GOOGLE Adwords resellers are cheating millions of pounds out of customers by skirting policy guidelines and misrepresenting figures, it has emerged.

Online businesses that rely on these resellers for online advertising – or pay per click (PPC) advertising – are being hung out to dry by rogue agencies. Claims of agency owners charging clients incorrect amounts for their services, with some agency representatives earning six figure salaries by falsifying numbers.

With no official ombudsman to monitor these malfeasances, and Google not enforcing their own policies, businesses are losing huge chunks of money.
Google Adwords, an advertising platform owned by Google, is a self-serving keyword auction portal that lets a company ‘bid’ on keywords and phrases that will appear on Google’s search engine, where appropriate. Companies can help drive traffic to where they want, a guaranteed tactic to get more views to a website – with the hope of more sales for a business. Google relies on resellers to push these adwords, and that’s where these rogue agencies come into play.

A respectable reseller will provide the client direct access to all of the Adwords, as well as the account that handles them, to give complete visibility of advertising spend. There will also be a straight up management fee for this service. Rogue resellers, however, have been lying about the benefits of being ‘partners’ with Google, claiming they get cheaper clicks, huge kickbacks from Google and what’s worse, these agencies will use a fraction of the money given to them for advertising – the rest goes straight into their pocket.

Kieran Cassidy, of PPC Claims, has dealt with these rogue resellers in the past. He works to educate and inform the public on how to safeguard against such scammers. Mr. Cassidy is all too aware of the wrongdoings that these agencies perpetuate, and said: ‘There are thousands of UK businesses that are unaware of the hidden margins that PPC Agencies are charging. Agencies are popping up everywhere. Smooth talking salespeople are taking home six figure salaries from unsuspecting clients’.

Of those ‘unsuspecting clients’ that Mr. Cassidy mentions, a few have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds through shady agencies. A removal company, which cannot be named for legal reasons, lost around £150,000 to a rogue agency called ReachLocal. Starting in 2011, up until now, this company spent over £200,000 on what they thought was Adwords. ReachLocal, a notorious reseller that has now gone into administration, only spent £70,000 on Adwords – keeping the rest for themselves. Upon finding out, the owners of the removal company attempted to sever ties with ReachLocal, but ReachLocal refused to stop advertising for them, despite several requests and the threat of legal action.

With an industry worth billions, and some companies known to spend over £1 million per month on online advertising, Adwords is currently bringing in around 90% of Google’s income. Such a service that is equally important to a businesses success forces all companies – big and small – to enter this daunting arena. And with Google’s dominance in online search engines, there really is only one option for the majority of businesses. Unfortunately, a lack of regulation has allowed these rogue agencies to flourish and, without proper safeguards, many businesses are at risk.