Sarah Stemen: Returning to PPC in a Time of Change July 2022 | Beyond the Platforms

"Returning To PPC In A Time Of Change"

Sarah Stemen has worked in digital since 2007, with time spent on both the client side & the agency side. She is currently a Paid Search Manager at Marcus Thomas. 

You can find her on Twitter @runnerkik and on LinkedIn sarahstemen

Video: Returning to PPC in a Time of Change

Transcript: Return to PPC in a Time of Change

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Hi, Jyll, thank you so much for that introduction. So today I'm so excited to be talking about returning to PPC in a time of change. So I'm actually really passionate about this because I did take a break during my career to raise my children. And when I came back, it was an exciting time, but definitely a time of change within the industry.

And one thing that it was. You know, as I was reflecting on this presentation that I really, really gave a lot of thought to was that night before I started my first job back. Right. I remember I had so much anxiety and what it really was is I was afraid to open the MCC and see. You know, all the match types thrown together.

I did one in my ad group segmented. I was very particular about how the naming convention was to be set up and I opened the MCC and I was shocked. The first thing I saw was some new metrics. I saw ad interactions and interaction rate. Now I can honestly tell you that when I saw these metrics, I didn't know what they meant.

I just wanted my impressions, my clickthrough rate, and my clicks back turns out they were in there. I just had to customise my columns a little bit, and I can honestly tell you that while I'm a big proponent of embracing change. I still never bothered to really understand what ad interactions or interaction rate is.

But that was my first kind of dose of this has changed. But then as I started working, you know, things, things got. Much more familiar. It's a lot like riding a bike. However, the bike ride is speeding up. I think the change is something where you have to embrace it, because if you don't, you are going to be stuck in those old tactics that were giving me anxiety, such as segmenting everything by match type over segmenting one keyword per ad group.

And that's just not. The way our industry is moving at this point in time, which brings me to my next big change. And I tried to stick with seven with along with this seven minute theme. So we'll see how these go. And my plan is to go from sort of the top most, sort of change that maybe everybody thinks about and kind of funnel it down to the things that maybe you don't realise are changing.

And that we're kind of moving along slowly with, so automation. I cannot talk about change within our industry without talking about automation. But to me, automation means so much more than simply the, you know, bidding algorithms and what we typically think of when I think of automation, I think of tasks that I used to do by hand.

So. Back when I started in PPC, we were downloading spreadsheets and doing pivot tables to find all the redundant keywords in an account. It was like untangling, a giant ball of yarn. And I always felt like the, the stronger, the PPC manager. They were the stronger PPC managers were just really good at getting to the redundant keywords and the bar, the yard Ballard and untangling it.

And just in general, those tasks have been automated and it makes my life way easier because of the amount of time that used to be spent on these tasks. The other big thing, and it's, I think. And those of you that live sort of within our industry and are on Twitter and engage in those conversations.

We all do a lot of sort of complaining. Let's just say it out loud. But a lot of times we're not taking the time to realize that we've been given some other tools. And for me, the biggest one is the reporting center. Right? So I am in there a lot that used to be a manual download and a Excel document and a pivot table I would create on my own.

And so right there in the interface, I can pull metrics. I can pull all my data and segment by campaign type. There's so much that you can do. Quickly now with some of the tools that have been given to us. And then also I mentioned this, this was in my account for a brief hot minute, and then I haven't seen it since, but there was a period of time when Google actually went in on my campaign tab and was highlighting the changes that were happening.

And then the interface would actually tell me why that metric changed. So again, more and more of this automation. Is in my opinion, a positive change with the industry and something that we should appreciate and that we should lean into because it helps us as managers do a better job working with the client.

We're more responsive, we're more agile. The other thing is the experiments. So again, just going back to over the time that I was gone, there were more and more features added to the platform. And again, this was something before that we would've to run different campaign types and download Excel sheets and pull all those metrics side by side and determine if there's statistically significant.

It's all done right there for us. I love it. I embrace it. And these are the things that for me, make my job more fun. Um, and then I added bulk customizer too, mostly because right now with my current role, I'm in the frame of rolling out promos and just the ability to customize your ads quickly within the business center.

Again, just powerful tools that are there for our disposal, that. I, I definitely feel like are things that should be embraced and, you know, definitely, I guess the best way to put it is appreciated. So moving on to audiences again, kind of starting at what everybody sort of expects and coming down a little bit, everyone talks about audiences now, and I use the picture here and you'll see the sort of in my slides.

I use guardrails. I see audiences as sort of those guardrails of your campaign. If you are able to layer in audiences as part of your campaigns, it allows you to be a little bit more aggressive in your bidding, a little bit more aggressive with your match type, because you know, within a certain degree of certainty, that that net of what you are bidding on within the C when I'm, I'm talking about search here has that.

That knowledge and that data behind it. So just with audiences and I will say that I truly believe that Google has, and I'm speaking mostly about Google, cuz that's where I spend a lot of my time. I definitely feel like they are better at this. Um, better, certainly who they were five, 10 years ago and over the past year as more and more advertisers are automating. I'm just seeing signs that the audiences are more accurate. I see that in my search term reports, I see that reflected in my clickthrough rates. It's just where we're going. And so I had to put a little bit of something that I think is the elephant in the room. I guess you got a sneak preview at the beginning, and I sort of gave a sad face and I wanna sort of put.

The all there's, there's like a motion in this. So with Google support, the quality is not what it used to be. And it it's a hard thing for me to say, because I look at when I first started as a young marketer, I wouldn't be where I am today without. Very very talented Google reps. I believe that there are still quite a few out there that are doing everything they can and supporting advertisers, but the interactions are just not what they used to be.

And I know that that's hard, but I do feel like there are certainly changes and positives that have come out of. Lack of support. Uh, and that would be what I would call the information access. And for me, this is probably the biggest change in the industry that nobody really talks about. And I know when Jyll gave her introduction, um, you know, Jyll's on Twitter, so we know to get information about what's going on with the marketing.

We have podcasts. We. Like YouTube. We have TikTok, we have Twitter and blogs. When I first started in this industry, the only way I could keep current in information was to simply read blogs and I have three children. It is really hard to sit down and just read. And I personally digest information better when it's just coming into my ears and I'm doing laundry.

And I'm taking a walk and the ability to access information in our field is there it's changing, it's evolving, it's been changing. And I think that's one of the largest changes that nobody talks about is how. How prevalent, uh, the information in our community is, um, I also am a huge fan of YouTube. So if you were to ask me how I get my, most of my paid search information, now it would definitely be through podcast and YouTube, and then blogs will be a third.

I don't go to the blogs first. So. With that another huge change that I've seen is community. And, you know, I put sort of, I wanted to give a feeling of emotion with this, but the truth is the community has really bonded over the past couple years. And I think it's, um, A lot of things coming together. I think it's that with the automation and with the constant change that we're seeing, you have to mom together with other professionals, because the reality is a lot of us don't necessarily know what that change will mean.

What the impact will be. And so we find comfort in the community of paid search professionals to try to glean that information and walk through these changes together and have these super important conversations. And so I definitely feel like the community has evolved. And then even this week, another conversation I was having, which I think is super important to point out, because I did talk about the way that information access has changed.

The other big thing is within the community. I find people share. Completely openly at this point in time. Um, it used to be, when I first started at PPC, we sort of held different tactics, kind of close to the vest and people now just come out and say, this is what I would do. This is how I would fix the problem without sugar coating, absolutely anything.

And I think that's a Testament to all the change we've had to go through together. And I also think it's a Testament of we've all sort of grown up in this industry. I mean, I, when Jyll said 15 years, I've been in this industry, there's not that many people who have been in the industry as long. So it's definitely something where we've grown up and as an industry become less territorial over our knowledge, it's sort of us, that that makes us good marketers.

And so kind of with that, the biggest, um, change I see, and this is definitely personally, and again, with. The the entire Seattle PPC is. I truly believe that we've transitioned. To be true on marketers. What do I mean by that? I think with the tasks that I had mentioned early on in my presentation, the reporting center, the automated tasks that are done for me, the finding redundant keywords.

I know I mentioned that a lot, but I used to spend a lot of time on large accounts, digging around to find the duplicate. When those tasks are automated, we can spend more time truly thinking as marketers. And I think that that's been great for me personally, I think professionally and I think it's really set the industry on fire.

It's no longer about out the keyword, the keyword, the keyword it's sort of. Positioning where that keyword sits within that entire funnel. And if that makes sense for that account and that person at that time, for the message that they have to receive for the advertiser. So definitely something that I has changed and I would say something I've truly leaned into.

So lastly, but not least. Here's my information. So I am runnerkik on Twitter, like Jyll mentioned. I'm on there probably every day and a little bit on the weekends, and then I'm also on LinkedIn and I am currently at Marcus Thomas for my agency. July 2022 | Beyond the Platforms

"Returning To PPC In A Time Of Change"

Sarah Stemen has worked in digital since 2007, with time spent on both the client side & the agency side. She is currently a Paid Search Manager at Marcus Thomas. 

You can find her on Twitter @runnerkik and on LinkedIn sarahstemen