Seth Godin writes about web advertising on sites like Google:
It’s not just the click, of course. It’s the conversion.
Which means that there’s room for middlemen who will optimize clicks AND conversion for advertisers willing to pay.
And that’s where the future lies, I think. Something that’s a cross between what Fred’s talking about with http://www.cj.com. A whole cottage industry of people who figure out how to turn adwords into clicks into conversions.
Turning this over to outsiders is a little like using a rep firm to be your salesforce. You can do it, but to really win, you’ve got to do it yourself.
If it were me, I’d start a few competing groups within my organization and challenge them to “buy” customers as cheaply as possible. Cheapest group wins. If you get good at doing it in house, go ahead and start taking on clients!
And I’ll finish by reminding you of my biggest rant on this topic: conversion skills are worth ten times what clickthrough’s worth.