At Phoenix Media, we often work with clients who’ve had some experience with Google Ads in the past. Whether it’s something they are currently doing or tried but is now paused, we always find it useful (and if possible) to be able to get access to the Ad account to give it a quick review.

We thought writing a blog post would be useful in outlining the main areas we find issues, so if you are currently running a Google Ad campaign that is underperforming, you may find some of the below points useful to check yourself.

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is an online advertising platform offered by Google. It enables businesses of all sizes to create and display ads that appear on Google’s search engine results pages, websites within the Google Display Network, and even YouTube videos.

Google Ad Campaign Choices
These are the current choices available in Google Ads

The core principle behind Google Ads is the use of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, where advertisers bid on keywords relevant to their products or services. When users search for these keywords or visit websites related to them, the ads can appear, allowing businesses to reach a highly targeted audience. Google Ads offers a range of ad formats, including text ads, display ads, video ads, and more, making it a versatile tool for promoting products or services, increasing website traffic, and driving conversions.

How to grant access to your Google Ads account.

In order to review existing accounts, we need to be granted a minimum of Read Only access to the Ad account.

Access levels in Google Ads

This will take you to an option to choose the level of access you wish to grant. Here you can simply enter the email address of the person you wish to grant access *Note this must be a Gmail email address.

Allowed Domains

You may need to change the preferences in the ‘Allowed domains’ to either the persons’ email i.e. or or remove restrictions altogether.

At Phoenix Media, as we have multiple staff who can look over the account, we prefer to request access via our MCC (My Client Center). For this, we require the 10-digit customer ID number which is found in the top left corner once you are logged in.

Customer ID Google Ads

Areas for improvement

Now we’ve covered some basics of Google Ads, here are some of the common areas for improvement we find when reviewing existing Ad accounts.

Wrong use of Match types

Match types in Google Search Ads will determine when and how your Ad will show. A well setup Ad account will use a mixture of Broad, Phrase, and Exact match terms to make sure you’re Ad only shows to relevant terms, but is not so limited you struggle to spend your budget. A common issue we find is when accounts use lots of broad terms and variations. Broad, by definition is very broad. If you are using Broad terms, you generally only need one or two to cover the entire subject.

Errors in Conversion Tracking

Another common issue we find is in conversion tracking. In Google Ads, there are a number of ways you can set up conversion tracking.

Conversion Tracking in Google Ads Menu

Whether its using Google Ads itself, or importing from other channels such as Analytics, we often find the conversions are not correctly setup, or they are too far down the funnel to have any significance in the campaign. As with all digital marketing, conversion tracking is a vital part of the measurement process.

No Remarketing

Every campaign will have some level of conversion rate. Whether its 1% of 50%, the fact is the majority of traffic which comes to your website will leave without converting. Therefore, Remarketing banners should always be used to show to these viewers to remind them to come back to purchase.

Remarketing graphic
Remarketing is a great way to reach an audience who have already shown some interest

The great thing about remarketing is its likely your website audience will be relatively small, so a remarketing campaign using a CPC bidding method is a great way to reach back to that audience for a low cost.

Wrong Bidding Strategy 

There a many different bidding strategies to choose from in Google, long gone are the days where we need to set a manual bid for each keyword (although that is still available).

Google Bidding Strategy Options

It’s important to understand each bidding strategy, and when its best used. This would be a whole topic in itself, however in our experience, we generally use Max Conversions or Target Impression share.

Wrong Location Settings

This is a small change, which can have a big impact. In the location settings, you have 2 choices.

Location Settings Google Ads

The first meaning, if someone shows an interest in the area you are targeting. i.e. if you run a hair salon in Asoke, and want to target terms around Hair Salon + Asoke, and set a 2km target radius around the shop, the first option, the Ad would still show to everyone (no matter where they were located) if they search for Hair Salon + Asoke.

The latter option means users have to be physically in a given location for the Ads to show.

Low Ad Strength

The Ad Strength replaced the quality score if a Text Ad, in relation to the target Keywords. Google now gives the indication of Poor’, ‘Average’, ‘Good’ to ‘Excellent. Often when reviewing campaigns, we see a lot of Ads with Poor Status.

Google Ad Strength

Campaign structure

Perhaps the biggest sign of an inexperienced Ad manager would be the way the Account is structured. This is something that requires a good understanding of the product or service and lots of experience in creating and modifying ad campaigns but is very important when it comes to scaling up a campaign, controlling budgets, and testing new keywords. In Google Ads, there are some settings, such as budget, which are only controlled at the campaign level, therefore it’s important to have a structure that allows the campaign budgets to be split accordingly.

Negative keywords

Negative keywords work in the opposite way to Target Keywords, in the sense they both have match types, but negative keywords will prevent your Ad from showing when used in a Search query.

Negative Keywords in Menu

When reviewing campaigns we often find negative terms are incorrectly used, which results in Ads showing, and using budget for irrelevant terms.

Ad extensions

Ad Extensions are an ever-evolving part of Google Ads, at the moment (as of Sept 2023) the available Google Ad Extensions include:

Business Name and Logo



Structured Snippet


Lead Form


Affiliate Location




Each extension is fairly self-explanatory and using all available or relevant extensions will likely give you a chance at a better Ad Rank and CTR. We often find that very few Ad extensions are being utilized.

Account not linked to Analytics

Although Google Analytics and Google Ads are tools from the same company, unless they are linked most of the data won’t be shared. In Analytics you won’t see the Ad account data, and in the Ad account, you won’t be able to see the Analytics data.

Linked Accounts in Google Ads

You also need to link the accounts in order to import conversion and audiences, so linking the accounts is an easy step that is often missed. We often find that there is no Analytics linked, or more recently they are still linked to the old GA.


So that concludes our post on the most common issues we find when reviewing existing Google Ad accounts. Appreciate we haven’t gone into too much detail, as every account is different and they all pose slightly different approaches and feedback. If you’d like us to review your Google Ad account, or would like to talk to us about helping manage your campaigns, feel free to get in touch with one of the team at Phoenix Media today.


  • Published on : Tuesday September 12, 2023

About the author

As the managing partner for Phoenix Media, Rob brings over 10 years’ experience in digital marketing and running successful agencies in the UK, Australia and Thailand. Starting in a sales role he has covered all aspects of the agency from sales and service to technical ad operations. Reach him directly on

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