Do I Really Need an Agency or Specialist to Manage my Google Ads?

As a small business owner, you’re always looking to cut costs and do things yourself to save time and meeting. Naturally, marketing and advertising is one of them. So many small business owners will attempt to run their PPC marketing on their own, with varying levels of success. But realistically, can a small business owner – or even a marketing generalist working for a small to mid-size business – effectively manage Google Ads campaigns?

The answer, of course, is maybe.

agency vs software ppc management

Over the years, Google has been trying to make their platform easier and easier for people without extensive training to manage campaigns. They haven’t done this by making their platform easier to use or by improving their product so much as taking away marketing tools and options a professional would use to optimize campaigns. It’s a bizarre way to do it, but it has leveled the playing field a little bit.

Instead of a professional being able to pull the right levers and make nuanced adjustments to complex campaigns, Google has gravitated towards a big-data approach to campaign management. Instead of creating granular campaigns with dozens or hundreds of ad groups and ads, campaigns now tend to be simpler and rely on “keyword themes” rather than specific “keywords” themselves. Instead of bidding certain amounts for specific keywords, we’re now just saying “maximize results” and trusting Google to do its best.

Like it or not, that’s how Google is now forcing people to manage campaigns.

And since the ability to make granular adjustments is being removed, it means there’s less PPC managers can do to manage campaigns. Or at least the changes they do make require significantly less time.

But the costs of PPC managers hasn’t decreased. Like everything, prices only seem to go up.

Active Management Costs

Many agencies (and contractors/specialists) have a minimum management fee of $500+ per month, often using half (or more) of a client’s budget to manage campaigns and very little on the ads themselves. It’s just not a cost-effective model.

It’s not really just agencies being greedy – it takes time to mange clients. But for a growing number of small businesses, as Google Ads has evolved, having an agency or freelancer actively managing a small campaign has become increasingly less cost-effective.

With pricing structures like that prevalent throughout the industry, it makes more and more sense to seek a more cost-effective solution. And given Google’s turn towards streamlining targeting and optimization, it’s very feasible for businesses to go without a professional ad manager.

That of course, is why we started PPC Assist – to acknowledge this industry shift and allow businesses to benefit from AI-based efficiencies, saving on ongoing Google Ads management fees.

This isn’t true for all businesses though. Depending on the types of campaigns you run, it may make sense to retain a professional for active management. Here are a few things to consider when deciding if you really need an agency or specialist to manage your campaigns.

do you need a ppc agency?

Signs You’re a Better Fit for On-Demand Management (with PPC Assist)

Generally speaking, if you’re not making large, material changes to the account frequently, you’re a good candidate. AI takes care of the day-to-day tweaks and optimization to bidding strategies.

  • Keywords are consistent / infrequently change
  • Ad copy is consistent / infrequently changes
  • Reliable conversion tracking setup
  • Effective lead value tracking or static lead values
  • Mature campaigns
  • Low monthly budgets

Want to see if you’re a good fit? Get our free account analysis to see how strong a candidate your account is for on-demand management.

Signs You Need Active Management

If you frequently make changes to the account, your products/services change often, or you need a consistent person to be on-call to make adjustments, then an active management relationship is a better fit for you.

  • Frequent promotion changes
  • Events with date changes
  • Frequently stocking new products
  • Unpredictable seasonality spikes
  • Frequent, fast adjustments based on changes in the market
  • Frequently release new content or videos to promote
  • Unreliable or complicated conversion tracking
  • Frequently require detailed answers and insights into nuances within the account

Why Active Management Makes Less and Less Sense

1. Google’s removal of management tools

Historically, Google Ads managers had the tools and capabilities to frequently adjust campaigns to give their accounts a competitive advantage. With Google removing many of these capabilities and streamlining ad delivery, the ability to deliver that competitive advantage has been diminished.

2. AI-Based, Conversion-Focused Bidding

Automated bidding strategies have been around for years, but with AI becoming a buzzword in 2023 it’s really taken center stage and allowed Google to tout it as a productive solution. As this technology continues to improve, account optimization is less about a manager analyzing keyword performance and making bidding adjustments, and more about setting up your campaigns to (automatically) optimize for the right conversions at the right CPA.

3. Consolidated Account Structures

As Google has moved away from their exact/phrase/broad keyword matching towards a world without keywords altogether, granular setups are becoming obsolete. That means simplified account structures with fewer keywords, ad groups, and campaigns, making management simpler.

4. Value-Based Conversions

ROAS (return on ad spend) has been around for years, allowing campaigns to maximize for that metric or maximize value based on a fixed budget. This value-based optimization has improved the past few years. It isn’t just relevant for e-commerce purchases, but for lead-based accounts as well. Using lead scoring or separate conversions for different actions, small businesses that rely on lead can take their optimization to the next level by assigning quantitative values to leads.

5. Increased Costs

The price of advertising on Google is going up across industries. For businesses with limited budgets, adding back the hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of dollars spend each month on management fees to your Google Ads budget allows them to maintain or increase traffic levels without increasing costs.

On-Demand Management vs. No Management

If you’ve concluded that active management isn’t the right fit, then the decision becomes whether to use an on-demand management service like PPC Assist or just to go without any management resources.

If you go without any management at all, you’ll need to be somewhat comfortable with Google’s different platforms and interfaces. A functional knowledge of Google Analytics, Google Ads, and any tools you may need to support your conversion tracking like Google Tag Manager, Google Sheets, and CRM integrations.

You’ll also need to be able to make any account changes yourself, stay up-to-date on new features, and understand how to flag when things are going wrong with the account (and know how to fix them).

It’s doable, especially if you enjoy solving issues like that. But your time is valuable, so at $99/month a basic on-demand setup is often a great balance. It offers the following advantages:

  1. Extensive negative keyword lists – We have proprietary negative keyword lists for everything from cities and states to low-quality and irrelevant keywords. Removing poor quality keywords using our lists often immediately recoups the monthly investment.
  2. Real-Time Looker Studio reporting – We provide dynamic reporting using Google Looker Studio, not only for your paid search campaigns, but for overall website performance as well.
  3. On-Demand assistance – If you run into issues making edits, affordable experts are just a few clicks away. We quickly, efficiently make the updates you need, when you need them.

As a low-cost, efficiency-focused option, on-demand management is a great fit for most small and mid-sized businesses.

Of course, our specialists have been managing PPC campaigns for years, so if you have in-depth questions on your account or want to make big changes, launch new campaigns, or troubleshoot technical issues, we’re as good or better than a traditional agency at helping execute changes.

Evaluating Your Management Needs

Most clients we work with do at least quarterly or semiannual tune-ups of their accounts, but many prefer to self-manage and only reach out when they run into issues. However you want to approach it, we’re happy to support you how and when needed.

For a free evaluation of your account to see how strong a fit you are for on-demand management, request a free account analysis now.

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