Dec 31 2012
Brief Overview of the Job
I’m an adwriter specializing in online pay-per-click advertising. My main job responsibilities are:
- Writing Google/Bing ads which attract as many likely customers to our clients as possible.
- Managing the campaigns, keywords, and price-settings to do #1 as cost-efficiently as possible.
- Working with our design team to convert as many of the people that click on our ads into actual customers as possible. I write copy and help with design planning. #3 is probably a larger part of my job than for most people in similar positions.
My other job functions include writing blog posts and webpages for clients and calculating rate-of-return on our ad-spend (i.e. figuring out whether our ads are profitable and how to make them more profitable).
What’s Most Challenging About the Job?
- Attention to detail is critical. Pretty much every word choice matters. Hell, punctuation can be statistically significant (it’s usually more effective to end ads with an exclamation than a period).
- Ads are so short that it can be sort of challenging to figure out how to convey your key messages in time.
- Challenging price goals. This can be very frustrating—keep plugging and keep learning. Over my first two months, my ads got 3-4 times more cost-effective on average and 3 times as likely to convince a reader to click them.
- Properly measuring performance can be very challenging—the required information might not all be available in the Google/Bing interfaces. For example, based on the information Google Adwords had access to, it was reporting that we were spending $400 to gain each customer, a catastrophic result in a campaign where our goal is $35/customer. That had me sort of despondent for a week. In actuality, the real number was closer to $60/customer—Google Adwords only had access to online orders and not phone orders (much larger for that particular client).
What I Love Most About the Job
- I get nearly-instant feedback about how well I’m doing my job. Ideal for anyone with self-esteem issues, I think.
- There’s a ton of variety. With PPC, I try pretty much everything to figure out what works for a particular client, and then adapt from there.
- It moves really fast.
- It’s competitive.
Most Important Skills and Traits for Landing an Entry-Level Interview
- Demonstrated interest/knowledge in the field. For this, I’d recommend reading PPC blogs (e.g. PPC Hero) compulsively, focusing on what is most effective in various situations and recent changes in PPC. Additionally, it’d be a plus if you were Adwords-certified—the test for Adwords certification costs $50, but the test is hard enough that passing it shows at least a basic understanding of the concepts of PPC.
- Effective short-form writing skills. If you’re still in college or high school, I’d recommend taking up journalism and/or blogging. Writing article/post headlines has REALLY helped me attract prospective readers in a tight space-limit. Classes on consumer psychology can also help here—e.g. keep your claims as simple as possible. My most effective ads generally resemble “Great prices, great couches. Save 20% today at our [YOUR TOWN] store!”, which is 50-100% more effective than (say) trying to explain what makes the couches great.
- I’d recommend starting with this list of 99 suggestions for interviewees in any industry.
- In PPC specifically, here are some questions you should be able to handle pretty easily:
- “What is one way in which PPC advertising has changed recently?” (There are many acceptable answers, but two that have been particularly important to our clients have been sitelink extensions and adding seller ratings to some ad results).
- “What are some elements of effective online ads?” The three most important things that come to mind are: 1) clearly and simply identifying the main benefits of the product (e.g. “Great prices, great couches”), 2) an effective call to action letting people know what they should do next (e.g. “Save 20% today at our [YOUR TOWN] store), and 3) it should all look professional/intelligent—Do Not Capitalize Every Word Unless You Want To Look Like Spam.
- “Off the top of your head, what can you actually edit in a PPC ad?” This question tests whether you’ve worked enough with online ads for this to be instinctive. You have a headline, two lines of body text, a display URL, and possibly an ad extension (depending on ad position). ALL ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
- Be prepared for an in-person writing sample. For example, I might give someone one of my bumper stickers and give the applicant 5-10 minutes to write 3 ads directing customers to a product page for it. (Remember, it’s 25 characters for the headline and 35 characters for each of the two body lines). My main criteria here would be whether the person came up with a clear, concise ad which laid out 1-2 key benefits and had a persuasive call to action. Here’s one possible ad I came up with.