Posted by & filed under PPCChat.

This week’s PPCChat session was hosted by Azeem Ahmad and the  discussion was about experiences of PPC experts as beginners, the changes they have seen since they started, learning resources and more.

Here is the screencap of the discussion that took place.

ppcchat discussion





Q1: Remember we’re talking about your experiences as a beginner. If there was one piece of advice you wished you could have given yourself when you began in PPC – what would it be?


mine may sound satirical but it is real: 1. Take care of your eyesight, it is going to go downhill, 2. If you don’t know excel well, don’t start search until you do. – @JonKagan

Don’t react too quickly. Sometimes performance gets funky and freaking out pulling all the levers you can find will often make it worse. Small, consistent optimization over time is best. Let the data direct your moves. – @akaEmmaLouise

Take extra time to learn the ins and outs of GA, GTM, and Excel for sure. – @KyleShurtz

Knowing how to dig beyond the standard reports in GA will take you very far. I always like to look at anything I’m examining from at least 2 different reports/vantage points to make sure they concur before making decisions based on it. – @NeptuneMoon

Spend more time reading. In our industry, the ROI is in knowing stuff. – @SEMFlem

I’d also focus on how my differnet channels work together and how it all ties into Revenue/LTV. Your CPA may be awesome, but looking at those numbers can make a huge difference for the business (even if your CPAs are higher). – @markpgus

read more, spend more time really mastering excel, don’t be afraid to reach out to the ppc community, they’re an invaluable resource and they’re all more than happy to help. – @nataliebarreda

NETWORK, learning from others is the best way to find the nuggets and avoid getting stuck in “best practices” that are either out dated or don’t work. – @HeatherCooan

Just know that not everything you try will work (a) at all or (b) the way you intended. Be flexible and learn from everything you do. Ask when you don’t know. Also, relax! – @NeptuneMoon

When you’re getting started in PPC, be sure to stay open to new ideas/tactics. I remember starting and thinking that my account structure with SKAGs and everything hyper segmented by match type, I was the GOAT. – @zackbedingfield

Learn as much as you can. Read blogs, go to conferences, chat with industry people & experiment A LOT. – @robert_brady

Two things: 1. When in doubt, common sense rules. Too clever by half will fail in the face of boring, straightforward copy. 2. Ask for effing help. Not knowing something isn’t shameful. These tools literally didn’t exist yesterday. – @JuliaVyse

Get a teacher. Could be a manager or coworker. Someone who knows PPC well. Bounce ideas off them, show them your campaigns, ask questions. Realize you’re going to make a lot of mistakes at first. Minimize consequences by getting eyes on your big edits starting out. – @timmhalloran



Q2: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry since you started?


Definitely a move toward automation and machine learning. Reporting went first, but it now extends to a lot of management tasks. I’ve only been in PPC for 3 years and I’ve seen a huge shift away from manual bidding/budgeting/ad testing in the last year or so. – @akaEmmaLouise

I am also somewhat newer to the space (4 years) but agree with @akaEmmaLouise lots of automation on bidding and ad testing.  – @KyleShurtz

While there have been a bunch, I’d have to go with automation from tools and the platforms themselves. – @SEMFlem

Adwords Editor was a game changer 🙂 you’ve never lived if you didn’t battle with a google bulksheet!! – @Chris_M_Roberts

intro of bid strategies, or more so the complete opposite of the industry now vs then. Yahoo was the main plat, Bing was fed by Yahoo, lots of small platforms, FB wasn’t there, Ask was there, Competitor bid jamming, & when you had diff character counts by network. – @JonKagan

The biggest shift has been the embrace of optimizations. Many were/are scared of giving Google/others too much control, but letting them do some of the work for you has caught on A LOT i.e. smart bidding, similar audiences, DSA. – @markpgus

1) The shift from keywords to audiences, it’s less about what people are searching for and more about serving the right message at the right time to the right person 2) the need to step back into your general marketing shoes to drive business growth. – @nataliebarreda

The rise of social advertising and advancements in audience targeting.- @HeatherCooan

EVERYTHING has changed at one point or another – I have been doing this since is began. Important to remember that change will be constant in this biz. – @NeptuneMoon

Ads moved to the top of the page. No other single thing has had greater impact on the volume of traffic available to advertisers. – @stevegibsonppc

I know it was recent, but the removal of the sidebar ads and the increase to 4 ads above the organic results was pretty huge. On top of that, text ads got even bigger. I think it simplified our work in lot of ways. – @zackbedingfield

Movement from primarily keyword-based targeting to more audience-based targeting (which corresponds with rise of social PPC). – @robert_brady

The scale. When I started it was very difficult to imagine big brands other than ecom doing ppc, but that morphed into my specialization! – @JuliaVyse

The sheer amount of techniques, strategies and platforms we need to be adept at now for holistic client success. – @marksubel

Costs are way higher. – @timmhalloran



Q3: Outside of the official learning resources (think FB Blueprint / AdWords Certs.) are there any learning/knowledge resources you think are valuable to someone starting out that you’d like to share with the community?


Blogs, chats, etc. are great, but for someone starting out, I’d tell them to go straight to the books and supplement with the other stuff – provides a great list here:   – @SEMFlem

Tons of great industry blogs (SO to , and to name a few) for both beginner and experienced PPC folks. Also, webinars from platforms themselves or agency peeps ( And don’t forget the community! – @akaEmmaLouise

the blogs/industry trades. But nothing beats in person meet ups. You’d be amazed the knowledge sharing and education that goes down when you say “hey can we talk shop over a couple brews”? – @JonKagan

so true! My favourite version of networking (besides delicious food in San Jose) is getting around a table to solve a problem. Doesn’t matter what the problem is, let’s just roll up our sleeves together! – @JuliaVyse

This twitter community is the BEST. I agree with regularly reading industry blogs, as it will have timely info. Developing resources (people) you can ask questions of & get general advice is smart too. There are some great online courses like  – @NeptuneMoon

PODCASTS FTW For PPC specifically, I love me some The PPC Show with . For social, Perpetual Traffic from . Tier11 and Molly Pittman  Lastly, Joining the @OnlineGeniuses Slack Channel is A MUST! We’re talking over 10k in the PPC Channel ALONE. – @markpgus

Everyone here, r/ppc, ppcchat slack community, ALL THE BLOGS, conferences, webinars, etc – @nataliebarreda

Keeping up with the platform bogs is also important. I think this resource is undervalued. Anything published by , , or . Of course this twitter chat. – @HeatherCooan

PPC is just a form of direct marketing, so IMO, you should become an expert on direct marketing & associated fields like copywriting. – @stevegibsonppc

Talk with other PPC practitioners (in person is ideal). At conferences, at meetups, etc. Ask questions and listen. This is a very giving community/industry. – @robert_brady

Well naturally , plus there’s a group of us on Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, the adwords advertiser community on google plus (rip)….Connect with other people who are doing the same thing you are and share with them. – @JuliaVyse

Any of the industry resources like are always good places to learn more about the industry and what thought leaders are doing. – @marksubel



Q4: Other than the essential abilities needed to perform a PPC role, what skills in your opinion are crucial to being a success in PPC?


A stable blend of passion and objectivity. Passion to drive the needed creativity, manage the stress, and keep you coming back every day. Objectivity to let you respond to data without letting your emotions interfere (e.g. accept test results that defy expectations). Also, humility. Willingness to ask for help when you need it (because we all do), to take ownership of your mistakes when they happen (because they do), and give deserved credit to your team/others for successes. – @akaEmmaLouise

I think to be great, you’ve got to work on both left and right brain skills – analysis, creativity, communication, presentation, organization, etc. – @SEMFlem

if you can understand site analytics (not media analytics), you are going to be missing the boat, so that is vital.  – @JonKagan

You MUST love data and learning. When it comes to digital in general, you need numbers to back up your reasoning/prove results. Gotta love learning and being creative, because NOTHING EVER WORKS THE SAME WAY. – @markpgus

Passion,curiousity, a level head (works well under pressure), flexibility and most importantly, confidence. Just like with dating, confidence goes a LONG way as a professional/account manager/PPCer. – @nataliebarreda

DATA ANALYSIS! Crunching data, visualization, & translating insights. – @HeatherCooan

Creativity, flexibility/adaptability, tact and emotional intelligence are all great qualities. Also, confidence to share ideas and try things in accounts and not wait to be told everything to do. Oh, and writing skills are a huge bonus! I’d add empathy – you need to understand your clients well and be able to find the best ways to work with each one. Love the curiosity suggestions too! – @NeptuneMoon

Direct marketing-related skills are, IMO, 90% of what matters. The so-called “PPC techniques” are only 10%.. – @stevegibsonppc

Curiosity is a big one. Helps with learning. Also, the ability to put ones self in a customer’s shoes (empathy). – @robert_brady

Communication. You need to hear/read when a client needs a certain thing explained, when they totally get everything and want raw data, and when they need to convince others you haven’t met. Translate PPC to biz goals on paper, on the phone, in person. – @JuliaVyse

I’d say being inquisitive. Have a personality that craves information. Someone who doesn’t get overwhelmed with data but gets excited by the variety & complexity. That don’t mind taking an unruly AdWords account and taming it. – @timmhalloran



Q5: Is an entry level/beginner PPC role different now than it was five years ago? If so, why?


Completely evolved, largely due to automation. The role as moved from grunt work, to tactical strategy. – @JonKagan

Again, can only speak from 3 years, but thinking about our current training program vs. training I went through – definitely yes. Much more emphasis on strategy vs. tactics, and client communication. More account management vs. production work needed. – @akaEmmaLouise

Entry-level PPC is VERY different! Gone are the days of millions of bid adjustments (mostly). The role is much more analytical and has a tremendous emphasis on strategey. Must understand other channels. PPC and Paid Social can no longer be segregated! – @markpgus

An entry level role now is kinda like a mid-level role 5yrs ago. The expectation to have knowledge in multiple platforms is getting more and more important. I think strategy is more important in a jr. role as well than it used to be. Cursory knowledge of cross/omni channel and how consumers interact with content and all digital touchpoints is a bigger part of the puzzle. – @HeatherCooan

There are more tools that you can use to do things that used to only be done manually. You’re also much more likely to be expected to be experienced in multiple platforms, was not always so. – @NeptuneMoon

I’d say entry level is better defined now. But the way one gets into PPC is probably different nowadays. I imagine a lot of us got into it because there was a need & you took it upon yourself. Now I think that process is more built out & expectations are standardized. – @timmhalloran



Q6: If there’s one person who’s twitter feed and general knowledge about PPC is invaluable to you – share with the community and thank them publicly!


Too many to name at this point! However, thinking back, I do recall that was the first non-Hanapin PPCer I started following and learning from back in the day. – @akaEmmaLouise

there are number of them: and {insert venmo ID for them to each send me $4 for the unsolicited plug } – @JonKagan

My shout out goes to who just celebrated 10 years of PPC Rockstars! One of the godfathers of PPC for sure, and I’ve learned so much from the show over the years. – @SEMFlem

for me, there are a few, but two stand out immediately – – is just a fountain of PPC knowledge (and just as cool in person!) and who shares issues she has and their solutions so publicly which no doubt help us all – you guys rock! – @AzeemPPC

My PPC mentor is and he a badass! I miss working with ya boss! – @HeatherCooan


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