Arianne Donoghue Shares Her Experience from Working Client and Agency Side in Paid Media

I interview Arianne Donoghue, Paid Media, Development Manager at Epiphany Search about biddable media and how you can move into a paid search role even if you are in a senior and more generic manager marketing role.

“You have worked in PPC in a number of roles. How would you suggest a keen online marketer to break into Paid Media? (It can be difficult for those in senior positions to get experience and train in a different area but would help the business in the long term).

This is a tricky question because I always recommend people wanting to get a good understanding of digital marketing to start with paid search, as I think it gives a really good grounding in the fundamentals. To approach it from the other side, I think it would be immensely helpful for someone wanting to break into paid media to have good understandings of the following:

  1. Attribution and the relationships between channels
  2. The marketing funnel – how do different channels fit into the marketing funnel and lend themselves to different stages of the customer journey? Some are inherently more suited to brand awareness, or retention, for example
  3. Audiences – the difference in audience types, how to appeal to different people at the right time
  4. Use social media – be on Facebook and Twitter – look at the ads you see and the information you volunteer about yourself – think about how this information can be used from an advertiser’s perspective
  5. Numbers – be able to understand KPIs, how they’re calculated and how they relate to your business.

Now that paid media consists of more than just paid search (which is incredibly in-depth in itself), people need to equip themselves with the right knowledge to be able to handle audiences and more creative than just text ads in search. While keywords haven’t gone away, audience targeting is increasingly important and I’d say that’s the glue that ties paid search, programmatic display and paid social together (aside from the “paying-for-media” bit). Being numerate and developing that commercial awareness will stand you in good stead when it comes to evaluating different kinds of activity, or the success of a campaign.

Beyond that, pick one of the channels within paid media that interests you the most and then start there. It’d be overwhelming to focus on search, display and social all at once. Each has things they’re best for and differences that make them more suited to people with different skills. If you’re all about numbers and performance, looking for the ultimate in measurability, start with paid search. If you’re fascinated by data, audiences and creative, start with programmatic display. If you want to discover how paid media can be used for engagement and retention as well as prospecting and purchase, with a wide variety of ad formats, pick paid social – it’s a good middle ground between search and display as it uses audience data, but a cost-per-click and auction model (in many cases).

You’ve worked both agency and client side. Do you think it is important for those in Search to have worked in both areas? What do you think is the biggest difference?

I think it can be really helpful – if only to help broaden your horizons and give you a balanced perspective of how things work on both sides. It can be frustrating to not understand why clients behave the way they do, or why your agency approaches things in certain ways – and having experienced both it can help break down barriers and prevent frustration build up. When I’ve been client-side I’m aware that in some ways I’m an agency’s worst nightmare (having done that job at a senior level for some years I will challenge and ask a LOT of questions), but any good agency should value the opportunity to work with someone who understands their approach and can help them produce their best work. Unfortunately not all agencies I’ve worked with while client-side have seen it like that! ????

In terms of the biggest differences, honestly, it varies. Generally speaking, the pace of agency-life will be faster, often with more variety day-to-day – whereas client-side really let you get stuck into a specific business or project – seeing it through from end-to-end. Client-side sometimes comes with a better work/life balance too, although not always. There are variances though – some agencies can be very laid back while some client business can be extraordinarily intense with immense pressure to deliver.

I’d encourage people to think about the things that are most important to their happiness, career-wise. That can help them establish whether client-or-agency-side is best for them, as well as which sort of client or agency – as I’ve discovered, it can feel a bit like looking for a unicorn job to find the combination of role and environment that’s really right for you.

How important is biddable media for e-commerce and online companies?

I would say that it’s fundamental, essential – particularly in the world of e-commerce. Paid search at the very least should be utilised for retail clients to ensure visibility via Shopping ads, particularly on mobile. Things like brand defence are also increasingly important – paid search can be one of the only ways to ensure you’re not losing brand share to competitors.

The change in SERP landscape also makes it more critical – over time there’ll be less and less traffic coming for free via the organic listings – much like Facebook, search engines will increasingly become a “pay to play” environment. Unfortunately, it means that companies will have no choice but to put money side for paid media if they want to be discovered, or seen. However if done well, it doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive.

Finally, I’d encourage everyone to think beyond just paid search. There’s increasing emphasis on “moments” and thinking about the entirety of the customer journey. In line with that, we should be looking at other ways we can enhance the user experience without waiting for them to get to the decision-making stage. By using programmatic display, video and paid social, it’s possible to get in front of customers earlier (in an unobtrusive way, if done well – if you can’t do it well, don’t do it!) and makes your lower-funnel channels such as search work more effectively.”

Thank you Arianne for being interviewed on Search Elite. We look forward to seeing you at Search Elite Manchester

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