Other People’s Money…

6 Comments Written on September 24th, 2010 by
Categories: Conversion, Google Adwords, Habits & Work Environment, Marketing

I had an interesting discussion earlier in the week with a colleague about the difference between running your own Adwords campaigns and having a PPC consultant or agency manage your campaigns.

His comments were pretty pointed:

“Basically, the people managing other people’s money don’t care much about sweating the little “tweaks” Google keeps making, even if they’ll raise prices.  If anything, it makes it better for them because the system is getting more and more complex, increasing the need for an expert to manage an Adwords account vs. the actual business owner.”

It reminded me of this tweet from Wil Reynolds, disappointed with mopping up the mess of neglected client accounts:

The Consultant’s Challenge

For those that ‘manage other people’s money’, running client campaigns it’s an interesting thing to ponder:  Do I put as much attention to detail into my clients’ accounts as I would put into my own, spending my own hard-earned capital?

I read an interesting quote from a prominent PPC consultant on how optimizing to improve ‘Quality Score isn’t really worth worrying about’, just keep upping your bids and grab as many conversions as you can, profit is just icing on the cake or ‘an incremental win’.  Easy to say when it’s not your money in play.

Google’s solution of course is to just let them look after everything: “Hey guys the system’s gotten pretty complex, just toss us the keys and we’ll take care of it”.  If their systems worked as advertised 100% of the time in terms of meeting all of an advertisers goals, maybe that would work. Until then, having an engaged human ‘keep an eye on the till’ probably isn’t a bad idea.

Mo’ Money, Less Attention

Many PPC consultants have found, as I have, there’s a direct relationship between how small the client is and how much time they spend looking over what you’re doing, how much you’re spending, and how things are performing.  The bigger the client, the less likely they are to keep pushing their consultant or PPC manager for an increasing ROI.

Therein lies the challenge:  keeping the same level of diligence and dollar-stretching as the spends get larger…

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6 comments “Other People’s Money…”

I guess I’m the opposite – I pay more attention to other peoples accounts than my own I figure they are making money with a return that most folks would salivate over I’m good.

How in the heck could you possibly go 8 months without 1 change and not feel the effects, If I ignore an account for more than 7 days it almost immediately starts to slide in the wrong direction. Sure it’s a small slip but compounded over 4 weeks adds up to something a lot bigger.

I absolutely adore people who think they have the deepest pockets in the world and are going to starve me out because they can bid ridiculously. They always end up leaving and finding a new playground to play on where there are others just like them or quit.

Quality and Conversion wins more often than deep pockets.

Wow! Is he for real? “Quality score isn’t really worth worrying about? Just increase bids?” All of us PPC managers should treat big and small accounts equally in terms of management. Else we’d all be losing clients.

I disagree with the client loss bit Jun…it is a much slower process than you think, especially with the large companies. :)

With the bigger clients the agency can do sloppier work because the clients have so many internal moving parts and so many conflicting goal sets that they have a hard time keeping their own house in order, let alone managing someone else’s.

Further, when making change, you not only risk changing something that might not be broken…but you also put yourself on the line for any downside if the new solution is worse than the old one. This is why many fortune 500 contracts last for years and years even as the value of the partnership disappears.

Look at Will’s example of 8 months of charging without a single change…that is soooooo common.

Another relevant example…a person I know used to do in-house for a large complex business with many websites. Well they overbid on one keyword segment (based on the traffic of parallel keywords) and ended up costing the business 7 figures in losses from that bad campaign. They were only looking at aggregate stats and didn’t realize how big of a stinker that piece was until about a year in.

Because that project was a money loser the business was willing to sell the site for a song…the same person who “managed” that account ended up buying the site for next to nothing because it was seen as a loser & they were able to get it for nothing. All they had to do was cut back on the paid search & lower the bids on the parts they kept + ride out the gains they made on the organic side (site was a strong PR7 site due to all the advertising they did getting them a lot of exposure and links).

Were these consultants on a % of spend contract or on a rev share contract? I’m guessing the former instead of the latter.

Well I would say it still depends on the business and the person sitting over the entire process. In my case, I’m doing in-house management of a team of PPC specialists doing lead generation, spending $500k per month. I would say the company is big though not at the Fortune500 level. Return on ad spend is regularly scrutinized by the people at the top, on a monthly level. So basically there are no sleeping campaigns.

I agree though that smaller clients are more aggressive in seeing PPC campaigns are on optimal condition. I also handle small accounts, spending just $100 daily and they even monitor performance on keyword level. :)

yeah this is a very interesting topic. When I worked briefly for a small SEO firm they charged $300 plus to manage the adwords for small business’ and basically look at it for like 20 minutes and print out a generic report.

It really made me think that for the majority of small business, you’re much better off learning the skills yourself.

Great blog, I’m fast becoming a fanboi


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