Should You Hire an Agency or In-House PPC Expert?

Whether you have a large or small PPC budget, you need to have someone who knows how to manage your campaigns for maximum performance. Most companies follow two schools of thoughts:

  1. They hire an in-house PPC specialist.
  2. They hire a PPC agency.

In either case, you delegate your PPC management to someone else, saving time in the process. But before you decide which route to take, it’s important to consider all options.

In this article, you’ll learn whether you should hire an in-house PPC specialist or outsource the work to an agency.

Hiring a PPC Specialist In-House

An in-house PPC specialist gives a company two attributes: focused expertise and attention to detail. When you have an expert who knows her craft and focuses it on your business alone, you can expect nothing but great results.

What's more, an in-house PPC specialist knows all the intricacies of your company, which helps create campaigns that target your audience more precisely and effectively.

An in-house PPC expert focuses all the time and knowledge in your business, which makes her flexible to react to sudden changes. Imagine it's Christmas season, the most important holiday season for your company, and one of your competitors increases their bids on December, 21st. You can't let this situation get out of your hands. If you don't fix it fast, you can lose all your traffic and see a sharp decrease in revenue.

In such situation, with little to no bureaucracy or waiting times, an in-house PPC specialist can quickly change your PPC campaigns bidding strategy -- or even rebuild your whole campaign from scratch. Thanks to their commitment and flexibility, they can save the situation where an agency wouldn't have been able to deliver.

Having more than one specialist working in your marketing team (i.e., you have one for SEO, another one for email marketing, and so on), you can capture value from collaboration among different experts. Someone who focuses exclusively on PPC can learn a lot from other members of your marketing team. For example, a content strategist can help improve the targeting of the copy, while an SEO specialist can help optimize the keyword bidding to reduce the cannibalization and optimize the cost effectiveness of your campaigns.

One commonly overlooked aspect of hiring someone is all the cost associated with it. According to the MIT, the costs of hiring an employee are 25% to 40% higher than the base salary range. That means, if you want to hire a PPC specialist at a $50k yearly salary, the final costs will be around $62k to $70k, which include:

  • Life insurance
  • Health coverage
  • Long-term disability insurance
  • Dental plans
  • Dependent care assistance
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Retirement plans.

Hiring is a skill in itself; it takes more than an ability to know the skills or credentials of a potential candidate. Even if you are experienced in hiring or have an HR person in your company, you must be careful.

To start, you must take into consideration the cultural fit of the candidate. Your organization has a culture; if you hire someone who doesn't fit in, you may end up creating problems down the road.

A study done by the University of Iowa found that when an employee fit in an organization, both coworkers and supervisors reported greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organization, and showed superior job performance. Another study from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found poor culture fit can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary due to the increase in employee turnover.

Finally, you must know what you want from a PPC specialist. That may seem obvious, but if you want someone who's in charge of “managing your PPC” without knowing what exactly you want—like how many leads or traffic you expect to get—you may not be able to successfully manage that person.

Outsourcing to a PPC Agency

You probably have heard the phrase "two brains think better than one." If you work with a PPC agency, you won't work with just one expert; you would have a large team of experts helping you manage your PPC campaigns.

The benefits of working with an agency are plenty:

  • Save time by outsourcing the majority of the day-to-day management.
  • Reduce the complexity of managing your marketing team.
  • Get professional help from a group of experts.
  • Save money by avoiding all the labor costs previously mentioned.

Working with an agency comes with certain challenges. To start, you need to be clear on exactly what you need from an agency. If you have a marketing team with a few generalists but no dedicated PPC specialist, will the agency fill that space for you? Or will they complement your existing team?

It takes time for an agency to understand your company, your products or services, and the goals of your campaigns. How fast do you want to see the desired results? If you are in a hurry because there's an upcoming holiday season, you may want to make sure you take these delays into consideration.

In contrast with working with an in-house specialist, communicating with an agency takes more time. You may need to set aside time for regular check-ins and phone calls, get every stakeholder involved, and make sure everyone understands what's being discussed.

Most PPC agencies tend to work with companies with monthly budgets above the five-figure range, leaving most companies outside the minimum working threshold. If you want to work with an agency, you need to know what's the investment you need to make above your PPC budget as well as what you get from your investment, which includes:

  • How many hours they will dedicate to your account;
  • Who will be working with your account;
  • What the deliverables are;
  • What the communication channels will be.

Before you commit to working with an agency, make sure you have a clear idea of the results you expect to get from the agency and what they can actually provide. Talk to your CFO to make sure the numbers make sense to you.

Finally, don't let any agency tell you the industry is growing too fast for you to keep up. With the help of tools like AdStage, even a non-expert can manage a PPC campaign with a good level of success. Gone are the days where agencies had custom-made tools no one else had; software has democratized the way companies and agencies work.

Which Option You Should Choose

When it comes to choosing whether to hire in-house or work with a PPC agency, there's no easy answer. As it always happens, it depends on your situation. Let's see the two most common cases: a company with a small budget and one with a large budget.

If You Have a Small Budget

If you have a small monthly budget (i.e., below $10,000), you won't likely benefit from working with an agency. Even if the agency is honest and upfront about the work they will deliver and results you can expect, they won't likely be able to provide the time needed to deliver the results you need.

According to Payscale, the yearly salary for a PPC manager is $48,233—or $4,019 per month. With less than half the cost of an agency, you can get a full-time PPC expert working for your company.


PPC agency vs in-house : median salary and cost Source: Payscale


If you have a small budget because you haven't found the traction necessary to grow your business with PPC, you may also want to wait until you hire a specialist. An online marketing generalist may be able to hit your goals.

Once you know PPC is working well for you (i.e., it’s one of the main acquisition channels) and your budget grows, you can consider hiring a PPC specialist full-time or work directly with an agency.

If You Have a Large Budget

Businesses with large budgets have more options available; they can either hire a full-time PPC specialist or work with an agency. If your company already has someone who manages your PPC in-house but has too much work, an agency may help them lower their workload. Alternatively, with the help of the right PPC automation tools, in-house marketers may optimize their time better and deliver the same results.

Whether you hire a full-time member or an agency, make sure to ask around for referrals and testimonials. You want to make sure both the specialist and the agency are up for the task and will bring the desired ROI.

If you end up working with an agency, it doesn't mean the specialist who used to be in charge of your PPC won't manage the channel anymore. With an agency, the only difference is that the specialist doesn’t need to do all the work. Rather, she just manages it with the agency. Don't make the mistake of thinking think that working with an agency is a hands-off process. On the contrary, you must consider their work to be part of your own organization.


If you have the options of hiring a full-time PPC specialist or working with an agency, you need to stop and think about what would work best for your company.

With tools like AdStage, it's easier than ever to automate your PPC campaigns. But sometimes, there's too much work an executive or one marketing generalist can possibly manage. As you make the decision to outsource your PPC management, consider the pros and cons for your specific case. If your PPC campaigns are starting to drive growth,  choose one option and get started today.


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AdStage Team