John BarhamBy John Barham

new career


EU bailouts. Stagnating political action. UK unemployment at a 17 year high. 2012 is not looking good for those recently out of university who want to grab themselves a rung on the job ladder. However there is a growing industry in the UK that is screaming out for educated, talented individuals who are looking to start their careers. Digital marketing is huge, yet I can’t imagine it appearing on the radar of many non-marketing graduates. There is an industry right under your nose every time you use the internet to search or visit social sites. PPC (Pay per Click) is just one of the many disciplines that sits under the umbrella of digital marketing and, like the other channels, it continues to grow in the UK and other markets.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in PPC as well. It has always been a rapidly changing business, but recently this looks to be going into overdrive. Paid search continues to be the bedrock of this as Google ramps up the rate of new product releases and Bing and Yahoo move closer towards their alliance. But the real growth and excitement is around smartphones and tablets, which are now part of everyday life and continue to attract more and more advertising budget. Add to this the behemoth that is Facebook and the rise of demand in countries such as Russia, India and China….and you can see where this is all going. This is a multi-billion pound industry that presents massive opportunities for bright, ambitious and enthusiastic people.

digital marketing

Source: IAB/ PwC / Internet Advertising Bureau / WARC

At STEAK we’re holding an interns day to encourage more people to consider PPC, and hopefully we’ll discover an untapped source of talent.

For those in doubt as to the qualifications needed I have a background in geography and, in all honesty, had no idea what I wanted to do for a career upon leaving university. As you may have noticed, geography has nothing to do with marketing or advertising, and looking around the STEAK offices today I see graduates of English, philosophy, modern languages, international business, history, physics, media studies and so on. In other words, whatever your qualification it will rarely be a hindrance to excelling in PPC, nor should it be a deterrent to considering PPC for a career. When I first started 4 years ago I didn’t know the first thing about marketing, let alone the digital variety or any specific discipline within it. In fact thinking back I had no idea why STEAK gave me a job (or why I took it!)….but what are employers looking for in PPC candidates today, and what skill sets will get their careers moving in the right direction?

1.       Attention to detail

An overused sound-bite from every CV ever put together, but in this job attention to detail is an absolute must. We move at a fast pace and our work is constantly under public scrutiny as it appears across the internet, with mistakes rapidly leading to drops in account performance and angry calls from clients. Your team will need to be able to rely on you to get it right first time and every time.

2.       Numeracy

PPC is a data-driven industry that prides itself on the use of detailed analysis to find efficiencies in performance and advantages over competitors. Experience of MS Excel is of massive benefit, but after a month in PPC you’ll be amazed at how little you knew of this program before. 

3.       Literacy

It isn’t all number-crunching thankfully, and we’re often called upon to be articulate and creative. An ability to accurately communicate to both customers and clients is needed, spotting your own misspellings and typos in 20,000 lines of a spread sheet while being able to clearly explain sometimes complex scenarios or concepts.

4.       Organisation

This may sound like an obvious one, but working in PPC can be very hectic and at times overbearing, with a constant stream of requests coming in from clients and suppliers with tight deadlines. Balancing this with keeping up to date with industry news and developments requires a significant amount of organisation to stop yourself from sinking into an ocean of emails, presentations, calls and spread sheets.

5.       Enthusiasm

For anyone starting off in PPC there’s a lot to pick up as for 99% of people it’ll all be new. Demonstrating an eagerness to learn and proactivity in your research really sets candidates apart. But more importantly, it’s the enjoyment of keeping abreast of changes in a constantly shifting landscape, and distilling these into creating an advantage for your clients.

So nothing too prohibitive, right? No specialist qualifications, just well-rounded individuals with enthusiasm, appetite and an interest in all things online. Next time you’re looking at your career options give PPC a look, and hopefully the above will give you a head start.