Interview with David Szetela, CEO of FMB Media: What should you know before entering the PPC field?


One of the best-known experts in online advertising is working on creating programs, services, and information products to advance the industry. David Szetela, owner and CEO of FMB Media, is a top expert in Search and Social PPC advertising (Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, Bing Ads, LinkedIn, etc.). He knows how to maximize revenue and profit of any company.

photo of David Szetela

David’s articles are very useful for marketing specialists. You can find them in MediaPost, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land and MarketingSherpa.

Also, David has written two books on PPC advertising. The first one was Customers Now: Profiting From the New Frontier of Content-Based Internet Advertising (2009) that includes the guide for two content advertising programs - Google Ads and ContextWeb's ADSDAQ Ad Exchange. The second book is Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing: An Hour a Day will help marketers to drive traffic to websites.

David likes to share his experience and PPC insights. That is why he is welcomed at the best marketing events such as Search Engine Strategies and SMX. 

Maryna Sharapa, an OWOX BI Growth Hacker, spoke with David. In this exclusive interview, you find out what David considers the required skills and resources for PPC managers and learn about common mistakes in advertising campaigns.

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The bright future of PPC specialists

Maryna Sharapa: What skills are the most important for PPC specialists now and what skills will be in demand in the future? 

David Szetela: It breaks down into two categories. One of them is data analysis and the other one is creativity. The data analysis part is required for operating software like Google AdWords in order to build and optimize campaigns and interpret the data you get. It helps to define the problem, make the changes, and make the performance better. All this is very analytical and mathematical. However, specialists should have a creative side – write persuasive advertising, create display advertising with the right image and message. In my opinion, it is a rare person who has these capabilities at the same time. If PPC managers train themselves they can possess these skills.

MS: How will PPC and advertising change in the future? 

DS: I think everything will be more simple and more complex. I know it’s contradictory. The simplicity will come from better automation. It will be easy to test advertising. The creative side of the PPC manager should come up with many headlines, description lines, images, logos, etc. It will be challenging. Also, we will have automated management that offers a lot of choices. On the one hand, it will be easy to perform tasks for PPC managers. On the other hand, this automation may lead to difficulties and secrets of using these automated systems. Not every PPC manager can use such complex tools. A lot of people in our industry are worried about the future in this field. They think that their jobs will go away. I think that this profession will become more necessary because the expectations of the clients will be higher. ​

MS: Do you believe that software solutions and artificial intelligence will replace marketers?

DS: It’s not about using different tools and programmatic solutions. It’s about possessing good knowledge, skills, and experience that make a masterpiece work. The other things are just tools. ​

The killers of advertising campaigns

MS: Could you name three problems that PPC specialists usually face? How do you solve them? 

DS: I would say it is a poor quality score when an advertisement is written badly or improperly displayed. The perfect ad should include a good headline, a list of features, and benefits. Features mean what you are selling. Benefits mean what you feel after the purchase. Also, it should include a good call to action. Usually, when you see a bad click rate it means the ad was bad. Another problem is when there are too many keywords. It’s better to use just enough to ensure they appear in the ad headline, one description line and the display URL path.

The second problem is a poor conversion rate. The first reason for that is a poor landing page. The page must be simple, with one information screen. It should quickly describe what is being offered and how visitors can benefit from this offer. The site should have a short way of putting items into a shopping cart or provide a good lead form. It greatly affects conversion. ​Once again, the thing that affects conversion before visiting the site is a poor ad. An ad must have a clear call to action. It should match the content of the landing page. Bryan Eisenberg said: make a promise to the visitor, then repeat this promise on the landing page.

The last problem is that PPC managers use their search ads in their display campaigns. Display ads should be much different. The goal of a text or image ad display ad is to capture the attention of the visitor immediately. So strong language and a bright noticeable image will grab the attention and get a click to the landing page.

MS: What common PPC strategy mistakes kill advertising campaigns? What was your biggest mistake?

DS: I’ve already mentioned it – too many keywords and ads. The number of keywords should be very small (from five to eight per ad group). Also, frequently I see too many ads per ad group. Google advises three ads per group. I disagree. I think it should be no more than two. If you have too many ads (I’ve seen clients with ten ads per group), you can’t test them quickly. 

My mistake is that I didn’t get into PPC earlier. I should have started with it five years earlier. Although starting in 2004 and specializing exclusively on PPC was a good move. :)

Goals, attribution, and reporting issues

MS: What services do you use for reporting? Who usually create the reports in your team?

DS: We use Google Data Studio. This free Google product is amazing. We pay for Optmyzr to build our reports. Data analysts create the reports. Also, other people with creative minds are engaged in the reporting process because they know how to better communicate with the clients.

MS: If you could choose only one tool to help you with your job, which would it be?

DS: I will choose Google Data Studio. It’s perfect. Google is constantly adding features. I think everyone should try Google Data Studio before more complex solutions. ​

MS: What attribution model do you use?

DS: We use Data-Driven when possible and I think it’s fine. It satisfies any needs. It is the best attribution model to use according to Google. Unfortunately, it’s only available for campaigns/accounts that have a lot of conversions (600 per month). If a client doesn’t have this number of conversions, we use the Position Based model.​

MS: How do you set your marketing goals? 

DS: For B2C customers, the marketing goal is almost always increasing sales and profitability with the help of good advertising. We reduce the cost per action. For B2B clients, it’s increasing the number of leads at a low cost per lead. Everything is based on profitability.​

Motivation and resources to upgrade

MS: What five blogs and conferences should every PPC specialist read and attend? 

DS: The first [blog] is PPC Hero. Of course, the OWOX BI blog. PPCChat (#ppcchat) on Twitter Tuesdays at noon is not a blog but is amazing for getting a lot of information. Google Ads blog, Microsoft Ads blog, Search Engine Land – SEM Channel, Search Engine Watch – PPC Category. You can find good resources from the Paid Search Association (guides and quick links). Good conferences are Hero conference and SMX. Also, I like some small regional conferences – for example, the State of Search Conference in Dallas in November. The small conferences invite good speakers and you can catch valuable information. In addition, I’d add the Digital Summit conferences. 

MS: How do you keep yourself motivated at work?

DS: It’s not a challenge for me. It’s easy to find motivation when you love what you do. I have a great life. ​​

Announcement of the Paid Search Association

MS: Could you tell me about the Paid Search Association?

DS: The reason we’re doing it is that it’s difficult for PPC managers to find resources. I mean relevant materials for learning, opportunities for coworking and collaboration, employee and employer connections, and industry recognition of the best specialists. The Paid Search Association is going to be launched in the middle of October. We’ve invited people who are involved in advertising on Google and Microsoft products, Quora, search engines, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

MS: What features and benefits can the Paid Search Association provide?

DS: We’re going to send emails daily to our association members. These emails will include a list of articles about PPC advertising with links. This will make it easy to keep in touch with the industry. Also, we plan news by RSS, and we’re working on a mobile app for Android and iOS.

​We’ll also have an award program for PPC specialists. We will launch a scholarship program where we can choose students and give them money to learn PPC. We are negotiating with an education company in order to provide PPC training at a relatively low cost for us. If a company hires a new PPC manager, it wants to be sure the employee is trained well. In addition, we have a job board where members (employers and employees) can find what they’re looking for concerning PPC.

The book store will present a list of good books about PPC advertising. We are going to include polls and surveys. Also, we’re thinking about conferences. The association will offer a lot of resources for PPC specialists outside the USA. I manage a PPC LinkedIn group and now it has more than 17,000 members. The majority of them are not from the USA. I want to make sure that everything we do is accessible to everyone, especially for people outside the USA. 

We want to do webinars on a regular basis. In addition, we plan coaching and mentoring. I don’t know all the details yet. But the idea lies in coaching/mentoring – for example, through Skype sessions. Members can advise on how to improve AdWords campaigns. 

MS: Can you tell me about your team?

DS: I am the president of this association. We have an executive board, advisory board, and committees. The committees may include development and marketing, diversity and inclusion, education and programs, and governance (the software supports online elections). Mike Freedman is our manager. Lisa Maier is our secretary/treasurer. My right hand, Jamal Hale, is the vice president. The current board is composed of well-known experts in the PPC field. I’ve already invited founding board members: Navah Hopkins, Samantha Noble, and Melissa Mackey. ​

OWOX BI summary

We’re sure you’re excited about the creation of the Paid Search Association by David Szetela and his team. This will be a really big resource for PPC managers all over the world. David has big plans for it. 

After the interview with David Szetela, we know the list of common problems in the PPC field and know how to avoid common mistakes. Everything is easy: just don’t overdo it with the keywords. In addition, David is sure that PPC specialists will never lose their jobs due to the high demand and increasing expectations of clients.

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