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After working for many years with agency partners to plan and execute paid search, it took T-Mobile US just five months to transition all paid search activities-house.

“Bringing the team in house aligns us closer to the business and drives more impactful outcomes to T-Mobile US through paid search activation,” said Natalie Barreda, senior manager of media. She leads T-Mobile and Metro By T-Mobile’s new in-house paid search team.

Establishing tightly woven connections across the brands’ digital teams “gives us a competitive advantage to plan and activate search as quickly as our business moves,” added Barreda. She says the paid search team has developed deep partnerships with the company’s internal Web, SEO, Analytics, Media teams and Business Leads.

Barreda joined T-Mobile after the decision to transition PPC in-house but has helped to shape the future makeup of the new team. Prior to joining T-Mobile, she held several agency roles, including Director of Paid Search at Seattle-based agency Point It. Barreda will also be speaking on how and when to use automation in enterprise PPC accounts at SMX West this week.

Natalie Barreda, senior manager of media at T-Mobile.

In-house roles of an enterprise PPC team. Successfully building a practice area in-house means being committed to hiring across a broad set of skills. T-Mobile’s paid search team is comprised of strategy and planning roles to take a macro view of the brand’s paid search efforts, managers to oversee day-to-day execution and search specialists who manage and optimize campaigns.

On a daily basis, Barreda says, the paid search team collaborates with other teams such as Analytics, SEO, Marketing & Media “to make sure we’re closely aligned to what is happening across the greater digital organization.”

The technology non-factor. While the martech and ad tech landscape can be overwhelming, cloud-based tools are widely available, and access to technology was not a deterrent in deciding whether to in-house. The team can also piggy-back on technology already in use in other departments. T-Mobile’s paid search team did not build out any proprietary technology or add any tools or systems that weren’t already in use elsewhere internally to support paid search management and reporting. They use Google Data Studio to build day-to-day reporting dashboards, for example. Strategists work directly in the native campaign management ad platforms and with their dedicated account teams to manage campaigns.

The biggest surprise. Building a new internal team in a large enterprise hasn’t been without its share of growing pains. The biggest surprise, though, has been in constantly finding new teams to collaborate with “as the in-house team learns more about the intricacies of the organization,” said Barreda. “We are constantly asking ourselves new questions and looking to have a deeper understanding about our impact on [metrics like] incrementality, cost to serve, churn, unit economics, etc.”

Working with an agency? Give them space to be strategic. As someone who also has had experience on both sides of the agency/in-house fence, I was curious what advice Barreda would give to in-house marketers who are working with agency partners.

“My best piece of advice comes more from my agency experience than my experience in-house,” she said. “I challenge in-house marketers to provide the space for their agency teams to share outside of the box strategic ideas, even when it may not be aligned to the initial plan or how things have always been done. I think the most powerful thing an in-house team can do is to give their agency the trust and space to challenge them and not be ‘yes’ people.”


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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