Considering A Paid Search Career? Here's What To Assess

By Emma Welland | @emmawelland | Group Head of Performance, Periscopix. A Merkle company

10 years ago the field of paid search was still a hidden gem. It was a great career choice but potential employees didn’t know the profession existed. Over the past 5 years, awareness of paid search/SEM/PPC/Pay Per Click/Search Engine Marketing (so many ways of describing it!) has grown massively and there are now many graduates with an active interest in paid search.


Why Consider A Career In Paid Search?


PPC is a great field to work and specialize in for a number of reasons.


Clear Outcomes And Goals


Paid search is used for branding or performance (or both). Either way, clients will give you specific goals to work towards. Platforms like AdWords provide you with the ability to clearly see and analyze your paid search performance. Unlike some other marketing channels, you are easily able to see the outcome of your advertising and confidently report the performance.


Witness The Impact Of YOU


Following the point above, you can easily see the outcome of your advertising. This means you can see the fruits of the hard work you have put in. If you spend 2 hours optimizing a paid search campaign and adding new keywords, in a short period of time you will be able to see exactly the impact of your hard work. This fact is both motivating and rewarding.




Paid search is always changing as no day is ever the same and every month new features are implemented. These updates prevent the role from getting boring, but also means you need to be on your toes and willing to embrace new features!


There Is So Much To Do…


If you work in paid search you need to have a love of data. Data is one item we are in abundance of as account managers, meaning there is a never ending list of possible analysis opportunities available. The key is prioritization to ensure you are looking at the most important data sets for your client and their goals. The bonus is that you are never left twiddling your thumbs as there is always something you can be analyzing.


What Characteristics Make A Good Account Manager?


One question I am always asked during the recruitment process is what makes a good account manager. I believe there isn’t one career path that drives you down the route of paid search account manager, but instead you just need to have a range of qualities!




Paid search is a niche area and isn’t for everyone. I believe that having passion in what you do is key to great self-performance. If you aren’t passionate, you probably aren’t enjoying what you are doing and your work may suffer. You spend 80% of your life at work, so you should make sure it is something you are passionate about!




This characteristic links into the point above. When I am recruiting account managers, I want them to be as enthusiastic as possible about paid search. Enthusiasm breeds a willingness to learn and develop and in a dynamic industry like paid search you need to be willing to understand more about the subject matter.


Logical Thinking


This characteristic sounds like the ultimate interviewer question type, but being able to think logically is necessary to succeed in paid search. You need to be able to logically analyze data and make sensible decisions about how to improve your paid search campaign and prioritize different strategies. This skill enables you to see opportunities through the vast volumes of data.


Passion For Excel


If you don’t like excel, then an account management role in paid search probably isn’t for you. There have been many advances in AdWords reporting over the past few years, however, excel is still always going to be your friend. Creating pivot tables to slice and dice data is an essential part of any account managers day to day job. You need to feel comfortable downloading data and analyzing trends to understand your performance.


Analyst Skills


Every decision you make in this role is going to involve numbers. As soon as you launch a keyword, ad copy, ad group or campaign you are going to be analyzing its performance using your numerical skills. You need to be able to crunch numbers and fly through analysis easily.


Being Innovative


As I mentioned above, paid search is a dynamic field. Account managers need to be prepared to not only try new things but explore and invent ways of doing things. This will make you stand out from the crowd and will ensure your paid search accounts don’t become stagnant.


Next Steps


Read Blogs


You’re already in the right place! There is so much information on paid search online to help you learn and develop your skills in this area. Read the latest blogs to find out new ways of conducting tasks and more importantly, to give you a feel for what you might be doing if you were to pursue a career in paid search. There is a huge paid search community online that is happy to answer questions and give you a taste of what working in paid search is all about.


Take Your AdWords Fundamentals Exam


Anyone is eligible to take this exam, yet a lot of people pursuing a career in paid search don’t. Taking this test shows potential employers that you are dedicated enough to invest your own time researching and understanding it. Not only is taking this test good for your career but it will also help to develop a basic understanding of paid search.


Research Agencies vs In-House Opportunities


Maybe you’ve decided that a career in paid search ticks all of the boxes. You have read some blogs, watched some videos and taken your exam. The final item to consider is what type of career you want – in-house vs agency life. There are pro’s and con’s to both of these and I recommend you have a look around and get a feel for the different approaches before committing.


Attend A Conference


There are many industry conferences and exhibitions throughout the year in the digital sphere. I recommend attending one of these if possible, as it will give you the opportunity to talk to people in the industry and hear their thoughts directly rather than online. This networking can give you the opportunity to build relationships with potential employers and ask questions about what working in paid search entails.


Get Involved


Finally, I recommend setting up an AdWords account. Don’t put your credit card details in, but have a play around with the different tabs and tools. This tactic will cement all of the research you have done into paid search and will give you an edge over other candidates who have just looked online.