Would it surprise you if we told you that there’s a 60% chance that you DON’T actually own your Google & Facebook accounts if they’re managed by an agency or an external partner.
How would it make you feel if you found out that you didn’t own your Google & Facebook accounts? It shouldn’t make you feel good, that’s for sure.
60% of the the Google & Facebook accounts we evaluated in 2018, were found to have negative account ownership issues.
If there’s one dirty tactic that leaves us festering when helping a client, it’s when an agency or partner hasn’t been transparent about adding a termination clause that makes it difficult for the client to leave.
White hat agency behaviour. ✅
White hats are going to make sure you own your account, no matter what and they will not make the handover difficult for you should you decide to leave.
They usually agree longer contracts to keep the deal valuable for both parties.
Black hat agency behaviour. ❌
- Will add small print in your contract saying they own your account if you leave.
- Will come up with reasons why you can’t have access to the data (software, systems, other client data) – all are either incorrect or not your concern. You have our word on that.
- Will attempt to sell back your account to you if you decide to leave.
This is generally frowned upon in the advertising industry.
Here’s a dirty, but common example of an agency contract clause:
“The Intellectual Property that arises from the PPC Services, including but not limited to details of the content, set-up, management or performance of the Services, are deemed to vest with <agency name hidden> For example, on termination of PPC Services, Accounts will revert back to the account layout that existed prior to the commencement of PPC Services, and the intellectual property therein may not be used to populate a new Account”.
If you think that Google & Facebook will see sense and intervene to protect you – then you’re wrong, you can find out more about that later (they say it’s not for them to decide).
Your relationship with your advertising partner is always great until the end. So even if it’s too late, and the contract is already running – it’s critical, repeat; critical that you try your best to make an amendment on good terms, before it’s too late.
Your PPC accounts are Intellectual Property.
If that doesn’t seem like a big deal, then it’s just because you don’t understand it.
So you decide to end your agreement with your current partner and they go all ‘black hat’ on you and try to hold back the account – meh, what’s the big deal?
Well you’re in for a shock if you don’t have these terms right.
What do you stand to lose?
- Years worth of best-practice optimisation that will have reduced overall cost – start again, means start again and the valuable optimisation and historic data about spend waste will be lost forever.
- IF your agency has done its job, the volume of keywords will have been growing in your account significantly over time – without this, you’ll struggle to drive costs down and wont have much freedom to change the goal posts when your business goals change.
- Your dignity – yes, we know that can be read as offensive – but seriously, we’re writing this because we care and we don’t want to see unethical practices without saying something – you paid for these services, you invested – if you lose it all, just what exactly did you invest in?
Yeah, but you can trust an agency, right? Otherwise they wouldn’t have been in business for so long?
- What if it was actually that those who tried to leave, found it too difficult?
- What if the agency you partnered with was known in the advertising circles as low skilled, but no one wanted to speak ill or rock the boat?
- What if those previous clients who did leave, simply don’t believe in getting involved in conflict and controversy?
There’s actually no real ‘watchdog’ when it comes to monitoring an agency’s duty to abide by ethics – other than the law – which is exactly why we’re stressing the contract thing.
Don’t make your decisions based purely on the ‘feeling’ you get from an agency’s sales team.
So what do Google & Facebook say about who owns an account?
If legal-jargon’s not your bag, then here’s a quick summary:
- They don’t want to get involved.
- Whoever registers the account owns it – regardless of the brand terms and keywords associated.
- Copyrighting process is awful and complex and full of flaws.
- If you invite someone in, then whatever they do in there is between you and them (your contract).
Here’s a link to Analytics’ Terms of Service & Google Ads T&Cs if you’ve got time to spare, but if not, these few extracts give you a quick window into how your drama is likely to unfold if you’ve got an account challenge ahead of you:
Subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, (a) Google grants You a limited, revocable, non-exclusive, non-sublicensable license to install, copy and use […] necessary for You to use the Service on Your Properties or Third Party’s PropertiesParagraph 4, Analytics Terms of Service
If You use the Service on behalf of the Third Party or a Third Party otherwise uses the Service through Your Account, whether or not You are authorized by Google to do so, then You represent and warrant that (a) You are authorized to act on behalf of, and bind to this Agreement, the Third Party to all obligations that You have under this Agreement […]Paragraph 9, Analytics Terms of Service
Customer is solely responsible for its use of the Programs (e.g., access to and use of Program accounts and safeguarding usernames and passwords) […]Paragraph 2, Google Ads T&Cs
So what do you do if you want to leave your PPC partner?
Changing the terms in good faith, while things are good, is the best option. If the answer to that is no, then you can see where this is going – get out now, cut it loose fast, rebuild and don’t make the same mistake twice.
…and seriously, why would an agency even want to keep your account in the first place? There are no benefits to you whatsoever – only to them, so if they aren’t playing ball, then you’d be well-placed to starting feeling like somethings a miss.
If you can’t agree in good faith, the process to leave is easier than you think.
Here’s a process to follow:
- Request edit access to your account in advance of leaving. See our template here for how to ask. (have your new partner create a fake gmail if you want them to go into your account).
- Make a copy of the account – you can decide what to do with it later.
- Send your formal terminations, as per contract (or ask if you can leave earlier in good faith – in return you will not act in bad faith by telling others about the situation).
Now you can have your new partner create your account in all the right ways that a white hat ppc agency would do so.
Have we missed something? Let us know, as we’re always improving these articles to help people learn, prosper and grow.