10 Myths or questions asked by companies who decide to hire their first digital marketing agency

At Whisskers, we have met hundreds of startups, SMBs, and even well established companies globally, in the last three years. And there are a common set of myths that we have observed with most of them that we would like to address here. If you’re thinking of asking for a meeting with your first prospect for an online ad management agency, make sure you get past these roadblocks much in advance so you can have your discussions around the more important things.


1. Isn’t there a fixed menu card of price/rate for particular keywords to bid on Google, or for particular slots?

No, there is no such thing. As we addressed this in our previous blog also, the entire online ad management across platforms is a highly dynamic real time auction. The suggested CPCs (Cost per clicks) for each keyword changes with the keyword’s online demand or online traffic, with seasonality, with the device on which it is searched for, with the geography in which the search was made, and multiple other factors. This rules out the idea of fixed prices for fixed slots like we see in offline advertising.

2. I think Google and Facebook pay a cut to agencies for every new advertising dollar they get for the them

Big NO! Any agency indirectly, is definitely a sales channel for these companies where the qualified ones are called Official Partners, but there is no such monetary deal between these partners and the giants like Google and Facebook. As a business model, it is the advertiser paying the agency so that the huge volume of their advertising budget is in safe hands and is used optimally to meet their online goals.

3. How much should I put in online advertising per month? The other agency told me only 40 Lakhs while you’re saying 80 Lakhs

Firstly, let me clear a big misconception here. The advertising amount that you decide to spend on will be directly proportional to the number of conversions or leads you generate through your website, as long as there is a target market in the geography being targeted. Unlike an offline ad where you are sold a slot at a certain price by a vendor and probably a discounted price quoted by another vendor for the same slot that sees the same number of similar type of eye balls every day. Here you get to be in front of as many in your target audience as your budget allows. So instead of having conversations around the total budgets needed, which is important but will not ascertain conversions and your cost calculation, it’s important to look at the approximate amount that you might end up spending for EACH conversion that happens on your website, through EACH channel that is a part of your digital marketing plan. The unit economics of the same, should then be extrapolated to your online goals for the FY to be able to decide on how much to start with. The other way of approaching this is, that you allocate a certain percentage of your revenue to advertising and then let that boil down to the final conversion numbers and hence the monthly ad budget.

4. How can we know how much is a competitor spending online or converting at what rate?

This is a big no unless you are an Account Manager at Google or Facebook and thus have access to your portfolio’s accounts. But under no circumstances can this kind of data be revealed to anyone else, and there is no way you can extract this as this is confidential to the platform as well as to the advertiser. Just the way you would want it to be with your ad accounts.

5. Can you share the database of all those who click on my ad?

Now that’s the one we hear only from companies that have absolutely no background on how it works. We don’t blame them, it is a new industry and a black box for many. A click leads to a user landing to your landing page. To get their details, the only way is, to have a form on the landing page which the user has a choice to fill.

6. You generate leads for us through Google and FB, but we’ll pay you a cut or commission only once a lead generated by you, converts into a sale

This is again too far fetched a deal to be true. 1. Lead generation is surely in the hands of your digital marketing partner assuming the website is already most appropriate to meet your online goals. But whether it will convert into a sale is completely dependent on factors out of the control of your DM Partner – like sales team follow ups, your product, competitors space, pricing, market, etc. Betting on any of these means we are moving away from a partner based model to a stakeholder in the company model, where you assess the factors needed to understand before investing in a company. Most likely you’ll hear a NO.

7. And there are the unending start up pitches to make you an investor so you work for free

Just like mentioned in the above point as well, to take a stake in the company for digital marketing of the product (usually online companies propose that) and spend your own resources in managing it at your own cost, is not a good business decision for a digital marketing partner as there has to be a full 360 degree approach on deciding on which startups to invest on. Cashless deals usually will not sustain for long if a digital partner starts following this model with multiple companies.

8. The other agencies, some big and some small are asking for half of what you are asking for

In the service industry, yes its difficult to just put a price like you do to a product. But just the way we decide to choose a slightly more expensive telecom service provider to ensure you are not hanging out of your balcony for signal, or you choose a different car because the after sales service is really good, or sometime pick a air carrier only because its flights are always on time, similarly, you need to know what all is at stake if you pick a cheaper option to manage your company’s hard earned advertising money. Some things we have heard from our clients who changed agencies and came to us, are – reports wouldn’t come unless asked for, getting on regular calls or meetings was not convenient to arrange, new products within the platforms were not considered for opting in, will there be a backup if any of your employees is on leave, are there fixed number of optimizations you will perform or how do you decide, are all of your employees Facebook and Google certified or just my Account Manager, and many more. Now these are service quality related concerns that you do not want to get into. Specially when digital marketing is your company’s front end for sales. Take that call, and hire a digital marketing partner rather than a vendor agency.

9. Since we are doing SEO already, you should not have a difficult time achieving your online ads target as we already have a optimized website

This is also a very common concern. Please note SEO and SEM are by no means dependent on each other. SEO gives you organic listings because your website is well optimized, but SEM gives you access to paid ad slots so that you can lead people to your well optimized website. These are 2 different algorithms and need to be addressed accordingly. The only way in which these might help each other is in having more shelf space and hence in the minds of the consumer.

10. I’d rather hire an expert than pay you the same or higher price

Well now that’s the catch. When you go ahead to hire experts in digital marketing, chances are you will not be able to find one man do it all as in most cases you will require a separate search specialist, a display specialist who can do remarketing, a youtube specialist, a facebook ad specialist, and an account manager to manage them all. With a digital partner you skip all the efforts of building the full team, their management and regular trainings and workshops of these employees which will allow you to focus on the product or service you are building.

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