5 questions to ask a paid search agency/ consultant | Heart Internet Blog – Focusing on all aspects of the web

According to New Media Age (www.nma.co.uk)…

“More than half of companies (55%) intend to increase natural search budgets and just under half (45%) will up paid search investment this year as they look for measurable ROI in difficult economic times.”

One of the biggest USPs Paid search has always had over TV, radio, print and PR is the ability to track every penny spent down to the finest of details. The continuing growth and size of Google as an ad platform is a testament to this. With the current economic climate prompting businesses and websites of all sizes to re-think their marketing spend, naturally a lot of it is either being cut altogether or being shifted to paid search where ROI and measurability is king.

The biggest hurdle for many potential advertisers is the setting up and management of the account so that it is performing well and not draining money through badly structured and un-targeted campaigns. For many, using a paid search agency or consultant is the most cost effective way of running a paid search campaign.

If you are considering using a professional to create and manage a paid search account for you, here are the 5 questions you should always ask before committing yourself (in no particular order)…

Note: I am going to reference Google below but you can apply everything said to any other paid search platform.

Will the account be in my name?

In Google’s eyes, whoever’s name is on the account owns that account. If after a few months or even a few years later you decide to move agency or to bring it in-house, if your name is not on the account then you will have to rely on the current agency’s goodwill to transfer it over to you or risk losing all that data. Beyond wanting to tie you in, there is no reason why your name should not be on the account as the agency can attach it to their MCC (My Client Centre) account and sign in from there.

How will the account be structured and why?

Remember at all times, it is your money and your account so you should know exactly how it is being spent and why. Making them explain how they will approach setting up your account will (hopefully) demonstrate they have a structured approach to creating campaigns and their ad groups. Asking ‘why’ should show you they are up to date with current thinking surrounding best practice. Our mini web hosting guide about setting up an AdWords account covers this.

What level of reporting will I get and how frequent will it be?

The reason why paid search is so popular amongst advertisers in the granularity it offers, so without it or with vague summaries you have lost a big part of the USP. I would expect as a minimum a weekly report detailing every campaign and ad groups’:

– Impressions

– Clicks

– Spend

– Average CTR

– Average CPC

– Conversions

– Conversion as % of clicks

– Revenue generated


I would also want that same data for the month. I would expect an analysis of those figures as well (not just a statement of what happened, but an explanation of why too). On a quarterly basis I would want to see a review of the creative being used along with recommendations for change.

Will you show me how to navigate around the control panel?

The more you know and understand the easier it is for you to ask questions and to understand what is happening (and why). The ability to log in and look at the account yourself and know where to go to find information is very empowering e.g. being able to run your own bespoke reports whenever you need them.

Is your pricing model a set fee or a percentage of my advertising spend?

There is no wrong or right answer here, but be clear from the start about how they will charge you so you can factor that in to your budget calculations from day one.

Going it alone…

If you would prefer to run your campaign yourself but don’t feel 100% comfortable with the way it all works at such a detailed level this book should help. I read it when I first started and it presumes no knowledge taking you from a beginner through to intermediate very smoothly: https://www.pagezero.com/publications/winning-results.php



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