Pros & Cons Of Working at an Ad Agency


Stirling Ruuth

November 17, 2014

Are you a solid ladder climber or comfy in your own nest?

Here at Disruptive Advertising, we are somewhat biased when it comes to working with an agency (maybe because we are an agency?), but most of us have had experience working at an ad agency or as in-house PPC managers for small, medium and enterprise companies. 

The point of this post is not to sway you either way but to give options and a better understanding of how agencies and in-house PPC management work.

Let’s Start with Working At An Ad Agency:


– Agencies should stay current with industry and marketing trends. They follow pioneers and/or are potentially mavens in the PPC arena. This tenacity translates into the latest and greatest tools, tips and tricks to getting results. The great agencies set precedence and create the trends others read about and emulate.

– Agency PPC managers have experience with many different kinds of businesses, business models, and industries that could help while testing ideas to build profitability for the client.

– Some agencies have teams dedicated to work with businesses within a certain industry. These teams can have vast industry knowledge and can really help a company looking to advertise start off on the right foot and get headed in the right direction towards profitability faster. The curve may have already been learned at someone else’s expense!

– Costs are generally a lot lower for working with an agency compared to hiring a full time individual or team (think PPC account manager, copywriter, designer, developer, etc). Agencies usually charge clients on a management fee basis, a percentage of spend, or a combination of both. The agencies that do both, are often the ones to work with because they want to have enough skin in the game and also with an opportunity to grow with the clients.

– You can bounce ideas off of colleagues who might be dealing with the same issues while working at an in-house place you’ll be forced to figure out a solution yourself.


– Agencies may not have intimate knowledge of business workings and internal processes of the specific client. Communication is huge and often times, goals and procedures are not communicated directly.

– Some agencies overwork their account managers with too many accounts. This often results in poor oversight and your account not getting the attention it needs. Growth happens slower if at all. Ask your potential agency how many clients each account manager has when you are interviewing them. More on what to ask an agency while interviewing them, check our 10 Questions to ask when choosing a PPC Agency

– Depending on the agency, you may be working with very experienced people or a ton of interns. Newer/less experienced agencies simply can’t afford the best talent out there, so they settle with pretty much anyone with some kind of PPC experience.

How About Working In-House?


– You get to focus on one product/service and have enough time to do it very well. This leaves for continued growth and attention through PPC and CRO testing.

– Nobody wants to be micromanaged, but having an individual/team of others close to you when ideas or new products/services need to be rolled out is a great competitive advantage.


– Small/medium businesses sometimes can’t afford to keep you on if you are slow at producing. With agencies, you have multiple clients to work on and sometimes failure happens based off the business model that’s being helped.

– Training may be an issue. There may be a certain way your PPC accounts have been set up that will need to be explained and trained upon, resulting in a varying learning curve.

You may be thinking, “Oh I run an enterprise level business, we need a full on in-house team to make sure we can have the agility we need to progress.” In this case, a good agency with focus on your growth makes the most sense. Let the agency take the hit for hiring talent while you focus on the profits, savings, and growth the agency will provide.

I have worked at both ends of the spectrum and see pros and cons of each side. Sometimes a dedicated in-house team is worth it, sometimes it isn’t. Many people take the agency route first to gain the knowledge in a faster paced environment before they’re hired in-house somewhere else.

What’s your experience like working for an ad agency?

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