Andrew Girdwood has recently posted on E-Consultancy that Google are going to be tightening up the terms and conditions it has with it’s agency partners.  Such partners include internet marketing agencies such as ourselves, as well as traditional advertising agencies and even PR companies with search budget to control (“control” perhaps being a little over optimistic in some cases!)

Bubbles in the ice
Creative Commons License photo credit: net_efekt

(Please note that this refers to Google AdWords (aka PPC) not organic rankings (SEO, though it would be nice if SEO regulation were more practical)

The particular issue Google is looking to address is transparency.  According to the post, Google will require agencies to disclose actual spend to clients.  That’s worth repeating “disclose actual spend”.

No really, there are many agencies that don’t do this.   It includes a lot of the cold-calling-guaranteed-no.1-rankings-type companies, but also a lot of companies who operate on a “Cost per action” model or indeed a flat budget model.  It will also include some large traditional companies who you may respect.

However it is done, the point is that mark-ups can sometimes be extreme (even up to 90% in the worst case), all without the client’s knowledge.

Meeting the New Guidelines

According to the article Google claim less than 1/3 of agencies will meet the revised transparency guidelines.

I am very confident that we will more than meet the guidelines as we have always disclosed this information (so may be that puts us 10 years ahead of the curve).  Further we provide all our clients with access to the account so they can see for themselves that there is no cloak and dagger going on. (See our terms of servicewhich we view as a selling point, rather than back-side protection)

Ownership of the accounts may also be an issue they seek to address.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they seek to clamp down on the many agencies who seek to provide a barrier to moving on, by retaining the client’s account (something we did once in our much younger days before we realised it was childish and pointless!)

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