March 11th 2019

How we ended up in ‘Adwords Prison’ even though our ad account wasn’t working

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11 Mar

AdWords & YouTube not playing ball

This has been a rather busy week around our way in terms of work. As a digital marketing agency start-up, we are still in the gest of developing our most efficient work process. Since our inception, we have been fortunate to embrace a number of really interesting projects.

Marq:s Digital logo

Most recently we managed to secure a new client that we were rather keen to work with. There are a number of things the new client was interested in when it comes to digital marketing. After assessing priorities and resources we understood what would be addressed first. Our first project would be to promote their latest content on YouTube. Actions were put in place to ensure we could run the campaign accordingly through our own Adwords account:

  • - Defined and accepted payment method on our AdWords account

  • - Our AdWords account connected to our clients YouTube account

  • - Defined and approved campaign with the required assets

Everything seemed right, considering previous PPC campaigns we undertook. On Saturday at 2pm the campaign went live. We would check every now and then, with the initial data received showing good results. While checking the campaign the following morning, we noticed a significant dip in the performance and by 10am Sunday, a complete halt!

#1 Campaign

The campaign remained enabled, with a few attempts of pausing and resuming the campaign also produced no result. No communication was sent from Google at that time to report any sort of issue.

The next step was to check available information online regarding any issues. We came across a useful website that reports on the statuses of different online services. After that, another quick sweep through the internet didn't show anything else 'too prominent'. No mention on social media in regards to YouTube and/or AdWords issues. A good amount of time was then spent looking into both YouTube and AdWords accounts. Nothing stood out in suggesting any issues in either account.

Later that Sunday evening (after weighing up multiple possibilities) we decided to duplicate the original campaign changing both the budget and targeting. This was to avoid any previous variables that may have been a cause from the start. The duplicated campaign began producing impressions on Monday morning but by 1pm had stopped (again).

#2 Campaign

We contacted Google support and informed them of the issues we were experiencing.

Fast forwarding a few hours…

An additional Google Ad Account was created under our Google e-mail address and the campaign duplicated (Yep… AGAIN!), using the same card details (we were fully aware of the risks). This campaign, running on the new account, lasted no more than 2 hours.

#3 Campaign

The website used previously was revisited for assistance, with reports and comments of users experience issues with YouTube rolling in from all over the world (not just us then, phew!!). At this point, we felt that we had run out of options. Later on Monday (5.30pm), we received the first e-mail from Google support. The e-mail apologised for any inconvenience the service disruption might have caused. Due to our AdWords account being new, it was being audited by Google - according to them. This was to ensure we complied with all the guidelines and policies and could take up to 3 working days.

YouTube Outage Map

Later that day, we made the call to run the campaign straight from our client's AdWords account. After a slow start, the campaign went ahead without major issues. Just when we thought that our ordeals with Google were over… we receive an e-mail from Google support informing us that our account was suspended due to 'suspicious payments'. This was due to the same payment card being used on both accounts. Nothing to say on that other than the account they suspended was not working. Almost immediately after that, our other AdWords account was also suspended. Google support that had contacted us previously assured us that they were aware of what took place. The issue would be dealt with shortly after.

With all these hurdles we encountered, we are still content with how the overall campaign performed. There was a significant improvement with the ad campaign when compared with what was being done previously. The content being promoted reached #4 in the country trends in terms of the type of content (We couldn't be prouder considering everything)

Few suggestions for Google if we may:

  • - Notify advertisers the account is being audited and that may affect any enabled campaign

  • - Halt any enabled campaign when the audit is taking place

  • - Compensate advertisers that might have had the performance of their campaign affected by the audit

  • - Inform advertisers if any of Google services are experiencing disruption in their area

  • - Be clear to advertisers if the disruption is taking place due to an actual audit or an unexpected service disruption

We understand that Google is a rather business company. Although we appreciate Google support response we are slightly skeptic of their explanation. Nothing on both AdWords or YouTube suggested any time of an audit. Users were reporting similar issues to ours, across the world in terms of how YouTube was working as expected. We may never know for sure what happened to our initial campaign through our AdWords campaign. It ended up being a rather constructive week. Our time was challenged to think our their feet in order to prevent disruption of our service. We keep our client constantly updated on what was taking place and he understood that it was beyond our control. Just hope that it was a one-off!