Digital Marketing for Startups: In-House vs Agency

PPC marketing is an immediate way to drive traffic to your website, generate leads and build brand awareness. This makes it an invaluable source especially for startups still having to establish themselves against bigger, better-known competitors. However, PPC campaigns are an investment, and it takes more than just a few keywords and clicks to get results. Ineffective campaigns can quickly turn into a dangerous budget burner, so it’s a good idea to hire experts to get results in the quickest and most cost-effective way possible.

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How long will it take?


  • An in-house team takes time to build. It involves research on needed skills, establishing a team structure, finding qualified employees and training them. Additional time would be spent on finding an effective strategy and supervising them.
  • The initial period will consist of a lot of trial and error, which will result in a longer time to attain profitable results and achieve a skillset comparable to that of agency PPC specialists.
  • On the plus side, communicating with an in-house team is a lot more flexible and time effective.


  • An agency will already have its team structure and strategy in place. They will already have the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver the job.
  • However, an agency will require time to get to know your company, your products and goals, and they might never know and understand it as intimately as an in-house team would.
  • Communicating with an agency will require regularly scheduled meetings and check-ins, which can be time consuming. Making changes to your campaigns or setting up new ones will be a lengthier process because finding time to communicate, respond and approve is more complex.


What quality of work can I expect?


  • Your team is committed to and focused on your business only. An in-house team will be more invested because, unlike an agency that works for many different businesses, your company’s success directly affects them.
  • Their work will be more personal and representative of your business, because their knowledge of your company’s products, products and brand identity will always be more thorough.
  • An in-house team is more manageable than an agency. You get to pick and train the staff and monitor their work and pace.
  • An in-house team won’t have the same level of expertise and drive to stay ahead of the curve that an agency has.


  • An agency can provide an outside opinion and evaluate your startup the way a potential customer would. Together with their tactics and thorough knowledge of market trends, this results in a solid strategy tailored to your business.
  • Agency staff is usually certified in search and analytics. They always strive to stay on top of the best PPC practices in order to perform better than the competition.
  • An agency will have more in-depth skills, experience and insights.

How efficient will they be?


  • Especially as a startup, there often isn’t enough work to justify hiring a full-time team on an ongoing basis. Having a team work on just a few campaigns for months is an inefficient investment.
  • Dissatisfaction with the quality of the team would mean a lengthy and expensive process of firing, re-hiring and re-training new employees.


  • With an agency, you can decide on the desired length of your contract, investing only what is necessary. If you aren’t happy, you can simply switch agencies during the process.
  • You are able to focus on your own areas of expertise to drive your business rather than supervising a team, which will gain you a significant amount of precious time.
  • An agency brings the benefit of easier access to source companies: If there are problems, they can get answers from Google, Bing or Facebook directly, because they have dedicated teams working with them. WIthout a high enough spend or agency, this is not an option for many companies.

How much will it cost?


For an in-house team, you will need to cover the salaries and benefits of each team member, plus recruitment, hiring, training and equipment expenses. The average monthly salary of a PPC specialist lies at around $5,500, without benefits, vacation pay etc.


Agencies tend to charge either a percentage of advertising spend or a monthly flat fee, averaging at around 1,000-$3,500.


In conclusion, startups are likely to find agencies more profitable as they are more cost-effective and experienced than in-house teams and are able to deliver results faster. However, which strategy is best suited for your business also depends on your resources, budget and priorities. Whether you take the in-house or agency approach for your PPC management is a decision based on your capacity and priorities, which may also shift as your company grows. If you decide going with an agency, make sure to inform yourself on what to look for in a digital marketing agency.

Need help with your PPC management? Search & Gather is a digital marketing agency that specializes in PPC. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are looking for affordable help with Paid Search, Paid Social, or Online Conversion.

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