I like free things just like anyone else, but in my 34 years of living on this planet I have learned that with Free there is always a cost. Anytime a business offers something for free there should be a financial incentive for them to do so. A Lawyer offers a free consultation knowing that a percentage of those consults will become customers. A car wash offers free gas with purchase because they have offset the costs.
These are obvious examples of where the business is incentivising potential customers with a Free offer so that they can grow their business. Other times it can be more subversive and more difficult to identify where the business is getting a benefit.
This morning as I perused the daily deluge of email newsletters for online advertising I saw this “New [PPC Management Company] tool to map keywords for performance”. The article talks about Wordstream’s new service which analyses your Adwords account and tells you all sorts of neat things about it. Seeing as how I like Free and also have many AdWords accounts that can always use more analysis I went to the [PPC Management Company] site to learn more.
The first question in my head is: “How will [PPC Management Company] be able to see what is happening in my Adwords account?” This was quickly answered when they asked for my Adwords username and password. Naturally I am not going to be giving that info over to anyone without some type of contract in place to keep them from going to town on my account and credit cards. In order to get the Free analysis you have to give them the keys to your business. Big red flag moment.
The lesson learned here is to always be interested in Free offers but be just as wary of what you have to give up. In this case while you might get a free analysis of your PPC campaign you are also completely opening up your business to severe damages. If you need analysis of your business I suggest talking with a person rather than blindly handing over the keys and hoping for the best.
As a footnote here the WordStream page that asks for your very sensitive Adwords account information is not even HTTPS. This means that you are sending a 3rd party access to your Adwords account with zero encryption so anyone who wants to watch the packets from this page can also gain access to your Adwords account.
Since [PPC Management Company] is an Adwords certified partner, as indicated all over their website, I would think that Google would have a problem with this practice. What do you think about Free offers like this one?