I am pretty suprised that Search Engine Land decided to publish the article called ‘The 5 secrets PPC agencies don’t want you to know‘.

I get sick & tired of people who write articles with an agenda and this seems to be yet another case of self serving rubbish. If you haven’t read the article, the author Jon Miller of Marketo basically dismisses the use of PPC agencies & pushes for the use of automated technology that can be used in-house.

Suffice to say, Jon Millers bio at the bottom of the piece explains exactly what his business offers.

“Jon Miller is VP of Marketing for Marketo, a provider of affordable, easy-to use-marketing automation software that helps B2B marketing professionals drive revenue and improve accountability”.

Who would of thought?

The article itself mixes a number of decent arguments against oursourcing PPC, with a short sighted & biased whine that purposely misses the complete picture while pushing for the use of automated technology that they just so happen to offer.

Some interesting arguments are made as to why businesses should run campaigns in-house –

  • A lot of agencies do not specialise in B2B marketing (rather than B2C)
  • Agency business models are focused to spending more time with higher spenders
  • You know the business better than an agency
  • In-house improves flexiblity & ability to react quicker
  • Agency incentives are not aligned with your goals

While some of these points are interesting, it’s the surrounding exaggerations & level of bias that are used to back up the argument that ultimately strip the article of value. I don’t mind an article that presents one side of a story, it’s just when its presented with such short sighted, self serving bias it becomes irritating.

I particulary like the use of extreme cases, such as-

“I recently met with one B2B marketer who was paying his agency a whopping 40% of his overall PPC budget, yet they were still bidding on words that were not converting to leads. All the back-and-forth emails and phone calls required to coordinate changes created latency and information loss. This meant it took weeks to get a new campaign launched. In contrast, his competitor who kept search in-house could launch new campaigns in under one day. It’s no wonder the competitor had better PPC results.”

40% fee? WOW. I have never heard of an agency charging that much before.

I could pick out this one time I got my car ‘fixed’ which I later found out that the particular mechanic who carried out the work significantly overcharged me & didn’t carry out ‘all’ the work that was required. I could on this basis bring my impending clutch replacement in-house because of it? Or maybe I could just do some research to find a reputable, cost effective agency, I mean mechanic, to complete the work efficiently in the first place?

Yes there are a some poor agencies out there, like in all walks of business. But using an extreme case as an example should not be used to define an entire industry set.

I have to say, from the whole article my favourite quote involves Mr Miller implying we can all be PPC experts with the use of automated technology. Such as –

“The main value provided by agencies is expertise with SEM, and as I’ll explain, you can bring much of that expertise in-house by using the right kind of pay per click management software.”


“However, I believe that your best results will come from having your PPC campaigns managed by the true experts – you. The same techniques and best practices used by agencies can and should be automated with technology. Choosing B2B search marketing software allows you to optimize your PPC campaigns like an expert, without the loss of control, latency, and overhead associated with an outside agency.”

So we all just need this software and we can run campaigns like experts?

Not even close.

No matter how useful automated technology can be, it’s still way off from being able to offer anything like complete control and optimisation of a campaign to an expert level.

Bid management and ROI/CPA based rules are far from perfect, so do not believe the hype. A major part of getting the most out of a PPC campaign is still very much gained manually by the individual running it. The opaque nature of quality based bid platforms pushes the need for human control & optimisation further. The software alone will not make your campaign perform anything like expertly.

It’s a shame the article was marred by an agenda as it’s an important topic for many businesses & it has a very interesting piece of research by Jupiter at its heart. Although the article fails to provide a link to the source.

Nobody would argue you need business expertise and search marketing expertise to make PPC campaigns as effective as possible. Equally, in some situations in-house campaigns might well be far more effective than outsourcing the work. Then again, there are many reputable agencies out there who, with the right communication & expertise will do a better job than an inexperienced In-house team (even with automated technology!).

Even Jons final conclusion from his company blog sums it up –

“My conclusion: The best path to success with PPC advertising is to manage the program in-house with the aid of pay per click management software.”

With a direct link to the Marketo ppc management software. If the whole thing is not a sales pitch, I really don’t know what is. Sigh. To use his final line –

“Choosing B2B search marketing software allows you to optimize your PPC campaigns like an expert, without the loss of control, latency, and overhead associated with an outside agency. And that’s an inconvenient truth for the agencies.”

In fact, the “inconvenient truth” is that Jon Miller has been rumbled. I just hope this is the last biased sales pitch Search Engine Land publishes, as anyone with a brain can see through the bullshit.