PPC Chat Streamcap – PPC Theory – A Holistic Look at PPC

This week, Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) was able to host an extremely interactive PPCChat with the theme of “PPC Theory – A Holistic Look at PPC.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: AdWords recently blogged that “Ads Are Just Answers.” Where do you stand on this philosophy?

  • I agree. People search because they have ?s or need info. Ads shld provide answers/solutions. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • I see ads as sort of a teaser. It’s supposed to tell the user that you have the answer. Answers should be on the lp, in my opinion. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem) +
    • Too little info in the ad can be bad. They choose a different ad–one that offers at least a partial answer. – Theresa Zook
      • True. But you can only say so much in an ad. Needs to tell them you’re the right place to go. – Michelle Morgan
  • Search ads yes – display ads no. – Bassovita (@bassovita)
  • It is a fairly honest assessment of search activity, but ads are merely the gateway to the answer. – John Lee (@John_A_Lee) ++
  • Yes, ads are answers. In the context of Google’s blog these new features help enforce the answer. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Yes, but more as well. You can use them for many things – sales, PR, awareness, different points in sales funnel. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Answer: What is an Understatement? – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • I’m actually pleased with all of the new features within ads, helps to improve the CTR, which we’ll discuss in a future question. – Matt Umbro
  • Search ads, yes. Ads intended to be used for branding don’t really function as “answers,” they’re more recall devices. – Steve Hill (@epiclysteve)
  • Agree to an extend– Search Ads are not JUST answers, if that were true, all queries would be written in question-form. – Emily Las (@emlas)
    • that is not totally true, if someone types “used car” that is basically a question. – Adam (@adam_tvDinner)
  • Agreed. Only problem is sometimes searchers ask silly questions. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)

Q2: If you were looking to hire a PPC specialist what characteristics would you look for aside from “an understanding of PPC?”

  • That they are also an active participant in the #PPCChat. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils) +
  • A detail orientated individual with an analytical mind. Period! – James Svoboda +
  • A strong math background – need an understanding of ROI. – Mark Kennedy
  • Needs to be very detail-oriented, analytical and creative. – Eric Farmer (@click_eric)
  • Organization, kick ass personality and proven problem solving abilities. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Problem solving. Statistics skills. Grasp of marketing basics. Creative writing skills. The list is very long. – John Lee
  • Been thinking about this a lot… Innovative, ability to stay focused(off of Twitter). – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • Loves to solve puzzles, love numbers, attention to detail, thinks outside the box! Can teach everything else. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Maybe not the #1 characteristic, but I absolutely want someone who is passionate about PPC. – Matt Umbro
  • They work smart before they think about working hard. – Steve Hill
  • They need to “get” audiences and write/communicate very well. They don’t even have to know ppc-if they rock @ writing & audience. – James Zolman
    • Agreed, PPC can be taught, but attitude and determination cannot. – Matt Umbro
  • Every team has it’s own approach to PPC. I look for open-minded to adapt to it + intelligent to enhance the offering. – Emily Las
  • I think attention to detail is huge. So much goes into building campaigns correctly that you can’t slack on any individual part. – Michelle Morgan
  • Really good copywriting skills. I would test them on their ability to think in 35 character blurbs. – Bassovita
  • They also have to love stats, charts, graphs and numbers. – James Svoboda
  • Works for the love, and coffee. Awesome at Analytics, stats, numbers. Can work Excel with using only their mind. – Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh)
    • Yes to Excel skills! I look for them to mention things like Vlookup & Pivot Table as proof. – Emily Las
      • But I’m still gettin to grips with Excel (studied art not science) & it hasn’t held me back. Passion to learn more important. – Katie Saxon (@ksaxoninternet)
  • Copywriting skills are major as well. I assess this in how they articulate themselves and their past experience. – Emily Las
  • If they can’t tweet – you know there’s a problem. A2: I would test them on their ability to think in 35 character blurbs. – Cassie Allinger (@_CassieLee_)
  • They have to be a competitor mostly against themselves. be better tomorrow than today. – David Beltramini (@dbeltramini)
  • I have an analytical bent and the ability to see SEM as a never-ending game. People place too much emphasis on “math” component. – Theresa Zook
    • Agreed on the emphasis on the math component. After all, it’s the words that sell to the searcher. – Michelle Morgan
      • Anyone w/avg brain can be taught level of data analysis needed. What matters is what they DO w/the results. – Theresa Zook
  • I would make blogging a requirement of hiring a PPC candidate. I want you to get involved in the community. – Matt Umbro
    • Yeah, but that falls under the umbrella of creative writing skills in my book (goes for blogs, ads, LPs, etc.) – John Lee
      • True…but as long as they want to and are willing to affiliate, that works too. it’s about experience & competition. – James Zolman
    • I like the blogging idea but I’ve mostly ever been way too busy to be able to frequently blog. Everyone’s different tho. – Neil Sorenson
      • I see blogging as a great selling point, show potential clients you are involved in the industry. – Matt Umbro
        • Some potential clients might care about that. And others might think we’re just trying to build our empire. – Neil Sorenson
        • Are you paying them to manage PPC? Their “community” involvement is secondary. – Theresa Zook
          • I see where you are coming from, but even if the person blogs twice a month for the company blog thats fine. – Matt Umbro
          • True, but blogging sets them apart from competition w/real writing sample + engagement shows passion. I think it also depends what you’re looking for– a solid PPC worker bee, or a thought leader! – Emily Las
            • Can’t be a thought leader unless you’ve been a worker bee first! – Aaron Levy
  • Loving the comments about how PPC is a game. Gotta be competitive. See the core issue from the noise. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • The desire to better one’s own performance–beat what they did yesterday w/what they do today–a great characteristic. – Theresa Zook
  • Common sense. Ask some common sense questions and see what they come up with. – Joe McConellogue (@JoeMcConellogue)
  • Major props if somebody has affiliate ppc experience. When I hire again, I’ll require new employees to have affiliate interests. I’ll even prop them up w/ affiliate ad spend per month for it. Keeps them edgy. – James Zolman
    • Ya, affiliate experience is really great. Shows you have hustle. – Brennan Brooks (@brennanbrooks)
    • I would even build on that to say add’l digital experience is a major plus – gotta think holistic. – Emily Las
  • Passion for digital, and a love of tracking. Interested = a desire to understand. Same for tracking. – Paul Maddock (@paul_maddock)
  • Doesn’t have a criminal record. – Steve Hill
  • I think the community aspect (twitter, blogging) are pluses. Not necessities. I know each has helped me a lot. But not for everyone. – Michelle Morgan
    • I would argue that the industry we are in requires blogging/being social to stay ahead. – Matt Umbro
    • Agreed. Not all learn the same way, not all who read the material actively participate. – Theresa Zook

Q3: Discuss how PPC is managed at your company. Does each client get a project manager? Do you act as both specialist and PM, etc?

  • Small agency. I do all the PPC, my bs partner does the client contacts. – Theresa Zook
  • Every client has a dedicated PM for consistency & communication, but the whole team participates (through tasks, etc.) – John Lee
  • The buck stops here, for the most part. – Michelle Morgan
  • Each PPC Specialist manages their own clients. We handle everything from fulfillment to client communication mostly, but we all work as a team, especially if we get stuck and need an extra set of eyes on a problem. – PurePPCCom (@pureppccom)
  • We manage small-mid clients, so we act as specialist and PM. Clients work directly with the person doing the work. – Mark Kennedy
  • I do everything… including making the coffee, but that’s the way I like it. – Andrew Baker
  • Always been in smaller shops, multitasking those roles, & I’d say that’s made all the difference. – Emily Las
  • We are the client. – Eric Farmer
  • Hybrid. Senior account managers do everything and help with strategy for Jr. account mgnrs. who do mostly hands on. – Luke Alley
  • Always good to have PM on the team as a second set of eyes on the account. – Matt Umbro
  • We’re a smaller agency so I’m the ppc go-to-gal -seems to be a common theme. – Katie Saxon
  • It depends. Historically one person acts as PM and specialist. But lately we are moving to separate those roles. – Ryan Campbell (@_ryancampbell)
  • In house, we have a search department, and split up projects based on specialty. The company has its hands in pretty much everything, the team has its specialty based on the project (dating, pharms).- Brennan Brooks
  • I’m an in-house PPC mgr so I do everything myself here, but I know a firm in the area that has dedicated PMs for each client. – Austin Dillman (@Austin_Dillman)
  • I’m judge, jury and executioner. – Robert Brady
  • I’m the main PM and initial campaign builder. – James Svoboda
    • After the initial campaign build then you hand it off? – Luke Alley
      • Not PM, but certain tasks are assigned based on available resources. – James Svoboda
  • I feel like I’m always saying “I wear many hats…” – Anyone else? – Emily Las
  • Whatever the contract calls for. – Steve Hill
  • Depends on size. Small clients get one & Dir oversight. I manage lg client-team 9 client mgrs who also work on other clients. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • Work in house now with one other marketer, new job so still feeling out who’s going to take what. – Kiko Correa (@obiwankikobi)

Q4: How important are developers and information architects in contributing to successful PPC campaigns?

  • Very valuable for landing pages and making sure the site works well. Want to send traffic AND convert it. – Mark Kennedy
  • Developers are huge. The more nimble they are, the more we can test, the better the results. – Aaron Levy
  • Very if they are available. Not at all if not as we can fulfill most of this ourselves. – James Svoboda
  • Developers need to create a website that works & converts. The best PPC campaign & managers can’t make up for a poor site. – Neil Sorenson
  • Having a good web dev resource on hand is always a plus, but on an as-needed basis. Doesn’t make or break day-to-day. – John Lee
  • Extremely important, I focus just as much on the page / analytics as I do in AdWords, I need good/fast developers. – Andrew Baker
  • How important are good, targeted landing pages to successful PPC campaigns? – Cassie Allinger
  • Simply put – PPC fails without good development and IA. – Matt Umbro
  • Proper implementation by developers of Analytics code is crucial for tracking/reporting. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Big parts of success here. Couldn’t do it w/o them. Need the lps to work and be informative! – Michelle Morgan
  • Good website is critical but my clients aren’t large enough for “information architects” to be an issue. – Theresa Zook
  • Developers & info architects are often vital to optimizing UX for PPC traffic, but usually seem to be in short supply. – Mike Shollenberger (@webjock)
  • Devs are the ones who can turn a problem into a solution. – Laoshima (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • Concentrated landing pages with great SEO practices severely effects conversions and greatly improves QS. – Michael McEuen (@lonohead)
  • Tools like #Unbounce are making developers less essential. Designer is more important in that case w/ a mktg mind. – Luke Alley
  • PPC isn’t just about getting the click! – Matt Umbro
    • First thing I say (after hello) to a client. – Andrew Baker
  • And on this very topic Google are now shifting QS to Landing Pages, it matters! – Andrew Baker ++++
  • I used to work at web agency with developers and IA – Creating landing pages and coding them was highly efficient. With all things being equal I would hesitate to bring on a client with no budget for development/IA. – Matt Umbro
    • I could not agree more. No dev budget = crippled PPC effort. – Emily Las
  • We recommend clients to employ our devs to create landing pages specific to requested campaigns. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Addendum: How many agency folks have developers on staff? – John Lee
    • Do – Matt Umbro, James Svoboda, Cassie Allinger
    • Don’t – Ryan Campbell
    • We have developers on staff. The issue is more clients having the $$ to support add’l landing pgs to maximize PPC etc. – Emily Las
      • Do they work full time, part time, etc?
        – John Lee

        • Full time, but not on Dev. – James Svoboda
        • We out source all of our web dev work, or clients use own resources. Can’t afford full time web dev right now. – John Lee
          • Not a dev company, we’re a search agency. – Aaron Levy

Q5: How much leeway do you have within your company to test new ideas, even if they may break the conventional PPC mold?

  • We have full control of testing. Real question is how comfortable are the clients? Lucky enough to have a couple of clients willing to test just about anything. – John Lee
  • I’m lucky in that I have complete freedom to try / test anything. – Andrew Baker
    • Same. We talk w/ clients first tho. – Luke Alley
  • We are encouraged to test new ideas. Be on the leading edge. Test, test, and test again! – Nicole Mintiens
  • Wish we had more…..It depends on our client’s budget. – Stu Draper (@GetFoundFirst)
  • New ideas are more than welcome. I’m usually given freedom to test/try anything new. – Michelle Morgan
  • This is one big advantage of #inhouse PPC. I can recommend an off-the-wall test if I think it has value beyond ROI. – Mike Shollenberger
  • Lots of freedom in PPC testing, after all, that’s how we get things done! – Emily Las
  • As long as my team has fully thought it out & can present the full strategy & plan, w/expected outcomes, test it. – Crystal Anderson (@CrystalA)
  • I tend to test first, ask permission later. (But I’m reasonably cautious with their money.) – Theresa Zook
  • As long as I continue delivering results they understand the importance of change / new features. – Andrew Baker
  • From my seat, we champion breaking the mold. Leeway is abound as long as the idea has unique and profitable value. – Chris McGee (@ChrisMcG33)
  • Fortunate to have tons of leeway, how else will you know something works? – Eric Farmer
  • This loops back to Q2, but I find the best PPC specialists who’ve worked for me are the ones w/the guts to test/experiment. – Emily Las
  • If you don’t your competitors will steal a march, obviously it’s all planned w/ back-out if needed. – Andrew Baker
  • As much leeway as I need within the company. Different story with clients. – Martin Rottgerding (@bloomarty)
  • It also depends on the client, some like to know exactly what’s going on, others just want that +ROI every month. – Andrew Baker
  • Honestly though, we’ve found more success in a solid PPC build & consistent management than in testing new features. – Luke Alley
  • I find that wearing many hats, including the developers, gives great opportunities for testing everything. – Martin Rottgerding

Q6: Do you believe one person can successfully provide effective PPC and SEO services to clients or is it one or the other? Why?

  • Yes, easy (but I’m biased). TBH I’m moving away from SEO (don’t enjoy it any more) to “hopefully” specialise in PPC / Analytics / CRO. – Andrew Baker
  • Depends on the number of clients. – Stu Draper
  • For small clients/sites/campaigns, sure. – Mike Shollenberger
  • Absolutely. – Cassie Allinger
  • I used to, but not anymore. SEO is its own beast and that is a full time job. – Matt Umbro
  • Believe 1 person cld do it for 1 client–don’t see 1 person being able to do it for many. Takes extreme focus to do both. I’m saying yes, but I’m certainly not thinking of a large-sized account. – Theresa Zook
  • I would say it depends on the size of the account/client. There’s no way I could handle all of our ppc and seo stuff. – Michelle Morgan
  • That’s a lot of work for 1 person, esp. if they have multiple clients. – Eric Farmer
  • From experience, no-not as successfully as ppl who focus & become experts in 1 or the other. Way too much changing to keep up with. – Crystal Anderson
  • I like the holistic approach but specializing has it’s benefits. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Both. So many links between the PPC/SEO. The knowledge gain from doing both is exponentially advantageous. – Joe McConellogue
  • If you have been doing PPC for a long time and attended search conferences, you know enough to be dangerous with SEO. – Stu Draper
    • Yes, but I don’t believe you can do both at an extremely high level. – Matt Umbro
  • While many claim to do PPC/SEO integrated, I think people are usually stronger in 1 or the other & that shows in their work. – Emily Las
  • For basic stuff, sure. At high level – couldn’t read that much to stay up to date, think, test stuff and have time for real work. – Martin Rottgerding
  • In most cases, yes. Breadth of knowledge helps both, but sometimes depth might require someone with more specialized knowledge. – Dennis Petretti (@Denetti)
  • We split it up, but depends on size of client. A small local seo/ppc campaign can be done by the same person. Large needs more. – Mark Kennedy
  • It all depends on the size of the account and what you want to achieve as far as goals. – Austin Holverson (@AHolverson)
  • The bigger you get the more need to compartmentalize activities for productivity’s sake. Advantage in knowing both though. – Mark Jensen (@Just_Markus)
  • It’s actually proved very useful having the SEO experience before moving to PPC as you understand the bigger picture. – Andrew Baker
    • It’s actually very useful to have SEM experience before you try SEO as it grounds you in accountability & results. – Theresa Zook
      • I can pull insights from my PPC campaigns that will significantly improve SEO performance. The day I worked for my first client I was grounded in accountability & results. – Andrew Baker
        • True, though, that SEO is seen as more of a “fuzzy” field w/less measurable results. – Theresa Zook
  • Our company is about to make some big moves to be more “just ppc” focused. – Stu Draper
  • Do you think there are different skill sets involved in PPC vs. SEO? Do they translate across? – Emily Las
    • There’s some overlap for sure, but some SEO & PPC skills are different. If you’re great at 1, you can be great at the other. – Neil Sorenson
    • PPC is way more analytical, logical thinking, and white hat seo at least, is way more art and less science. – Stu Draper
    • Having previously worked in both, certainly feel that skill sets are similar and translate. But work load is very different. – John Lee
  • No doubt knowing SEO is important, but to keep being successful at PPC I focus all of my attention here. – Matt Umbro
  • But I’d say you can’t be really good with SEO or PPC without some understanding of the other. – Martin Rottgerding
    • I would also argue that as you learn about one, you inevitably learn about the other. It’s what happened to me. – Michelle Morgan
  • Integration b/t SEO and PPC is critical but having experts in both, vs expert in 1 & “dangerous” in the other sets the bar higher. – Crystal Anderson
  • Many PPC clients ask me SEO stuff, too…- Martin Rottgerding

Q7: What can adCenter do to keep up with ad innovations and targeting methods put forth by AdWords, Facebook & LinkedIn?

  • Work correctly. – Aaron Levy
  • Give up and let a 3rd party platform come in and take care of it? – James Zolman
  • They have so many basic things to get down first. MCC w/ stats anyone? – Luke Alley
  • Expand Display/Content advertising. Display is where all the fun targeting features live! – John Lee
  • What can AdCenter do to create its own identify and offerings instead of trying to keep up with the Jonses? – Theresa Zook
    • I would love if they just copied the Jonses. The Jones have got it down! – Luke Alley
  • Have more exciting ad formats. – Matt Umbro
  • They first need to work on functionality. – Austin Holverson
  • Be more like Adwords. – Nicole Mintiens
  • More segmentation is needed (granular). – lchasse (@lchasse)
  • Everyone is so down on @adcenter . Is everyone so quick to forget how bad it used to be? Or how bad YSM was?
    • I thought YSM was better imo…i actually liked YSM. both were bad, but YSM was less so. – James Zolman
    • But if we settle for “better than it used to be”, who’s pushing them to make advancements. – Michelle Morgan
      • Believe it or not, they are pushing themselves. I’ve talked to product devs and evanglists – they are working hard. – John Lee
  • Stop making band-aid fixes just to keep up. Focus on their strengths vs. being what everyone else is. – Crystal Anderson
  • Conversion rate isn’t a column. That might be an easy calculated field to add. Kinda important. – Robert Brady
  • CTD remove ridic reporting thresholds. Don’t restrict me to 28 days of data @acdenter. Excel can handle it, why cant you! – Aaron Levy
  • Problems lie in traffic; we’d all use a terrible platform if we could get significant ROI out of it, right? – Laoshima
  • A dev perspective, AdCenter needs a can’t beat um join um mentality. Playing well with others would help vs hurt. – Chris McGee
  • adCenter needs to find an innovative way to leverage the fact that they have a smaller audience. Sets them apart from Google. – Emily Las
  • Allow targeting of Yahoo and Bing separately perhaps? – Robert Brady ++
  • Become available internationally would be a nice move… the Yahoo Search Management interface must be from 1999. – Martin Rottgerding
  • I’m very hard on @adcenter – only ‘cuz i want to see them succeed & i want to spend TONS on their system to get that traffic. Right now, it’s so hard to spend on @adcenter … volume isn’t there, prices feel artificially inflated given small audience & roi. – James Zolman


Google AdWords Editor (version as of today’s PPCChat 9.5.1)


PPC Jobs at SEER Interactive

Google Introduces “Bid For Calls” On The PC – James Luty (@jamesluty)


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.

Also, check out the next #PPCSpeak on Tuesday Nights at 9pm Eastern, 6pm Pacific.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

About the Author

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe, Search Manager at WebRanking in Minneapolis, MN, the guy who puts the #PPCChat Streamcap together, an sem blogger, SEO Jedi in Training, Tweeting from @PaulKragthorpe, and Google+’er.

Be Sociable, Share!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Tweets

I am speaking at SMX East
PPCChat.co was rated one of the Best PPC Blogs by Boost CTR