Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official AdWords Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
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Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing How Fast Will You Lose Your PPC Job to a...

How Fast Will You Lose Your PPC Job to a Robot? A comparison of 5 Marketing Areas.

In 2013, Bryan Eisenberg made a bold statement; “In the next 3 years, 80% of all PPC professionals will be replaced by an algorithm”.

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It’s been 4 years, and yet the job market is still quite strong for PPC managers. Indeed lists over 2,000 open positions right now in the United States; many starting over $85,000/year.  When we look overseas, there are more than 500 available just within London.

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Now, I’m not throwing Bryan under the bus for a bold prediction; as there are many jobs that will be automated. No one spends all day setting bids any longer; a machine can do that. No one should be spending their time defining simple tasks – like telling a computer we’re testing ads – a computer can automatically start any test and tell you when it’s done.

PPC Tools have become quite powerful and do automated recommendations.

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What we should be looking at is what jobs will be replaced and which ones are robot-proof. The job you were doing 5 years ago is not the same as today even if your job title is the same (within the PPC industry). The PPC practitioners job has evolved. So Understanding these trends will help you ensure that you are training for the correct skill set or going up the proper path within your company so that your job will remain safe.

There’s a very interesting site at https://willrobotstakemyjob.com/ that takes the data from the scientific paper from the University of Oxford The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation? to make it easily viewable the chances your job will be taken over by a robot.

When we think about PPC, there are 5 job areas that fall into these predefined categories:

  • Sales
  • Account managers
  • Market research
  • Statisticians (analytics)
  • Writing

Let’s take a look at these groups; and then see how each will need to evolve (or not) from a robot overthrow standpoint.

Sales

Sales is an area where we’ve already seen great changes over the years. When I first started in digital marketing; I had to call GoTo (the first PPC engine) to open an account; I couldn’t do it online. Later when we were managing several thousands of accounts on Yahoo, we had to send a monthly IO for every single client. We had someone where half of their job was just managing IOs (insertion orders) for Yahoo Search Marketing.

Those types of jobs have already been lost. Many ad programs are self-serve. When’s the last time you called Google or Bing to open a new PPC account? The prediction is that 54% of all advertising sales agent jobs will be lost in the future:

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Unfortunately, we can’t break this down into business development versus sales. There is something to be said about an in-person presentation that shows how a new system works, why you should use various features, or go with a specific company. While half the sales jobs in advertising will be lost; an educated guess says that the business development side won’t lose as many jobs as sales; however, if this is your career – you might think about expanding your skill set.

Account Managers

PPC managers and analysts are such as specialized position; there’s not a perfect job coloration; however, when we look at the two closest jobs; we see that there’s a very small chance of a robot overthrow:

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Now, that doesn’t mean your job is safe!

We should look at the other jobs (often included within a PPC analyst position such as analytics and writing) to see the trends associated with them to understand what part of your PPC job is safe and what part is likely to be taken from you and given to a robot.

Market Research

Market Research has seen a lot of growth already in the PPC tool arena. SEMRush, SPYFu, and others show data that use to be collected by hand. With the rise of tools like Google Trends, the data collection will keep rising.

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If your job is basic market research; then you’re in trouble. If your job is interpreting the research to create strategy; that’s an entirely different position that falls into the analytics section.

Let’s take a look at the statistical side (analytics) to get a much clearer picture of the future.

Analytics

Statistical Assistants compile data and make it readable. If this is your job (running GA reports, adding call tracking & SMS tracking data, creating pretty charts, and sending them to a client) your job can already be done by NinjaCat or Google Data Studio.

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Now, if your job is not just modeling; but summarizing it and putting it into useful analysis – your job is safer.

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If your job is developing the models and putting them into a context for decision making; then you’re in great shape.

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These three positions show a clear picture of what robots are taking over versus what humans do better than computers.

Automated trends, outlier identification, data crunching = robots.

Interpreting the data in a useful way = humans.

I remember a conversation with Tim Ash (author of Landing Page Optimization) several years ago when he was talking about why multi-variant testing was the wave of the future. I asked a simple question, “I understand the statistical modeling; but why is version 93 better than version 1011. I want to understand why so we can use that data insight elsewhere.”.

His reply says is it all (paraphrasing as I don’t remember the direct quote): I have no idea why it’s better. You can’t get that with multi-variant; but you get more conversions with it.

This is why many ‘experts’ prefer to A/B test first. They want the controlled experiment first to understand what the major differences are from a psychological persuasion standpoint so they can work from that information first and then once that’s figured out; let the computer run lots of experiments on size, layout, width, colors, etc that are more is perfecting the visual layout because the human psychology of persuasion had already been determined.

This is why people often pattern test before A/B testing ads.

Writing

Lastly, we have the writers. This is interesting. In 2015, just one software company produced 1.5 billion articles for their clients (which includes the AP and Yahoo). Many news stories, especially sports or business reports, can be automated since it’s taking structured data (think box scores) and just putting it into context.

However, predictions are that most writers and authors will not lose their jobs. In this job description where people won’t lose jobs there is a very important caveat, “Originate and prepare written material, such as scripts, stories, advertisements, and other material.” The word originate in this context, is to imagine or come up with the idea.

While computers can easily come up with news stories from existing data; the original thought is something that’s likely to stay with the humans for a while.

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We’ve seen a lot of robot written ad copy; and wow – it fails spectacularly against humans. It’s OK when the human first comes up with the copy and the robot is mixing words, adjectives, etc – from the human created copy. When the computer does the copy without human input – then there’s usually issues.

Overall…

If your job is producing charts, manipulating numbers (note, this does not include creating the algos), crunching data in excel all day to make a few changes; you need to rethink your approach to your career.

If your job is dictating strategy, producing insights, adding the human psychological context to the numbers, then you’re in great shape.

If your job is creative, which can be persuasive ad copy (beyond just images, those can be automated), creative insights, and new viewpoints – then you are also in wonderful shape going forward.

Now, you need to start with the basics, manipulating numbers and reading charts to start to understand how the pieces fit together to interpret strategies. You can’t jump to a director level without understanding how pieces work at the manager level.

To future proof your career – you should be striving to understand the how, why, and outcome of the data so you can then be the interpreter of human response to the data; and ultimately create and set the strategy that the robots will follow.

Looking for Career Expansion?

If you are looking for more training; we work closely with Simplilearn to design PPC courses. You can also get certified in Analytics, SEO, or other places. Here’s Brad’s online training.

You can also attend an in-person workshop to uplevel your PPC skills.

Good luck on your marketing career 🙂

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