PPC specialists are experts in internet advertising, responsible for planning and optimising the effectiveness of online advertising campaigns

Pay per click (PPC) is the term used to refer to paid advertising on the internet, usually though Google AdWords or Bing Ads. Advertisers pay a fee each time one of their adverts is clicked. PPC specialists use their expertise to advise on how to maximise the results of a PPC campaign.

You can work in house, typically in the marketing department of an organisation, or for a specialist PPC or digital agency where you will manage campaigns for a range of clients.

You may also be known as:

  • PPC account executive
  • PPC account manager
  • PPC analyst
  • PPC executive
  • PPC manager
  • PPC and SEO (search engine optimisation) expert

Responsibilities

As a PPC specialist, you'll work with internal stakeholders or external clients and will be involved in:

  • creating and planning a variety of PPC campaigns across a range of digital channels
  • overseeing existing campaigns and making recommendations on how to optimise them
  • analysing trends and making data-driven decisions
  • writing engaging copy for adverts
  • proof-reading
  • making creative suggestions for advert templates
  • account management of clients
  • relationship building and business development
  • producing detailed analysis and reports of campaigns
  • presenting data and reports to a range of audiences.

Salary

  • Entry-level salaries for PPC specialists are between £18,000 and £25,000.
  • Salaries for those with over five years' experience can range from £25,000 to £40,000.
  • The most experienced PPC managers can earn between £40,000 and £50,000.

PPC specialist roles within an agency may also offer commission or bonuses based on performance or the ability to bring new clients in to the business. Some PPC specialists, who have a lot of experience, will choose to work on a freelance basis where hourly or daily rates can vary widely.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are generally 9am to 5.30pm. Some evening and weekend working may be required when working on big campaigns, meeting deadlines or spending time with clients.

Many organisations will offer flexible working patterns, part-time work and the opportunity to work remotely.

What to expect

  • You'll manage a number of campaigns and work with a range of clients or internal stakeholders, giving you lots of variety but challenging you to balance a busy workload and meet tight deadlines.
  • You'll work with data, analysing trends and results, while simultaneously thinking creatively about improvements and strategies to optimise a PPC campaign.
  • PPC specialists are usually office based but will often spend time meeting clients and stakeholders and attending events. You'll be expected to network and socialise to build and maintain relationships.
  • If you work in-house the dress code will be dictated by the organisation; if you work for a creative and informal agency it's likely to be fairly relaxed. Opportunities exist in most large towns and cities but are less common in rural areas. Creative industries are on the rise in many of the UK's large cities, sometimes clustered in creative zones or creative quarters.
  • PPC is only part of the mix of digital marketing services and specialisms. You may get the chance to work in a broader role where PPC forms part of what you do but not all of it. Closely-related areas of specialism include SEO, digital strategy and digital PR.

Qualifications

The majority of new entrants into this industry have a degree. However, you do not need to have studied a specific subject. Employers look for individuals with excellent analytical skills, the ability to think creatively and communicate effectively with a range of audiences, which can come from a variety of degree disciplines. In a team of PPC specialists you are likely to find individuals with degree backgrounds as varied as English, physics, music, maths, science and engineering.

Entry to the profession with a foundation degree or HND is possible. You'll need to demonstrate a high aptitude for the work involved and have undertaken relevant work experience.

The digital marketing industry, including PPC, is fast growing but securing a role as a PPC specialist is still a highly-competitive process. The key to getting your first post is demonstrating your passion for the industry and analytics. Proficiency with software such as Google Analytics, Kenshoo and Marin can help you to secure that first role. Relevant work experience is often crucial.

Skills

You will need to have:

  • a good understanding of how PPC fits in to the wider area of digital marketing
  • knowledge of Microsoft Excel and data manipulation
  • strong analytical skills
  • a good level of mathematical ability
  • the ability to think creatively
  • excellent attention to detail
  • the ability to think strategically and develop innovative marketing strategies
  • creative writing skills
  • the ability to present information effectively to a range of audiences
  • strong relationship building skills
  • excellent communication skills
  • experience using tools such as Google AdWords.

Work experience

Securing a PPC specialist role is competitive so relevant work experience could clinch a job. Some employers offer work experience based on a speculative application or structured work experience and internship opportunities, usually during the summer.

If a company isn't advertising work experience or an internship opportunity, but you feel you have something to offer, do not be afraid to make contact directly through a speculative application. Do your research, find out who the key contact is and write, call or email to express an interest in undertaking work experience in their company.

You can also build up work experience through writing for a university magazine, supporting the development of a website for a club, or spend time shadowing someone who works in a different area of marketing. This type of experience, although not directly linked to PPC, can help you build up the digital skills that will make you a great fit for a PPC specialist role.

Employers

Most PPC specialists work for digital marketing or advertising agencies, which tend to be small to medium enterprises (SMEs). These agencies usually offer services spanning the broad spectrum of digital marketing services, including PPC services, SEO, content marketing and digital PR.

PPC specialist roles also exist in larger organisations, for example with private sector employers.

Look for job vacancies at:

The majority of companies advertise PPC specialist roles directly on their website rather than on a job board, so be proactive. Search for companies in the geographical area in which you want to work and, if they aren't currently advertising, think about making a speculative application.

Opportunities do exist abroad. PPC specialist work and the digital industry are growing in countries around the world.

Professional development

Qualifications specifically designed for people working in PPC roles include the Google AdWords certification and the IPA search certificate. You would expect to obtain these when working in a PPC specialist role but you could consider obtaining one while searching for your first job in the industry.

If your role broadens into other areas of digital marketing, you may wish to consider broader qualifications such as those offered by:

Career prospects

When starting out you should expect to work on a range of campaigns, supported by more experienced colleagues. You will gradually develop your understanding of the industry and the technical skills required to succeed. As you progress in the role, you will gain autonomy and take on more responsibility to manage campaigns, with increasing input into the design and end-to-end implementation. Your career progression will depend on how quickly you can develop within this growing industry.

You are likely to broaden your skill set, working in different areas of digital marketing. As you develop in the role, you'll take the lead in managing relationships with internal stakeholders and/or external clients. If you work in an agency, you're also likely to take on responsibility for developing and bringing in new business.

PPC specialists can progress on to management roles. This could be managing a team of staff working specifically on PPC campaigns or working in a broader digital marketing management role.

The industry is growing fast so making and maintaining contacts and a strong network is vital for developing a successful career. Well-targeted applications can lead to future opportunities but being known with a strong network of peers and sector clients is a common way of securing work and moving up the career ladder.