution to reach and influence potential buyers across every stage on the path to purchase and each platform has its own strengths.

Top of funnel

TV advertising has traditionally been the medium used by big brands to build their brand. With 3% of Australians in the market at any one time for a car TV offers a lot of opportunities to waste budget. Youtube/video ads and Google Display Ads are fantastic for building brand recognition and awareness at the top of the funnel. Google collects much more data on its users (through Google Analytics, Chrome, Maps, Gmail, Youtube etc.) than Facebook, allowing for tight targeting of the right people


All 4 platforms can be used to target in-market buyers. Traditionally the path to purchase was a funnel. Today, users turn to Google when navigating a purchase – the bigger the purchase the more research. Google Ads can reach users earlier in the path to purchase on search engine results pages (SERPs) as they search broader, more generic terms, or as they are watching reviews on Youtube, or across the thousands of sites that make up the display network. Shopping ads can also use inset images in the SERP.


Google Search Ads was built on marketing towards users showing signs of intent by placing your ad at the top of a search results page where users have typed the product or service they are looking to buy. At its core, Google is intent-based marketing, whereas social media is “interruption” marketing.


Google Remarketing is not only for display advertising. Remarketing campaigns can be run across search, display, video and shopping and they offer fantastic opportunities to reengage and convert users who have shown strong signs of intent when visiting your site or Youtube channel.

After the sale

Just because a user has become a lead, it doesn’t mean we should stop advertising to them. This audience can be the most valuable audience in an account as they can be cross-sold and upsold, increasing their lifetime value. All 4 platforms can play a part here.

A Google Ads agency will have Google Ads-certified specialists on the team. These Google Ads specialists are managing multiple accounts and campaigns on a daily basis, spending 40 hours a week on the platform.

A good Google Ads agency will be able to select the right keywords and build a solid account and campaign structure that allows for control, so the budget can be more easily moved and scaled as needed.

Questions to ask a potential Google ads agency

When selecting your google ads agency there are a number of questions to ask.


Who owns the Google Ads account? As the advertiser who is ultimately paying the bills, you should own the account. Running Google Ads does not guarantee leads or sales, but it does guarantee you data, and you should own the data. The same applies to Google Analytics – you should own the account.

If you only take one thing from this article this is it. Own your own assets.

Do not go with any agency where the agency owns the assets (and we have even seen some contracts where, not only do the agency own the assets, the client is not even allowed access to the account!). If you don’t have access to and don’t own the Google Ads, Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics accounts, avoid the agency. We are constantly surprised by how many agencies operate this way.


How much of your ad spend goes to Google and how much is the agency charging as a management fee.

Goals and linking to Google Analytics

At the start of the relationship, clear goals should be set. What is the aim of the Google Ads campaigns? If the agency wants to focus on clicks and CPC, look elsewhere. Goals should be in some way helping to turn traffic into customers.

We are constantly asked, “What should my CPA (cost per acquisition or lead) be?”. Every industry and product will have a different number here. Typically we start off with what are we trying to achieve first (awareness, traffic, leads etc.) and then, once we get data in, establish how much we should be paying to achieve that.

We tend not to focus too much on how “others” are doing but rather on how our account is doing and how that compares to the previous months. We have plenty of clients in the same industries with very different CPAs and this is because they are different products with different buyers and different competitors.

Google Analytics

Should be linked to the account and data imported to help gauge the traffic quality

Industry Experience

We have taken quite a lot of business from agencies that claim to have experience in hundreds of niches. We are a specialist agency and deal with vehicle-related industries.

Our experience taking clients from these generalist Google ads agencies is we outperform them and do so very quickly.

We are Google Ads experts and industry specialists. We know where to find prospects, and how to nurture and motivate them to become leads and sales.

Are they Google Ad Certified?

The PPC agency should be a certified Google Partner. Performance, spending, and certifications are the main criteria for a Google Ads agency to become a certified Google Partner.

When an agency becomes a Google Partner it shows that they are actively managing a number of accounts, are meeting a minimum amount of ad spend set by Google and that these clients under management also have an optimisation score of 70% or more (i.e. are being run in a manner that Googles believes to be best practice). This demonstrates the agency is trusted, growing and running the PPC campaigns well.

In addition, 50% of the ads strategists must be Google Ads Certified, with at least 1 certification per platform (i.e. if the agency runs ads on all 4 platforms as part of the Google Ads services, then they would need to be certified on all 4 platforms).

And if you are new to Google Ads and open your account with a Google Ads Partner agency, you will be able to get $600 credit to launch stronger, compared to only $100 if you set it up yourself or don’t use a Partner agency.

What are the Limits?

Some agencies base their fees on the number of keywords or campaigns they will manage. This may work for you but we believe this to be too restrictive.

What is the Contract Length?

Running Google Ads campaigns is labour-intensive and unprofitable for the agency for the first few months while the campaigns are dialled in. It takes (for us anyway) roughly 3 months for an account to break even. 

We don’t believe in long-term contracts. If a client is unhappy they should be able to leave and so we tend to offer 30 days’ notice.


This is an industry filled with jargon – pay-per-click, SEM, Google Ads, AdWords, Google search, search marketing, PPC – all interchangeable terms to say the same thing, and the actual AdWords management work offers up plenty more. 

Make sure your agency talk in terms that articulate what is happening in the account, why and what it means (what it was like, what happened and what it is like now) in a language you understand.

Website Feedback

 A strong Google Ads campaign is not going to fix a bad website no matter how qualified the traffic is. The website is the centre point in online advertising, as most campaigns point or direct traffic to the site. 

If the site is set up badly and not built to convert, then the campaigns are going to be that much harder. As part of the initial chat with your potential SEM agency, the website should be one of the topics discussed.

How To Work With Google Ads Agency?

How to Choose a Google Ads Agency (1080 × 800 px)

In our experience (of taking clients from other Google Ads agencies) clients tend to leave agencies for 3 reasons: poor communication, poor reporting and a lack of results.


To get the most out of your Google Ads agency, you should take the time to educate your agency on your industry, segment, brand, product, buyer and competition (both direct and indirect).

Fill in the briefing doc as best you can with as much detail as you can. Share any research you have on your product, market and industry. If you own your account, they will be able to pour over all the data in the account. Even so, it is still valuable to share what has and hasn’t worked in the past and the reasons why (and not just on Google ads).

Set expectations on the frequency of contact.


Reporting starts with goal setting. What is the aim of the campaign? We find that self-managed accounts tend to be focused on clicks and cost per click. To us, these are secondary metrics. The primary goal is usually capturing contact details or a sale (for e-comm accounts)

Once the goals are agreed upon, establish the frequency of reporting. At Retain Media, as standard, we report monthly (first week of the month) and have a monthly meeting (second week of the month). We do have some clients who want weekly reporting and if that is the expectation we deliver weekly reports.

In addition to the numbers, the reporting should give some insights into what the agency is doing, why and what the impact is. As an agency, we aim to provide reporting that is more than just data and information. We aim to offer insights and implications.

Finally, as an advertiser, you should always have access to the Google Ads account. If you are ever unsure what your agency is doing, check the change history (located near the bottom of the grey navigation on the left side of the interface).


We are a results-driven agency. The majority of our clients are lead-based. They need X amount of leads to make Y amount of sales, and so we are relentlessly focused on lead volume, lead quality and cost per lead.

We start every week with an account review as if it was a sales meeting. It is numbers focused and we start with our 3 key metrics:

1. Amount spent and forecast spend

2. Number of conversions and forecast conversions

3. CPA and forecast CPA

This meeting dictates a large part of what we do. If we don’t see numbers we like, we diagnose issues, find solutions and test new strategies.

We have not yet lost a client due to poor results.

How much do Google Ad Agencies Charge?

Google Ads management, when it is done well, takes time. Your agency should be reviewing search terms and placement, and managing bids and keywords every week.

Most agencies tend to work on a percentage of the total budget (usually with a minimum management fee). We have seen this vary from as low as 10% to as high as 60%. Some agencies work on a flat fee.

So long as the agency is upfront and transparent with how much the Google Ads media spend and how much their fee is for managing the account, there is no wrong answer here. Either way is fine, but you get what you pay for.

If your agency’s fee is low, all your fees could be consumed just in the time it takes to prepare reports and have meetings, with little time left for actual Google Ads management.

Retain Media is a Google Partner. We specialise in helping dealers and manufacturers get the best ROI from their digital spend.

If you’re interested in working with us, fill in the form below and we will be in contact in the next 24 hours to see if we can help.

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