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“What should you ask an ad agency that you are about to hire to manage your pay-per-click accounts?”

Not everyone has the time to learn how to properly manage their PPC accounts. Even those of us in the industry often look to off load the busy work of bid management and account reporting onto an ad agency. But what should you be asking these agencies? More importantly, what answers should you be looking for?

Who will be handling your account?

Often the person you speak with is a sales person and or a high level SEM consultant. It is important to know if you will have an account manager that over looks your account, and how many people are on your team.

Best Answer: An account manager, a bid adjuster, and a creative team that handles the ad copy, and landing page creation.

Is there a limit on the amount of account changes in a month?

Most, if not all, ad agencies use a 3rd party bid management tool to monitor and manage the multiple accounts they are responsible for. They are charged on the amount of campaigns and actions. Often that cost is passed on to you. If your accounts activity goes over a certain amount, they may charge you extra. It is important to know those fees up front, and often that isn’t disclosed unless you ask for that information.

Best Answer: No extra charge, or even better, no limit on the amount of changes.

Does the Ad Agency have a contract you must sign?

Many ad agencies will want you to sign a contract. Ask about the duration of their contract, and what fees are associated with early cancellation. Most contracts are in place for fair reason, but the agencies with contracts that extend past 6 months are ones to watch out for.

Best Answer: Contracts between three and six months are common. Watch for contracts that extend past a year. Cancellation fees that exceed the cost of one month of maintenance and monitoring often signify that the agency may have problems keeping clients that they sign.

Do they handle the creation of new landing pages and are there extra fees for their creation?

Not all ad agencies will handle the creation of landing pages. A good question to ask the ad agency is if they handle this in-house, and what are the fees for the creation of new landing pages. Ask to see some examples of the pages they have made.

Best Answer: There is nothing wrong with extra fees for landing pages, as long as the quality is there to back it up. As mentioned above, ask to see some examples.

What is the process of campaign improvement?

There is always room for improvement in PPC campaigns. What works this year may not work the next year. Competition changes, new challenges surface, and the needs of your target audience can vary by each quarter. That said, too much change at once can make it hard to nail down what to attribute the weaknesses or strengths in a campaign are. Ask the agencies what their plan of action is.

Best Answer: A good sign that they know what they are doing is if they have a staged process, with a review of the changes at the end of each month. Nailing down the key word list should be first, with refinement of ad copy second, followed by optimizing the landing page, then repeat.

What improvement goals do they target, and what is the time frame for those to be met?

The main reason to hire an ad agency in the first place is not only the convenience of having professionals looking over your ad spend, but the promise of improvement over time. What metrics do they plan to improve, and what time line do the expect to see these improvements.

Best Answer: Increasing your quality score in Google Adwords, lowering your average CPA, and improving your CTR are among the most important. Stay away from ad agencies that only focus on increasing your traffic and impressions. This typically means they will turn on the display network (aka content network), leave your keywords set to broad match, and pour gasoline on your money.

Closing thoughts on hiring an ad agency, or a SEM professional to manage your PPC accounts.

When it all comes down to the end of the quarter, you have to look at your ROI. Did the money you spent hiring a professional bring you a return greater than you could have achieved on your own is the way most people look at this scenario. I say thats a good place to start, but also take into consideration the money that they saved you, and the time you have to focus on new projects and products.

Did I miss a critical factor when interviewing for an ad agency? Perhaps there are better answers to the questions I’ve already laid out?

Let me and your fellow readers know in the comments section below!