Click Here & Buy ZATO Owner, Kirk Williams' newest book on Google Ads - Ponderings of a PPCer: Revised & Expanded.
Kirk Williams
PPC Podcast

S2, E1: Why Are Google Reps The Way They Are? - with Ben Kruger, Google - PPC Ponderings Podcast

S2, E1: Why Are Google Reps The Way They Are? - with Ben Kruger, Google - PPC Ponderings Podcast

10/25/19 UPDATE: Hello Facebook Agency Visitor Person!  We’re delighted to have you visit this awesome post. About a year ago, ZATO stopped offering Facebook Ads solutions so we could focus solely on what we do best: Google Ads. Because of this, we’re always interested in partnerships with great Social Advertising agencies (like yourself, wink wink!) and we offer referral fees for signed clients!  Anyway, back to it, and happy reading…

Post Summary

Check out the latest episode by visiting your favorite podcast provider below (don't forget to leave us a review!).

Are you someone who is not normally on the PPC speaking/blogging circuit who wants to share some practical PPC ponderings with us?
Apply to be a guest here!

We wanted to start season 2 of our PPC Ponderings Podcast (you can catch our inventive story-style Season 1) with a bang... we decided to record a conversation likely to frustrate both PPC advertisers and Google executives at the same time! But hey, ticking off two groups of people on opposite ends of the spectrum is probably a good indication that we sought to have a healthy dialogue and listen to each other.

Ben Kruger, the Man, the Myth, the Legend

In this first episode of the PPC Ponderings Podcast, I chat with Ben Kruger. Ben is a Googler with an opinion (if you spend any time on PPC twitter, you know this already!).

After connecting on Twitter and LinkedIn for months, Kirk and Ben decided to have *the* conversation about Google's relationship with advertisers, the Google Rep (they call them Account Strategists) Program, advertiser adoption hesitancy, and more.

We think you'll enjoy this one since it's a candid, yet respectful conversation. Look at it as a discussion between two new friends with some major differences, but who are open to learning from each other.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

Guest Biography

At the time of recording this podcast, Ben was a Senior Account Strategist at Google tasked with scaling eCommerce brands profitably. He has since left his position at Google to become CMO of Ben sends weekly (spicy takes!) long form emails about ways to grow your business, and you can sign up for them here: Subscribe to Ben Kruger Newletter

PSSST, hey you!

Want to be a guest on the PPC Ponderings Podcast? Apply here!

Interested in PPC help for your business?

  • Check out ZATO (over $10K/mo in ad spend)
  • Check out MAKROZ (under $10K/mo in ad spend)
  • Check out ZATO's PPC consulting & setup service (get a team of smart PPCers, each with over a decade of PPC experience on the phone to ask us anything about your account)

Episode Transcript

Chris Reeves (ZATO) (00:02):

Welcome to season two of the PPC Ponderings podcast. This season we're platforming people we don't personally know well, but who do know PPC. Kirk is a big fan of making new friends so look at these episodes as friendly chats between two new friends learning about PPC together.
Today's conversation is with Ben Krueger and it is about the relationship (and often friction) between Google and advertisers. At the time of recording this episode, Ben was a senior account strategist for Google. He has since left Google to become the CMO of So we were glad to get the chance to chat with him while we could. We're excited to have you listening in on today's chat, so grab a cup of coffee as we join Ben and Kirk now.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (00:49):

All right, Ben. Thank you so much for meeting with us. It is great to have you on the podcast today.

Ben Kruger (Google) (00:54):

It's great to be here. I'm honored. Thank you.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (00:57):

Yeah, so kind of as we're doing with this, this season two for anyone who is a huge fan of season one and the format we did kind of that story and lots of editing and that sort of thing, we totally changed it up away from that. This is just more of this fun, like conversational chat sort of thing. So today we're chatting with Ben Krueger Google Rep, and we've gotten to know each other a bit on I think it's primarily been Twitter, some LinkedIn, but yeah, mostly Twitter. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So yeah, that's where I've run into you.

Ben Kruger (Google) (01:26):

I've met a lot of friends, more, I've met friends and enemies, more friends, though it's been great. I've only been on Twitter for a couple months. You guys have like, are super established. It's, it's wild. It's great. I'm really enjoying it.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (01:40):

I was gonna ask that. Why? Okay. Why did you hop in? Why, why did you start on Twitter then?

Ben Kruger (Google) (01:45):

I think I re-downloaded it when it got acquired, and then I saw like all these conversations happening and wanted to interject. You know, I've got like a newsletter. I probably started on news on LinkedIn first, but like, I like to shit post. I like to troll and like, I can't, anytime I do that on LinkedIn, I get like a ping from someone here, like, Hey, you can't do that. But on Twitter, I guess they're not on Twitter, so it's a little more tolerant, I guess.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (02:18):

No, that's funny. Yeah, no, I, I love Twitter. Like, we don't have to get into the backstory, but I, I don't, I think Twitter, like is the reason why I have my business honestly, is just like the relationships and yeah. I mean, I, I've met so many people that then would lead if, you know, in the past, like speaking or blah, blah, blah. So I don't know. I'm a huge fan of Twitter. Good, good

Ben Kruger (Google) (02:42):

Feeling. Well, actually, I think it's, I think it'll be relevant to what we wanna talk about because I've actually learned a lot. Like I, I'm at Google all the time. I'm in this bubble and talking to you guys in the community, I've realized a lot of things I've learned about other channels, platforms, but also like the issues. I mean, some of you guys go crazy with like UI changes and like I find I learned things on Twitter first before I hear about it internally. I dunno, I just gain a lot, a ton of perspective from everyone's thoughts and pushback on things that I post, or like questions that I ask. And so it's actually been a huge learning and just like gets me a broader understanding of, of things that advertisers really care about.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (03:28):

Great. Yeah, that, that's awesome. I think it's one of those things, like any industry is gonna have people who, yeah, like people who complain about the UI change literally because it's the change. But like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I don't think that should stop places like Google from listening because, you know, and, and I hate to say that, I think it's just one of those like customer service things, right? Because you also pick up nuggets of like, hey, enough people clearly, like the filters like this, so, okay. You know? That's fair. So mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, yeah. Just helpful. Yeah. Kind of the instant feedback loop for all of its pros and cons, <laugh>.

Ben Kruger (Google) (04:05):

Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (04:07):

Let's talk, so kind of as we're, as we're doing these episodes we'll move into some of that professional stuff, especially today. Like, I just thought, I mean, you and I have actually chatted a number of times about different things, especially around like, you know, whatever it might be, CPCs, pMax you know, take the shot there. And, and like today, I thought it might, it must might just be interesting to go in as much as we can into just the, the Google, the Google especially like rep relationship with advertisers. Talk about that. How could we prove it, things like that before we do that? I don't know. Let's, you know, just get personal just a little bit. Like what, what do you do for a hobbies? Like what? I don't know, like what Yeah, what's fun for you?

Ben Kruger (Google) (04:47):

I, I, I wish I had a good answer. I, I feel like I don't have time and I, so I've got two toddlers and I have no time. Like, I wake up early so I can have an hour to myself and then I have to leave for work or if I'm working from home that day, like I try to lock myself in an office, <laugh> work all day, and then it's bedtime for them and then I'm exhausted and like, we cook dinner and my wife runs a local business, so then I help, like, we chat through that at night and then that's the day. And then the weekends are like birthday parties and other kids stuff. Like, I mean, you, you have three times as many children as I do. Like <laugh>, like, I, I don't like, people are like, did you watch this show? I'm like, no, I don't have time. <Laugh>. Like, I work, I sleep and I take care of my kids. I wish I had more interesting things to talk about, but like, maybe I just work too much. Like, I used, I, I don't know, work is like kind of a hobby to me. I really enjoy writing and learning, so I'll just watch YouTube videos about marketing or whatever it may be. And like, that's good. Maybe that's my hobby. I don't know.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (05:55):

Some people like, I've found that in my career as well. Like, I do feel like there are certain times where I, I would agree with that. There's almost just something that, it's just interesting to connect with people on this that like chase this, that, or the other business type thing down. Like, I really want to figure this out. Especially, you know, like, I have a very small business, but it's, I mean, it's, it's still business. Like, it's still fun. Like, especially when you start going on some of that stuff. Like I really do try to make sure I have time for the family, but sometimes, like, there are those late night things where your brain is like, oh man, what if I change this. And there's, there actually is something like super, like, it's like a hobby in, in that regard. It's like, it's fun to do, you know and then you're like, oh, wonder what's gonna happen, you know? Now our conversion Yeah, it tripled, cuz I changed that word, <laugh>

Ben Kruger (Google) (06:45):

<laugh>, you never know. Yeah. We're just constantly thinking about these things. Yeah. yeah, I mean, I enjoy the family time. I love just like, I mean, the kid, my kids are three and a half and two, so it's just like they like will pretend to be running an ice cream shop or something. Like, I just love like being a kid, you know, just like playing with them with that. But that's really it.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (07:08):

I love that. And, and like that's, that's also to me, some of that is just, you know, you have two toddlers like that. It's just really hard to do literally anything else except that.

Ben Kruger (Google) (07:18):

<Laugh>. Yes. Exactly. <laugh>. Yeah. <laugh>. So I hope so. Oh, no, I don't hope so, but I do, you know.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (07:25):

Yeah. Yeah. I totally know. Yeah. Everyone is like, it'll, it'll go by show quick and you're like on one hand. Agreed. I don't want it to, on the other hand. Absolutely. Yeah. Not, not quick enough.

Ben Kruger (Google) (07:36):


Kirk Williams (ZATO) (07:37):

Well, cool, cool. Yeah, let's, let's get in the Google Advertiser relationship stuff. So let me start with this question. Like, how would you view, how would you view the relationship between Google and advertisers? I'm, I'm just gonna leave that way. Purposefully broad.

Ben Kruger (Google) (07:56):

I think we've made a lot of businesses successful. Like, there's a lot of cases where you give Google a dollar and they're giving you back four or five. Like that's just like in straight marketing talk. It's Google for Startups. There's a lot of educational stuff we've done, like as a bigger company, like outside of ads. I'm sure people have learned to build a business by watching a lot of YouTube. And I, I think it's done. We've done a lot of good for advertisers with ads and with outside of ads, I've been involved in projects that have helped hire, like, have placed underprivileged teenagers with small businesses who wanted to build an e-comm site for the first time. And like we train them on how to use Shopify Google ads and then paired them up with businesses to do it for them. So like, there's a lot of good that I've seen between, you know, Google and, and businesses and advertisers in I think it's, it's like an amazing thing.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (08:58):

So, so you know, as you've gotten on Twitter obviously like the, the PPCers on Twitter are gonna be probably our own brand. I, I don't even know to be honest. What's, what have your been your impressions based on what you've learned of how PPCers on Twitter, Twitter view Google?

Ben Kruger (Google) (09:25):

I think I personally, I think it's like a negativity first. It seems like a negative first mentality, quick to complain about things, quick to call out the bad things. And I don't see a lot of praise of, you know, your business. Like a lot of businesses are based on providing Google Ad services for people. Like and I, I think it's a lot of complaints and like Google is evil type comments and like, it it just like very quick to call out the negative things and I don't see a lot of positivity from the community.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (10:16):

Yeah. Huh. That's interesting. I can, I can see that. So it's, it is, it is just kind interesting to ponder for a moment.

Ben Kruger (Google) (10:27):

But it could be, I could be doing that. Like I could be, I'm putting things out that are gonna piss people off. That's fair. Maybe I'm doing it to myself.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (10:35):

That's totally fair. Like, yeah, I think that's, that's, that's partially fair. I think that's a fair, a fair statement cuz like, that's kind of a little bit of your modus operandi, right? It's just like, throw stuff out there that people could disagree with to <laugh> to start conversations and stuff like that. The flip side is, I think it's also fair, I think your original statement is, is fair though because I, I would say that, you know, every time a Google UI change, you know, happens or whatever it might be, there's just always kind of this crap, you know? Yeah, it's interesting cuz my perspective, I've, I've explained this to someone before, like I think there's, I think there's an exhaustion thing there and I'd be curious if we could like, if we could somehow like survey every PBC or things like that, it just be interesting to see like things we'd learn, right?


Most, a lot of people I know on Twitter have been in the space for years. And I wouldn't be surprised if the negativity kind of increases as the years do. And, and I think some of that would have to do, and this is some of this is my own exhaustion, I feel at times is like, I, I was telling some of this one time I was like, it's, I, sometimes I feel like if my job was that I was a car mechanic, but like every, you know, whatever the cadence would be, every few months I walk in and I'm just like, they've reinvented like what a car even looks like, you know? Sure. And so I feel like I'm not able to actually get better at really continually getting into like, how can we improve this turbo unit or whatever. And, and more like, let's just say spending endless time, like trying to adjust to new changes, if that makes sense.

Ben Kruger (Google) (12:15):


Kirk Williams (ZATO) (12:16):

That might, I think

Ben Kruger (Google) (12:17):

It's a great analogy cuz like, cars are changing, cars are going electric.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (12:23):

Yeah, yeah,

Ben Kruger (Google) (12:23):

Yeah. Teslas don't need oil changes.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (12:26):


Ben Kruger (Google) (12:27):

There's a business that's out now, like j maybe they're out in 10 years and the digital marketing landscape is completely changing with privacy, with regulations, with improvements in machine learning. Like I think it's just evolution and I, I know I'm, I'm here in this bubble, like I view them as improvements. Sure.


but I see that they're changes to the way that everyone has been doing things. And for every comp like negative complaint I see on Twitter, the people that I'm work with are killing it. So like in my head I'm throwing things out that I know are working, they're controversial because they're different, like broad matches crazy to someone who's been doing this for 10 years. Right. So like I know the things that I throw in I see working and I see them doing really, really well. So I'm confident in, in backing them up. They're controversial cause they're new and it's an evolution. So I just think it's really interesting to have that conversation. And like, I remember when Smart Shopping rolled out, it was the same as pe Like it was similar to pe the vibes were similar to Pmax and now everyone just wants to go back to smart shopping. Like, but

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (13:40):

I have found particular humor in that. That is so funny. You mentioned that. Yeah. I've not seen anyone else comment with that, but like, I remember when like when smart Shopping came out, that's exactly like, it was, it was a very negative thing. And, and, and like, and, and I, I admit to being part of that because I do think there's just what, whatever, we don't have to go down all that. There's just this senior shopping thing with like being able to target the queries and blah blah blah, blah, blah. So when Smart Shop rolled out, but let's just call it like, there was a culture of negativity around it. And, and I actually have noticed the same thing and it, it makes me same thing, laugh so much whenever someone's like, I just wanna get back to this smart shopping days. I'm like, but but wasn't everyone Yeah, Ben too, like anyways,

Ben Kruger (Google) (14:20):

Yes. That,

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (14:21):

That is not a statement by Kirk on whether or not you should immediately turn a PMM Max campaign on your account. I just think it's really funny. It's so, it's a funny observation. Yeah. yeah. And so, okay. And like here's, here's the sort of, so this conversation could turn into like this 20 hour thing where we're like going back and forth on all the various, well what about this aspect of privacy and blah blah blah, blah, blah. We, you know, we don't have that time. That's not what the podcast is about. That sort of thing. So partially why I'm saying that is because of the PBCers listening who are probably gonna be, you know, angry at me that I didn't like pin you to the wall and X, Y, Z Sure. Google reps though. So like, primarily what I wanted to chat about was not necessarily let's solve whether or not, you know, Google moving into, you know, more privacy and stuff should include automation, all of all blah, blah, blah.


The Google rep and advertiser relationship, let's kind of, let's kind of shift into that. So Google overall that's gonna turn like advertisers in, in some ways, like our direct connection to Google would be our reps, agencies in-house, that sort of thing. In that system there's been I think a lot of confusion, a lot of friction, just, there's just, there's just a whole thing about it, you know? And, and, and so some of it is, I'm, I'm curious to learn a little bit more about this system. There's some questions some people ask on Twitter that I like to, you know, ask. So like, let's just, let's just in terms of the, the Google rep system and the advertisers what do you believe is the responsibility of each party that would result in what, what you would see as a healthy, let me, let me back that up. How would you define a healthy relationship between a Google rep and an advertiser?

Ben Kruger (Google) (16:17):

I think transparency on both ends are key. I think the more that a rep can understand about a business, the better they can tailor their recommendations. And the more that an advertiser agency can understand about the reps incentives or what they personally care about or what they wanna accomplish, the better that relationship can be. You need to understand that depending on, you get different service levels depending on your investment levels. So I'm working with advertisers spending between, I dunno if I can say, let's say six to eight figures a month. And I've worked with these advertisers for years now. So there's a lot of consistency. I think the smaller businesses are working with reps that probably manage a hundred accounts. So the, the ability for them to have deep context and time with that many accounts is like virtually impossible. So the recommendations they're gonna put in front of you are probably based on averages of what the, of what they've been trained on or what they see work with similar size advertisers and you're getting things at scale, not customized as much as you may expect. Does that help like, paint a little bit?

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (17:43):

Yeah, no, it really does. I love and I think some of our questions will go into different facets, facets of that. So I really like that. It's interesting, like maybe, maybe kind of like this big picture thought that I have about the Google Rep program. And then I dunno, we can get into specifics. Like, one of the things that I have seen in the rep program overall, to your point of transparency, and, and maybe this works into also what you said about size and investment and that sort of thing would be, I don't, we, we typically, like, we're gonna be, we're gonna be smaller accounts managing than, than what you just described a lot of times. Yeah. So, so what we find oftentimes with like, at least reps that we've worked with would be that they do not pursue actually learnings about our clients.


You know, that sort of thing. So, so at the very least, you know, I guess that's, that's a question I would have is, and, and that's over years too, that we've, I've seen that with many, many reps. So no one in particular really, honestly, that just seems to be the system. It seems to be what I hear from others. So it does seem to be a systemic thing, like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, like why is that? Like, why, why don't they just start by trying to better understand what's going on with our, our businesses, our client accounts, before all of a sudden they're hopping optimizations. Cause I think that's part of what advertisers struggle with trust is from the beginning. They just feel like the reps just don't care about our goals. They just, they just care about their optimizations. That's, that's kind of a common complaint.

Ben Kruger (Google) (19:16):

Yeah. What I think happens, and I've seen it, is like, and this is another question I know you only get to, is like, you know, reps are changing every six months, twice a year, three times a year. When you ask an advertiser who's been through, if I'm your sixth rep and I'm asking you these questions that you've answered five times, like you're not really gonna entertain them. And if you do, it's like maybe a little begrudgingly. And I understand that like you've told Google this 10 times over and over again. So I, I think you do hit a point of like of hitting that, that sort of wall and like how much you want to invest in, in giving context to your new rep so that it, like, I I get both sides of it. What are your, I want to switch it a little bit and like understand your expectations from a rep. Like, I don't wanna use the words like, it's not the right analogy, but like, is it a a a right to have a rep or is it a privilege?

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (20:22):

I love that. Great question. Yeah, so the <laugh>, I've had this conversation with my reps before <laugh> that, so, so here's, I I love this cuz I would love to hear your thoughts on this. So what I, I guess here's how I see it through the lens of a, through the completely biased lens of an advertisement. I see it as like there's a mutually beneficial and really healthy business relationship between Google and the advertisers. Like Google provides this fantastic service that I, I love, I love ppc, I love paid search marketing. I think like the intent-based marketing stuff is always like, it's always been like basically my favorite marketing. And I mm-hmm. <Affirmative> even include that chapter of my book, blah, blah, blah, <laugh>. And, and so because of that, like that's, that's what Google provides and then the advertiser provides the money, the revenue, right?


So Google's, Google's revenue comes from the advertisers. And so I guess what I've always considered reps in my brain to be would be like, let's just call it the, the, the customer service support team for, for Google to like help their customers. And, and so like, you know, so, so in that sense, no, there's no, there's, there's like no right that we have, like you, you couldn't, there's no like legal, right? We have to, you know, representation within Google by a rep in, in one sense, on the flip side, you know, any sort of business relationship for the most part that you have you're gonna have customer service as part of kind of that benefit, right? And, and, and some of that is to actually help the advertiser accomplish their stuff. Mutually beneficial relationship mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that, that way if we are, we're accomplishing our goals, we're happy, we'll spend more and all that stuff.


And increasingly over the years, it seemed that that's not how Googlers see it. Like Googlers seem to see it. Like I, I've, I've actually heard our reps utilize the words like partnership before in terms of us meeting certain, like, internal objectives they have and e even if that would be like, requirements to get on a call or things like that. And I think for me, there's some level of man, what I see is our side of the partnership is, is like we're paying millions and billions of, we're, we're handing you millions and billions of dollars a year. And especially with agencies. Like agencies are like free customer service reps for Google. We're free sales members for Google, like mm-hmm. <Affirmative> mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, we, Google doesn't pay us anything. We, and that's fair. Like right, I'm, I'm happy with the relationship, which is, which is part of why I see in that sense that like, man, I would just love more help than with, with hitting our objectives and not so much pressure to be hitting these internal metrics with Google has, I, I would like them to change their mind about actually the value that we provide.


So, so now I'm really curious to hear your thoughts because I, I think that, I think right there, what I described is, at least from my perspective, like the core of where the current rep system and advertiser, things just keep missing. And I, I, I personally think that that's the core of what I described. Curious to hear your

Ben Kruger (Google) (23:47):

Thoughts. Yeah. So in large part, we're a sales team. So you said like customer support partners. I, I think there's just a disconnect between maybe the way that we go to market and present ourselves versus at the core of what we are. And I, I'll probably get in trouble for this, but I'm happy to share with you like, we're a sales team. And so, but, and then that's where I think the expectations are off. Like, you're always like a lot, not you, but like a lot of people are just like my Google rep called, they want me to increase my budget. Like, no shit, I'm a salesperson. Like, you, you wouldn't go buy a car and like complain that the guy asked you to upgrade to the next like version, like I, I don't know cars, but like, yeah, he's a salesperson. You expect that.


So, but I, I think we offered, we tried to sell while hitting your objective. So I'm not gonna put things in front of you that don't make, personally, I'm not gonna put things in front of you that don't make sense for your business. So if I understand that you can make more profit or hit your objective by this row as number or whatever your KPI is, I'm gonna put opportunities in front of you that are probably gonna come with more spend, but it's gonna deliver more success for you. That's how I like to approach working with my customers. It's like you, I want you to grow. You've told me that you wanna grow to grow, you're gonna need to spend more money. I'm incentivized to get you to spend more money, but also grow your business. And, you know, everyone wins in that regard. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I, I think this like this the, but yes, we are also here to support you and help you navigate the technical aspects of the account policy, troubleshooting, all of these things. We're here to help because it's gonna help you grow your business. But at the same time, like, you know, we're trying to, to to grow things here. Like it's, it's a business mm-hmm.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (25:46):

<Affirmative> mm-hmm. <Affirmative>.

Ben Kruger (Google) (25:49):

And I don't think that has been publicly like that is not something that is talked about. And I don't know if we're like, no one has told me not to say that, but it's just not talked about. And I feel like that's the crux of this whole, but like Facebook and TikTok, it's all the same, right? Yeah. Like, dude, like the reps are probably pretty similar and it sounds like you guys all know the incentives that everyone has, but it's just like a weird dynamic that no one talks about.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (26:17):

So the funny thing is, like, from my perspective, anyone who's been in the industry for I don't know, years, you know, knows that like that's that's what you just said is like not in any way surprising to me. So I'm not like, I'm not saying, oh gosh, I didn't know that. That's a surprise. I'm saying Yeah, no, knowing that like, I w I I wish it were different <laugh> and I, and I think like sure from Google's perspective, and here's where, here's where like, I, I just don't know. Like to me this is kind of a, it makes sense to my business brain would be, wouldn't you don't, you don't even have to answer this cuz I think this is more of like this, I'm questioning out loud, like, wouldn't it make more sense for Google rather than leaning more into the sales side of the people already financing them.


Like the car, the used car sales is an interesting one that I like to ponder. Cuz to me it's like, I like that makes sense And it's kind of like that, but it's also a little different because like, it's like, it's like the, those of us being sold to are already the ones like financing all the revenue. Like, it's like we're like paying Yeah. The we're, we're like, we're like paying the salary of the salesperson <laugh>. And, and I think because of that relationship it just, to me, I'm like, I keep thinking business wise, like, why wouldn't it make more sense for Google to start leaving the concept of sales away aside and lean more and more into the concept of customer service first knowing that as people are very happy in the space, part of what goes with that is, is oftentimes is an increase in spend and you know, that sort of thing. So growth.

Ben Kruger (Google) (27:55):

Yeah. Cause I wanna find you opportunities like, like if I just helped you with what you're doing, like maybe you'll grow 5% cuz we'll like, we'll clean up some keywords and like make better ads. Like I wanna talk to you about YouTube and get you to spend a million dollars on YouTube so that you build a bigger brand and like make and grow 50% this year. It's like, I wanna put the bigger oppor growth opportunities in front of you or show you new countries that you can be marketing in mm-hmm. <Affirmative> or like brand new categories that you're not fitting on. Like

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (28:26):


Ben Kruger (Google) (28:27):

And that gets away from like the more tactical support things

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (28:31):

And advertisers. And here's, here's my thought is because there would be an, an increase in trust cuz like no one trusts a used car salesman, but like if, but but like people, you know, people be more likely to trust here's this customer service person who's here for my good. Yeah. And when, so maybe that's why

Ben Kruger (Google) (28:49):


Kirk Williams (ZATO) (28:49):

Yeah. Triple your YouTube budget. It, it a it honestly carries more weight. I, I think Sure. Rather than knowing Yeah. As, as you said, rather than knowing like, hey, here's a salesperson. You're, you're expecting them to say that. And so even if it is like, and you've said that and we've been told that before and, and I, and I, I think I like, I genuinely do choose to believe that at least the vast majority of reps that I'm aware of, like they, they are making recommendations. They do think, yeah, I think this would help the account mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but I think from the advertiser's perspective, there would always be that thing in the brain of well sure am I being sold to like right.

Ben Kruger (Google) (29:26):


Kirk Williams (ZATO) (29:27):

So anyways okay. Question on, but it's

Ben Kruger (Google) (29:30):

Like, it's just like cap it's like capitalism, I don't know everything's like that. Right? Listen, like a very broad statement. Like, you're always be better ben matter where <laugh> <laugh>,

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (29:43):

Why can't we just all love and get along then? Oh,

Ben Kruger (Google) (29:46):

How are, how are agencies like yourself incentivized?

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (29:51):

Well, <laugh>, that's, that's an interesting one because I actually kinda, we're, we're a little different in that regard because we're just not like, so I'm personally, I, I actually struggle a little bit with that, with agencies who are really obsessed with scale, right? With scaling, cuz oftentimes, not always oftentimes scaling comes with a decrease in service, decrease in product knowledge, you know, all that stuff. So higher, higher employee churn at agencies because they're just dressed out and burned out. And so that's kind of in some ways, like that's actually why I've chosen par partially why I've chosen to go down the route of like, yeah, I, I'd like to make sure that we're not just like growing as fast as we possibly can and taking all these risks and like doing all of that just to get a bigger bottom line. So in some ways I think that I personally feel like my philosophy would be aligned with what I su what I called Google too. But also it's probably a fair comment. Sure. For odd agencies, so <laugh>,

Ben Kruger (Google) (30:59):

Well Aren a lot of agencies like paid on a percent of spend, so their incentivized to spend more, as long as it's hitting the, the goals, blah, blah, blah. I think it's similar.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (31:08):

Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I think so. And, and that's also a, a fair point in terms of, for the same reason, you know, when an agency says, Hey, you should, you should double your spend to the client. I I think if the client knows that there's a percentage of spend costs, absolutely. That being said mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, that's where to me, you know, in a similar fashion. Like, and, and that's what we, we tend to do. Like a, we, we tend to do like flat rate based on kind of like estimated scope, and we do tie it within tiered ranges of spend, if that makes sense. And some of that is just because we've, we've learned like if all of a sudden someone does double their spend, we, there's just a, there is more to do in an accountable more work, blah, blah, blah. Right?


Work. Yeah. but all that to say, like, some of that, when we make budget recommendations, like we o we often are, we are, we're often like, we're trying to bring the proof, if that makes sense. So kind of like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, hey, here's like for three months now we've been capping out a budget. Here's your, your ro like here are the budget limited notifications, like all that stuff based on our projections, if you, you know, if you increase 20%, you know, we can, we can keep spending on what we've been doing, which has been showing it. Right. so then, then, then in some ways, you know, but, but I think this is, I think it's a fair point. Let me, let me ask a question that Sam Tomlinson on Twitter asked, and you had referenced this before about about reps kind of m moving and out with certain agencies, especially maybe smaller agencies. Is there some, like, like why, why, why does that, like what's going on there in the rep system? His point, I think he specifically is making, he said like he I think he's interested in like longer term healthy relationships, right. Reps sticking with clients more mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So like why do reps move around if, if they're still Google and just, just kind of going around to different clients and, and all that stuff. What's that look like?

Ben Kruger (Google) (33:00):

Yeah, I don't know the specifics of that program. Like, I don't know the specifics, specifics of the agency program. Like I mentioned, I'm in mid-market, so there's different tiers of, of advertisers and agencies that we work with. Maybe it's a non-answer, but like one of the best things of working at Google is that you can get a job on other teams. Like there's an internal job board. So maybe people are starting their Google journey in that team and are finding other opportunities and it, they're moving throughout the organization and it's very fluid. That's my guess. I don't know enough about like, I don't know, like we wouldn't purpose, I don't think we would purposely shift people around. Hmm. I think we believe in consistency in longevity because of the, like we're, we're trusted partners and the more we know the, you know, the better relationships we have. So, I mean, there's gotta be like a different reason for it. It's not like a by design.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (33:58):

Okay. Are so, are like agency reps picking accounts? They have work that they get to work on or I don't know. A little bit of both. I don't know. Okay. I'm not sure. I would imagine, I

Ben Kruger (Google) (34:09):

Know that I'm handed, I'm handed accounts that I work with. I don't get to choose them.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (34:12):

Oh, okay. Okay. I, I would imagine. Okay. I would imagine somehow in like maybe even the incentive system works in that or anything. Yeah. can you, can you speak to the incentive system at all? The Google rep incentive?

Ben Kruger (Google) (34:28):

Well it, it varies by team that you're on. There's a mix of like different types of products we'd like, not products like bidding tactics. Things that we have identified lead to advertiser success are things that we, that some teams incentivize their reps on, trying to get advertisers to test and adopt smart bidding things that you get pitched a lot, probably

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (35:05):

<Laugh>. Yeah. that, that, that question was by Matt Sal on Twitter and yeah. Like, yeah, dear Matt, just just see whatever your rep is asking you all the time. And that's probably <laugh>, that's probably the, the incentive. Yeah.

Ben Kruger (Google) (35:19):

But they are tied like they are because we know that it works. I want to like make sure that that is said. We're not saying things because they're in the best interest of us. We have so much data and we know what tactics are working. We want to help everybody test and see the potential and opportunity that these things bring.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (35:42):

That that's fair. Although I literally ju we both know Taylor Holiday, so I can tell you, I literally just heard Taylor in my ear when you said we don't do it cuz it's best for us. I'm like, I could hear Taylor saying, I mean everyone acts out of best interest by themselves and you know, so well it

Ben Kruger (Google) (35:59):


Kirk Williams (ZATO) (35:59):

To, they've identified better

Ben Kruger (Google) (36:00):


Kirk Williams (ZATO) (36:01):

Interest that it leads to better performance and

Ben Kruger (Google) (36:03):

<Laugh> it leads to better performance, which leads to more spend, which means more satisfied customers and more growth and blah blah, blah.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (36:10):

Yep, yep, yep. Let's see. Corey Hanky had a couple of questions. Okay. He said, why are Google reps so confident in their platform and recommendations without considering the impact of marketing and advertising from other platforms or potential spend allocation.

Ben Kruger (Google) (36:31):

So we're confident in it because we see it work with hundreds of people, advertisers that we work with the other platform. Repeat that part of the question.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (36:44):

Let's see. Without considering the impact of marketing and advertising from other platforms, there's potential spend allocation. I almost wished that he was here, but I'm wondering if he's saying like, should there be more communication with Google reps in terms of like, like just, just talking about the fact of how is Facebook and TikTok and maybe like Facebook play happened, blah, blah, blah, blah. And that's, that actually

Ben Kruger (Google) (37:06):

Works here. Here's how I Yeah,

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (37:07):

I was gonna say, let me give the second part of his question maybe and that'll, that might help. Cause Yeah, because then he also says, why don't Google reps leverage the suite of Google tools such as like analytics as, as part of that search console. And, and I like, I think that might be part of that whole thing, which would be a good question of like helping with insights across, across all channels. So,

Ben Kruger (Google) (37:29):

So let me think about, let me answer the ad platform side of it first. So what I've noticed is, so what I like to do with clients is I like to understand their unit economics. I wanna find how much margin they're making on an average transaction. And that will help me understand how much they can spend on marketing without losing money. Right? So what I find when I'm doing that is that there's a big discrepancy between their current RO as Target and their break even RO as Target. And the fact that RO as targets are always like round whole numbers, like 400 or five 50 means that they're made up and they're not like really thought through. Because if you were to actually do the numbers, it would be like a more, like, it'd have a decimal point in it. So let's say someone's at five 50, but they'd make the most return.


They'd make the most profit at three 80 cause they'd get more volume and they'd get more profit from that investment, right? They'd make less per transaction, but they'd drive that many more transactions that they'd, they'd get more overall profit. So I'll say like, why don't you just drop to 360? And I think what happens in this I think is related to the question is, well I need Google to cl be more efficient because I'm inefficient in these other channels that are doing demand generation, call it tv, call it meta, call it TikTok, and I'm working on this blended roaz or marketing efficiency ratio. Right? And like, so I think maybe what he's getting at is like Google's pitching him to come way down on his RO as Target without thinking about the other channels that he's running mm-hmm. <Affirmative> because it all matters. Mm-Hmm.


<affirmative> and, and like, I think that comes down to like experience and broader knowledge of digital marketing that some reps have and some don't. That also answers his Google analytics question because I personally love, like no other team sales team or, or like has access to Google Analytics where I could s like I can literally see what you're doing every time and I can find opportunities to help you shift budget, increase your conversion rate, see, see conversion paths. And like, I can tell a better story. Like if you're doing YouTube and you're telling me it's not working in Google ads, I'll go into GM and be like, well actually it's driving all of this first click stuff and like, it's actually doing a lot for your business that you just can't see. And Google ads, it's just hard to na it's like they, they, we, you know, we're trained on Google ads not ga I know it from past lives. I've train, I've trained a bunch of people on it, but it's not part of our core curriculum. And I think he's absolutely right, like it absolutely should be to get a full picture. But then that goes to the scale thing. Like you have a hundred customers. Like you can't just poke around in, in ga all day. Like


Yeah. It, it, it's this time trade off thing. So it, I love the question.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (40:29):

So what I'm, what I'm

Ben Kruger (Google) (40:30):

Hearing this time, resources, knowledge, go ahead.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (40:33):

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I was gonna say, what I'm hearing is that when after hearing this podcast, Google takes my advice, moves to more of a customer's focus model. That means they'll also take a little bit less profit because they'll hire more reps to have less accounts per rep. So then they can dig in and do this access and provide all these business insights that'll help businesses grow and spend more. It's perfect.

Ben Kruger (Google) (40:56):


Kirk Williams (ZATO) (40:57):

We just saw, I just didn't do that during <laugh>.

Ben Kruger (Google) (41:01):

Didn't we do that during Covid, the pandemic? We hired everybody. Hired a lot of people now. Yeah.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (41:07):

Yeah. No, it's funny, I, I was gonna make my only GA four joke and that was good thing you guys didn't all train on Universal Analytics because then you wouldn't know what to

Ben Kruger (Google) (41:15):

Do. <Laugh>. I like it. I like it.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (41:20):

Oh funny. Okay. And then Melissa Mackey said, you know, what's the one thing that Google reps would like clients to ask them that they rarely get asked?

Ben Kruger (Google) (41:32):

"Hey, how are you doing?"

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (41:34):


Ben Kruger (Google) (41:37):

Ben? Yeah, <laugh> I dunno. Maybe bring some like few minute interaction to it. No, I'm joking. What was it like, Hey, what do you like

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (41:53):


Ben Kruger (Google) (41:56):

Just more like, look, I think the best reps have like a strong perspective on the market on ads products. Just like a genuine, like, what do you, like, what would you do if you were running this business? Like what do you, what am what am I not thinking about? Like, what are my competitors doing? What are, like, what are things you honestly think that I should be doing? Instead of just going through, I feel like we go through this like dance that's like, it's like such a routine. Like it doesn't need to be like that. Like, let's just like, like get to know each other and tell me like literally about your, like tell me about your business and I'll, I'll think of things cause I, I've worked with so many different types of businesses that I'll, that can apply to you that you don't have insight on. That's the beauty of working here. It's like I get this perspective on all these types of businesses. So like the more I can understand, the better I can bring in like, learnings from all these other experiences. So I think just like more genuine conversations and yeah, just like keep, like keeping it more real I guess.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (43:02):

Hmm. Yeah. Cool. Cool. Thank you for joining us today. I think we should probably wrap it up. So most of the time these are like 15, 20 minute conversations, but I figured this one would probably be longer. And I, I think people,

Ben Kruger (Google) (43:14):

I always go long. Yeah.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (43:15):

Enjoy it. <Laugh>. I think people enjoy. Well I, I talked, I talked a lot. Yeah, so yeah. So where, where can we, where can we find you, Ben

Ben Kruger (Google) (43:26):

Online? So I write a ben You can subscribe to weekly newsletter where I bring a lot of like Google Trends, customer insights that we're seeing perspectives on our products. Twitter, Ben, I think it's two underscore Kruger? No, Ben two underscore Kruger is my Twitter handle. LinkedIn, just find me Ben Krueger. I need to clean up my social handles. Just like wherever someone's talking about CPCs, I'm there. So just look there.

Kirk Williams (ZATO) (43:59):

<Laugh>. It's like the bad, it's like the Ben signal, the bad signal. Yes. It's like, like I need to, I I have a question for Ben. Say something like Yeah, exactly. Like high CPCs are really important and then like, you'll be there <laugh>, you'll like hear a disturbance and that's worse. And then you'll show up.


No, the no, the Ben Krueger thing. Like, I actually just learned that cause I was like trying to find your name so I could tag you into that, into my tweet about this episode. And I was like, man, why can't I find him that? And it's, cuz I only had done one. I went, went to the K. That actually explains it. I didn't realize there were two. So anyways. Well, cool. And they clean it up. <Laugh>. Well, there we go, Ben. Thank you. I think after this, like there should be no more confusion between advertisers at Google. We've solved everything. Great. Yeah. Cool. World peace is next. So <laugh> <laugh>, thanks for having me. That's awesome. I, I do appreciate that though. Thank you. Yeah. Have a good one. Of course.

Chris Reeves (ZATO) (45:01):

We hope you enjoyed today's conversation. Stay tuned for the next episode of the PPC Ponderings Podcast. Keep learning PPC, if you are a person with a brilliant PPC tactic that the world needs to know about, please apply to be a podcast guest online at If you're enjoying these podcasts, please make sure to leave us a review on whatever your preferred podcast provider is. But in the meantime, may the auctions be ever in your favor.

Want more free content like this delivered directly to your inbox?
Subscribe Here
Kirk Williams
@PPCKirk - Owner & Chief Pondering Officer

Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his Paid Search & Social PPC micro-agency of experts, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. His personal motto (perhaps unhealthily so), is "let's overthink this some more."  He even wrote a book recently on philosophical PPC musings that you can check out here: Ponderings of a PPC Professional.

He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero 6 years in a row (2016-2021), has written articles for many industry publications (including Shopify, Moz, PPC Hero, Search Engine Land, and Microsoft), and is a frequent guest on digital marketing podcasts and webinars.

Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, six children, books, Trek Bikes, Taylor guitar, and little sleep.

Kirk is an avid "discusser of marketing things" on Twitter, as well as an avid conference speaker, having traveled around the world to talk about Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads).  Kirk has booked speaking engagements in London, Dublin, Sydney, Milan, NYC, Dallas, OKC, Milwaukee, and more and has been recognized through reviews as one of the Top 10 conference presentations on more than one occasion.

You can connect with Kirk on Twitter or Linkedin.

In 2023, Kirk had the privilege of speaking at the TEDx Billings on one of his many passions, Stop the Scale: Redefining Business Success.

Continue reading

Find what you're looking for here: