PPC Q&A: Paid Search Roundtable at #SMX

You’ve tuned in to Q&A for PPC lovers. Questions covered in this SMX West session include:

How do you think speech search will impact ads?

What video ad tips, strategies, success stories do you have?

What tools do you use?

How do you find work-life balance?

How do you create space with your clients? How do you manage clients?

What is the biggest weakness in the PPC industry?

What are your suggestions for testing text ads?

Andrew Goodman, David Szetela, Christi Olson and John Lee
From left, Andrew Goodman, David Szetela, Christi Olson and John Lee


Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster (@mvanwagner)


  • Andrew Goodman, President, Page Zero Media (@andrew_goodman)
  • David Szetela (@szetela), VP of Search Marketing Operations, Bruce Clay Inc.
  • Christi Olson (@christijolson), Bing Ads Evangelist, Microsoft
  • John Lee (@John_A_Lee), Managing Partner, Clix Marketing

Matt starts out with a quick story. In 2002, he got started in the business. Paid search is fascinating and you want to do it day and night. And as it turns out, you do end up doing it day and night. (Everyone on stage is nodding their head). Matt says he doesn’t have a good work-life balance.

How do you find work-life balance?

John: It’s the biggest challenge. The fact that it bothers a lot of us is that we care. We want to be driving performance. His wife is the voice of reason that reminds him to spend time with kids.

David: His balance has been found in age. You learn to not sweat the small stuff and there’s an awful lot of small stuff in everyone’s day.

Christi: In having a perspective from in-house, agency and on the Bing side, she sees all sides. At an agency, there’s always something to be doing. You have to prioritize. You could do all this stuff, but will it make that much of a difference if you do it. You have determine for yourself. If you’re in a busy season, you may accept 18 hour days.

John: The biggest thing is understanding the line between working and being aware because you can control campaigns from your phone.

Matt: Do you ever turn your phones off? How do you unplug?

Audience member: A group of entrepreneurs she knows meets every Tuesday for dinner and they all put their phones in a stack and no one touches their phone and instead they all have good conversation.

Andrew: The book “The Millionaire Next Door” shows that people in an environment who save (vs. spend) are more likely to be happy. Living in a small city is an environment where people aren’t stressed. His company has a lot of remote workers and they aren’t going to jump off a cliff if you don’t get a click.

How do you create space with your clients? How do you manage clients?

David: Be reasonably responsive to email. That diminishes the amount of times that they want to speak with you. Sometimes it takes actually saying to the client, “I’m not able to respond to 8 emails before 8 am.”

John: Consistent, regularly scheduled calls are a pinpoint on the map where they know they can get a hold of you.

Christi: You can set hours. Send a response so that you know you’re looking into it if the question requires in-depth research and that you’ll be getting back to them with the answer in X time frame, then meeting that time frame.

Andrew: Educate clients about the method behind the madness.

Christi: If you’re on the fifth email response in a long thread, pick up the phone.

John: Email doesn’t convey emotion and it can push you into panic mode.

Brad Geddes in the audience: If you’re getting an email response ready at 2 a.m., don’t send it then. Batch send/schedule it for 8:30 a.m. so they don’t think they can get you at any time.

What tools do you use?

John: They all have their own shortfalls.

Christi: Different tool for different clients.

Andrew: Optmyzer is the the best out there. The entry level is like $50 a month.

David: Automated ad testing on steroids: Adalysis.

Christi: Can we have a panel of tool users and not tool reps talking about what we like and don’t like about tools, and the pricing models?

David: I have a controversial view about automated bid management. I’ve said: prove to me that you can do better than Google’s automated bid manager. Vendors only have data from their own pool of users. Google has all the data, including conversion attributes on the keyword and the searcher. So how can a third-party vendor possibly do a better job than Google?

John: I wrote an article about all the little utilities and tools he uses, and he filled pages.

On Google AdWords, my call extensions are disallowed because of DKI that doesn’t match the page.

John: Use Google Search Console to blanket approve your site. This is the same issue with call tracking. The instructions are in the AdWords Help.

How do you think speech search will impact ads?

David: It’s not our problem yet. It’s becoming a problem. Stats he’s heard — people 18-24, 55% use voice search exclusively. Search engines are going to be figuring out how to monetize voice search, have ads for voice search.

John: The idea of conversational search, you start with a long-from question that has a root term, and then it will perform additional searches pivoting on the root term. One idea is that there will be another match type, like contextual match.

Andrew: Thinks this is a futurism question of whether advertising is going to be as much of a thing. Utility is the focus and none of that is monetized. Apple is not a company that monetizes, but they have a business model. Microsoft and Apple are creating utility for the future and there will be less advertising and they have to figure out as companies how they get paid. It seems to me Google is in trouble if they don’t figure this out.

Christi: Context again matters. Cortana may answer you directly, sometimes it will give you a SERP. Then it’s up to the search engine and advertisers to think through the funnel of user intent and where you can reach the consumer. It’s going to be a time to revisit negative keywords and keywords that match voice search.

David: To understand where it’s going, get an Amazon Echo. You’re conversing with a device and starts to become second nature. You’ll see where it’s all going.

John: Amazon Echo is a data collection device for Amazon to understand you and what it can sell you better.

Andrew: It was an era of freedom with the SERPs, 10 or 11 ads that could show up … and now they’ve taken away the right rail and that’s a wake up call that not everyone can show up.

Video paid ads: tips, strategies, success stories?

John: Don’t think of YouTube as a perfect direct response channel.

David: It’s demand generation display advertising.

Christi: YouTube is not the closer and never meant to be the closer channel. It’s exposure.

David: Like any display advertising, the sole purpose of the first impression is to persuade people to engage further. The important things about a video ad is the still image and the first 3 seconds of the video. This has to engage before someone has a chance to skip.

John: If you do it, be sure to have your retargeting audiences set up.

What is the biggest weakness in the PPC industry?

Andrew: The high-level weakness that hits people in the eyes is scale of business and bigger competitors. If someone can beat you by outbidding you, you need to grow, mimic as much as you can with extensions and matching conversion rates. The other weakness is broad match.

Matt: The FCC should ban search engines from allowing broad match. It’s fraud. Google should not be able to do this with good conscience.

John: Expanding on that: a long time client asked him to look at his campaign settings and he saw “search or display select,” targeting all countries, all languages, only broad match. These are all defaults.

Christi: We can get into the weeds. We don’t think about the big picture enough. Think strategy on a regular basis, and how your search campaign connects to SEO and marketing. Be part of the bigger picture working toward a goal and talking across.

John: To the platforms, he’d say that he doesn’t like “talking points.” He doesn’t like Facebook pushing video or the month of mobile.

How do we build personas for B2B leads? Customer serving isn’t always an option.

David: Sales teams.

Andrew: This is about keyword intent. Take a defensive, skeptical stance with B2B search. Assume it’s broad intent. The keyword research phase is annoyingly intensive for B2B.

John: Have theories you’re going to test but don’t make assumptions.

Suggestions for testing text ads?

Andrew: Come up with 3 or 4 concepts to test: is it about price, describing product? Headline is the biggest influencer.

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Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

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