Digital Ad Accounts Being Held Hostage?

My advertising agency is holding my Google Ads account hostage. Am I about to lose everything I’ve invested into it?

Dear MDT,

Account ownership on platforms like Google and Facebook are almost never considered until this issue arises.  And when it does, it’s a big issue.

Here at MDT, we’ve seen this issue play out many times as we’ve onboarded new clients.  A business believes that they have ownership of their digital advertising account, like Google Ads, only to find out, when their relationship with their agency goes south, that the agency, in fact, owns the account and is not willing to transfer that ownership.

Challenges of being held hostage.

There are so many challenges to you, as an advertiser, in situations like this.  The two biggies:

  1. You likely paid this vendor a lot of money to build your Google account.  If you don’t own it, you’ll have to start over from scratch.  That could easily cost tens of thousands of dollars or more.
  2. Data is a marketer’s greatest asset, and losing your account means losing all that valuable data you’ve collected over time.  Best performing keyword? Highest converting ad copy?  All those answers will be taken from you.

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So how do you avoid being taken hostage?

Ask about it up front.  You are not going to sign an agreement with an agency unless it clearly states that you are sole owner of your digital accounts.

Already stuck in an agreement like this?  You may have a way out. 

As you’re coming up on your contract renewal, do not resign or let the contract auto-renew unless they amend the terms.  Most agencies will accommodate to keep your business.

If not, you may have one final card to play.  Platforms, like Google, are traditionally loyal to their source of revenue.  So even if your agency owns your account, if you’re paying your Google media costs directly, you can open a complaint with Google and point to the fact that you are the company making media payments.  Google will likely consider that ownership and provide you admin access.

In conclusion…

Don’t let yourself get caught up in a hostage situation with your precious advertising account.  When it comes to an agency owning your digital ad accounts, just say no!