In-house vs. 3rd Party PPC Management


I own a successful website selling a software product, but we do absolutely no in-house marketing at all. 75% of our sales come from affiliates promoting us. So, we'd like to become more involved in the marketing side of things.

I know the basics of PPC, but I wouldn't call myself anything but a beginner. I don't have time to learn to do PPC management well, so it's either hire someone to do it in-house, or hire a 3rd party company.

What are the pros and cons of each option, and which do you recommend? If you recommend going the 3rd party route, can you recommend a few good, reputable companies (from my research so far, most seem to be scams or incompetent).

Thanks in advance!


Adwords Management PPC

asked Mar 17 '11 at 17:59
23 points

3 Answers


Whatever you decide, I would start in-house. There is a lot of value from developing your own PPC campaign. It will open your eyes to the terms that customers are using to find your business, what they expect, and where they are coming from. Plus, you never know---you may end up designing a great PPC program that needs minimal ongoing work.

Lots of nice tools for in-house learning, implementation and tracking.

In addition, you'll have a greater understanding of what you want out of a PPC firm, what they're talking about when they pitch you, etc.

I think it's always important to learn the drivers of your business before turning them over to outsiders whenever possible. Get your hands dirty.

If you can spend a little time learning the PPC process, there are two outcomes: Either you learn to do it really well yourself and save a bunch of cash, or you become a more informed customer when it comes time to turn it over to a professional firm.

answered Mar 18 '11 at 00:37
Andy Swan
1,656 points
  • Thanks for the response, I appreciate it. In your experience, what are some of the best tools for in-house learning, implementation and tracking? There's so much info out there on this topic, it's difficult for a complete beginner (like me) to know where to start. Someone else mentioned Hubspot, do you have any other recommendations? Thanks again! – John 13 years ago


I would do it inhouse but use a software tool (suite really) the simplifies the entire process and allows you to track the effectiveness of your PPC campaign vs. your organic clicks.

I would use Hubspot. They have some great webinars that give you an overview of the functionality of their software.

ps. I'm not afffiliated with Hubspot in any way. I just know some very enthusiastic users.

answered Mar 17 '11 at 22:46
Mike Walsh
745 points
  • Thanks Mike, will check it out. – John 13 years ago


It depends on your budget. If you're looking at more than $25,000 per month in spend then I would argue the in house route with a professional advertiser. From $6000 to $25,000 you can hire a bright intern to teach the ropes and keep them part to full time, depending on how much work your campaign(s) need. Less than $6000 I think you would be able to manage it effectively yourself.

My own experience is that I had done some minor ppc work prior to my current job. When I started my job we were using a third party company and had been using them for several months. The company that we were using is one of the VERY large names in the business and apparently they have some super-duper software that they use for managing campaigns and a huge staff of people itching to get to work on our advertising. Whatever. Their fee was about ten percent of our ad spend and it was actually MORE than my starting salary.

I looked at what they were doing, and in my horror of the royal mess they had made I decided I could do better. I studied up for a month during down moments from my other work and started to work.

Overall I increased our CTR ~25% and, with some landing page redesign, increased our conversion rate 160%. So our advertising became nearly 3x as efficient as before in a little under a week once I launched my changes. Even if you chalk the conversion rate increase to just new landing pages, that's still a huge increase in CTR for a one man show vs a company that claims to handle tens of millions of ad spend per year.

The moral of the story is to be VERY cautious of using 3rd party companies. Keep tabs on them and run your own testing on the side. Make sure that you've very clear what your advertising goals are (cost per conversion, etc) and fire them promptly if they don't hit their goals. I support hiring an staff person just because you can make sure they're going in the right direction and keep an eye on them. And of course, depending on your local laws, you can be just as stringent with them as with a third party company.

answered Mar 18 '11 at 00:20
Kort Pleco
891 points
  • Judging from these comments, I'm leaning toward just buckling down and trying to learn it myself. I tried to do it myself a few years ago, right when I started the company, but got Google Slapped pretty quickly, so that has intimidated me and deterred me from trying again. We have a budget of about $6000 per month to spend on PPC, but I wouldn't be comfortable spending that initially, if it were just me trying to learn how to do it successfully. Your intern idea is interesting, having someone come in and teach me part time. Would you just use Craigslist to find the intern? Thank you. – John 13 years ago
  • The intern idea is more that you teach THEM what to do or get one that's smart enough to figure it out on their own. That's pretty much the situation that I was in for the situation above, only it was that I was the intern, haha. Also, the "google slap" should not be related to your adwords campaign so don't let that intimidate you. =) Just start small, make sure that the numbers work, and build up from there. Also yes, craiglist is probably your best shot at finding somebody good. – Kort Pleco 13 years ago
  • Awesome, thank you. – John 13 years ago

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