What I Learned about Paid Search – Reflections of a Newbie 2

paid search newbie

I’m no PPC expert but over the past 6 months managing content for Acquisio I’ve gone from complete newbie to a confident and enthusiastic marketer thanks to the supportive and inspiring search experts around me, including Acquisio’s brilliant Chief Scientist, Bryan Minor.

For the first time in my life I feel like more than just a writer, I’m a valuable part of a team within a thriving company, and I’ve never felt so stimulated and motivated to keep learning and growing.

But this isn’t a cheesy motivational post, this is about what I’ve learned about paid search advertising this quarter by surrounding myself with industry experts. So here goes:

Bidding is not an art, it’s a science

Whoever says search marketing is an art is wrong. If you approach bidding and managing budgets with artistic intuition you won’t be able to stretch your budget as far as you should. There’s nothing artistic about managing money and ad spend. Unless you confuse intelligence with artistic ability, understanding the auction and making bid adjustments to improve campaign performance is mathematical and scientific. It involves calculation, analysis and even advanced algorithms that no account manager or analyst would be able to replicate at scale.

One of the first things I learned on this job was the absolute importance of automation to help campaigns perform at their full potential, and as I learned more about the bid and pay relationship, this has become increasingly more apparent.

After speaking with Bryan Minor about how our technology actually works, I learned that our system, after making thousands of small changes each day, can adapt to the auction, market, budget changes and more in order to maximize budgets and reach goals.

What’s more, I learned the crucial and too often overlooked distinction between what a marketer bids and what is actually paid per click, which I will outline in an upcoming post. What is paid, or the CPC, is the campaign metric that matters most, but often times in order to pay what you want, you have to bid much higher. It’s disturbing to see bids twice as high as you’d like to pay, but with a reliable automated system, bids are just a means to an end.

Add mobile bid adjustments into the equation and you have a complicated web of algorithms in place to stabilize CPC and keep it uniform across devices, which cannot be done manually – no matter how artistic you are.

I could go on for days, getting as technical as Bryan about the science of paid search, but I’ll save that for the coming ebook, “The Science of Better Results – Optimization of Digital Advertising.”

A Keywordless Future?

One of my favorite posts last quarter was about Google’s close variant matching implementation, which retired exact match keywords.

While covering this release I learned two vital facts about search marketing in general:

  1. What Google says, goes
  2. We’re heading towards a keywordless future

With Google AdWords sharing a release or update several times a day, every damn day, it’s more than a bit overwhelming to navigate and understand all the upgrades.

Especially since the google press release writer has never failed to take his happy pills, the release notices are always enthusiastic and peppy documents outlining how this new change is immeasurably better and beneficial for all digital marketers.

The Close Variant Match release was presented as an exciting new upgrade that allows advertisers to reach 7% larger audiences while maintaining the quality of views and clicks, but what the release failed to mention was that this option was already available, and all Google really announced was that all AdWords users were from that point on, forced into close variant matching whether they wanted it or not.

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but I noticed that many of these spectacular releases were simply veiled tactics to gain more control of the market.

Google AdWords is slowly chipping away at the existence of paid search and modelling it into something new, something keywordless.

After putting together several ebooks this year, one on Shopping Campaigns and how agencies should utilize them and another on experts’ 2015 digital marketing predictions, I learned that keywordless is already happening.

Shopping Campaigns are generated from product feeds and their success is an indicator, in my mind, of an increased focus on this type of non-keyword based ad.

Also, experts Manny Rivas and Elizabeth Marsten both predict the death of keywords in the coming year – maybe not a full extinction but they’ll certainly be on the endangered species list.

Just Keep Learning

Lastly I learned that you can never stop learning about the industry, your company and each of its employees.

When I started 6 months ago I got the rundown about where Acquisio started and where we’re heading, but over the course of two quarters, I’ve seen the company in action and learned extensively about how we started as an agency, saw what was missing in the industry and went to work filling that need.

The History of Acquisio is honest and inspiring. Who knew it is thanks to Acquisio (before it was called Acquisio) that major companies like Mediative and W.illi.am exist!

And all those t-shirts we have in the office, the ones Acquisio employees wear daily and share with clients and tradeshow visitors, have a fun back story too.

After running a successful t-shirt slogan contest I’ve seen firsthand how far our company has come from those first few slogans, and it’s inspiring to see hundreds of marketers enthusiastically sharing their ideas to help grow and be a part of our brand.

I’m still learning, I still look back and use that to structure a stronger future in this industry and I still consider myself a newbie, but what I’m saying is:

If a PPC newbie like me knows all this, you probably should too!

Read my first Reflection of a Newbie article to see what else I learned. 

best bid and budget optimization

Jillian Zacchia

Jillian Zacchia

Jill is a professional writer, editor and social media procrastinator. With a degree in Literature and Communications from McGill, she started her journalism career writing about lifestyle and entertainment for teen magazines, and after dabbling with wedding and travel writing she began the transition towards content creation for start ups, marketing and tech companies.

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