PPC Origins - Lauren Roloff

In episode 42 of the “Getting Granular” podcast, Chris welcomes Lauren Roloff, a manager of Paid Media at Granular, to discuss her background, journey in the industry, and thoughts on the future of PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising. Lauren shares insights into her career trajectory.

In episode 42 of the “Getting Granular” podcast, Chris welcomes Lauren Roloff, a manager of Paid Media at Granular, to discuss her background, journey in the industry, and thoughts on the future of PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising. Lauren shares insights into her career trajectory, starting from her college days at UW-Whitewater to her experiences in different industries before joining Granular.

Show Notes

  • Get to know Lauren in 139 seconds (00:24)
  • Lauren’s journey from environmental monitors to automotive and industrial manufacturing sectors. (02:05 – 02:41)
  • Interest in PPC sparked during college through marketing programs. (02:41 – 03:49)
  • Evolution of PPC strategies from manual CPC to automation and data-driven approaches. (03:49 – 05:53)
  • Lauren’s use of AI tools like ChatGPT and BERT for productivity and troubleshooting. (05:53 – 07:46)
  • Importance of organization, clear communication, and adaptability in PPC management. (07:46 – 12:09)
  • Lauren’s expertise in B2B and e-commerce PPC strategies. (12:09 – 15:05)
  • Speculation on the impact of AI on PPC strategies and the digital marketing landscape. (15:05 – 18:53)
  • Balancing excitement and concerns about technological advancements in PPC. (18:53 – 23:53)

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Episode Transcript

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 are 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.

Chris: Welcome everyone to the Getting Granular podcast. I’m your host, Chris Caesar, senior manager of Paid Media here at Granular, and as we continue our PPC Origins series, I’m joined today by Lauren Roloff. Welcome, Lauren.

Lauren: Hey, Chris.

Chris: Hey, Lauren. Great to have you here. So I guess let’s just kick things right off. Tell me about yourself. Who are you, where you come from, what your role is here?

Lauren: Yeah. Well, I started here at Granular about six months ago. Got a little bit over six months under my belt, so been having fun. I am a manager of Paid media and I’m originally from Shawano, Wisconsin.

Chris: Where is Shawano?

Lauren: It’s northern Wisconsin, A little bit northwest of Green Bay.

Chris: Okay. Any fun facts about Shawano? Like something they’re known for? A specific soda perhaps?

Lauren: Yeah, that’s exactly what I just thought of. They make Sundrop up there, one of the best sodas out there. If you haven’t had it, I highly recommend.

Chris: Yeah. As the listeners may or may not know, that is what Shawano is famous for. When you told me you were from Shawano, that’s the only thing I know about shawano is they make Sundrop.

Lauren: Yeah, there’s not a whole lot else going on, but it’s a big one for us.

Chris: Hot Take, I’m not a huge fan, but to each their own.

Lauren: Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve heard that before. I highly disagree, but I think Sundrops way better than Mountain Dew.

Chris: It’s soda. None of it’s really good for you though, right?

Lauren: You could make that argument, I suppose.

Chris: All right. Anyway, I guess tell me about the industries you’ve worked in, what roles you’ve been in and sort of your path to getting here.

Lauren: Yeah, for sure. So when I was in college, I was an intern for a company that does environmental monitors.

Chris: Where’d you go to college?

Lauren: I went to UW Whitewater.

Chris: Alright.

Lauren: Yeah, so I did that. That was kind of a B2B and B2C sort of company. Then after college, during the pandemic, I worked in the automotive industry. I actually worked for my dad for a little while and then after the pandemic I worked at an industrial manufacturing company and that was more of a B2B company, and that’s where I really dove into paid advertising and really learned a lot of what I know today.

Chris: So it sounds like just like anybody else, you sort of almost fell into it by accident. You didn’t say, go out, say, I want to get into PPC. It was something that sort of just naturally developed and came upon your path.

Lauren: Yeah. Honestly, I can’t really say exactly where I fell into PPC or where I fell into digital in general. I went into college with a marketing major and never ended up changing it. I joined an organization on campus called A MA, the American Marketing Association, which really gave me the opportunity to talk to other marketing majors and connect with some of the marketing professors that I had at Whitewater, and that really helped me stay interested in it. I guess they helped me get my internship that I mentioned before through connections that I had there is also how I got some of my jobs. So yeah, I don’t know. It kind of just fell into place that way. Whitewater has a digital marketing emphasis within the marketing major, so I was able to learn some social media S-E-O-P-P-C kind of stuff while I was in college, which I’ve heard is not typically the norm for a lot of people. So I think I was pretty fortunate there and it’s kind of just how I fell into it.

Chris: Awesome. So I guess, what is it about PBC that you liked that made you want to stick with it once you found it as a potential career opportunity?

Lauren: I feel like it was an area where I felt like I could learn a lot quickly, which is one of the things that I enjoy doing in general, and I’ve also been able to use an analytical side and a creative side of my brain. I like having a job where I can do both, so I can look at data and I can interpret numbers, see what I think is going on in a certain situation, but also use that creative side in terms of how we’re going to problem solve, what kind of ads we’re going to serve to people. Sometimes making recommendations for what kind of display ads or videos to show.

Chris: Awesome. It’s funny that you mentioned these different topics and you learned about this in college. This is, I guess not my favorite question to ask because it makes me feel old and certainly there are people who have been doing this a lot longer than me, they’re going to make them feel even older. But what sort of things did the paid search or paid media landscape look like as you dove into it versus what it’s like today? Again, you are a little bit fresher to the industry as opposed to somebody who’s been around for 15, 20 years. So yeah, what did that sort of look like to you?

Lauren: Yeah, for sure. So yeah, like you said, I am newer to the industry, but I’d say my answer is still kind of along the lines of what other people might say. When I first started doing it, the strategy that I followed was a lot more manual. So there was a lot of manual CPC, exact match keywords, really specific nitty gritty details within the account. That’s not so much the norm anymore. Before coming to Granular, honestly, I hadn’t done a ton of different types of bidding strategies or things like that because sticking with manual CPC was kind of just what it was and what I knew, but definitely been a learning experience, having to adapt and figure out what works best for different clients.

Chris: So you are an old, just like the rest of us,

Lauren: One might say, I’ll claim that, hey, give

Chris: It five, 10 more years. Then you really know what it feels like to get old. Trust me,

Lauren: I dunno if I want to be there.

Chris: You don’t, but you know what everybody’s doing. It

Lauren: Happens to everybody.

Chris: So I guess to sort of segue into that next step, you mentioned that the manual bidding, obviously it sounds like you’re not doing that so much anymore, which again, is pretty much the industry standard. So what else has really changed as you’ve grown and developed in your career in the past, what, five, six years you said? Yeah,

Lauren: I mean, it seems like everything changes, honestly, with being pretty new in my career, I feel like I get used to something and I’m like, yeah, I know that I learned it, and they’re like, Nope, changing it on you. One example is pretty big one, universal analytics to GA four, as well as learning other analytics tools. It seems like you finally get one thing under your belt and then it’s gone the next day. So really just figuring out how to adapt to those changes. I’m sure everyone’s experienced it. It just feels like in the last couple years so many things have changed that Yeah,

Chris: What’s changed? Yes.

Lauren: Yeah, pretty much.

Chris: Much. Yeah. You don’t know GA four yet. Everybody’s an expert at that right away. Right. There’s been no resistance to adopting that at all, right?

Lauren: None. Not at all.

Chris: Yeah. It’s a side note. Not a lot of people are familiar with GA four

Lauren: Trying my best. Yeah.

Chris: Yeah. And again, that’s just part of the way the industry evolves is something new happens, and that’s why we’re here is because we’re the ones who take the time to learn it, become the experts in it, and be able to best leverage all of these tools that are going to best help our clients grow their businesses.

Lauren: Definitely just figuring out the best way to interpret all the data and use the tools that are available to us.

Chris: So it sounds like interpreting data is one of your favorite parts of the job.

Lauren: I mean, yeah, it’s definitely one of the biggest parts of the job too, I would say knowing what’s happening and making adjustments from there. What’s going to work best for a client making shifts based on their business goals. It’s always important,

Chris: Of course. So to dive a little bit more deeply into you and your expertise, I know you mentioned you worked previously in industrial manufacturing setting. Is that sort of where you would see yourself with expertise?

Lauren: Yeah, I’d definitely say I learned the most at that job. So I do have a lot of experience in terms of a B2B company and the strategy that goes along behind that because it can be very different from a B2C company. Along with that, they were an e-commerce company, so working with e-commerce clients now is definitely one of my strengths and one of the things that I like to focus on as well as lead generation. I know that’s a little bit different of a strategy, but I’d say those two areas are some of the biggest ones that I work on.

Chris: Very cool. So a little bit of everything, but obviously you have your deeper dives that you enjoy.

Lauren: Yeah, for sure.

Chris: Are there any sort of, I guess, special specific skill sets you have that find yourself good at, what you find yourself best at?

Lauren: I wouldn’t say one super specific skill, but one thing that I have found is one of my strengths is I can pick up on things pretty quickly. I learn new things I think pretty fast. So when I’m faced with a new challenge, or like I said, things are constantly changing or there’s a new platform to learn, don’t shy away from it. I definitely just dig in and figure it out and usually works out, can get things up and running pretty quickly.

Chris: I think the overarching theme here is things are going to change. You need to learn how they’re going to change and be able to adapt quickly.

Lauren: Yes, absolutely.

Chris: So having that ability to quickly learn new things and apply them as you learn them is obviously a massive skill to be able to have at least you work here.

Lauren: Yeah, for sure. Lots of note taking. Refer back to past checklists,

Chris: Hand notes or online notes?

Lauren: Online notes. Where I usually keep my notes actually is in Google Keep, so I’ll put a different little sticker, I guess you’d call it kind of in there with the headline of what the checklist is on how to do something, and then I’ll have all my bullet points of what order to do them in.

Chris: So I feel anxious here, but is it weird that I just learned about Google Keep was three weeks ago?

Lauren: I don’t think it’s weird. It’s definitely not one of the main Google apps that is talked about, but I do find it useful and same as Google Docs, it auto saves, so even if you’re in the middle of a little note to yourself, it’s always there. So that’s what I like about it is you don’t have to be like, crap, I forgot to go back to that.

Chris: And I think what, because again, when I would, obviously not for work stuff, but if I’m making a shopping list, I would just keep with the notes app in my phone, but Google Keep, you can share it like a Google Doc or a Google Sheet where then if somebody else needs access to it, it’s beautiful.

Lauren: Yeah, for sure. You might even be able to do, you can do with checklists in Google Docs where you can assign a certain item to someone. I’m not positive, but in the example of a grocery shopping list, if you needed someone else to go get something,

Chris: I’m learning something new every day. Anyway, not to get completely off track there and go off on a tangent about how great Google is. I guess focusing back in, talk a little bit more about how you operate, how you work, how you function with clients, your communication style, what you like best, what you may not like best, and how that sort of keeps you running as you obviously have a lot of responsibilities here between managing the accounts, but then also communicating effectively to the key stakeholders at the companies that we work with.

Lauren: Yeah, I’d say one of my biggest things is just organization, whether that’s within my email inbox or within a Google Ads account. I like to have things put together and have things make sense, so if I’m off, somebody else can make sense of what’s going on, or if I need to try to explain something or show directly within Google Ads something to a client, I can at least explain it in words so that it makes sense to them and isn’t super jumbled. So yeah, I’d say that’s just a big thing, making sure everything’s where it’s supposed to be.

Chris: Are you Team Zero inbox? Yes. That was a test and you passed?

Lauren: Yeah, I have multiple, whatever they’re called in Gmail labels, I think like sub folders, and anytime something comes in and it’s a completed task, it goes into its according folder or it stays in the inbox until the task is or follow up is complete.

Chris: Yeah. I’ve also found myself using Snooze a lot too of, oh, this is a task, but this is a task that needs to be done in two weeks and rather have it sit in your inbox for two weeks and get all anxious about it. Snooze, it comes back. Okay, I have to take this action on it now.

Lauren: Oh, gotcha. Is that where it comes back and nudges you

Chris: Kind of? Yeah, it basically moves it away into a folder, and then, yeah, as far as when you hit that snooze time, say snooze until next Thursday at 8:00 AM it’ll come back just like it’s a brand new email that Thursday at 8:00 AM

Lauren: Oh, gotcha. Yeah, that’s a cool tip. I haven’t done that.

Chris: Yeah, would recommend Got it. Especially if there’s not something you can take action on right away.

Lauren: Yeah. Especially when you’ve got something to wait on.

Chris: Yeah. So again, I guess to summarize is you like to have the organization level to be able to not only comprehend the information yourself, but to be able to disseminate it to say a fifth grader.

Lauren: Yeah,

Chris: Exactly. If you needed to. Yeah, very cool. Very cool. And it sounds like that sort of went into the next question too, in terms of when you’re reporting on analytics and ROI, it’s really the organization and simplification of things that really helps you get to the point that you can disseminate that appropriately.

Lauren: Yeah, for sure. I like to try to keep things pretty concise when I’m emailing clients and stuff too. Nobody wants to read five paragraphs in an email, so I try to keep things to bullet points and summarize when sending out a meeting recap or something like that, so it’s easy for everybody to understand and circle back on things that are action items.

Chris: Definitely. I wholeheartedly agree. So again, let’s pivot a little bit to talk a little bit more about your time here at Granular. I guess step one, how did you get here? We probably should have touched on this a little bit earlier, but how did you get here?

Lauren: Yeah. Well, so through my previous jobs, I had been working at the industrial manufacturing company for about two years, a little more than that, and I had been in a specialist role, and I really just felt like I had grown and I had learned a lot there, and I felt like I was ready to take the next step and become a manager of sorts, take on more accounts, just really be able to oversee the full strategy of a client or of a campaign, and that’s really what brought me to Granular. Got connected here with Jordan, actually through Chris, and yeah, from there just had a great conversation with Jordan and Steve here at Granular, and I was lucky enough to get hired.

Chris: All right. I’m glad you said me because I was not so humbly about to ask you about it, but yeah, I’m glad that I’m mostly glad that we found you and brought you in. So yeah, no, glad to have you on the team and glad I could, a small role in that.

Lauren: Yeah, well, I’ll give you the kudos. Kudos to Chris.

Chris: That’s all I ever asked

Lauren: For the referral.

Chris: Anyone who knows me knows that I’m just the most ridiculously humble person would never ask for anything like that, so Okay. If you insist.

Lauren: Absolutely.

Chris: I’ll take the credit. I guess besides me, what do you like about working here? What’s your favorite part about working at Granular?

Lauren: I like that it’s a very relaxed culture. Everybody’s super nice and helpful. Everybody’s very collaborative as well, so anytime I have a question or I’m not sure what’s going on with something or I’m not sure exactly if there’s something I need to change about an account, everybody’s happy to help. Everybody’s happy to hear you out or set up a meeting if you’ve got something you want to deep dive, and I think that’s a super nice way to approach things, to not feel like you’re siloed into your own area or into your own clients and just not feeling like you can’t ask questions. Everyone has new things to learn all the time. Like we said, everything’s changing. So some people will grasp things quicker or some people will specialize in certain areas better than others, and it’s nice to know that you’ve got the help.

Chris: Awesome. Great to hear. Okay, so I guess let’s take a step back and pivot again. We talked about the past, what it looked like when you started, how you got here. Talk a little bit about the present, what you like doing, why you like it. So the only next logical step is let’s talk a little bit about the future. I guess from your perspective, when we’re looking at the future of PBC, what does it look like to you? What are you excited about? What are you concerned about or just what do you think it’s going to look like? Maybe not excited or concerned?

Lauren: Yeah, I mean, the possibilities are endless, really. So I think it’ll be interesting. I mean, I’m sure this is an answer that everyone’s thinking, but what’s going to happen with ai? How is that going to change the way we do our jobs, the way PVC landscape looks, as well as just the internet in general, being able to have AI generate images for display ads or have AI generated websites entirely. I think those kinds of things are definitely going to change the internet as a whole and will end up getting reflected in PPC as well. So really just seeing how that kind of stuff changes and just how your standard original campaigns change, like your regular search campaigns, what’s going to happen with those settings have continued changing now, and it’ll be interesting to see where those go in the future.

Chris: I would say. It’s interesting that you raise the AI topic, but also very expected because that’s what everyone’s talking about. Do you use it at all in your day-to-Day work today? Have you explored using it more? Are there things that you would specifically say, no, I don’t want to be using it?

Lauren: Yeah, so I mean, one area that I’m sure, again, lots of people are talking about, but chat, GPT and Bard, I do use those pretty frequently. I’ll use them a lot for meeting recaps and stuff like that. If I have an AI summary from a Zoom meeting, I’ll plug that into chat GPT or Bard, and I’ll say, Hey, can you summarize this for me in five bullet points? Or ask for something in a certain number of words or certain character count, and that’s been super helpful. I definitely recommend reading it back over afterwards before you send something off to a client or to your boss or something, but I think that can be super helpful. I’ve also used it quite a bit more so in my past job than I have so far at Granular, but for different coding, I’ve been learning beginner sql and I’ve found that it can be very helpful with that.

Lauren: So if I’m writing a query and I know I’m almost there, I know the gist but don’t quite have it right or I’m getting an error back and I’m not sure what part of the code is wrong, I can put the code into chat GPT and say, where is the error coming from here? And it’ll say, oh, you’re missing a comma right here. And sometimes that’s all it is in code and you can plug it in and then it works, which is super helpful. Definitely just making sure you’re not giving it too much sensitive data, but usually when you’re just putting in a small string of code and asking it a specific question, you can get some good answers and you can learn some stuff pretty quick.

Chris: Every developer’s nightmare, right? Spending many hours trying to read through a bunch of code to figure out they were missing it, comma on the fourth line, right?

Lauren: Yeah. Oh yeah. I’m sure you got to do it in small chunks, but I was learning very beginner, so I would not say I’m an expert by any means.

Chris: Do you find that, since I know there’s been a lot of issues with asking chat GBT for an answer to something and then getting just incorrect information back, do you find, again, working with code, do you ever run into those types of issues where you ask them for something, it spits out something for you, and then you realize later on that it was incorrect?

Lauren: Not so much in the fact that I figure out later on that it’s incorrect, and it’s like, oh crap, a week later, that wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I’ve had it try to fix something for me, and then I’ll plug that in and it’s like, okay, cool. Now I got a different error, so then I’ll take the new code, I’ll put it back in and I’ll say, now I got this error, what’s wrong? And because it can kind of learn off of its previous questions, I found that that can still be helpful, and eventually you get to the right answer. Fortunately, sometimes it’s not the right answer on the first try, but usually I get there. So

Chris: Interesting. So it’s really about, and again, this is probably beating a dead horse at this point because we’re probably the millionth and first millionth and second person to be saying this, but it’s not about automating all of your tasks. It’s about how can you use them to make yourself more efficient and effective.

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. And just making sure that helping you not waste time on things that are maybe mundane or don’t really require a hundred percent brainpower. If you can use chat GPT to get yourself 50% of the way, then might as well spend your time on something that’s more valuable.

Chris: Yeah. Even if you’re saving yourself 15 minutes a day, that’s over an hour a week, you’re saving.

Lauren: Yeah, exactly. 52 hours a year, right? Yeah. If you don’t take any weeks off,

Chris: Hashtag no days off. Right, right. Was that, I just date myself by saying that.

Lauren: I mean, I’m not really sure if that’s a reference to something, but speaking in hashtags is definitely a

Chris: See

Lauren: A millennial

Chris: Thing. I’m getting old. All right, awesome. Is there anything else you’re looking forward to or concerned about as we look into the future of PBC?

Lauren: I mean, excited and concerned equally for just where things are going. I mean, you just never know and you hope that robots don’t take over and that we get to keep our jobs, keep doing what we love.

Chris: You’ll be driving that bus

Lauren: Robots taking over.

Chris: Well, you’ll be the driver of the robots in the bus.

Lauren: Oh, sure. As long as I’m making the money.

Chris: No, they’re actually taking your paycheck too.

Lauren: We’ll see. No, no. That’s just not going to work for me.

Chris: Alright, awesome. So I guess as we wrap up, one thing I usually like to do, ask all the guests if there are any words of wisdom or fun tips or tricks that you like to give to people, sort of inspirational message.

Lauren: Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely not the first time anybody’s ever said it, but don’t be afraid to learn something new. The theme has been for our conversation. Things are always changing and there’s always going to be something new, especially on the internet, especially in digital marketing. There’s always going to be a new trend. There’ll always be something to be chasing after. So learn it and figure it out and join the pack.

Chris: Don’t join the pack. Lead the pack. Lead the pack, yeah. Become the expert that everyone else learns off of. There you

Lauren: Go. Yeah,

Chris: There. See, we just optimized it. Perfect. Didn’t even need ai. All right, Lauren, thanks for joining us. It was great to have you in. I am hoping we can have you back real soon to talk about whatever it may be that you find most interesting you want to talk about.

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. Happy to be here.

Chris: All right, everybody else, thanks for listening to getting Granular podcasts. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any PPC tips, tricks, or news in the digital marketing world. As usual, I’ve been your host, Chris Caesar. Thanks for getting granular today.


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