Do you know what margin your Ad agency is taking from your monthly advertising spend?

Seeking transparency with contracts and reporting

budget for marketingWe are currently working with a client who uses our services for organic SEO i.e. seeking prominence in the free listings in Google search results. The dentist also has an historical relationship with another agency he uses for AdWords and Facebook marketing which he’s been running for some time and before his organic SEO campaign began.

As part of a scoping meeting, the dentist discussed with me what the other agency were actually providing and it is this which prompted me to write today’s blog. Essentially it’s a tale of “what not to do” when signing up to a digital marketing contract and how it’s all to easy to get fleeced if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here’s what the dentist had been subscribing to for over two years, but without any real clue as to what was really going on.

Yearly contractual tie in

The dentist was tied in to a contact for 12 months which auto renewed if not cancelled. The contract was not performance based in any way and was actually very expensive for what it purported to achieve. Getting tied in to anything like this is a mistake which too many still make. Ideally, look for a contract with no tie ins, or at best a couple of months. Also try to build in a performance element to keep the marketing company on its toes.

No reporting

The agency was not providing any form of reporting to the client. So no update on his ad performance, no comment on how they were managing the campaigns, in fact nothing at all. The dentist knew he should really be getting feedback but claimed to be too busy to get involved. No doubt that was music to the agencies ears! You simply must insist on sufficient reporting to allow you to understand if your marketing is working and paying back. Make the agency set up analytical tools in your own accounts and not their accounts. This way you can see progress for yourself or seek an independent opinion. Should you move on in future, you will still have access to historical performance data.

Agency profit margin unknown

The agency were actually charging a substantial fee each month to cover “all activities” however it was completely unclear as to what they were doing. There were three Facebook ads running but no evidence of anything running via AdWords. And no report to cross check anything. The other perturbing aspect is that the agency did not say what their “management” fee was versus what they actually paid to Google and Facebook for ad clicks – so it’s quite possible that they were delivering minimalist campaigns whilst taking the lions share of the fee for themselves. And potentially not doing much at all for it!

In a case like this you simply must understand the agencies management fee versus what is actually being paid to the ad networks. Preferably pay the ad networks directly rather than let the agency do it; then you’ll know for sure.


The tactics above are typical of some marketing agencies who take the opportunity to exploit a client’s lack of knowledge to make it very easy and lucrative for themselves.

You must seek transparency and reporting for all aspects of digital marketing so you can see what works and what doesn’t.

If you need assistance with SEO or pay-per-click for your own dental practice with full transparency, please contact the team at Dental Media on 01332 672548.