I felt like somebody pulled the rug from under my feet.
Did it really say I spent 12.000 in one night?
The budget for a day was 3000.
2010. It was my third year as a Google ads specialist. I just turned senior and got my first 7 figure client a few months earlier.
I had helped to reach their YoY growth and spent a big chunk of my time every day in the account.
Honestly, I loved my work back then. But I was driven for the wrong reasons.
The agency I worked for just launched its new employee commission model (they did that every other quarter) and this one actually could benefit the smaller budgets too.
We managed accounts 50 to 500k a month in Germany.. but in the Netherlands (significantly smaller, for those that don’t know) we had smaller budgets to play with. That meant we had smaller commissions as well.
Until I got that big ass corporate 7 figure revenue client in.. I actually was able to become part of the (serious) fun.
Eager as I was, I managed to grow and accelerate the client month over month, and with my direct contacts (online marketing team) all was great simply because things were running great.
In the end, commissions were based on quarterly goals and based on how much service fee your client brought in.
At a certain point we saw opportunities in display. Looking back I I can still recall that brilliant idea. Category interest based targeting.
We would be targeting people on sites that had a topic evolving around the products our client was selling. Office supplies.
I booked that category.
I uploaded the image ads.
I set the budget.
I enabled it.
I went home and enjoyed my private life.
I remember I was excited because the budget I thought I had set would push up the service fee more and our overall
target would -even if we’d not generate any conversions- not be affected negatively. So I would probably hit my quarterly goal!
The next morning I opened up my dashboard and looked at the numbers as I always did.
And I didn’t see the daily 3 to 4k spend.
I saw it was 7k. That must have been wrong.
I refreshed. I checked again. This time in Google Ads (We were using our own tools).
It still said 7k. And while I was confused, I figured it wasn’t that bad.. I could explain that hick up right? I set the budget incorrectly.. so they got a lot of impressions and clicks that could lead to future buyers.. (yeah, that bullshit excuse really occurred to me).
Then it hit me. This was only the spend from the moment I activated the campaign, to midnight.
What happened since then? I checked the stats of today and I saw I spent another 7k right until that moment!!
I spent Fourteen Thousand Euros on Display. In less than 16 hours.
I hear you think: I thought you said the Netherlands was such a small country?
It was and still is. But that only counts if you target the country.
Turned out I targeted ALL countries.
I spent 9k on DUTCH ads targeting US and Russian citizens alone!
Man, I freakin’ panicked.
I first tried to contact Google, who were willing to credit us for 2000 (so generous, right!).
Then I contacted my team lead in Germany, who comforted me but told me I should own this and explain what happened.
So I did.
I can tell you.. that was a long 2 hour car ride to the customer. I went there only to find out that they were angry as hell but respected my courage to own up to my mistakes.
I ended up giving up my commission as part of the solution.. The agency I worked for credited the client (which is the only right thing to do).. but reconsidered their commissions based on client fees not long after.
You see, if you’re doing it for the money… you’re doing it out of greed. Not out of a place of care.
It doesn’t make sense to put targets out there just based on budget spend anyways. It’s important you serve and care first.
Put in the work.
And mistakes happen, sure. But be sure to own them and learn from them.
My mistake of being fast and uncareful, lead to me losing the customer 3 months later. Despite the good results I had.
Unfair? Maybe. But sometimes you have to start with a clean slate.
On the other hand, the tools we were using got an important upgrade sending out warnings if you forgot to set location targeting or set a daily budget that was higher than the average of the previous days.
It took a while to recover from that hit. But the second I decided to let go chasing commissions, I started becoming more successful. My clients were even happier. And I benefited from them being successful.
All because I focused on the right input.
Today I’m even more obsessed with doing the right things every single day rather than focusing on the (possible) end goal.
If you put in the work that fits the outcome consistently in the first place, that outcome will become inevitable.
No need to rush or force things.
Just trust that slow and steady wins the race.
ps. the picture is from 2012. Vincent and I go way back and shared many rollercoaster rides together. And don’t you think he looks pretty without a beard too?