Becoming a world-class PPC ad buyer: 8 key lessons


In PPC advertising, the skills and knowledge of ad buyers directly impact campaign success and return on investment. 

So, what separates good ad buyers from the truly world-class?

The journey from a novice to an expert in ad buying is paved with trials, errors and invaluable lessons. 

This article delves into personal experiences and industry insights, offering a comprehensive guide to mastering the art of ad buying.

1. Invest your own money in ads

The first and most profound lesson in ad buying comes from spending money. The direct correlation between personal investment and the urgency to learn is undeniable. 

Firsthand experience lays a solid foundation for understanding the intricacies of ad buying.

When your own finances are at stake, you’re propelled to analyze, adjust and optimize your ads to get the most profitable results in the least amount of time. 

Nothing will teach you how to maximize what is possible faster than spending your own money and turning a profit from ad buying.

If you are managing the ad budgets on behalf of someone else, maintain campaigns for your own project on the side with an ad budget that is significant to you. You’re ability to produce results will compound exponentially. 

Testing in Google Ads is so easy today that you can take it for granted. You can test ad copy, bid strategies and campaign structures. The ability to run A/B experiments is practically endless.

The hazard in testing lies when you conduct lots of testing but not extract learnings from the tests. For example, finding a winner and moving on to the next idea to “beat the control.”

True mastery comes by forming hypotheses, testing them thoroughly and developing a true understanding of AI, user behavior and best practices.

Delve into the “why” behind each success or failure, and let these insights inform your strategies across all projects.

Dig deeper: A/B testing mistakes PPC marketers make and how to fix them

3. Understand industry nuances

As an expert, you will understand that ad buying is not a one-size-fits-all. Strategies that triumph in one industry may falter in another.

For example, an intent-based structured campaign may perform well for retail, but a themed-based structure may be best for finance. 

Recognizing and adapting to these differences is crucial. Whether it’s deciding to launch a YouTube campaign for conversions or what call-to-action to use for retargeting, each industry demands a tailored approach.

Stay attuned to nuances and leverage past successes while remaining flexible and innovative.

4. Master CRO and funnel dynamics

Ad buying is only half the battle. A well-optimized website and funnel can significantly impact the results of your ad campaigns. 

As a professional ad buyer, understanding the principles of conversion rate optimization (CRO) and the mechanics of successful funnels is essential. By immersing yourself in these areas, you can ensure that your ad buying is maximizing returns, reducing the likelihood of wasted spend. 

The more you can expose yourself to what works well, the better you can influence the make-or-break elements of your ad buys. And the better you can diagnose problems with conversion rates if they arise. 

PPC funnel examplePPC funnel example

Dig deeper: Boosting search conversions: 5 behavioral strategies to test


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5. Build and engage with your community

What is the best way to expose yourself to CRO winners and successful funnels? Join communities where folks share and learn what is working in their companies. 

No ad buyer is an island. Making new friends with fellow marketers, entrepreneurs and other ad buyers can provide you with new knowledge and fresh perspectives. 

This is best done by attending workshops, joining conferences and participating in masterminds. The time and money investment pays lots of dividends.

Build your network as a support system and resource for collaborative learning and innovation.

6. Seek inspiration beyond ads

World-class ad buyers draw inspiration and learnings from a variety of sources.

Observing nature and analyzing different industries and everyday experiences can provide insights into consumer behavior and new marketing strategies. 

Take a statistics class to learn about Bayes’ Theorem. Apply this to your ad testing and buying decision-making. 

Walk into a casino and notice how everything from the carpet to the lack of windows is intentionally designed to get people to stay in the building. Use this insight and start thinking differently about traffic or how to combat ways ad platforms can set you up to lose money.

Nature is a great place for optimization inspiration. In nature, ecosystems exist that support life and all are vital.

This is true, although no individual contributor needs to be perfectly optimized. They just all need to be healthy to have a thriving environment. Conversely, if one area is suffering, everything is suffering.

Open your mind to the world and apply these diverse perspectives to your ad buying approach. Remember, innovation often comes from the most unexpected places.

Dig deeper: 5 essential PPC skills every agency pro must have

7. Develop your mind

As an ad buyer, you have opportunities to push yourself each and every month to brainstorm solutions to move your performance forward. 

It can be difficult to produce something impactful each month, year on end.

When you discipline yourself to do this every month, rain or shine, over the years, your ability to produce brand-new, never-tried-before ideas will get easier and easier. Just like lifting heavy weights with consistency. Your muscle gets stronger.

Push yourself to brainstorm solutions to move accounts forward every month, especially when it is hard and you feel there is no answer.

Similarly, push yourself to tackle complex analysis. Doing hard things over and over makes them easier, and eventually, you will get really good at it. You may even find it to be fun in the end.

8. Embrace continuous improvement

As you work to become a world-class ad buyer, never label yourself as bad at something. For example, “I’m not good at ad writing” or “I’m not good at running display campaigns.”

It’s important to understand that although everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, not being good at something is usually because you haven’t done that thing enough times yet. 

Instead of using labels of inadequacy, adopt a growth mindset and view every inadequacy as an opportunity for learning. If you find certain ad buying aspects challenging, remember that proficiency comes with practice. Continuous improvement is the hallmark of a world-class ad buyer.

Dig deeper: 3 core skills that will help advance your SEM career

Invest, test, optimize, network and grow as a PPC ad buyer

Becoming a world-class ad buyer requires dedication, continuous learning and a willingness to experiment. By incorporating these valuable tips into your approach, you can develop the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver exceptional results consistently. 

Your growth is limitless and your potential is only bounded by the limits you set for yourself. Decide to begin your journey today and transform your ad buying skills to be extraordinary.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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