PPC Associates is kicking off an interview series with some of the titans of digital marketing. Today’s marketing morsels come courtesy of Brad Geddes, founder of CertifiedKnowledge.org and one of the SEM/SEO industry’s most renowned authors, trainers, and lecturers. One of his trademarks has been demystifying the more complicated aspects of SEO, PPC, and Internet advertising through writing, speaking, and training.

Name: Brad Geddes
Title: Founder
Company: Certified Knowledge

What’s the first metric you check when you start work for the day?
If I had to pick one, it would be the previous day’s profit. However, I start every day with a dashboard that shows

– Certified Knowledge total subscribers
– Certified Knowledge new subscribers that are segmented by source (email, PPC, SEO, social, etc)
– Certified Knowledge total revenue for past day, week, month, and YTD

– Change in conversion rates and new subscribers by source for previous day, week, month, and YTD

What’s one metric you rarely bother to check?
Conversion rates by mobile device. We rarely get mobile conversions for a variety of reasons, so I don’t check it often.

From an AdWords perspective, there’s very little data I never check. The most common stat that I only check on a monthly basis is invalid clicks. If I see a huge downward trend in conversion rates or an upward trend in CPA, then I’ll take a look at invalid clicks, but it’s not a number I obsess over on a daily basis.

If you had $10 million to invest and you could invest in Google or Facebook stock, which would you pick, and why? 

That’s easy: Google. Google has proven long-term revenues. Their revenues and earnings have varied over the years, but they have proven they can make money.

Facebook stock slipped a lot after their IPO, and that’s because they have yet to prove the value of their ads to most marketers. Facebook has tried many ways of making money, and while they make a lot in terms of earnings per share, they haven’t been able to prove they can be successful long-term with their current business model.

What do you think will be the most important marketing platform in 10 years?
I don’t think any of us know yet. In 10 years, tablets and mobile devices will make up a large portion of traffic, but so will devices like wearable electronics (i.e. devices like Google glasses).

So, not only will the device interaction change, but so will the actual properties.

In the last 10 years we’ve seen huge properties like MySpace, Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite, etc., reach a peak and fade away into oblivion.

If Facebook could compete in search and be able to reach users throughout the buying cycle, then Facebook could be the answer. However, if Google Plus catches on one day so you can target your potential customers in some unique fashions, and Google manages to hold its search share, then Google could be an answer.

However, Microsoft has been the best #2 company in history. They are so good at waiting around for an opportunity to jump into a leader position and then hold it (MS Office, Windows, IE (although that advantage has since been lost), etc.) that you can never discount Microsoft.

There are also a lot of possibilities with connecting TV to user interest (or direct sales via connected TV) for targeting or for the Yellow Pages and newspapers to realize their full potential and regain their connection point between consumers and businesses once again. You cannot discount them in the long term.

So, after that long answer – based upon today’s projections – it’ll still be Google. But this space sees so much disruption that it could easily be another property.

What’s your favorite advertising campaign (e.g. Betty White Super
Bowl ad, Got Milk billboard, etc.)?
I think the best ad campaign in the last 5-10 years was Verizon’s 4g maps. Their maps changed AT&T’s entire advertising strategy for months. When you can completely change your competitor’s marketing campaign to battle your statements, you’ve done a great job.

I dislike most car commercials, so when I see a good one, it’s memorable for me. There are two that really stick out in my mind. The VW ‘Arch’ campaign in 2000  I really enjoyed as it was subtle and informative.

Not to get  too much into social interaction (I do have a background in Psychology) and how the perception of connections and communication has changed over the years, but due to what could be a very long winded conversation, the other car ad I really like is the Venza commercial. I think that makes a great commentary on today’s social interaction and does a brilliant job or targeting its user base.

What are the three most important qualities of a good account manager?
I think that the top ability has nothing to do with PPC performance. I think it’s client communication and interaction. I’ve seen many very good communicators keep clients that are not performing well because of their ability to tell a good story. I’ve seen poor communicators lose clients when the results are amazing.  Of course, the best managers are both good communicators and good with results.

The second most important skill is ‘getting PPC.’ I don’t know if this is a skill per se or a mindset. However, understanding the search process from user thought to keyword to ad to landing page to conversion is very important. This sight lets you organize accounts well, choose good keywords, etc. I’ve seen junior people who ‘get it’ and do quite well with PPC. I see senior people who don’t get it – even though they understand the math, the principles, etc. – and often this alone can lead to poor results.

The third most important quality is attention to details, especially when math is involved. If you miss a period in a sentence, then it’s just grammatically incorrect. If you misplace a period in a formula or bid, then it can cost a lot of money very quickly. If you have good Excel skills, you don’t have to be amazing at math – but you do need to understand how algebra works so you can write the proper formulas to analyze the data.

I have to add one more, as many days I feel this is the 2nd most important skill (and overall, it’s the skill I see the least in PPC managers): creative thought, especially when it comes to ad writing. Many PPC managers are brilliant at math and they ‘get it,’ but their ad-writing skills are so poor that their CTRs, conversion rates, and Quality Scores suffer. This is why services like BoostCTR do so well – they take care of the ad writing and have the creative team, which frees up the paid search manger to focus on analysis of the data that leads to actionable items.

If anything keeps me up at night worrying about my company, it’s
Honestly, if you have good processes, workflow, and organization, the answer should be nothing. The vast majority of the time, this is my answer.

If there’s anything that does keep me up, it’s having agreed to do too much and trying to figure out how to get it all done on time.

What’s the one marketing lesson you wish you had learned earlier?
For me (and for reference, my background is in Psychology, not marketing), it was not fully understanding the value of a brand. I started doing PPC and SEO back in the ’90s as an affiliate before I created an agency. As an affiliate, most of what you’re trying to accomplish is direct response. If something didn’t make money – I cut off the channel, keyword, etc.

It wasn’t until later that I could see the value of a brand. CTRs went up, CPAs went down, direct traffic went up, etc., just because we’d built the brand. Often this brand building seems like a waste of money in the early days because there is often no revenue associated with it. However, in the long term it makes a huge difference. If I’d have understood more about branding and brand affinity in the ’90s, I would have done some things differently.

If you could invest in one marketing technology company, which would it be and why?
Well, the obvious answer is mine. :) The second answer is there are two that I have invested in, but I’m not ready to make any public announcements about them yet.

When it comes to something to say publicly…first, there are two ways of thinking of investing. One is where you invest and have no control over how the money is used or the company direction. In that case, I’d invest in a company that is going to be sold or go public in a few years. Most of the hot returns right now are in user attraction (such as apps), not in marketing companies. From a marketing technology company, it’d probably be Hubspot or Marketo. They specialize in marketing automation, and that’s going to be a growing sector in the mid-size-to-large-business arena.

If I got to help the company grow and was involved in the strategic planning processes, then a company such as Infusionsoft would be fun to help grow.

If I got to create a company from scratch with some backing, it would be the back-end platform that most SMBs should use that fully incorporates what they need to run their business, such as integrated CRM, project management, accounting, etc. All of these items are related to how money flows through your business or what you need to do so that money flows through your business. Right now, there is nothing that is easy to use that ties all of these items together for small companies. Personally, I have more than 10 different systems I use to run our company, when in reality, I probably only need 3 – but no one can seem to combine 7 of them well.

In three words or fewer: the future of SEM is…?
Going to-be fun!

– Hillary Read, Marketing Manager

Leave a Comment