Why auditing a Google Ads account is like shopping for a used car

The vehicle safety inspection seen by Google Ads experts

Jean-Michel Fontaine, marketing director


An audit let’s you know what you’re investing in

When shopping for used cars, it goes without saying that you need to take a good long look under the hood—or find someone who can reliably do so for you. Although the automobile you covet may by all accounts appear to be the bee’s knees, you need to make sure that: a) it actually runs; and that b) it keeps running in the future, and reliably goes the full distance when you need it to.

Don’t be fooled by the paint job or spit-shine, there’s no point in buying a flashy clunker if it’s going to die on you right when you need it the most. From the odometer to the bodywork, the registration to the ownership history, the tires to the electrics and the gearbox, the brakes, the cylinder head gasket, the upholstery, and so on—there are countless parts to check and details to pay attention to and all of them could raise red flags.

As for driving, so for advertising.

A Google Ads account, and the campaigns within it, are no different in essence. At the other end of an audit, just like the appraisal of a used car, you know—according to the expert’s opinion—what works, what needs attention, and what you are putting your money into.

An audit gives you the tools to make informed strategic decisions

Like shoppers putting money into a vehicle that won’t make it more than a few hundred kilometers, most advertisers and their campaigns suffer from what they don’t know, but should. Auditing your Google Ads account is like certifying that your car is road-worthy and, if it is not, flagging the issues that need attention and providing solutions.

Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one. – Doc Brown, “Back To The Future”

Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.

Original Photo/wallpaperflare.com

In our experience, the most common Google Ads account problems can typically be uncovered within two or three hours. The Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 Rule, suggests that 80% of all effects in any given set of circumstances can be fixed by 20% of parameters, and whether you are a gardener, an investment banker, or a Google Ads expert, the Pareto Principle is a useful methodological concept.

Every time we carry out a Google Ads audit, even with large and successful companies, we always begin by working through a checklist of relatively common problems that tend to arise. Our experience confirms that a majority (roughly 80%) of problems fall into a category of what you might call “best practice” issues. Once the 80% are taken care of, there is usually a rugged minority of issues afflicting complex accounts that even a three-day audit may not be enough to identify and solve.

As an example, here is a quick summary in numbers from a simple audit that we recently undertook for an established pure play company in Switzerland:

  • The audit covered 30+ campaigns, 2’400+ ad groups, 20’000+ keywords, 6’000+ ads, and 300+ extensions.
  • In the first 2 hours, we were able to identify, and provide solutions to, 20 items that needed fixing, amounting to roughly 80% of total problems.
  • After 2 days, we identified 3 more items, accounting for about 15% of the remaining issues afflicting the account.
  • The final 5% of issues are almost always the most dangerous, and certainly the most resource-intensive. A plan was created on how best to tackle these over time.
  • At the end of the audit, the 23 issues were fixed and we entered into a lasting collaboration to monitor the account going forward.

An audit is a learning experience

Ultimately, a good audit—like any appraisal of a used car—should put you on track to optimize your Google Ads account as follows:

  1. Reduce waste in your budget
  2. Extract operational advantages from your analytics
  3. Identify new potential sources of income
  4. Evolve your strategy and processes
  5. Ground your modus operandi in data rather than intuition

When shopping for a new car, you may be confronted with the following dilemma: is it worth spending the time and money to fix these problems, or would it be wiser (and cheaper) to buy a new car?

For this same reason, an audit is very often the first step towards a collaboration which will imply the creation of new campaigns that are better suited to the client’s real needs, although not necessarily meeting the client’s initial request.

However, you can easily assess your campaigns yourself before mandating experts. We are currently working on a DIY guide that covers the 20 most common problems we have come across during our Google Ads account auditing. To be the first to benefit from this free guide, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social networks!

Feel free to get in touch if you have questions about the audit process or if you are interested in having your own Google Ads account audited by our team of resident experts. At comtogether, we are always happy to help.

About the author

Jean-Michel Fontaine
Jean-Michel is a well of knowledge in all things digital, as well as an incurable spreadsheet fanatic. He genuinely likes to share his experience and to build up our clients digital competencies.

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