Welcome to Getting Granular

The podcast where digital marketing experts from the agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices, and share their unfiltered thoughts about the digital marketing industry.

PPC Origins – Jason Stinnett


What you’ll learn in this episode of Getting Granular:

  • Jason’s story of how he started working in PPC – 1:00
  • What keeps Jason interested in PPC – 2:40
  • What did paid search look like 10 years ago – 4:00
  • What are the biggest trends in the future of PPC – 5:00
  • Jason’s thoughts on AI and machine learning in paid search – 6:00
  • How should marketers approach privacy concerns with paid media – 7:00
  • Jason’s approach to ROI and reporting – 8:00
  • Jason’s specializations and the verticals he’s passionate about – 10:00
  • What it’s like to work at Granular – 11:30


Narrator: Welcome to Getting Granular. The podcast where digital marketing experts from the agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices, and share their unfiltered thoughts about the industry. Whether you’re here to learn how to grow your business, improve your digital skills, or just want to hear some Midwest PPC experts rant about digital media you’ve come to the right place.

Matt Freter: Welcome to the Getting Granular Podcast. I’m your host for today. My name’s Matt Freter and I am the Marketing Operations Manager here at Granular. Today we’re going to be talking to Jason Stinnett. He is part of the Granular team and we’re just going to dive right into our topics right after a short intro from Jason.

Jason Stinnett: Hey everyone, Jason Stinnett. I’m the Senior Manager Paid Search at Granular. I have over 12 years of experience working in one flavor or another of digital marketing and excited to talk to you today about Paid Search.

Matt Freter: So we’ll jump right in. One of the first questions I always like to ask anybody that works in the PBC space is how did you get into it?

Jason Stinnett: For me, I kind of stumbled into it. I went to school and studied history, sociology, social science, which are things that are fascinating when you’re a college student, but don’t necessarily prepare you for … There isn’t always that clear direction where you’re going to go in terms or career.

Jason Stinnett: So after school, I worked odd jobs and then dusted off some of my hobbies from high school, which were building websites, programming and as I was reading up on the latest web design techniques, I stumbled upon something called SEO. At the time, it was very new, very technical and ultimately just fell in love with that and was able to turn that into my first digital marketing career.

Matt Freter:  We often hear that a lot of people kind of being self-taught, and you know falling into PBC and paid media, because you know, you can’t really go to college for it. You know, five years ago there weren’t really any programs for that. How did you kind of teach yourself the ins and outs of all these different ad platforms?

Jason Stinnett: A lot of it was just trial and error and really since it was such a new industry, that’s what everyone was doing. The other thing was just trying to find out who was sharing good information. There’s always been a lot of self-promotion, especially in the SEO space but across digital marketing and the key thing is, understanding who is someone whose trying to push their agenda and make a sale and whose really sharing genuine information that’s going to benefit you if you implement those ideas.

Matt Freter: So what’s the thing that kind of keeps you focused on paid media, kind of keeps you working in the space?

Jason Stinnett: It’s really the mix of creative and technical. Really when I spent some time doing IT, and I loved how technical it was, but a lot of the focus with IT is just on pure efficiency, there’s not a lot of room to get creative. I also did a stint doing copywriting and while I liked the creative aspect, it just wasn’t technical enough. And I find that Paid Search is the perfect mix of technical, creative, there’s a ton of innovation going on really technical aspects of how to optimize your campaigns. But at the end of the day, you still need to have great creative that resonates with your target audience.

Matt Freter: For sure, it’s definitely a mix of art and science. Yeah, I mean when it comes to there’s the whole analytic side of things, and then there’s the whole creative side of things and then landing pages and user design and all that, so there’s definitely a great mix of the two.

Matt Freter: So we’re going to step in the way back machine for a second. You know, you’ve been doing this 10, 12 years. What did Paid Search look like when you first started?

Jason Stinnett: Things were a lot simpler. The first company I worked at, we were really excited about running Yahoo ads and right now, Yahoo ads is pretty much nonexistent. The tools that you had to work with were a lot simpler as well. You had keywords and basic text ads. That was really about it. Whereas you look now, there’s been tons of different ad formats continually being released, different channels. Back then it was mostly Google and Yahoo. Bing didn’t even exist at the time and now you have Google, Yahoo, Bing, other engines like Reddick, Cora, YouTube and the list just continues to grow. Even in 2019, we see new ad platforms really coming onto the scene and emerging as bigger players.

Matt Freter: So we’ve gone from two, three platforms, to you know, 20, 30, 40 plus, they’re probably a whole bunch of that are going to be coming out within the next couple years. Where do you see the kind of future of the paid media space going and what makes you the most excited about it?

Jason Stinnett: So one major trend is that artificial intelligence and machine learning has really hit the mainstream. We’re getting to point where marketers can’t really ignore it at all. We have to figure out what tasks are machines really good at and should we be delegating things to and what are the tasks like creative that things like machines may not be as good at and we really need to maintain control over.

Jason Stinnett: Another trend that excites me with all the emergence of all these new channels is just the need to continually learn and keep up. You can’t just be an expert at Google anymore. You need to understand how to reach people across all these different channels and that continual learning aspect is something that has always excited me and really has kept me engaged with digital marketing over my whole career.

Matt Freter: So we’re seeing AI come into a lot of different things, Google, Bing, you kind of touched on it before. What are some of the aspects that you really like and some of the aspects that maybe you don’t quite like yet?

Jason Stinnett: So analytics and machine learning is kind of a hobby of mine. Something that I study on the side, so I’m excited to bring that to my day job. One of things that’s been a challenge is that in order to push adoption, a lot of the advertising companies has pushed AI and machine learning as the solution to everything, and really it’s just one tool in the toolbox. So I think one of the things we do well here is, understanding when’s the right time to take out that tool and apply it.

Jason Stinnett: We’re also good about let’s test this out and if it doesn’t work, let’s change directions rather than saying, “Hey, AI is here and it’s here to stay.”

Matt Freter: So one of the things we hear a lot is people kind of being squeamish when it comes to digital marketing. They say, “Google knows way too much about me. There’s all these targeting options. It makes me uncomfortable.” How do you kind of approach paid media and PPC when that’s kind of swirling around everything?

Jason Stinnett: Sure. It’s definitely top of mind and I think it should be top of mind for any marketer in the modern age. In many ways, I feel mixed about it. As an individual consumer, no I don’t really like how much information my phone tracks about me. I don’t love that my phone tracks my location continually throughout the day. On the flip side as a marketer, my mission is always to create an ad that gets people excited and I think if you’re listening to this podcast, you’ve certainly had the experience where you’ve seen an ad and you’re like, “That is so cool. I need that.”

Jason Stinnett: Really that’s what I’m trying to do every day and the targeting options that we have available in many ways helped me do that. It helps me identify whose going to get really excited about the product or service I’m selling and pitch it to them at the right moment.

Matt Freter:  So when it comes to kind of reporting in ROI, I mean I know I hear a lot of leads that are coming in. A lot of people that talk to us for the first time, and they’re really concerned with ROI and obviously that makes sense. Everybody wants ROI from any kind of marketing that they do. What is your kind of approach to reporting ROI and kind of making that clear when sometimes it’s not always clear?

Jason Stinnett: I think about ROI. The first thing is just make sure you have clearly defined business goals. I work with some clients where they’re not even tracking things like phone calls or contact forms. We don’t really know if things are working and in those cases, the first step is really to just get that tracking in place, set a baseline, collect data on what has worked so that we can continue to fine tune, double down on what’s working and cut back on the things that aren’t.

Jason Stinnett: There’s also a long-term component with marketing. While everyone wants sales tomorrow and leads tomorrow, there’s some customers that are going to see an ad and purchase right away. There’s another group of people who love to do a ton of research. They’re going to check the review sites, they’re going to check out all your competitors. They’re going to look for independent reviews and testimonials. And so those people, they’re not going to convert right away. But getting your company name in front of them early, is going to help you generate more sales and more demand much further down the road.

Matt Freter: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I always try to think about, it’s almost like a diesel engine. Kind of takes a second to get warm and then once it’s up and running, you can really start seeing the results. Yeah, there’s a lot of people that want that instant return and that can happen for sure. There usually is some bit of instant return but knowing that it’s kind of a longer play and kind of something that’s pretty consistent, that’s cool.

Matt Freter: So talk about some specializations. The cool thing at Granular is just about everybody on the team has you know, a lot of past experience in something and usually people specialize in a particular area or vertical. So do you have any particular specializations or some experience that you have?

Jason Stinnett: Yeah. Right at the start of my career, I actually spent a year working for a company that only advertised furniture stores, and then most recently, I spent five years working at an agency that only worked in the legal industry, which is unique because it’s consistently one of the most expensive, most competitive verticals for a paid search.

Matt Freter: So you have some experience in like the legal space. Are there any areas that you’d like to work in? Maybe some new ones that you’ve run into since working at Granular?

Jason Stinnett: Yeah. One that I’ve really been enjoying is B2B eCommerce. As an analytics focus person, I really like having that sales data. I can see not only did I drive the lead, but did I actually drive a purchase and deliver revenue? The other thing I like about B2B is that it’s a lot easier to build a brand. In a lot of B2C spaces, it’s pretty tough to come up with a new pair of shoes or a new sweatshirt and compete with these mega global brands that are so established. Where with B2B, you could come up with a niche accounting product and really make a splash and improve people’s lives, like a lot of entrepreneurs want to without having to have those millions of dollars in your pockets.

Matt Freter: So Jason, you’ve been with the Granular team for about three months now. What are some of your favorite aspects of working at Granular?

Jason Stinnett: I think the reason that Granular is such a great fit for me, is that the emphasis is really on high service. So I’ve worked at some places before where it was the low price, low service. You’re kind of just cranking things out and what I like about Granular is that we make sure to work with companies that are interested in having that high level of service and then we absolutely deliver on it. We don’t delegate things to inexperienced interns and charge a premium price for that which would be premium price, low service. We’re really making sure that you’re only working with established experts who are going to take the time to understand your business and continue to improve upon our results.

Matt Freter: Thanks for listening to the Getting Granular Podcast. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any PBC tips, tricks or news from the digital marketing world. This is your host, Matt Freter and thanks for Getting Granular with us today.