I recently wrote a post about SEM Automation and PPC Careers. An amazing PPC Ian reader (ppcKnight) was wondering in particular if all these amazing automation platforms, those built in-house and those available to purchase, are actually taking away from career opportunities? I shared some of my thoughts on the topic in that post, in particular why I think automation is actually helping build careers in digital marketing. Today, I wanted to answer a follow-up question from another PPC Ian reader (and friend), in response to that post. Sid wonders in particular if those more junior level jobs are becoming irrelevant due to automation. Thanks, Sid for reading and for the inspiration, I really like your question and I’m honored to answer with my 2 cents on the topic!
What About Junior Level Jobs In SEM? Are They Going Away?
It’s always very nice to read your blog. Of course, adopting the automation within the SEM will certainly help a company to scale or ramp up the campaigns and diversify your skills and driving new initiatives. However, the automation will eradicate entry level jobs within the SEM industry, what do you think? One has to be an expert level to work on the bid management tools like: Marin or Kenshoo or should gain superior knowledge before rubbing hands with the tools. What has been your experience like once you’ve executed the automation? Can you share what kind of jobs were created once the automation was deployed?
Moving forward, companies would like to automate the digital process be it SEM or display network through integrating demand side platform. I look forward to hearing for your thoughts on this.
The Argument In Favor of Junior Level Jobs
Siddharth, thanks again for the question. Here are some of the core reasons I think junior and intermediate level jobs in SEM are here to stay.
- Certain projects require manual execution. One great example is writing customized ad copy. Another is executing upon an account restructure. While the strategy behind the ad copy approach and the strategy behind the account reorganization may be derived as a team effort (with leadership from more senior team members), there is a clear need for more junior and intermediate level marketers to execute upon the strategy. Many of the SEM accounts in existence today are the result of years and years of different managers. In short, many could use a good reorganization, creating a multitude of manual work.
- It’s impossible to automate everything. A large number of second and third tier search engines do not offer APIs. For the foreseeable future, I see a more junior/intermediate role in managing/optimizing second tier search engines. It’s incredibly valuable, leveraged work, but requires massive time and attention. With more and more marketing dollars flowing online, marketers need to explore all opportunities including second and third tier engines. Someone needs to manage them.
- Human interaction cannot be automated. Certain aspects of PPC require frequent human interaction and follow-up. While overall relationship management with search engines is a more strategic, senior role, various day-to-day aspects of the relationship are perfect for someone newer to the PPC career path. For example: Policing your trademark. Even though automated systems exist to locate the offenders, an employee needs to follow up with search engines, websites, and the internal legal team to appropriately address trademark offenses. They never stop, creating an unending queue of work.
- Someone needs to take notes and document meetings. The plethora of opportunities in digital marketing is unparalleled. I have found it challenging at times to keep everything organized because we move at such a quick pace. Senior leaders on the team can rely on newer team members to document meetings and send out notes.
- What about testing new keywords and ads? These are two projects at the core of search marketing that will never go away. Automation and platforms make all of this easier, but cannot fully automate it. Why? The best ads have never been created. The best keywords have no search volume because they take advantage of future trends. Start showing up before the trend hits and you will be a true winner. While the more junior team member will work with a more senior team member on the strategy, the process of deploying the keywords and ads is a great project for someone newer to paid search.
- Great digital marketing platforms are not just for experts. When it comes to build vs. buy decisions on SEM automation, I’m a fan of buying. Why? In house platforms are rarely pretty. They are rarely easy to use for junior team members. However, when you buy a platform, you’re buying not only an amazing back end technology, but also an easy to use front end interface, complete with tutorials and documentation. There is no reason junior employees cannot leverage these platforms, of course with some guidance and supervision from a more senior level team member.
- As an overall trend, more money is flowing online. With increased money being spent on digital marketing, there is more work. I feel it each and every week – more and more to do, more and more opportunities! With more work, the only way to scale is to hire, expand, and delegate. A well-functioning team requires members of all levels. As digital marketing professionals, we are all stretched for time. I see no end in sight for junior, intermediate, and advanced digital marketing professionals!
Agree, disagree, thoughts? Please write in with your opinions!