IMO, the most brilliant work of art that I’ve ever seen is “Lincoln in Dalivision” by my favorite artist Salvador Dali.   If the viewer looks at the work from a great distance, they see the facial outline of Abraham Lincoln but as they get closer to the painting, they instead see a picture of a nude woman looking out a window.


How is this relevant to PPC?

On this blog and others, you’ll read a ton of blog posts discussing all aspects of Paid Search.  In theory, if you can accumulate the knowledge in all these blog posts and are able to apply that knowledge to the accounts you’re working on, you should be able to get your campaigns to perform at optimum level and make all your clients happy.

However, there is one crucial point omitted from this discussion.

Personal perception varies greatly.  Give many people the same knowledge, and they’ll likely see very different things.  Those who lack perception will be less likely to be able to successfully act upon what they’ve read.  In contrast, deeply intuitive people will be able to apply the learnings more broadly and effectively than others in the group.  Furthermore, intuition is awfully hard to teach, and it’s even harder to germinate in the absence of a conducive environment.

So, what personal skill is necessary for optimum paid search account management?

Advanced pattern recognition combined with the ability to efficiently act upon that which is perceived.

thinking man

Far too many people are under the impression that managing paid search campaigns is a purely mechanical process…that it’s just a question of reading and implementing the tactics that are freely written about.  In some ways, blogs such as this one contribute to this illusion by openly publishing the useful nuggets of information that are part of our internal collective knowledge-base and that we implement on behalf of our paying clients.  However, without a certain level of training and background, the ability to efficiently act upon the information that we share would be extremely daunting.

Some of our current clients were people who read our blog, acknowledged our expertise in our field, and reached out to us for assistance in an area where their abilities are lacking.

However, many of our better clients came to us because, for a time, they harbored an illusion that they could actually learn to manage their paid search accounts at an optimum level through self-study.  To be fair, there have been some decently self-managed campaigns that I’ve audited (as well as some real horror shows).  However, I can see in these campaigns that frequently what’s missing isn’t necessarily the knowledge of how to properly manage but the perception of how to best utilize the knowledge.  To the trained eye, it’s very easy to determine how well they’ve applied the lessons they learned via an assessment of the account setup quality and determining where they might have missed something that a more perceptive account manager would have done correctly.

The ultimate value to the client of our advanced intuition and perception is ROI.  If the PPC Account Manager you’re working with can generate extraordinary insights and put them into action, then they’re worth the investment.  If not, perhaps you’re working with the wrong folks.


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Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz, who has been with 3Q Digital since March 2011, has worked in search engine marketing since 2000 and has used Google AdWords since it began. He also is very visible in the SEM social media space and is a curator/contributor at MarketingLand. He was one of the founding members of SEMpdx (Portland’s Search Engine Marketing Group), is a current board member, and writes regularly on their blog.