Choosing a PPC Agency


Using a PPC Agency to manage your sponsored PPC campaigns is usually a good idea as they should have the expertise to manage your campaign better than in-house and it is now a skilled job to do efficiently.

  • How do you choose which PPC Agency to use?
  • How can you compare different PPC agencies?
  • What sort of service should a PPC agency provide?

Choosing a company to manage your PPC campaign can be quite a daunting task. One thing you may notice is the sheer number of companies that are now offering pay per click management, indeed there was (at the time of writing) fifteen pages of sponsored listings on Google relating to companies that offer professional PPC management. This indicates that there is plenty of competition for business, with a wide range of pricing options available.

Prices charged by PPC agencies

The prices that PPC agencies charge for PPC management vary from unrealistically low at £50 one off fee up to over £5,000 fee per month.

What is a sensible figure? In our experience the easiest PPC campaigns to manage are the very high spend accounts with large number of clicks. It is actually harder and requires more skill and judgement to manage lower spending accounts.

Some PPC agencies charge a percentage of the advertising spend as the management fee. This is in fact one on the most common methods of charging for PP management. But this means the PPC agency gets a reduced fee if they do a good job, making the PPC campaign more efficient and reducing your overall PPC spend. Cornish WebServices have often reduce client spend on PPC advertising by 40-60% when taking over the management of an existing campaign, yet any PPC agency that charges a percentage of advertising spend will be less likely to take this approach to PPC management.

Other PPC agencies charge a flat fee per month for managing the PPC campaign. This is the method preferred by Cornish WebServices. It is likely that different fees will be charged to different clients depending on the market, complexity of the campaigns and the rough value of the advertising budget.

Setup fees charged by PPC agencies

Many PPC agencies charge a setup fee for PPC management. This recognises the extra work required at the start of the process in analysing the website, the market, competitor analysis, keyword research, writing ad copy and checking correct conversion tracking code is inserted.

The cheapest PPC agencies charging about £50 cannot carry out much of the above work, and you will get less well setup campaigns. But if your total advertising spend is only £300/year then this may be the best option.

For larger business with a decent level of advertising spend, the setup fees charged by PPC agencies vary enormously with some charging over £2,000. If the PPC agency is going to be actively managing the campaign in subsequent months, then Cornish WebServices think the setup fee should not be too high. Keyword and market research is an ongoing process and should not just happen at the start of the work.

Services provided by PPC agencies

What are you paying for and what differentiates the larger and smaller PPC agencies?

For a larger PPC agency you are paying for a smarter office! Or higher salaries to the Directors! The overheads of a larger agency will be higher so costs will be more. But a larger PPC agency may not be able to deliver a better service.

In order for your campaign to be well managed you need experienced staff managing your campaign. Large PPC agencies often use junior staff still training on AdWords to manage client campaigns, whereas a small PPC agency may have just one experienced account manager dealing with all PPC campaigns.

The important questions to ask are “who will be managing my campaign on a daily basis” and “who will be managing my campaign when the account manager is on holiday”. Then ask if these individuals have passed the Google AdWords Exam, as this will show they have the necessary depth of knowledge to manage your account to a high standard

PPC management is not a ‘standard service’. A well run PPC advertising campaign by qualified AdWords professionals will deliver significantly better results, and more than pay for the investment in PPC agency fees.

Beware of bid management software! Any PPC agency using this for PPC management will have significant costs (5% of PPC fee or £250/month) just to operate this software. Many PPC agencies use these software tools instead of investing in qualified staff, and they allow the software to handle the bidding adjustments throughout the month with no manual intervention. Replacing skilled account management with some bidding software will give poorer results. There is a place for bid management software – it can effectively be used in addition for larger spending accounts in competitive markets where bid changes many times per hour are required.

Long fixed contracts of up to twelve months are common with larger PPC agencies. Being locked  into an expensive lengthy contract is a bad idea. Good PPC agencies will not need to tie-in clients to lengthy contracts. Long contracts tend to be used by PPC agencies with a poor client retention.

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