Anyone who manages marketing or advertising for their company has battled with the decision of whether to hire an in-house team or look for an outside agency. With that said, there are pros and cons of each option, and since I’ve been on both sides of the table, I wanted to share some insights that I’ve discovered during my journey.

Now, of course, since I run a digital advertising agency, some of these points could lean one way, but I’ll do my best to be objective!

Let’s begin.

Channel Expertise

Agency

Since advertising can be the only service an agency focuses on, their team is well-versed in all aspects of paid advertising. Things change on a dime with these platforms, so those who are proactive will have a better sense of how to adjust your strategy to keep up with these changes. If the agency is a Google and/or Facebook Partner, you will benefit from those perks as well.

In-House

Sure, you can hire a digital advertising specialist who can focus solely on paid media, but that one person may not be well-versed across all the digital advertising platforms. Not even to mention you aren’t able to benefit from all the insights you gather from managing thousands of campaigns. Also, there are costs you will want to consider which we will get into later in this post.

Industry Experience

Agency

In some cases, agencies will have select industries or verticals they work with daily. Find those. Similar to having the channel expertise, the agency who works in your vertical understands all the nuances of your industry. They also understand the specific challenges that come with advertising your product or service on certain channels.

In-House

If you can get lucky and find someone who has decades of knowledge and experience in your industry, that would be ideal! Otherwise, you can always hire a person without the background and spend the time (can take up to 6 months) to train them, but that can’t replace real-world experience.

Bandwidth

Agency

Established agencies will have set processes in place that allow for efficiencies as well as an entire team of people at multiple levels dedicated to your success not disrupted with outside noise or projects.

In-House

Unless you have an entire department of advertising folks dedicated to paid media, you are typically limited to one or two people that are also working on other marketing initiatives at any given time.

Costs

Agency

Based on discussions with prospects and clients, the cost is one of the biggest factors when considering hiring an agency versus staying in-house. When you work with an agency, you don’t occur all the overhead fees involved with onboarding a new employee or an entire marketing team. Also, if for any reason you aren’t satisfied with the performance, you can transition to another agency quickly.

In-House

Hiring talented and experienced people is expensive! Salary.com shows the total cost of a marketing manager is $148,013. This cost accounts for salary, bonuses, social security, 401k, disability, healthcare, and time-off. And let’s not forget the costs involved with a high turnover rate. Every time you lose an employee, you’ll need to go through the lengthy and expensive hiring process all over again.

Company Culture

Agency

Although agencies can have deep relationships with their clients, there is no substitute for having a person on-site. Of course, that becomes easier if they are local. If not, the good news is with tools like Slack, and a little thing called social media; agencies can promote and even participate in their client’s events.

In-House

When your marketing person or team is in-house, they typically have a better pulse on the company culture since they are spending time with the rest of the group, attending company events, etc. You also have more control over their onboarding and training process.

Integration

Agency

Although paid media services are what you are looking for, the ideal agency should have experience with all forms of digital marketing, including SEO, social media and email marketing. And since paid media can’t live in a silo, this ensures that your campaigns are congruent with all your other marketing efforts.

In-House

On the other hand, with a limited staff in-house, there is no guarantee that your team will have the necessary experience working across all full-service marketing channels. For example, a PPC specialist likely will not be able to handle additional services, such as SEO, email marketing, etc.

Scalability

Agency

Hiring an agency provides more flexibility for companies who need to scale rapidly since they already have the infrastructure in place to support the move. Furthermore, if you want to suddenly increase or decrease your budget, you can do so without affecting your internal team.

In-House

Once you hire a team, you’ll have less flexibility to scale up and down. When you do scale up, you’ll need to go through the hiring and training for more employees, which is costly and slows down the process. And if you want to scale down, that means laying off members of your team.

In Conclusion

The reality is there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to growing your digital advertising results. It’s going to take a lot of time and money to find the right agency or build your team. I recommend you conduct research to determine what is most important to you as a business leader.

Are you more concerned with building a team from scratch or are you open to partnering with an agency that you can grow with? No matter which way you go, I hope you’ve found my feedback insightful. If there is anything else I can do to support you during your decision-making process, please email me at jason@ten26media.com

Cheers!