12 Things about PPC you won’t find in any Textbook


Let’s say you just started working in PPC a couple of months ago. Chances are you will have gone through a lot of experiences already.

While there will be people who instantly fall in love with PPC and thoroughly enjoy themselves reading through search queries, there will also be the ones who feel the exact opposite. The stress of merely logging into their account every day, or being put under high pressure by their boss and/or clients because CPAs are not going down, sales are not rising, and so on.

So, how have you been since you started to work in PPC?

Even when there might be some mixed feelings or troubles on your mind, please don’t forget that you are actually working in a field that’s almost symbolic for this day and age where the internet is everywhere and which will benefit your future career planning in a big way.

Why, you ask? It’s because if you manage to grasp the fundamentals of PPC, you’ll get to learn many ways of thinking and be able to look at things from different angles. In the end, you will become very savvy when it comes to marketing in general. Trust me on this one!

The market value for someone experienced in PPC is very high on recruiting portals, because the online marketing business is still expanding, which apart from PPC also includes online social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter as well as the field of Display Advertising.

The basic ideas behind other online marketing disciplines can be understood by transferring knowledge from PPC. Yet, on the other hand, trying the same with PPC when coming from another online marketing field is often not so easily achieved, since not only the understanding of complicated functions and mechanisms is required, but also the historical context.

There are a couple of benefits that come along with getting into PPC. Such as, for example, the basic mindset of marketing, business-oriented thinking, thinking in portfolios, taking the client’s perspective, comprehension of technologies as well as trends and in a broader sense: acquiring communication skills – just to name a few things you will learn. And each one of these skills is essential in order to be successful in PPC.

That’s why it is important to remember that learning how to manage PPC accounts contributes to whatever career you might fancy to pursue in the future. Additionally, paid search helped to shape the internet as we know it today – so you should take pride in working in such a field.

Well, this introduction turned out pretty long, so without any further ado, let’s begin.

※This is a translation of the this article.

1.  Know the Rules and Mechanics better than anyone else

To get better at sports it’s necessary to know the rules and how it’s done. And this not only applies to PPC, but basically anything you start learning requires you to grasp the rules and fundamentals before starting out. There might be some cases where in the beginning you could actually do quite well without even knowing what you are exactly doing. However, in a business situation repeatability and stability become crucial factors. To ensure both, you won’t do yourself any favors if you refrain from learning the underlying mechanics and rules.

2. Get familiar with as many accounts as possible

It might be self-explanatory for experienced PPC professionals, but it’s highly recommended for beginners to deal with as many accounts, and from as many industries, as possible. Here it’s actually quantity over quality. To make serious improvements, anyone new to PPC should always have a strong commitment towards exposing themselves to a lot of new experiences. Therefore, work hard and try to deal with more accounts than anyone else.

If you have had your fair share of experience, then the next step will be going for quality. And don’t think that there’s nothing left to see anymore. There is in fact some kind of pain, but also joy, that you will not be familiar with without having managed accounts that have a monthly budget in the hundreds of thousands.

The point here is that even if you are doing a great job with an account of a far smaller scale, you still should try to get experience with larger accounts in order to become really successful in PPC. Never think that you can’t improve. And don’t be content with the present state of things. Aim high!

3. Go out and meet your client(s)

Don’t think that there is no online world beyond the one inside your browser. Actually in most cases the really important information comes directly from your client. Therefore go and meet him/her! Look directly at the client’s site to experience where everything is happening. The answers to your questions are not usually just lying around in your browser.

And even if you don’t happen to be the one who talks directly to your client in person, you could still have a closer look at the products or visit their site.

4. Keep going forward

Who in PPC hasn’t encountered a sudden rise in CPA or something similar? To deal with such a problem roughly 95 out of 100 people tend to simply lower the bid. But when you apply such a measure, you have to be aware that this is actually a self-destructive act. When in the middle of a sharp curve, racers are told to accelerate, because they would just start spinning around if they stepped on the brakes.

Maybe it’s human nature to easily get afraid, and that makes us hit the brakes and lower the maximum bids almost as a reflex as soon as we see a rise in CPA. But, what is important to understand here is that this is basically the same thing as strangling yourself with your own hands. So learn to overcome such fear, learn to accelerate, and move forward.

5. Continuously expand your vocabulary

Marketers are often referred to as being attractive and charismatic. While such a statement has to be taken with a pinch of salt, there is certainly some truth to it. Well, when it comes to Charisma, it’s actually not necessarily the handsome guys but rather the well-spoken ones who have that certain something that makes them stand out. And to get back to the real topic: The quality of your choice of keywords, placements and ad copies will undoubtedly depend on your vocabulary, which is shaped by reading, going out, and countless other activities. If you have money on your hands, invest in things that contribute to your own vocabulary. You can’t say things you don’t know, so always be conscious about that.

6. Be open-minded

Don’t limit yourself by exclusively thinking in PPC categories. Things always happen in their respective context. Try to feel what trends are happening nowadays and try to figure out what clicks with a user.

Each decision that is made has its own trigger. That’s why you sometimes have to take 2 or 3 steps away to be able to wrap your head around things. No matter whether it’s the bird’s eye view or a frog’s perspective, it is essential to always take a look at things from various angles.

7. Don’t just scrape the surface, take a deep dive

As a beginner you shouldn’t just aimlessly get your hands dirty with too many things, but rather try to achieve a deep understanding of one specific topic. People who thoroughly master one subject are definitely trusted more than those who just scraped the surface here and there.

It may sound contradictory, but specialists also happen to have a wider array of knowledge than the ones who only have a broad yet superficial understanding of things.

Because when specializing in something, a great deal of necessary information is branched out to such a level of complexity that it takes a significant amount of effort to be gained in the first place.

I think you already have an idea what type of person I’m talking about.

8. Drop the idea of “I don’t know anything until I tried it”

I’m not exaggerating when I say that your evolution as a marketer will be highly dependent on your skills in building hypotheses.

Keeping in mind that PPC utilizes several technologies, and that in such a dynamic field many factors will impact the actual outcome, you will have to get rid of the idea that things will work out by just randomly trying.

Constantly ensure that your implemented measures have an underlying hypothesis to them – which again are subject to verification. Analyze what went right or wrong and why. Especially grasping why things worked out well is something a lot of marketers appear to have some difficulties with.

“Just try and see what happens” is actually something only a person that has stopped thinking would say. Always believe that there is an answer and never stop thinking!

9. Don’t look for external factors first

There are a lot of factors you could think of when your ad’s performance got worse – like declining searches, less impressions, landing page issues or your competition. However blaming external factors right from the start is evidence that your head just has gotten lazy.

Try to find your answer by critically reflecting on what measures you have implemented first, and then identify what could be troubling your account.

Remember, that there’s always a correct order to get things done.

10. Don’t try to fix everything with PPC

It might be that you are all about PPC, but for your client paid search is simply one single tool to achieve his/her goals.

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” – Abraham Harold Maslow

So, following Maslow here, if you are starting to get the hang of PPC, you will probably start feeling tempted to fix literally everything with it. However, when there are better choices available than PPC, keep in mind that really good marketers will always tell their client – and so should you.

11. You are not your account.

In PPC, there are a lot of things that affect performance. For instance, account structure, the wording of your ads, your optimization measures or how you use the GDN. Therefore the overall portfolio itself varies a lot depending on the account manager. In case your account is facing harsh criticism, I want you to remember one thing:

You are not your account. Since it’s a very important matter, I’ll repeat it. You are not your account.

Don’t tie your own self-esteem to the account you have built up. Whoever may be criticizing your account, he/she is most likely not criticizing you as a human being, but is looking at things from a sales-driven perspective, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that often it’s just to evoke a constructive discussion on how to improve the account’s performance.

*And even if it were the case that you are being criticized by your team personally, then perhaps it’s not a team worth being a member of.

12. Develop good habits

Putting the effort in is very important, but it is hard to do it continuously. That’s why it is crucial to cultivate good habits. Good habits are one of the most valuable strategies we have to evolve, and they are almost unrivaled by anything.

For example, “getting up early to read” could be considered as “making an effort”. If you normally get up at 7 o’clock, it’ll be quite a challenge to force yourself to get up at 5 to read. Most people would just give up after some time.

People who know the nature of habits, think of simple incentives to get up at 5 o’clock and by doing so, manage to find a way to stick to it. What used to be an effort becomes a habit, and that is what makes it possible to continuously get up very early.

Again, if you simply forced yourself to do something, then it won’t take long until you quit. Try to make a good habit out of it instead.


Finally, I would like to share the following with you.

I highly agree with Paul Graham when he once said that it is simply not enough to find awful things unbearable. You would also have to develop extensive knowledge about them to be actually able to fix anything. According to him great work comes from learning very well and pursuing the idea that there always has to be a better way of doing things.

When working in a field that is subject to dynamic change – be it due to user behavior or evolving technology, devices and trends – it is even more important to not just rely on previous successes, but to stay curious and keep improving steadily.

Translated by Jan Hugendick



Keiji Abe

Keiji Abe

アナグラム株式会社 代表取締役。大手アパレルメーカーを経て運用型広告の世界へ。現在はCPAの改善だけにとらわれず、ビジネスの最大化を目指す支援を行う。著書には「新版 リスティング広告 成功の法則」「いちばんやさしいリスティング広告の教本」など多数。主な仕事は戦略策定、及び人事、総務、経理、組織論などを担当。