PPC: Anything But Routine

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Robert Brady wrote a great post this week over at the Clix Marketing blog called How Valuable Are PPC Skills Anyway? I love the perspective he shared on PPC skills and commoditization – something that’s been talked about a lot in the search blogosphere of late.

Some people have wondered whether automation will eventually put PPC professionals out of a job. It’s a fair point. Look at the manufacturing industry, where many jobs have been taken over by machines and robots, and others have been shipped overseas, where labor is cheap. Could the same thing happen in PPC?

In his article, Robert postulates that routine PPC tasks can be done via automation. If you’re just doing routine tasks, your job may be in jeopardy. There are tools out there that can do bid management, budget management, keyword research, ad testing, and many other routine tasks.

But if you’re actually working on strategy, and overseeing the work that the tools do, then your job should be secure. Check out this graph that Robert referenced in his post:

Back in 1983, when I graduated high school, the same number of people were employed in routine cognitive and non-routine cognitive jobs. Over the past 30 years, the number of routine cognitive jobs hasn’t grown – the line is nearly flat. But non-routine cognitive jobs have grown – and at a faster rate than the other 3 job types.

Strategic PPC is non-routine cognitive work. I can’t tell you the last time I did the same thing 2 days in a row. It doesn’t happen. Are there routine tasks I perform? Sure. Do I do the exact same thing every day for every account? Absolutely not!

There is a place for routine work in every job out there. But if you’re spending every day doing routine tasks, your job may be taken over by automation someday soon.

It’s my hope that all PPC professionals end up doing non-routine cognitive work. It’s what makes this industry so much fun. It’s also my hope that search marketing conferences start focusing less on how-to tactics and more on strategy. It’s in PPC strategy that our value lies.

Do yourself a favor and check out Robert’s post if you haven’t already. And if you’re practicing or teaching assembly line PPC, you might want to start thinking about PPC strategy a little more. Check out the “pay per click strategy” section on this blog. Read blogs by others. Focus on objectives. Ask “why” every day. In short, make sure you’re doing non-routine cognitive work.

Did you read Robert’s article? How do you balance routine PPC tasks with non-routine PPC strategy? Share in the comments!

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  1. Thanks for the mention and it really is something that people need to consider for their long-term career plans.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      You’re welcome! I totally agree that it’s something that everyone, in every job, needs to consider. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. As usual, great article with smart perspectives. You reminded me of this new 2 minute Harvard business review video Automation for amplification instead of replacement of human skill: s.hbr.org/1ZgtGVm

  3. I agree that Routine Cognitive jobs are less likely to be automated away but there aren’t that many jobs of that variety in the first place and they’re at not insignificant risk of being offshored away to lower cost destinations.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Not sure I understand your comment. I was saying that non-routine cognitive jobs are less likely to be automated. And that’s what strategic PPC is. There are plenty of these jobs available and they’re unlikely to be offshored. There’s still something to be said for in-person meetings with your agency. 🙂


  1. […] PPC: Anything But Routine: How can we as marketers move from the how-to tactics to the strategy side of PPC? […]

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