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Should I consider hiring an agency to manage my online advertising?

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Community Manager Zee Community Manager
| ‎30-04-2012 12:19 PM
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Last edited 02-05-2012 12:25 PM by Zee

Some of you have asked several times what is the benefit of using an advertising agency. We'd like to know more. Do you use an agency to manage your online advertising? Why or why not?

 

For agencies: Who do you think should use agency and why? 

 

Share your thoughts and opinions with the rest of the users.

Zee
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Re: Should I consider hiring an agency to manage my online advertising?

Reply to Zee
| ‎30-04-2012 12:31 PM
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I work for an agency. I spend 40 hours a week focused on customer accounts and the ppc landscape. 

 

1. Experience, I have more than 6 years of experience deploying online marketing campaigns and 4 years experience with Google Adwords. 

 

2. Time, I invest the time to understand the industry everyday. I spend time reading blogs, keeping up with the communities, etc. 

 

3. I too am a business owner, I understand your tight budgets and your need for the best ROAS possible. 

 

 

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Re: Should I consider hiring an agency to manage my online advertising?

Reply to Zee
| ‎30-04-2012 02:43 PM

I’ve worked both the agency side and internal analyst. (I currently run an agency – so I am a bit biased.)

Like @Dustin_S, I find that most companies who run PPC internally don’t necessarily have a well optimized campaign. Top reasons are:

 

1)      SEM Guy is responsible for many other things too e.g. SEO, landing pages etc.

2)      SEM Guy just doesn’t know PPC best practices, and the company doesn’t even know it (because no one else in the company knows PPC)

3)      Internal SEM person may be good & knowledgeable but doesn’t keep up with times (many times because of above – they have multiple responsibilities)

4)      Burnout – having worked in-house, I can tell you that I’ve gotten burnt out. Even as an agency, you sometimes burn out by looking at the same campaign or account for months, days or years. However, in a performance-dedicated SEM agency, multiple heads can look at the same account with fresh perspective. I’ve found this invaluable.

 

On the flip side, there are advantages to having a PPC guy in-house

 

1)      Dedicated optimization – Sometimes, an agency just won’t give the proper attention to a PPC account. (I’d like to say we never do that J ). Especially in a problematic account, where say conversion rates / landing pages just aren’t done right, or other outside issues. The agency may just throw up their hands, while the in-house PPC guy has his job at risk, and will make it work.

2)      Lower (perceived?) cost – PPC agencies (the good ones) don’t come cheap. The more you are spending on PPC, the more it seems to make sense to do PPC internally. (Our hourly needs to run between $100-$250, while a good employee really maxes out around $50-$60).

 

In short, the SEM agency needs to continuously justify why they should be paid their premium fee.

Our sales pitch is that our experience with not only the technical best practices, but the ad copy optimization side as well, out-performs what an in-house guy could do themselves. As long as we are generating enough money to justify the difference between having an internal guy and hiring us, it makes sense to hire an agency.

 

In our eyes, there are ~3 categories of PPC spenders.

 

1)      Small guys – e.g. spending under $4k/month. The challenge with these accounts is that Google has started focusing on their top 5 advertisers. Personally, our type of agency won’t even touch those accounts. The agencies that do are doing pump-and-dump. It may be worth hiring them or someone to do a one-time optimization, and then have it managed internally.

2)      Medium size clients e.g. spending between $5-$50k – These size clients don’t generally justify a dedicated PPC analyst. We’d recommend hiring an agency, as a non-dedicated PPC guy will just not get the same results. You can often squeeze a decent amount of hours out of the agency you hire.

3)      Large Clients – These are the clients with the $50k+ budgets (I’m lumping this all the way to the tens of millions/month). The larger clients have a harder time justifying an agency, as they can get the work done in-house for cheaper. However, with them it’s even more imperative to have good teams on the account. Additionally, CEO’s / marketers won’t necessarily be able to audit the performance of their teams. Often times, the smarter guys will have an SEM agency to do the dirty work, while having an internal guy manage the team. Other times, they will have a dedicated analyst for PPC. I think this is a much more “personal”, situation dependent decision. There are benefits both ways. Agency expense isn’t really an issue – as they can add enough value to the account. Flip side, is they can have a team of dedicated professionals, or multiple eyes on the account internally.


I’d love to hear what other people have to say about using an analyst vs. an agency

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Re: Should I consider hiring an agency to manage my online advertising?

Reply to Zee
| ‎02-05-2012 04:15 AM

Hi Zee,

 

I can comment from the agency side…. I guess the thing to remember is AdWords is a Tool, a really excellent tool, but still a tool.  Advertisers still need to develop plans for their paid search advertising, ways to track their performance and ROI and some don’t have the time or know-how to get that done successfully.

 

I think anyone can learn AdWords if they are willing to invest the time and money in the learning curve but most business owners need to concentrate more on manage their business.  Any type or size of business can benefit from an agencies help, they just to need to find the right agency to fill their specific needs.  There are agencies that work with small to large advertisers as well as agencies that provide audit services for advertisers who want to self-manage but can really benefit from one on one consulting with an expert.

Kim Clink
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Re: Should I consider hiring an agency to manage my online advertising?

Community Manager Zee Community Manager
Reply to Kim_Clink
| ‎02-05-2012 05:28 PM
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Thank you Kim, Dustin, and David for your posts. I found it really interesting to read. 

 

@all: What's your say on this?

Zee
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Re: Should I consider hiring an agency to manage my online advertising?

Reply to Zee
| ‎03-05-2012 12:58 AM

Looking at things from an individual perspective (haven't worked for an AdWords agency, but I assume software development is not that different):

 

When working with an agency you get

 

  • a contract (it's up to the client to make it as favourable as possible, but sometimes clients are not aware of what should be featured in such a contract)
  • a quick-in, quick-out possibility, within the contract's bounds
  • higher overall, accumulated experience, at your disposal
  • higher costs (the agency needs a profit)
  • somewhat different objectives (as much as the agency tries to hit every target for their customers, they still have to hit theirs). One of these objectives is "stay profitable", and this sometimes translates in quick and dirty solutions (although this probably happens when the client has no budget for a more thorough approach.)

 

Hire someone and you'll

 

  • need more time to find the right candidate, and sometimes you have to go through many interviews to settle for one and still that person may turn out as not quite made for that job
  • get lower overall costs if that person is very effective, otherwise you might end up paying the same or more
  • get a tighter integration between the rest of your team and the adwords pro in your company (if you work with a company you need to get in line, you don't just drop into their office and ask them to perform a quick fix, you don't go on coffee breaks with them, and they don't get in touch with your developers, marketing team, etc., or don't do it as often)
  • find it harder to part ways with that person if things don't turn out as expected

 

As David said, what you don't get, when working with an agency, is very detailed attention to all sorts of issues which are very client-specific (and which could involve AdWords, Analytics, server-side programming, database integration and such). And that's because in order to stay profitable agencies need to rely on automation, they can't reinvent the wheel with every customer. But, unlike a business owner trying to understand something from AdWords, or an employee converted to AdWords from whatever previous (multi)role, an agency can surely set up an account properly and not make silly and sometimes costly mistakes.

 

I'll have to say that everything I've said is valid not just for AdWords, but for any kind of business where you can either hire someone or outsource the job.

 

Ideally, I think one should have a/several super-adwords pro(s) within its own ranks, and rely on some agencies to fall back on whenever necessary. Of course, we all dream of having our employees use all their 8 hours for profitable work, and in case we get more than that, we'd love to outsource it and (still) make a buck :smileyhappy:.

 

In the end, of course, "it depends". It depends on your (the client) objectives, the time you can afford to wait before you meet them, your budget, the availability of good and cost-effective agencies and also the availability of good professionals willing to work for you. If time is critical and you don't already have trained employees, it's certainly an agency. If you have a long-term strategy, you can wait, and tight integration, frequent communication, quasi-instant changes are necessary, and if you can afford to pay someone a salary for that, it's an employee.

 

There could be a third possibility as well, working with an agency and have a dedicated person/team which is at your disposal 24/7, or let's say 8/5, but I assume that's strictly for very large budget customers.

 

My 2 cents.

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Re: Should I consider hiring an agency to manage my online advertising?

Reply to AdWiser
| ‎03-05-2012 10:32 AM
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@Adwiser - I love the breakdown. Very accurate.

 

However, one  little objection - is that depending on the agency, you can still get the above and beyond service. (Pat self on back.)

We tend to help our clients with:

 

1) Tracking challenges

2) Bringing back market insight (what sales/marketing strategies and copy work on PPC, and can be copied to other mediums)

3) Website conversion optimization

 

This is all because we have an accountability to produce results for the client, and (gasp) we actually care about our clients.

 

So I would phrase some of these things as strengths/weaknesses. :smileywink:

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Re: Should I consider hiring an agency to manage my online advertising?

Reply to david-nationalp
| ‎03-05-2012 11:23 AM

david-nationalp wrote:

@Adwiser - I love the breakdown. Very accurate.

 

However, one  little objection - is that depending on the agency, you can still get the above and beyond service. (Pat self on back.)

We tend to help our clients with:

 

1) Tracking challenges

2) Bringing back market insight (what sales/marketing strategies and copy work on PPC, and can be copied to other mediums)

3) Website conversion optimization

 

This is all because we have an accountability to produce results for the client, and (gasp) we actually care about our clients.

 

So I would phrase some of these things as strengths/weaknesses. :smileywink:


By all means, I'm not trying to generalize, I'm sure that there's a very broad spectrum regarding agencies, just as there is with employees. I myself have provided a lot of advice which I did not bill for, knowing that a happy customer is a return customer (as have countless others). However, we still have to stay profitable :smileyhappy:. It's a must, or we turn from businessmen / managers into philantropists.

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Re: Should I consider hiring an agency to manage my online advertising?

Reply to AdWiser
| ‎08-11-2012 03:06 PM

This page is relevant: https://www.en.adwords-community.com/t5/Community-lounge/How-do-I-hire-a-Adwords-Consultant/td-p/457...

Yes, I work at Google. I want all AdWords Advertisers to be happy and prosperous
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