A Tale Of A Canceled Adwords Account


The word “cancel” has many negative connotations. right?

And the last thing you want is to have a client cancel their Adwords account.

We have had an interesting experience at Archology with a PPC search account in our MCC getting canceled – by Google?

Imagine seeing this lovely red message in one of your paid search accounts when you come into the office on a Monday morning:


The account had sufficient funds, the credit card online had a valid expiration date,  and no one had logged into the account to make changes since my last updates the day before.  The client had also not logged in; in fact, their login had expired.

Which turned out to be the key to the problem.

In reporting the problem to Google, they stated that if an account in an MCC has a client login associated with it that has not been used for a period time (in this case, it had been about 14 months), Google will cancel the account. However, we did not receive any notifications to our MCC email, and since the client’s login had expired, neither did they.

Google admitted that this does happen, and that a lot of people don’t catch it – which is really scary, because part of managing a PPC account is looking for things that seem – well, off.  Like your account being paused or not running.  We caught this early in the morning, but little did we know it would take 3 days to get it fixed.

Part of the problem what that things Google asked us to do simply didn’t work.

To start off,  Google asked us to create a new Adwords account to be the “Independent Google login”outside of the MCC. They sent  an invitation to this new login to reactivate the account, and we received this message:

“We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are unable to process your request at this time. Our engineers have been notified of this problem and will work to resolve it. Please note that using your browser’s back button in AdWords can increase the likelihood of errors. If you think this was the cause of your error, please try again without using the back button.”

So – what the heck does that mean?

When this occurred, Google suggested clearing cache and using different browsers – no dice.

Then Google asked us to make a payment to the account which should activate the account, but this also didn’t work because the account was listed in Adwords as “canceled” – and you can’t make a payment to a canceled account.

At this point I’m wondering – does Google really know how to fix this?

Finally on Day 3 – we were able to get the account activated again after making a change to the billing profile, saving it, and changing it back to its original settings.  Why or how this works is beyond my comprehension – it’s almost as if changing the billing profile “triggered” the account to activate again.

Lessons learned? I would suggest checking all client accounts in your MCC to ensure that you don’t have a client-linked login that expired.  Google did confirm with me if you add a new client to your MCC, and do not have a client email associated with it, that may become a problem. They suggested that you add one, because Google will periodically check the account to see if a client login exists. Which we see the reasoning behind, but realistically, a lot of clients hire an agency so that they don’t have to think about these things. It seems like a phone verification like they use for Google Places might be more effective and less punitive.

A good rule of thumb in general is to  always check billing to make sure everything is good, and be proactive.  Check the credit cards to ensure they are not close to expiring.  And check your client logins – if they are expired, you might find yourself in a situation that isn’t easy to resolve.

About Diane Pease

Diane is Paid Search Director at Archology. In addition to doing paid search, she enjoys spending time with her teenage son and daughter, taking care of her two dogs, and holds a senior 1st degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.