You can expect a fixed monthly fee of $1,500 to $10,000 (or 10-20% of ad spend) as a PPC management fee, depending on fee structures.
Here, you’ll find:
- A typical PPC management price
- Different types of fee structures
- PPC services you should expect
- Qualities to look for in a PPC agency
We all want to spend less and earn more.
So the idea of hiring a pay-per-click (PPC) management agency might feel like a scary addition to any business budget. But here’s the thing: While PPC ads are effective as heck, it generally takes investing in expert services to see real results.
So, how much should you expect to spend? What’s the typical PPC management price? And is the return worth the investment?
PPC management cost: A breakdown
Alright, let’s get to the question everyone’s been waiting for — how much does PPC management cost?
There are three common fee structures you’ll probably see along the way:
- Flat fee
- Percentage of ad spend
1. Flat fee
Typically, flat fees can range anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 or more per month. The flat fee model means you pay a one-time fee per month. And aside from a potential setup fee in your first month, this means a level of predictability in your budget. No surprises, no hidden fees.
Some PPC experts may use a tiered flat fee model. For example, if your PPC budget is $5,000, their flat fee may be $1,000/month. However, if your budget is $30,000, their fee may be $3,000/month.
Why does the PPC management price increase along with the size of the budget?
The Notorious B.I.G. may have put it best: Mo’ money, mo’ problems. In PPC speak, the higher the budget, the more effort is required to manage your PPC account.
2. Percentage of ad spend
The percentage can range from anywhere between 10-20%. However, some high-level experts may also charge around 30% as their management cost.
Percentage of ad spend is an agency pricing model that works on a commission basis, where agencies get a percentage of your monthly ad budget.
Typically, the percentage of ad spend fee goes down as your budget goes up. For example, for campaigns with a monthly ad spend of $2,000 (or less), the monthly fee could be 30% (or $600), whereas, for a campaign with a $100,000 monthly ad spend, the fee could be 5%.
3. Performance-based fees
A performance-based fee is when agencies only ask you to pay them for the leads they bring in. Sound like a good deal? Be careful. If you don’t find a credible agency, you might end up with low-quality leads that fail to convert.
Milestone-based pricing can be considered an extension of performance-based pricing. The only difference between these two is that milestone-based pricing looks at different key metrics to decide whose performance matters most.
How much should you expect to spend on PPC management?
The short answer: it depends.
As far as PPC campaign costs go, an average cost per click can range between $2-$5, with average ad spend of $9,000-$10,000 a month.
“The cost of an effective PPC strategy is highly dependent on factors like industry, service area, competition, and what the client deems effective,” says search marketing strategist Amalia Fowler. Does ‘effective’ mean generating new leads, more traffic, or something else?
PPC management price may also differ depending on who you ask. For example, 48% of advertisers handle accounts totaling less than $50,000 monthly spend, 45% of agencies handle accounts with a monthly spend between $50,000 – $500,000, and 85% of freelancers handle less than $250,000 a month, according to a report from TrueClicks.
The good news is you don’t need to spend $9-10k a month, as Wordstream suggests, to start PPC campaigns. A good PPC management agency will offer a hybrid option of a one-time flat fee, with a maintenance fee or a performance fee moving forward.
Ultimately, the best way to learn how much you’ll spend is to get a custom quote from an SEM agency. They will look at your business, budget, goals, and come up with a custom plan that’s perfect for you.
PPC management price and service: What’s included
Let’s outline the basics of what you should expect from PPC management services.
Strategy, strategy, strategy
Your team of PPC experts should build a marketing strategy for your business to make your outlined KPIs come to life by identifying your:
- Bid types
- Optimization objectives
- Creative recommendations
- Custom audiences
- Ad copy and assets
- Traffic analysis
Using your approved strategy, campaign buildout services should include:
- Campaign restructuring
- Ad copy creation
- Conversion and tracking setup
- Negative keyword lists
- Setting bid strategies
- Remarketing setup
- Optimizing landing pages
- A/B testing setup
- For ecommerce clients, ensuring the product feed is robust, accurate, and connected to the right Google Merchant Center (GMC) account
At HawkSEM, this is when we connect our client’s marketing channels to ConversionIQ, our proprietary marketing tool that keeps all marketing data across platforms (like Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising for Bing, Amazon advertising, social media channels, HubSpot, Google Analytics — you name it) in one place.
Ongoing optimization & reporting
This is where the bulk of your PPC management services will live month-to-month. This includes:
- Refreshing ad copy, assets, and ad formats
- Ongoing keyword research and development
- A/B testing keyword variations, landing pages, and assets
- Updating negative keyword lists
- Conversion rate optimizations (CRO)
- Adjusting bidding strategies if needed
- Improving Quality Score
- Trying new match types
- Recurring reports that are easy to understand (more on this later)
While this isn’t the full spectrum of all the work involved, it gives you an idea of the heavy workload you should expect from an agency — and some insight into why you might not want to look for the cheapest option.
After all, any agency offering cheap options is probably cutting corners along the way. Like my mom always said, some things you just can’t afford to buy cheap.
Is PPC management worth the price?
Paid advertising has seen momentous growth recently. Consider Google: In 2020, the platform earned a total of $146.92 billion in advertising revenue. Fast forward a year later and they earned $209.49 billion. That’s an increase of $62.57 billion in just 365 days.
What’s more, over 74% of all marketers stated that they believe PPC is a huge driver of business growth, according to Brain Labs Digital.
Here’s a closer look at other benefits of PPC and how it can help you capture more sales.
1. You only pay for clicks
“With PPC advertising, you only pay when someone takes an action on your ad — clicks it — which makes a big difference in lead generation,” says Joe Kevens, director of demand generation at PartnerStack, and founder at B2B SaaS Review.
Additionally, PPC ads target a specific stage in the customer buying journey. Typically, people who aren’t ready to take action will scroll past your ad. Those ready to buy will click and, hopefully, convert. The added benefit is your target audience will still be exposed to your brand, but it doesn’t cost you a penny if they don’t click.
The pay-per-click model allows businesses to shift their focus from how much they’ll spend on a campaign, to how much they’ll spend per lead. The amount for each lead may be different, depending on the target keyword you use.
2. You control how you rank (sort of)
Ranking on the first page of any search engine results page (SERP) enhances your credibility — and customers often click on the first few listings they see.
This is why many businesses choose to focus on search engine optimization (SEO); however, an SEO strategy takes longer to yield results, whereas PPC ads are like Disneyland’s VIP tickets that allow you to skip the queue, and enjoy the perks before anyone else.
“One of the biggest benefits of PPC is that you can start gaining exposure and traffic as soon as you turn your campaigns on,” says PPC expert Julie F. Bacchini. “While organic traffic is also desirable, it can take time for organic methods to begin to drive traffic. With PPC, your ads run as soon as your campaigns are live.”
3. It’s easy to analyze results (and optimize accordingly)
Another benefit of PPC is it’s easy for experts to analyze how your ads are performing. It tells experts which ads are experiencing higher conversions and which ads need to be adjusted for reduced costs and improved performance.
Google Analytics gives you access to important metrics like:
- Keyword rankings
- Traffic sources
These analytics help PPC experts monitor performance, and make strategic changes to campaigns that generate results and increase ROAS.
With the help of smart PPC management and diving deep into Google Analytics, Datadog saw an increase in the volume of high-quality leads—all while experiencing a better ROI.
More concretely, Datadog saw a 75% increase in sales demos, a 40% CPA reduction from a previously unsustainable mark, and boosted CTR from sub 1% to over 3%.
Different types of PPC agencies
Our industry is full of agencies with different specialties. Some cast a broad net, encompassing a full suite of online marketing services, while others narrow in on one very specific marketing platform, like Google Ads. (This is one reason among many why PPC management price will vary.)
As a business or marketing manager on the hunt for the right PPC management partner, you might see different terms thrown around from agency to agency — and it can get a little confusing.
Here’s an idea of some types of agencies you might encounter:
- Paid social advertising agency. These agencies offer paid advertising services for social platforms as opposed to managing paid ads on search engines or Amazon.
- Retargeting agency. Retargeting agencies are specialized organizations that work on capturing third party data and setting up segments for retargeting. These agencies are best for companies that see high bounce rates, and need help to convert those prospects.
- Digital marketing agency. A digital marketing agency uses all digital channels to build brand awareness for their clients, such as PPC, SEO, email marketing, branding, influencer marketing, data analysis, and metaverse marketing.
- PPC agency. A PPC agency will optimize your PPC ads and handle your ad buying and PPC spending. They don’t just help you navigate keywords, or analyze data, but also create ad copy.
- Search engine marketing agency. A search engine marketing agency will handle all aspects of marketing related to search. This includes SEO and PPC.
How to choose a PPC management agency
While price will be a big factor in choosing the right PPC management partner, there are other pressing factors you need to consider along the way.
While you might only want PPC management help at first, many businesses appreciate the option to expand their marketing strategy with an agency that offers other services, like SEO and email marketing.
Further, working with an agency that has the full industry know-how means they can seamlessly integrate your PPC efforts with any other existing marketing campaigns you have running.
Qualifications and experience
Did you find a cheap agency in your hunt? It’s important to ask why they are so affordable. The answer might be less experience or qualifications. Proof of qualifications, experience, awards, and achievements are crucial. When in doubt, find out:
- How long the agency been in business
- What certifications they have
- If they participate in ongoing education
- If they Google Premier Partners
Also be sure to read reviews and case studies as proof of success.
Communication and culture
Your future agency should match your energy and company culture. These experts will become part of your team after all, so collaboration should feel easy-peasy.
Make sure your expectations are met in terms of reporting frequency, the types of communication methods you’ll use (phone, email, video call), and general vibes. This component can be easily overlooked during your search for the right PPC management price, but it’s among the most important.
Different types of PPC ads
Not sure what types of PPC ads you want your agency to run on your behalf? No worries. Let’s run through your options:
1. Search ads
Search ads are the most common type of PPC ads, occupying the top positions on the SERP.
Made to blend in seamlessly with the organic search results (while still standing out at the top of the page), these ads are labeled with a small “ad” label that can be easy to miss.
To capture relevant traffic and make sales from a PPC search ad, it’s a good idea to hire a PPC expert. A PPC ad manager will research which keywords you need to target to capture more leads, and will adjust your keyword strategy based on clicks vs. conversions to help you get a better ROAS.
2. Video ads
Ever find yourself watching an ad before a YouTube video? Video ads also use pixels to track users. For example, I searched “best pants for men” on the YouTube search bar, and Google returned a Grammarly ad.
Even though Grammarly doesn’t have any correlation to pants, the ad appeared because of good audience targeting. It knows I’m a writer—the perfect audience for Grammarly.
YouTube is still the most popular video platform for paid video ads—largely because it’s so good at targeting the right audience.
3. Local service ads
Local service ads are a great resource for small businesses, especially since only local service providers are allowed to use these Google Ad campaigns.
To run local ads, you’ll need to set up a service provider account for your local business, create an ad budget, and then you are ready to create your first campaign.
These ads are powerful because they are highly targeted to buyers in your area who are actively looking for your services. When someone in your area searches for a keyword relevant to your business, your ad will pop up with your business name, your phone number, and your ratings—all which help drive foot traffic to your store.
4. Shopping ads
Shopping ads are an excellent tool for ecommerce companies, and often underutilized. These ads allow brands to showcase their products with an image and a flat rate. Here’s an example of what Google shopping ads look like for “shoes near me.”
The ads also display helpful snippets, including the product name, pick-up options, and the product’s rating.
All these factors combined give the customer all the data they need to make an informed purchasing decision.
5. Display ads
Display ads are sponsored ads that are visible on Google partners’ pages. Ever visit a website that showed an image of a product with an ad copy? That’s a display ad.
Display ads can be a good way to reach a different audience. But, the downside is they typically don’t get as many clicks as search ads. Stats show the average click-through rate (CTR) is 3.17% for search ads, and the average CTR for and for display ads is 0.46%.
7. Retargeting ads
Retargeting ads re-engage prospects who have already moved down the funnel, or shown some potential for converting. These ads use Google pixel to track website visitors on different websites, and to target them there.
For example, if you were halfway through booking your flights to Dubai on one website, and a few days later, you find yourself surrounded by display ads for Dubai tourism, it’s likely a retargeted ad.
While retargeting still works, remember that iOS 14.5 has already affected third party tracking and Google is expected to follow suit in 2023.
Managing paid search is no easy task. And understanding PPC management price models and services you can expect will help you find the right team for your needs. You’ll be targeting the right prospects, capturing more customers, and reducing your PPC budget in no time.
This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2022.