Posted by & filed under PPCChat.

This week’s PPCChat session has focused on Pricing Structure for Paid Search Platforms. Hosted by Julie F Bacchini, this session discussed about different pricing model, aspects of pricing structure and more.

Here is the screencap of the discussion.


Q1: What types of work do you engage in right now – Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook, etc.?


Paid search (Google Ads & Bing). For clients where we’re already getting awesome results, we’ll add on other paid media / paid social. @amyppc

All of the above! We do Google Ads, Facebook, Bing Ads, Amazon, LinkedIn, SEO, Web Dev, UX and Design. Digital marketing agency over here. @amaliaefowler

All of the above! @NeptuneMoon

Mostly Google Ads and Facebook. @IamNextSTEPH

Google, Bing, Pinterest, Quora and now we finally have 2 Amazon clients!!!! We also do some remarketing on Criteo for a client. @duanebrown

Google, Bing, FB, LI, Pinterest, Quora, YouTube, Twitter. @SEMFlem

Google, a bit of Bing, Facebook/Instagram and LinkedIn right now. I’ve been thinking about Quora & Pinterest for a client lately but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. @adwordsgirl

Google, Bing, FB/Insta, Linkedin, Snap, Twitter and other random partners. @JonKagan

You can never go wrong with Google + Facebook Ads! @MaverickAdverts

We engage in Google Ads and Facebook Ads currently. @marccxmedia

Google and Bing Ads. I dabble in a bit of Facebook to self advertise. @mindswanppc

Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook and LinkedIn mostly when talking PPC but besides that we also focus on SEO. @StephanieErne


Q2: What do your engagements typically look like? One off projects, strategy only, ongoing management, etc.?


We have a good chuck of one off projects. It’s great as it lets us work with brands like WooCommerce without need a long term contract. Most clients are on-going strategy + execution though. @duanebrown

Ongoing management or training, mostly. I’ve taken over a few accounts that hired someone for strategy only.” It’s never been good. @amyppc

Depends. Definitely prefer ongoing management for the sake of reliability, but I take on one offs too. The shorter the time commitment the higher the price is the rule for me. So even projects balance it all out. @markpgus

We do all the different kind of engagement, depending on client needs. But I think for us most revenue comes from ongoing management. @StephanieErne

Grateful to say I do mostly strategy and tactic troubleshooting, and let the team get on with the PPC trench work. Having a slightly more detached perspective really helps. @beyondcontent

For our PPC clients it is almost entirely ongoing management, although sometimes we have one off clients for product launches/program launches. @amaliaefowler

Ongoing management is the bulk of what I do but I leave time for projects such as audits, consultation and custom reporting. @scright

Ongoing services including typically

(1) an initial account setup or overhaul,

(2) ongoing management,

(3) regular reporting,

(4) PPC related strategy communication. @PPCKirk

Ongoing management is ideal, but always depends. @MaverickAdverts

Generally strategy development, implementation and then ongoing management. Some audit work as well. @NeptuneMoon

Long term play, so its full service for a long term program with a client, but their may be smaller sub projects within it. @JonKagan

Mostly ongoing management, but that comes sometimes after an initial project or audit. @SEMFlem

On going engagements. We’ll do the random one off audit for a client too. @adwordsgirl

Our PPC engagements are on-going management with some initial strategy development if the client needs help there. This is usually with a 6-month retainer to start. @marccxmedia

Various engagements based on what my clients need. Some I just do audits when needed and others I am part of their marketing team. @lchasse

When I was in an agency, it was almost all ongoing management after setup. @ferkungamaboobo


Q3: Do you have different pricing models for different types of projects, work or platforms?


Yes, but its not by platform or tactic. It used to be like that when I got here, and that was frustrating to me because it didn’t actually allow the strategists to adapt to changing business needs. Now its almost entirely tailored and not tied to ad spend at all. @amaliaefowler

Overall, it all boils down to hourly + profit on the agency side, even if you’re packaging it differently. @ferkungamaboobo

Our typical engagement is now consistent (see my answer to A2). If we were doing different types of services, we would absolutely charge differently. Same with platforms, etc. @PPCKirk

I prefer to price the initial discovery and strategy as one project, implementation as the second phase and ongoing mgmt as a set monthly. This works great for search, not so much for social…@NeptuneMoon

Hourly answer doesn’t work for this one (I’m already prepping my volley against hourly ?) because value provided differs greatly based on the type of service being provided. One of strategy consultation? Your hourly value is far higher than ongoing technical work. @PPCKirk

I have most of my ongoing mgmt clients on percent of spend. It’s just simpler (and most of my clients have fairly consistent budgets). @robert_brady

We have consultative pricing for a 1 off project, everything else is FTE model: Hourly rate by person by rank, with x number of hours assigned to the work per person. @JonKagan

We try to keep things simple as our pricing can be based on:

1. Account Audit

2. Strategy / CRO

3. Strategy + Execution

We don’t do free “audits” aka account reviews and we never will. If WooCommerce can pay … y’all can to if you are a lead. @duanebrown

We generally set a retainer based on how much they’re spending monthly (we just have brackets vs. % of spend since we all know I’m not a fan of that pricing model). For one off projects, we do hourly. @adwordsgirl

I currently work on a day rate and then there is discussion as to how many days are needed/what the budget is. Agree with the time is money comment! @mindswanppc

No. We just estimate hours for the project or for the monthly retainer. @SEMFlem

We have the set retainer price, but we do offer a slight discount if the client signs with an SEO and PPC package.@marccxmedia

Ongoing management will be value based pricing as well as most projects. On certain projects usually involving consultation I’ll work an hourly rate. @scright

Nope we just bill by the hour mostly. Although audits, initial set-ups etcetera usually have a fixed price. @StephanieErne

My old agency did %age of spend with floor where I was there. The agency before that was tiered buckets of %age of spend. Still, that percentage was calculated based on an hourly expectation. @ferkungamaboobo


Q4: Has your pricing structure evolved over the past year or two in any significant ways? If so, how?


I am evolving my Facebook pricing structure, as using my search ad structure is not a great fit. Facebook campaigns require a lot more changing of ads & audiences more frequently than search does. @NeptuneMoon

We moved away from charging per “tactic” – we had to renegotiate all the time. Before I managed the department we charged separately for “search” “remarketing” and “display” which was confusing and a lot of paperwork. @amaliaefowler

Tweaked our strategy fee to be palatable last year, which means we won more business. Otherwise, everything else is the same. @duanebrown

We tried some things but are still doing hourly mostly. But we do keep asking ourself once in a while if this is still the best way or if we should shift. But that’s healthy for an organization I think. @StephanieErne

That question implies I had a firm pricing model to begin with… There are always so many factors with each client. Most every deal is different somehow. @robert_brady

We priced around the client’s budget (I know, I know not necessarily a good plan) in the past, now we’ve put a pricing bracket together that makes life a bit easier and also helps me figure out if the lead could potentially be a client. @adwordsgirl

I think separating “Setup” as its own profitable project on its own, not subsidized or affected by monthly maintenance, is a lot stronger position than having “setup” be a loss-leader in favor of getting the business. @ferkungamaboobo

Last 2 years? no. Last 5-8 years, the exiting of % of spend to FTE became much better for work efforts. @JonKagan

We haven’t changed the pricing structure much (if any) over the last two years. @marccxmedia


Q5: Are there aspects of your pricing structure that are working really well?


Audit and search work are locked down into a well oiled pricing structure for me. Landing page consulting is pretty straightforward too! @NeptuneMoon

Increasing my minimum monthly floor. The mental load of a client is real. @robert_brady

Getting clients to pay for strategy each month means we always talking about it and asking if we should do something. We are not just trying to cross off items on a to do list. @duanebrown

I think our audit pricing works really well, and the fact that we get fairly compensated depending on the scope of the clients work. I also feel like we don’t have to worry about recommendations for clients with spend, cause our retainers aren’t at all tied to that. @amaliaefowler

I like how we have it structured right now. I don’t think it’ll stay this way as we grow but it works for us right now. @adwordsgirl

It comes down to the margin by department, we find we get a good bang for the buck on SEO/SEM management, but take a hit when it comes to meetings and analytics. @JonKagan

Because we have a 3rd party verified, agreed upon “anchor” (media spend) there is natural accepted growth in our agency fees as we perform well for a client. It also naturally covers holiday additional work since spend naturally rises as well. @PPCKirk

Our pricing structure tends to work well as is overall. @marccxmedia


Q6: Are there aspects of your pricing structure that are NOT working very well right now?


Social advertising is still a work in progress for me, as I have mentioned in several earlier answers. @NeptuneMoon

Because we define the work up-front it is sometimes hard to switch to something else if we think it makes more sense for the client because they expect the work we told them. So we try to withhold from that more. But I guess that is more a quote issue than pricing. @StephanieErne

As much as I tout our tailored pricing, I do think there’s something to be said for the amount of work that goes into it. I’d love to have some sort of system for smaller client so that every sales deal doesn’t have to go through me for pricing. @amaliaefowler

Analytics/reporting/meetings, the clients always want more, and in these scenarios, skimping on the evidence to prove success is tough to say no to. @JonKagan

Our account audit fee can be a shock for clients that want the free reviews… I hold strong and tell them to come back when they want to level up. You get what you pay for in the end. There is a reason it is free. @duanebrown

Our pricing structure tends to work well as is overall. @marccxmedia


Q7: Are there things that you regularly do in the course of your work that you think clients undervalue?


Reporting can feel undervalued, especially the aspect of it that leads to refinement of strategies. @NeptuneMoon

The dreaded weekly phone call. That’s 2-4 hours a month of my time. Some clients really want it and it makes them feel better but I feel like it actually hampers progress, constantly re-evaluating. @amaliaefowler

Thinking time, monitoring the campaign, creating good content for a landingpage. @StephanieErne

ongoing QA. No one realizes the importance of it. @JonKagan

Communication. Communication is necessary, but can easily move from helpfully strategic (so we push the right buttons) into defensive or explanatory for the sake of a curious executive. Important to control this, somehow…@PPCKirk

Where do I start?!?! Account setup and structure, my CV vs factory shops, knowing what NOT to do and being able to predict how a choice today will affect your future around tech/data flowing between ad platforms / tech. Things I know don’t occur to all clients. @duanebrown

Much like you, @neptunemoon, we’re in agreement on some of the reporting aspects. @marccxmedia

I think it’s the fact that I may actually know who their clients/customers are better than them because I’m in the accounts adjusting things that only makes us more knowledgeable on who that person is. @adwordsgirl

Definitely reporting. And meetings and turn-around times for some requests. The seem to think things take 5seconds to do. SLAs are soo important. @mindswanppc

Because I’m in their search terms reports, running ad tests, LP tests, etc. I get a VERY good idea of who their customers are and what motivates them. As time goes on my intuition/”gut” gets very valuable. @robert_brady

Reporting and Insights. It became a billable item at my previous agency due to how custom it became. I put a lot of upfront time into reporting that it can be charged in the setup process. However, had clients dispute this and what am I going to do.. Not report? @scright

We do quarterly presentations and work so hard on them. I hate every single minute because they may appreciate them that day, but a week later it’s “what have you for me lately”. Then again I am an analyst. Not a client manager. @360vardi


Q8: Are there pricing practices you’ve come up against that you felt were problematic?


When an agency has a bucket of hours at a set rate, but no reporting on which employees recorded those hours. If hours are getting billed at $100/hr and most of the work is getting done by $15/hr jr analysts I have a problem with that. @robert_brady

Not that we can recall! @marccxmedia

Selling hours… is your value in the hours worked or the end result? We don’t sell hours..@duanebrown

% of spend and flat retainer. Neither one of them gives a proper scoping of the work, and if spend/work changes, either the marketer or the client loses out. @JonKagan

Echoing @robert_brady a bit – when the super experienced team members do the pitch and then the actual account is handled by people with way less experienced and the client never really knows this is what will happen. @NeptuneMoon

I don’t see this a lot any more but long ago there were people/agencies asking an x amount per click. We saw some really irrelevant keywords in accounts we took over from them. @StephanieErne

I’d saying hourly because,

1. I have a hard time determining what we should be charging hourly

2. We bring way more value so it’s hard to feel like we’ve been fairly compensated. @adwordsgirl


Q9: If you could change anything about the way PPC services are sold, what would it be?


I wish the legacy of “cheap and fast” for all things internet would fade into oblivion already. @neptunemoon

No lying, smoke & mirrors games. No selling something you have no tell of a chance to delivery on. @duanebrown

Changing the mantra of bottom of the funnel capability to a full on complementary and supporting channel @JonKagan

If it’s something related to our services, then bringing in someone to consult on designing display creatives to help with display campaigns that tend to get bottlenecked on the client side. @marccxmedia

That PPC isn’t a quick fix to conversion rate problems. Be prepared to be patient to work out the most appropriate tactics. @GirlGoDigital

Hate it when agencies/sales people make promises they can’t keep. How long things take. Also, your best practice isn’t always going to work for every account. @360vardi


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