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Behind the conversions: Calvin Vu

Published: October 2, 2012

Author: Molly Shotwell

Today’s post is the second in an interview series with PPC Associates’ most experienced account folks. We continue with insights from Account Coordinator Calvin Vu, who has degrees in neurobiology and history, a master’s degree in history, and an honorary doctorate in wrestling metrics into profitable submission.
Calvin VuWhat’s the first metric you check when you start work for the day? I check two bottom-line numbers that are most important to nearly all of our clients: conversions and CPA. I look at weekly and daily changes in these two metrics at the account level as my starting points, then move down to campaign and ad group levels if either of these two metrics is unusual. These metrics show you “what” is happening and where. From there, I like to search for the “why.” Finding the “why” involves a much deeper look into the account and includes checking other KPIs such as cost, CTR, clicks, impressions, and average CPC to see if the traffic that I’m seeing is abnormal and to see what I can do to attribute it to an external source or to make changes that will optimize the account.
What’s one metric you rarely bother to check? Like Diego, I don’t bother to check quality score. Google provides us with little transparency into its precise ingredients. Also, from a time-efficiency standpoint, it is infinitely more worthwhile to run ad copy or landing page tests to directly increase your client’s ROI than it is to meditate on enigmatic or indirect metrics like quality score.
If you had 10 million dollars to invest and you could invest in Google or Facebook stock, which would you pick, and why? Google. Google is a mature company with a proven business model. Sure, concerns persist regarding their ability to monetize mobile, but mobile searches have been shown to be incremental rather than cannibalizing. The value of search query data is enormous for gauging quantifiable purchasing intent across all platforms. Google has been very innovative in improving the AdWords platform over both the short and long term, and this lends to ever-increasing targeting options and new and exciting ways to grow clientele.
Facebook, besides being more of branding play than Google, has tremendous potential but also has much more to prove in terms of monetizing its service. Launching sponsored stories is a great start, but can Facebook provide quantifiable, positive returns to advertisers over the long run? Subscriber growth is another fuzzy issue. As they approach the dizzying number of 1 billion users, how will they monetize the hundreds of millions of users outside of the United States, the latter of which contains the lion’s share of marketing dollars?

Geico caveman
You know this guy’s brand.

What’s your favorite advertising campaign (e.g. Betty White Super
Bowl ad, Got Milk billboard, etc.)? The Geico “Caveman” series of commercials. You can interpret them in so many ways – e.g. as a social critique – but at the end of the day they are silly commercials with a memorable tagline that spawned an equally (im)memorable sitcom.
What’s the one quality you have that makes you uniquely good at your job? Analytical skills. Numbers don’t lie, and our agency puts a heavy emphasis on making logical decisions on quantifiable data. My main goal is to forge a positive and healthy relationship with the client, and a major part of that relationship is to help generate positive returns. The second part is to be engaging, responsive, and honest with the client, and that requires being pretty darn good with people. It also helps that I don’t feel like the world is ending when my Microsoft Excel (inevitably) crashes.
Finish this sentence: “Don’t bother trying to break into the marketing industry if…” You think it’s weird that one day Google will know when you go to bed and what you do in your car.
What’s your favorite part of the job? I enjoy working with my clients and really getting to understand their business models. We work with so many clients in so many different industries, and it’s exciting to get to know each one and to work with them to help them grow. Talking to the client and strategizing with them is both fun and intellectually rewarding. You eventually get a sense that you’re a close partner with the client and that their success is your success as well.
What’s your least favorite part of the job? The long hours.
When someone asks who you work for, do you say “I work for (Client A)” or “I work for PPC Associates,” and why? I work for PPC Associates, and I work with Client A. My job is to help grow Client A’s business, and our relationship is that of a partnership: if our clients win, we win. If we don’t fulfill our end of this partnership, then no one wins. I think our close business relationship with our clients is much more open and honest compared to other client-agency relationships. I’m proud of this relationship, our careful attention to detail, and of my extremely bright co-workers. That’s why I’m proud to say that I work for PPC Associates.

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