Third Party Google ‘Reps’?

TL;DR – Revana employees aren’t Googlers, although they will tell you they are. They appear to only care about your clients spending more money. They are willing to go to the client directly if you won’t engage with them. They aren’t the most professional, skilled, or experienced. The phone number that they list in their emails, sent from @google.com email addresses is (800) 826-9988. We suggest you not pick up.

In September of 2012, the good folks at 3Q Digital wrote an incredibly interesting story about ‘third party Google reps’.  The post details how these ‘reps’ aren’t actually Google employees, but instead work for a third party company called Revana. However, they pass themselves off as Google employees, complete with @google.com email addresses.

Additionally, in 2012 at least, a particular ‘rep’ had to request account access from an advertiser – something an actual Google employee would already have. The post surmises that these non-Google reps are compensated based on the amount that they’re able to increase an advertiser’s spend by.

At Crank Conversion, we had our own experience with these so-called ‘reps,’ and this blog post will look at the differences between 3Q’s 2012 experience and our own since 2016. First though, I’d like to mention something not mentioned in 3Q’s article – an issue that we experienced today.

Attempted client poaching.

This morning, after a very clear refusal of help or further correspondence from me to Revana, our ‘rep’ stated via email to my partner and I that he would be directly reaching out to our client. From Crank Conversion’s perspective, this is not ok for several reasons:

  • We know our clients best. They’ve been with us for years. We know the ins, outs, and whys of our clients’ accounts. That relationship can’t be replaced with a one-size-fits-all report on account changes we should consider making.
  • Without any help from Google (3rd party or otherwise), we’ve brought many of our clients onto AdWords and/or increased their AdWords investment. Google has made plenty of money off of our efforts in order to bring our clients as high an ROI as we can. 3rd party ‘reps’ reaching out hinder that process, and can potentially throw our client relationship out of whack.
  • It’s shady, for all the reasons below.

Here’s how 3Q’s post compares with our experience from 2016 through today:

3Q Point #1 (2012): These third party ‘reps,’ complete with @google.com email addresses are really working for a company called Revana.

In 2018, that’s still the case, although Revana has rebranded to TTec.

  • Since 2016 we’ve had 3 Revana employees reach out to us and identify themselves as Google employees. In 2016, I asked our first ‘rep’ what the deal was, and if he was really a Google employee. Via phone (sadly), he specifically referenced his @google.com email address as proof that was a real Google employee (a lie). I verified that he’s a contractor out of Arizona, through an actual verified Google employee that we already were working with.
  • Rightly or wrongly, true Googlers are vetted extensively through a rigorous interview process and are selected only if they are extremely high performers (usually through top-tier schools). Revana employees don’t appear to go through the same vetting process. Using LinkedIn, I researched our most recent ‘rep’ (the others don’t appear to have accounts). His recent background is in sales, temp staffing, and refereeing high school football. His LinkedIn profile is riddled with typos and grammatical errors, including the misspelling of the word ‘communications,’ and a sentence that ends without finishing.
  • This is unsettling. Representing yourself as an employee of a certain company – especially the industry leader, when you don’t actually work for that company, is at best misleading.

3Q Point #2 (2012): Revana employees don’t have access to your Google AdWords account.

In 2018, that’s not the case – they do have access.

  • Our most recent ‘rep’ has access to our account, including the CID, performance data, and he claims to have direct end-client contact information (more on that below).
  • The extent of that access is unclear, as it seems the company can pull data and put it into a cookie cutter report that always ends with one conclusion (spend more money). However, they likely need to request permission to make changes.

3Q Point #3 (2012): Revana employees appear to be compensated based on increasing client spend.

While I can’t be sure, that appears to be true in 2018.

  • In late 2016, our ‘rep’ sent me this direct quote as a recommendation:
    • ‘I’m sure you’re on top of this, but Google would like me to remind you to increase your bids and budgets.’
    • This is essentially him saying ‘get your client to spend more money’ without any context or support on why it’s good for the client.
  • Our ‘rep’ sent over an ‘account health report’ today. That’s a nice piece of proactive work, but it’s not aimed at helping the client. Recommending that we switch some keywords to broad match is nothing more than an attempt to get our client to spend more, regardless of benefit for the client.
  • His background is in sales – not digital marketing.
  • Many open job recs at Revana are for sales rep positions, which are typically commission based roles.

3Q Point #4 (2012): Revana employees reach out extensively when trying to make initial agency contact.

In 2018, that’s definitely true.

  • I’ve received numerous outreach attempts via email, all of which (after the initial info-gathering response) I’ve responded to with explicit no thank yous. Many of those were answered with attempted objection handling.
  • Similarly, I’ve received follow up phone calls, some of which during non business hours, all of which I never returned.
  • My partner Danny had a meeting placed on his calendar by a Revana employee without any correspondence whatsoever.
  • These all sound like something a sales company might do – but not actual Google reps.

3Q Point #5 (2012): Revana employees schedule meetings and then miss them, act rudely, or are otherwise unprofessional.

In 2018, I’ve witnessed some unprofessional behavior, although not exactly the same thing.

  • While I don’t recall any of our ‘reps’ missing meetings, they routinely send blatant canned response emails and one-size-fits-all suggestions.
  • Emails that I’ve received usually contain typos, including the miscapitalization of the word ‘AdWords.’
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