We’ve all been there.  Your account is running as usual.  You’ve been working on optimizing for weeks and you’re finally starting feel like things are going in the right direction.  Maybe you are managing more than just your company’s paid search efforts so you don’t log in and check your account metrics for a day or two, or maybe a week (but we hope not that long).  That’s when it happens…your entire account (or a major campaign, ad, or keyword) is offline and has been for 2 days!  What’s going on?  How do we fix it?  And, what was the damage???

Today we want to talk about those emergency PPC situations, and how we, as a group of search engine marketing experts, can help avoid them in the first place.

Ads and campaigns can go down for multiple reasons.  It is possible an ad or keyword was declined due to a policy guideline or trademark issue.  You may have a problem with billing in terms of the credit card on file or the account being over a credit limit. Your account may have also potentially reached an IO (“media contract”) end date you weren’t aware of.  There are many things going on in your daytoday life, both in and out of work, and without the proper safety nets in place the potential for a weekday fire drill is always there.

Hopefully you’ve never experienced these types of events, but we can promise you they are real occurrences that happen every day to advertisers around the globe.

We’ve compiled a list of the top four things every pay-per-click manager should be doing to make sure their ads are running properly at all times, without any hiccups.  More importantly, if anything does happen, you’ll be the first to be alerted of the issue so you can immediately address it.

Without further ado, here’s your Elite SEM PPC safety guide:

Elite SEM Search Account Safety Guide:  Our Top Four SEM Safety Tips

Safety Tip #1: Make sure an email address that you check regularly and/or comes to your phone is set up for important email account notifications!

  • As the account manager (or someone responsible for the performance of a search, display, or remarketing account), it is of the utmost importance to make sure an email address, either work or personal, is linked to receive important notification emails, including ad disapprovals and billing issues.
  • As PPC accounts tend to switch managers over the years, it’s very possible that your email is not linked to receive notification emails for one or all of the accounts you manage.
  • If you want to be on top of any and all happenings, make sure you have an email account linked to each account you’re managing.


To add an email address to your Google account for notifications follow these steps:

Log in > go to the My Account drop down > Select Account Access > Click the “invite other users” button > Add your Email

Expert Insight: What can I do to link multiple accounts to my email address when Google only allows my work email to be linked to one account?

It’s a known issue from industry insiders that Google only allows a singular email address to be linked to one Adwords account.

There are a few “workarounds” for this issue.

Option 1

  • You can create a new Gmail address to be linked for each specific account you manage.  Set up a Gmail account for each account you want to receive emails and then set that account to forward all emails to your one primary email address.

Option 2

  • At Elite SEM, if you add a + parameter after your name in our email addresses (Example: [email protected]) all emails sent to that address will forward to [email protected].
  • This second option needs to be set up by an admin who handles your email domains and requires setting up specific email aliases or you need to be using Gmail as your email server.
  • For us, this is our preferred method of linking to multiple accounts.


Safety Tip #2: Have a secondary/backup credit card on your account (not applicable for invoiced accounts).

  • One of the most common reasons advertisersads go down on any of the search engines is due to issues with credit card billing.
    • Maybe your CEO made a large purchase and put your entire company over your limit
    • Maybe you got a new credit card and haven’t updated your information in your SEM account.

There are many reasons why problems arise.  The question is what do we do to protect ourselves?

  • Adwords allows accounts to have a secondary card on file for billing purposes if, for whatever reason,there is an issue with the primary card.
    • Why not take advantage?  Follow the steps below.

To add a secondary credit card to your Google account, follow these steps:

Log in > Go to the billing drop down > Go to billing settings > Enter a new form of payment different from your primary card

Safety Tip #3: Find your Yahoo/MSN IO end date and put a reminder in your calendar one month before this happens (applicable to Google as well).

  • Finally, an SEM safety tip where we’re specifically thinking about Bing/Yahoo!
  • Within your Bing Ads account, there is an end date from your latest account IO.
    • Knowing that your account has an end date that is ticking ever-closer, you’d think that date would be featured in bold when you log into your account, especially if you’re not seeing any traffic, right?  Wrong!
  • There is now a section in Bing Ads accounts under Accounts & Billing > Insertion Orders that will give you your specific IO information.
  • Our recommendation is to add a calendar invite for yourself one month before the IO end date for any of the accounts you manage so you don’t get caught and lose traffic due to IOs expiring.
  • From our experience, it takes a little bit of investigating to actually realize why your account is offline when your IO expires.
  • Since it’s your responsibility as the account manager to stay on top of issues like this, we recommend taking a look at this section of your Bing Ads and/or Google account so that you know the IO end date.
    •  If you can’t find it, contact your Yahoo/Bing/Adwords representative and find out that important date!

Safety Tip #4: Setup automated reporting that gets sent to your email address to ensure things are going smoothly on a daily basis.

  • Last but not least in our list of Elite SEM safety tips, is to create automated daily account reports to make sure everything is running smoothly in your account.
  • There are many potential pitfalls your SEM program might run into these reports help catch them right away.
  • Examples:
    • Maybe something happened with your tracking code (like it being removed or changed).
      • While you normally see 50-100 conversions per day, if that drops down to 0 you know there is a potential problem.
      • If you are not seeing any conversions in a report, it would obviously be a huge red flag that something is wrong.
  • Seeing account or campaign spend very low when it’s normally much higher is another example of a problem that a recurring report could help you spot before things get out of hand.

To set up a recurring report in your Google account, follow these steps:

Setting up a recurring report for multiple accounts:

Log in to your MCC > go to the Client reporting drop down > Create report > Select the options of the specific report you would like to create > Click Email and schedule report > Select who you would like to get the report and select the frequency > Hit create

Setting up a recurring report for one single account:

Log in to your account > Hit the download button on the type of report you’d like to pull directly in the interface (campaign report being the most likely) > Click Email and schedule report > Select who you would like to get the report and select the frequency > Hit create

  • To get these types of reports sentto your main personal or work email, you MUST be linked to the specific account
    • But, if you’ve followed all of our tips, then that shouldn’t be an issue!


There you have it.  The four Elite SEM safety tips every online marketer should know.  Always better to be safe than sorry.

So go do yourself a favor and link your accounts to your email ASAPWhile you’re there, also make sure you add in that extra credit card and get your IO end date (whichever is applicable to your account), and set up some recurring reports.  It definitely can’t hurt!  We guarantee that you don’t want to be the last person to realize there’s a major issue with your online marketing account.

A special thanks to Zach Paul of Elite SEM Philadelphia for helping me write this article for the Elite SEM blog.


If you have more safety tips that you use post them in the comments, in my Google + community for Search Engine Marketing ( http://bit.ly/U559nE ),  or email me at [email protected].

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