How to Choose Between In-House Marketing vs Ad Agency

In recent trends businesses and founders are debating whether or not to use an ad agency. First of all, there is no right or wrong direction to choose. The answer depends on a variety of factors directly related to your business, and where you’re looking to take it in the future. In this article we will go over the pros and cons of in-house vs agency options.


If you can afford to hire a multitude of people with different skill sets in creative, and have enough work for all of them, then an in-house marketing team would be the best choice. Working with an agency helps your business with cost and knowledge of different areas of expertise. For example, with an agency you’ll have a media planner, analytics manager, creative developer, etc. Example of how in-house could be a better a choice if you have the budget.


* Marketers are naturally creative and are attracted to diversity. It’s easy for creative minds to get bored. Having an in-house team solely devoted to you may stagnate creativity, given that they are focused on one project, rather than multiple. This could cause a lot more to turn over, if your brand is boring.

* In-house marketers, however, will have a deep understanding of your direct competitors.


* Agencies have several unique client accounts that they work with daily. Their minds are fresh and always moving, given that they are exposed to a wide variety of businesses and industries. You can benefit from the ideas and patterns they see by being active in multiple industires.

* They have experience in getting you better ROI on Google, Facebook and other platforms. The industry is always changing and it’s important for you to have people who are always looking out for your business.

There is no better or worse. If you notice that your in-house team is in a rut, or if you’re looking to develop a campaign that is not suited to the skills of your in-house team, an agency would be a good way to go.


Keeping up with trends is a big deal in advertising. Each platform has their own set of specs and privacy rules to manage and you as the brand have to adapt. WordStream has few of the current trends but note people are always changing. For example in 2020, tiktok has become the fast growing platform and they don’t follow the marketing norm when it comes to creative.

Many of my clients are reaching out and asking what is the best strategy to build out tiktok even though they have a in-house team. Agencies have more than one client which helps them to get into betas as faster vs brand with an in-house team. It all comes to down to being able to adapt and communicate. Neither is better or worse. Speed depends on how quickly the decision maker can communicate on the project. Below are some examples of being able to adapt in a changing market.


* The in-house team is, well, in-house. They are the desk or office beside you, which makes for a quick back and forth.

* Internal teams can be overburdened if given too many high-priority tasks at the same time. In this case, however, timelines are more malleable, and your in-house employee will be able to handle a task from start to finish.


* An agency can have a beneficial ‘outside’ perspective.

* Task coordination usually happens between a representative from your company and one from an agency. This is the best way to communicate quickly, and fluidly.


In-house marketing can get expensive when you start to do the math on how much it costs to maintain a team with salaries, benefits and taxes. Since agency employees work on multiple clients it costs them less for the client in the long run. It’s a massive investment for your business to build an internal marketing team, train them, and retain them.

Below are some rough numbers for employee cost. The numbers come from average salary in the Seattle market.

Employee costs
Maintaining an in-house marketing team isn’t the cheapest investment.
For perspective, check out the average salaries for a few different marketing roles:
Digital Marketing Manager: $65,000
Digital Marketing Specialist: $49,000
SEO Specialist: $48,000
Social Media Marketing Specialist: $48,000


* One marketing manager has a median annual salary of $70k. Again this is just the base line salary. You as the business owner will payer higher costs for healthcare, time off, etc. Take this number into consideration when hiring one manager, or multiple marketing specialists full time.

* The cost of each campaign will depend entirely on your marketing needs. Crunch your numbers before making a decision.

* Aside from salary, you will be budgeting for office space, benefits (if you choose to offer them), computers, and programs if they need them.


* These costs are pre-set and negotiable. It all depends on the type of agency you are working with. There are three options: commission, fixed rate, or retainer. They base the numbers off of your media spends and project needs.

* An agency pays for its own software, tools, tech, and training, which cuts any extra costs on your end.

Which is better for you?

In many cases, agencies are a better choice for small to medium sized businesses. You just have to find the one that is right for you. If you need help with some calculations check out digital current to help make your  decision.


No matter how or where you are currently marketing your business, one thing is for sure – a skilled agency will take your marketing, brand awareness, ROI, and overall profitability to new levels.


Abdul Sharif is an advertising professional who’s worked with both agencies and brands in the Seattle market. He has direct experience in all digital campaigns and is the founder of Sonic X Media. He managed the launch, testing, creative with many different teams to meet approval needs and tight deadlines. He is highly skilled in Display, Mobile, Video, Connected TV/OTT, Native, Search, & Social.

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