5 Reasons To Be Wary Of Hiring A Google Premier Partner


If you’re looking to hire a digital marketing agency, what are the key steps you take? Your search likely starts with trying to find an agency that has experience in your business niche. Maybe you read the agency’s reviews on Google and their socials? You probably also check out their website to see the results they’ve achieved for clients. These are all fantastic criteria to use and a great starting point.

Sometimes you might see agencies promoting themselves as a “Google Premier Partner” and think it sounds impressive. You think it means they’re great at getting results for their clients, right? Wrong! The reality is that this is often not the case and it hides a more sinister truth which is why we don’t recommend hiring Google Premier Partner agencies. This might surprise you, but it all comes down Google’s criteria for partners to get designated to this supposed Premier level.

What’s the Issue?

While the “Google Premier Partner” badge may seem like a stamp of approval, it’s important to understand the criteria behind this. Contrary to what you might imagine, being a top Google Partner has little to do with delivering great results or client satisfaction and more to do with how much money they make for Google. In fact, the majority of factors revolve around how much money an agency can get clients to spend on Google Ads and other Google products!

5 Reasons to Be Wary of Google Premier Partners

The five metrics Google uses for its Premier Partnership program are also the five reasons we advise business owners to run a mile when they want help with their paid ads online or other digital marketing services. Let’s take a look at these five criteria further.

#1. Growth Measured by Ad Spend From Existing Clients, Not Results

The first criteria for becoming a Premier Partner is based on “existing client growth”. While you’d expect this to measure the return on investment (ROI) or success of the ad campaign, you’d be wrong. Instead, this actually measures an agency’s ability to get their clients to spend more money on Google’s platforms continually! Google is looking for agencies that increase in their paid ads budgets, and they measure year-on-year ads spend growth to determine who will make it into their Premier program.

#2. Growth Measured By Ad Spend From New Clients, Not Results

The second item on Google’s list is “new client growth”. Again, you’d probably think this means Google looks at how many new clients the agency gets and sees this as a result of agencies generating an excellent ROI for their clients. Shockingly this isn’t the case. This criterion measures what an agency brings to Google in year-on-year ads spend growth and overall ads spend by first-time Google Ads clients.

#3. Client Retention Based on Google Ad Spend, Not Results

Google’s Premier Partners are also evaluated on “client retention”, but not in the way you might think. To us, this should mean how well an agency retains client business every year, based on the results they produce and client satisfaction. This is absolutely not the case. In fact, the client retention metric specifically refers to how much of a client’s’ ad spend is retained on Google’s platforms! Google assesses the percentage of clients with active Google Ads spend who are retained year-on-year.

#4. Incentivised to Use More Google Products, Not What’s Best for the Client

The “Product diversification” metric rewards agencies for using multiple Google advertising products, such as Google Ads, YouTube, Remarketing, Apps, and Google Shopping campaigns. While diversification can be beneficial in plenty of cases, the emphasis used by Google is on having agencies use more of their products wherever possible. This incentivises agencies to push clients to use products that are often not the most effective channels for the campaign goals and budget.

#5. Prioritising Total Ad Spend Over Good Strategy for Clients

The final “annual ad spend” criterion directly encourages agencies to try and get their clients to spend more money on Google Ads, regardless of whether that spend is generating a positive ROI. Basically, the more money Google Partners get their clients to spend, the more they’re rewarded, regardless of how happy agency clients are about the results they get. This approach leads to agencies prioritising Google Ads spend over developing effective, data-driven strategies that are tailored to the client’s needs.

Making Sure Recommendations Are in the Client’s Best Interest

You might be wondering how can any of these criteria be in the best interest of the client? In truth, we can’t see any benefits except for those that go to Google and to agencies. When it comes down to it, the metrics for becoming a Google Premier Partner are primarily focused on generating more revenue for Google, not on delivering the best possible client results. This clear conflict of interest worries our professional team hugely and is the type of information we like to educate our clients on.  

What’s Next?

While being a Google Premier Partner offers perks to agencies, business owners need to understand that this definitely doesn’t equate to exceptional performance, ROI or a client-centric approach.

When you’re searching for the right marketing agency on the Gold Coast or beyond for your paid ads or SEO needs, please look for those who offer transparent reporting, proven track records, and a genuine commitment to driving positive returns on investment for clients rather than flashy badges or partnerships. Feel free to contact us today for more information about Vastly and how we can help you achieve your business goals the right way.