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Assessing the merits and shortfalls of using in-house and external PPC management

Assessing the merits and shortfalls of using in-house and external PPC management

by Philip Armstrong16th September 2014

PPC can often be a hard to prepare for, particularly when enjoying success involves meticulous budgeting, detailed measurement strategy formulation and a huge degree of fluidity and reactionary improvement.

The aggressive and profitable nature of adeptly performed PPC campaigns however is the driving force behind their allure, with an increasing amount of marketing companies opting to focus their endeavours in this area.

However for every measure of profitability that PPC offers, there is symmetrical degree of complexity and risk, and as such aspiring businesses are often confronted with a dif0ficult decision when contemplating how to embark on their own PPC efforts; should they use in-house management for their upcoming campaign or utilise the services of an external agency?

The following article will examine the merits and shortfalls of using both, as well as considering the logistics of adopting a hybrid strategy to incorporate the strongest elements from both methods.

In-house PPC management

As it sounds, opting to use an in-house approach to managing your PPC campaign would involve using members of your office staff, or PPC experts who work directly for your company, to both devise your strategy and operate in the role of running your campaign on a day-to-day basis.

The merits of using this approach are:

  • Your in-house team will have a deeper understanding of your company. As such, they will be more familiar with the intricacies involved with how your company runs and as such will be more aware of how activity being taken by other employees is impacting the PPC campaign. Thus, making changes to the campaign, which are consistent with the conduct of other members of staff is substantially easier, and makes the entire process of running, calculatedly improving and changing a PPC campaign far more efficient and fluid than it would be when having to interact indirectly with a PPC agency.
  • You can be confident that the measures being taken by your in-house team to improve and bolster your PPC campaign are done with the company in mind, which is not always the case for external agencies that are seeking to profiteer themselves. If you use a PPC agency which charges on an equity basis from profits, then you will be able to avoid this, though having an in-house team is a sure-fire way of knowing that all strategic decisions and campaign changes are done with the success of the business in mind.

However, there are also shortfalls to using an in-house team, particularly if the staff base is small or has limited experience of PPC. These deficiencies include:

  • Comprising on the level of competency and expertise compared to using a PPC agency. This is because if you decide to use in-house staff to manage your campaigns, then you either need to employ a team of PPC experts or more likely train current members of staff to be able to do it. This can often cost you in money and time providing them with the necessary training, and this can be difficult if there is a lack of other human resources in your business to do this. There is also a danger that even when they do improve their knowledge, through blogs and videos and documental reading, that nevertheless their knowledge of how to achieve PPC success will still be limited, which might make using a more decorated PPC agency a more attractive proposition.
  • If you do however have a PPC expert who works in-house, then the likelihood is that they will do so on an equity basis on profits, which can be both a good and bad thing. The danger here is that the expert (s) are essentially basing their financial trajectory on the success of your PPC campaigns, and a lack of this can lead to discontentment within your internal staff base and perhaps an eventual departure from the expert themselves. It also begs the question that if your in-house team is comprised of people with PPC competency, and are charging you in a similar manner to a PPC agency, then why not use the agency and enjoy the assistance of PPC specialists who you are confident will manage your campaign in the best way possible.

External PPC agency management

A different route you could take is to pay for the services of an external PPC agency, which will be in charge of devising your PPC strategy with you and running it in a manner that makes both you and them maximal levels of profit. Using this route has a number of benefits, including:

  • Specialist assistance. Essentially, you will not be employed by a PPC agency unless you are familiar with the digital marketing landscape and when acquiring the services of an external specialist, you know you are attaining help from people who are fully versed in the most profitable ways to profiteer from a PPC campaign. They will also be able to assign a greater length of time and resources to your campaign, and will have multiple specialists offering their differing opinions over what the best route is, to reach a more balanced and meticulous conclusion over which improvements and changes to make overall.
  • It can be cheaper. Whilst this might sound contrary to the usual pattern of external agency usage, the reality is that using an agency will almost always be less expensive than hiring an in-house team of specialists, which you would have to do if you wanted to avoid training less-skilled employees up. Agencies will typically ask for an equity fee of your profits, or a flat rate paid on a monthly basis, so you will need to decide which approach works out more cost-effective for you.
  • Superior accessibility to resources. Essentially, agencies will have specialist teams for different areas of search engine marketing, and as such they will be better placed to ensure the success of your PPC campaign on multiple platforms such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, rather than simply specialise in one. Whilst it is possible to attain this level of expertise with an in-house team, it is more expensive and in most cases cannot be achieved for smaller businesses.

The shortfalls of using a PPC agency are:

  • The PPC agency will not be fully aware of how your business operates. This can be to your detriment as they might make changes to your PPC campaign that does not take your business model into account. Moreover, making changes to your campaign may be hard because they will only be able to use the information about your company that you provide them, and will have to interpret it in a manner which might be wrong; an issue that is not present with in-house teams.
  • Fluidity and co-operating can be difficult. This is because using an external agency will require a huge degree of communication between yourself and the agency in order to ensure that the best possible changes are being made to your campaign. You will essentially have to convey on a daily basis what exactly you want the agency to do, what you want to achieve, and how you want it done. The agency will also have to take time understanding the data of your company and how to interpret it, and this could slow them down from making the appropriate changes to your campaign at the best times.


As it has been illustrated, the suitability of one approach over another is entirely dependent on the nature and composition of your business at present. If your staff base is multi-skilled and can fluidly function in roles such as content writers and PPC managers, then using an in-house approach can ensure that you save money on your campaigns and perhaps improve your chances of success because you have specialists who are familiar with the manner your business operates. However, if you would need to train people up to reach a level of competency managing PPC campaigns, or would have to employ a number of new staff in order to assemble a sufficient team, then using an agency might be more beneficial for you as you would spend just as much but receive stronger and more knowledgeable help.

Whilst the hybrid approach appears somewhat utopian, it can still be more expensive than taking either other option separately, and can be counter-productive if an efficient working-chemistry is not established between the different parties tasked with managing your PPC campaign. It might be useful in cases where your staff is relatively adept at managing PPC campaigns, but in cases require help establishing what the most profitable route to take would be. If your business is in this situation, then your staff can pass on their inside knowledge of the intricacies and operations of your company to the specialist agency, and cohesively they can determine what the best improvements to your campaign should be, based on empirical insight and detailed examination of your company.

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About The Author
Philip Armstrong
Philip Armstrong is a content writer for the Just SEO newsroom. Having served as an Adword's manager for a number of paid search campaigns, he is an expert in spending money to make money, and regularly contributes in-depth articles on the latest news and updates on pay-per-click (PPC) matters.

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