4 Ways Your Ad Company is Robbing You

By: Billy Ash, CDO, Today’s Business

Do you know what your digital advertising dollars are really going towards? Chances are, you’re being robbed blind. Many businesses hire “expert” advertising agencies to run their Google Adwords account but fail to know the basic ins-and-outs of the campaigns their agency is running. If the stats you are given aren’t lining up or if you are looking to call your agency out on their failed strategies, read on as I give an inside look at the top four mistakes ad companies make, which cost your business a lot of money. 

1. They are not breaking up your campaigns by branded and unbranded searches

Branded vs non-branded search in terms of Google AdWords is the starting point to find out how your ads are doing. Every single one of your campaigns should be separated by brand vs. non-brand and there should be a clear difference in what the cost per acquisition is for both campaigns.

What is a branded search?

Short and sweet, branded keywords are those that are directly correlated to your business/trademark and no one else’s. Which can include:

  • Doctors name, if a multi-physician practice
  • Your name plus other words: company name + reviews
  • Products or product name

What are non-branded keywords?

A non-branded search does not include your brand name or any part of it. Instead, the user is searching for a specific service or product. It’s important that the non-branded keywords you are bidding on align with your company’s offerings. If not, you will end up wasting money bidding on keywords that you cannot convert on. Examples of non-branded search terms a plastic surgery practice may want to bid on include:

  • Plastic surgeon near me
  • Tummy tuck near me

Branded vs. Non-Branded Paid Search Campaigns

Now that we know the difference between branded and non-branded searches, let’s dive into why there needs to be a clear line between the two. There is going to be a significant difference between the average cost per click (CPC) of a branded search compared to a non-branded search. Furthermore, someone searching for your brand name is much more likely to convert than someone who is out there prospecting.

To inflate stats, common practice ad agencies will tell you a general cost per acquisition (CPA) for all of the ads running on your Adwords account. At Today’s Business, we try to be as transparent as possible by telling our clients what the CPA is for both their branded and non-branded campaigns. We even take it one step further, breaking down each campaign by ad group so our clients know what keywords are the most valuable to their business.

2. They are not accounting for data discrepancies between Analytics and Adwords

The first thing we look for when starting a campaign that has already been running is how many clicks Google AdWords says you received compared to the number of sessions Google Analytics is telling you Adwords sent you. On average, we see a 10% discrepancy between clicks and sessions, but that number can be higher. We have seen some accounts with discrepancies upwards of 60%. When Google AdWords is telling you that you got 600 clicks and Google Analytics is telling you that you received 200 sessions of those clicks, essentially it means that ¾ of your ad budget is not being tracked properly. Additionally, users may click your ad multiple times, but it only results in one session. Why do these things happen? Because agencies mistakenly do the following:

  • Build a landing page and forget to track and implement the Google Analytics codes
  • Don’t implement different analytics codes per landing page
  • Don’t properly connect your AdWords to Analytics

For example, if you have your own physician site and your own practice site, Google will allow you to connect two different AdWords accounts to one Analytics account (even though you shouldn’t). Just because you technically can do it doesn’t mean you should, and agencies that make this mistake will not be tracking campaigns properly. When things like this happen, you have no real way to tell what your cost per acquisition is, so you are essentially throwing money out the window.

3. They are not setting up Goals in Analytics 

Goals are the most important objective in any advertising campaign, as they allow you to track specific user interactions on your site. When a website visitor performs that action, Google Analytics and/or Adwords records that as a conversion. If you run campaigns without incorporating goals, you will never be able to find your true cost per acquisition.What does this mean? Your stats mean nothing if your goals were not completed.

Without goals, it would be impossible to optimize your page and determine which ad groups are actually working. It’s important to note that budgets are set in the campaign level and within each campaign, you have ad groups that each contain different keywords and ads. If you aren’t able to tell what your cost per acquisition is per ad group, you aren’t going to be able to determine if should pause one campaign and spend more on another.

When running Google AdWords campaigns, be sure you are tracking the following:

  • Phone calls
  • Contact forms
  • Request an appointment
  • PDF downloads
  • Email subscribers
  • E-Commerce sales

4. They are using the wrong keyword match types

When running any SEM campaigns, it’s important to know not only what keywords your agency is targeting but how they are targeting them. This is where match types come into play.

PPC Keyword Match Types

Currently, there are 5 different match types. They are:

  • Broad Match
  • Broad Match Modifier
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match
  • Negative Match

1. Broad Match

A broad match type gives you a ton of opportunity to show up in unrelated keywords. With this match type, you are getting the widest reach and least amount of relevance. For instance, if your agency is bidding on broad match for plastic surgery, it can include:

  • In a different state 
  • Misspellings
  • Synonyms
  • What Google thinks is a related search
  • Close variations
  • Negative keywords

For instance, if you are a plastic surgeon in New York City, by using a broad match type, you could be bidding on plastic surgery in San Diego. Equally as detrimental, a broad match for plastic surgery could be bidding on orthopedic surgery.

2. Broad Match Modifier

The second least relevant keyword type is broad match modifiers. This includes one example keyword with an extra keyword on top of it. This means you will bid on keywords that fall under plastic and surgery. For instance, you may bid on keywords such as ‘what plastics are used during surgery.’

3. Phrase Match

You can set a phrase match by putting it in quotes. This match type will include the exact phrase of your keyword and include any other words in that segment, including negative keywords, as opposed to having plus signs in what plastic is used in surgery, this will only show up in plastic surgery jobs or plastic surgery colleges.

4. Exact Match

Exact match provides the lowest reach but the highest relevance. You are only going to be showing up for the exact keywords that you are putting in brackets. For instance, if you use plastic surgeon, the only additional keyword you would show up for is plastic surgeons.

5. Negative Match

Designating a negative keyword tells Google to never display your ad when a user searches for it. Negative match keywords are often used in conjunction with broad and phrase match types, as it helps better target potential consumers. This can lead to an increase to your ROI when using a broad match strategy.


If you don’t know the details behind the numbers in your campaigns, the figures that your advertising company is showing you are most likely skewed. Now that you’ve read my insider tips, go out and ask your agency what types of keywords you’re bidding on, what match types you’re using, and what negative keywords you’re using. Furthermore, if you’re running your PPC advertising yourself, ensure you are not making these mistakes. If you have any questions or concerns, leave them in the comments below and we can discuss!