Staying Ahead of the PPC Game: Interview with Samantha Noble

Opinions matter, especially when they are professional. Maryna Sharapa, an OWOX BI PR-manager, continues to explore fruitful insights for marketers, and this time, she has contacted Samantha Noble to talk over the future PPC trends, common mistakes, and ways to be efficient.

In this brief interview, you’ll learn how to stay focused and get your digital strategies to work from the expert point of view.

A few words about Samantha Noble, before you jump into the topic: Samantha is a founder of Biddable Moments, an Independent Paid Media Consultancy, a founder of the Digital Females group, and a keynote and conference speaker at leading global events. She is a well-known digital specialist and a passionate PPC Hero who helps brands and agencies boost their profits through highly targeted marketing strategies and Paid Media.

Having such extensive experience and invaluable knowledge, she certainly has something to share. So, let’s follow up with the contents:

Table of contents

PPC skills and problems

Maryna Sharapa: What skills does a PPC specialist need to develop now so they aren't left without work in the future?

Samantha Noble: I don’t think it is necessarily the skills that they need to develop but more the ability to have an open mind and to try new things. There have been many occasions where I have looked at new features launched within the Paid Media platforms and my initial reaction has been ‘I don’t think it will work’. But once I have actually sat down and implemented it, it can often yield some great results.

This is not always the case though. There have been times where I have tested a new feature and it has not worked well at all. As PPC Specialists, we need to develop the want to keep trying features until we get them to work.

MS: 3 major problems each PPC specialist usually face and how did you solve them

SN: I think the biggest problem at PPC Specialist faces now and will continue to face in the future is keeping up to date with all the new features that are released. It isn’t so hard if you only focus on one platform but if you are a Paid Media specialist working across various channels, this can be a challenge.

In order to combat this, it is vital that everyone networks and helps each other. There are various Facebook groups, Twitter threads, Slack channels etc where lots of PPC Specialists hangout and share knowledge; without this, it would be very hard to stay ahead of the game.

MS: What is your biggest issue as a PPC specialist?

SN: I have alluded to this above; it is having the time to keep up to date with all the changes that happen. We have some great blogs that we can follow to keep up to date but these don’t cover everything so sometimes you stumble across things that you didn’t even know existed!

This is only going to get tougher too as we are seeing so many social media platforms starting to push their own paid advertising channels! The more channels there are, the more there is to learn!

Ad campaigns evaluation and common mistakes

MS: Does offline data matter for evaluating advertising campaigns?

SN: 100% - if there is offline conversion data available then it absolutely has to play a part in evaluating the performance of advertising campaigns. If you are driving leads for a business and all the actual sales happen offline, it is impossible to measure success if you ignore the offline data.

MS: Common PPC Strategy Mistakes that Kill Campaigns. What was your biggest fuck up?

SN: I remember one time right back at the start of my career when I added a very expensive keyword to a campaign on broad match and the campaign spend £10,000 overnight for very irrelevant traffic. It is safe to say that my boss was not happy with me but it is also safe to say, I have never made that mistake again!

Attribution models and reporting

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

SN: We use a combination of Google Data Studio and SuperMetrics for all our reporting. We have a series of templates that we have built for different industries and sectors that we work in so it makes it a lot easier to on-board new clients into our reporting suites.

MS: What are the main limitations of existing reporting tools can you highlight?

SN: Google Data Studio is an incredibly powerful reporting tool and pairing it with SuperMetrics pretty much addresses all the needs I have. There is always going to be little features that we would love to see included and where Data Studio is such a new platform, they often respond quickly to feature addition requests.

MS: If you needed to choose a BI tool, where would you start? What would you research?

SN: In my experience, BI tools can be an absolute mind field. Whenever I am looking for a new tool I always start by asking my peers for recommendations; I have found this saves me a lot of research time into tools that I don’t really need.

MS: What attribution model do you use?

SN: There isn’t a one size fits all approach to attribution. If a client already has a preferred model then this is the one that we will apply to our Paid Media campaigns too. If the client doesn’t have a preferred model, then I will default to Data Driven if it is available, failing that, it would be Time Decay.

MS: Why do you use your attribution model? How did you choose it? What attribution model should be you to agree to test it?

SN: Time Decay is the model that our Google Ads representatives have always suggested as the go to model if the client doesn’t have an existing one in use.

It works for me as it allows me to allocate performance metrics to all touchpoints of a campaign. From campaign to keywords and ads to landing pages, this model allocates a percentage of the results to each touchpoint weighting the last touchpoint with the greater percentage.

Future trends in PPC: how to set goals

MS: How will the PPC and ad market change in the near future?

SN: We have been speaking a lot about audience-led marketing for a while now and I think over the coming months and years this is going to continue to drive the industry forwards.

It isn’t as simple as bidding on keywords and writing ad copy; you need to make sure your message is reaching the right person at the right time. If you are not doing this, the performance from your advertising campaigns will not be as good as it could be.

MS: How do you usually set annual marketing goals?

SN: This will depend on what the client is looking to achieve but typically, I would set targets for the year at the start of the year and plan in quarterly reviews to realign targets based on current trends. It is important not to set and forget when it comes to targets as a lot of outside factors can impact performance along the way.

MS: Do you believe that programmatic solutions and AI will replace marketers?

SN: No, I really don’t think so. There is absolutely a need for automated solutions but this is never going to replace the need for human interaction with campaigns. We just have to look at how badly Google Automatic Ad Suggestions has gone. I know I am definitely not the only person to have switched this off after seeing such shocking ad copy appearing in my campaigns!

Advice on how to stay ahead

MS: What are 5 blogs every PPC specialist should read?

SN: PPC Hero, Google Ads Blog, Jon Loomer, Search Engine Land, ZATO

MS: What are the top conferences every PPC specialist should visit?

SN: Hero Conf – there are usually three events across the UK and US each year.

BrightonSEO – this is a great event for networking and they have some great PPC talks each year now.

Search Advertising Show – this is a fringe event that runs alongside BrightonSEO every September.

Paid Social Show – another fringe event that runs alongside BrightonSEO but this one is every April.

MS: How do you keep yourself motivated at work? How do you deal with work burnout?

SN: Honestly, motivation is not really something I have ever struggled with. I love what I do and I think that is the biggest motivator of all. On the other hand, this can be a real negative as I often don’t know when to stop! I have had to put things in place to remind me to take breaks and to try and limit working in the evenings as much as possible.

The final word

As seen from the interview, a professional marketer is the one who challenges their abilities, regularly tests new features, keeps tabs with the network, and never forgets to take into account the outside factors when evaluating ad performance.

We thank Samantha for sharing her experience, practices, and tips. We’re sure you’ll find them useful. If you wish to learn more from Samantha, you might also consider her Google Data Studio course designed for everyone who wants to excel in reporting.

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