PPC Origins - Mark Lee

Milwaukee native, Mark Lee, a Manager of Paid Search, at Granular joins us in the studio to discuss his 5+ years of PPC experience, how his love for tanks translates into success at his job, and why he considers working Granular to be a #blessing. Tune in to hear more about his journey!


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

  • How Mark got started on his PPC path (02:19)
  • HubSpot’s utilization within the paid search world (06:21)
  • Hear how a one-off work opportunity becomes a legitimate career path (10:55)
  • Mark touches on his quarantine hobby, makes a plug for his Instagram, and draws a connection between paid search and those hobbies (13:13)
  • Chris is that guy (17:30)
  • What the PPC landscape was like when Mark started (17:59)
  • Marks take on the evolution of paid media and privacy changes happening (20:58)
  • Chris & Mark talk about the principle of tracking (22:58)
  • Mark’s specialties (25:00)
  • Mark touches on his personal approach to client relationships and strategy (29:41)
  • How Mark went from flying solo at networking events to working at Granular and what he likes about working here (32:09)
  • What the future of PPC looks like through Mark’s eyes (44:05)


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.

Narrator: Whether you’re here to learn about 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: Thank you all, once again, for tuning in to the Getting Granular podcast. I am your host, Chris Cesar, Senior Manager of Paid Media here at Granular. And I am joined today by someone’s whose podcast we thought we did an intro of quite some time ago, until he recently mentioned that we hadn’t yet. So our oldest, new employee ever, Mark. Mark Lee, welcome.

Mark: Hey Chris. Thank you.

Chris: So you’ve worked here for what, a little over a year?

Mark: Yeah, it was a year yesterday.

Chris: Congratulations.

Mark: Thank you.

Chris: Well, glad we can finally introduce you to everybody.

Mark: Yes. It’s flown by. It really has. It’s pretty wild that it’s already been a year.

Chris: It just flies by, right?

Mark: It does. Especially when you’re stuck in your office at home. Office/second bedroom.

Chris: Office/bedroom/home/gym/anything.

Mark: That’s basically where I’ve been for the past year.

Chris: Exactly. Yeah, I think we’ve all been there a little bit.

Chris: So I guess just to quickly kick things off, just tell us a little bit about yourself.

Mark: Yeah, so like Chris and I spoke about, I’ve been a Granular for a year. I’m not new to the world of PPC. I really started in PPC in late 2016. Worked at a few agencies in Milwaukee. Worked in house. So I’ve kind of moved around a little bit, but I’m Milwaukee native. I went to UWM. So for those of you who don’t know, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Graduated in 2015 with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations. Started as an intern at an e-commerce business, and quickly kind of learned PPC and really chose that as my path forward in the world of marketing.

Chris: Very cool. So I guess, when you talked about getting into PPC, how did you get into it, why did you go into it? What sort of gave you that kickstart?

Mark: Yeah. So when I got hired at a luxury real estate firm up in Menomonee Falls. So essentially what they did was they ran and built and developed luxury apartment communities around the US. So the south was a large area where they really had properties, as was the Midwest.

Mark: So one of the things that I learned when I got out of college before I joined this company was HubSpot. So for those that don’t know, it’s a big, massive CMS, and CRM platform. And I really learned that at a previous agency and became pretty much HubSpot certified, which is kind of like their highest level of knowing the tool. Which sounds really cool and extravagant, but it essentially means that you take a test, and you pass it. And they give you this kind of certified level.

Mark: So essentially, I was hired to manage HubSpot for all of these different properties. So there was, roughly at the time, so in late 2016, I think it was 40 properties all across the US. So we would manage everything under the sun. Everything within their leads and marketing was held within HubSpot.

Mark: So I got hired to do that. And then when, a couple months in, my small little marketing team… It was my boss and three of my co-workers, including myself. So three including me… The company wanted to expand their digital marketing from just some one-off Facebook campaigns and a little bit of Google ads, and they really wanted to kind of expand forward with it. And I volunteered.

Mark: So I basically said, “Let me handle the Google ads. Let me set up campaigns for the properties. Let me do the keywords.” And it was a team effort, not to say I did all of it. But essentially, that’s how it started. They said, “We want to run more Google ads. We also want to run more paid Facebook.” And my co-worker said, “Well, I’ll take the Facebook if you take the Google ads.” So that’s essentially what we did is we launched into doing basically full service digital marketing for these different properties. So we would be doing the HubSpot, but also we would be doing the Facebook ads, also and the Google ads.

Mark: So that expanded, really, it gave me a chance to almost manage clients, essentially. Because I had meetings with these properties about their marketing efforts, about the leads that we were getting. So yeah, that’s really it. I just jumped into it as kind of volunteering. And I realized I liked it, so I kept doing it.

Chris: Sure. Yeah, I think… I mean, speaking from personal experience, we all just sort of accidentally fell into it one way or another.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t, I never knew what paid search was. I’m not even sure I ever actually noticed the ads in the search engine, which Google probably loves hearing.

Chris: You’re still not sure if you know what they are, right?

Mark: Yeah, right. I just click some buttons, and stuff happens.

Mark: Yeah, I don’t think I ever knew what paid search ads were before I actually started working on them. So I wanted to do… I knew, I think from the beginning, once I graduated, I wanted to do some type of technical marketing and not just traditional. I wanted to do something technical and something that was more than just doing general marketing. So that’s really why I think I kind of grabbed onto it, and why I’ve kind of found it so appealing.

Chris: Yeah. I think the one place where you’re a little bit different than most of the other people at Granular is you started off with HubSpot, and then you learned paid search.

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: As opposed to everybody else where it’s, again, speaking from personal experience, where I learned Google ads, and it was, “Oh, well, we use HubSpot. Can you help us with those things, too?” And so I’m sort of learning that on the fly.

Chris: Would you, I guess would you say that it’s helped you more, or not really that much? In terms of that, you have that back end knowledge of how CRM’s work as you do more in the digital marketing world. Or is that just more of a chicken/egg type of thing, where they’re both there, and you just sort of make them both work?

Mark: I would say that, knowing HubSpot… And every client I’ve ever worked with has had some CMS or some CRM, both. And I’ve had the chance to really work in a lot of different ones. So I would say, knowing HubSpot, I don’t think it really is ever related to PPC. But it’s definitely digital marketing. Helping clients set up work flows for when they get leads. So say they get a lead from our PPC campaign, and then they need to create an automated email. One of the things I did at a previous agency was clients would get leads, and they had to send them off to a certain sales rep. And based on a question that they answered in the form, it would pick who it would go to. And I setup that all within HubSpot. So I don’t think HubSpot, I don’t think it’s related directly to PPC, or paid search at Google or Facebook, or whatever. But it’s useful. And I think it’s something that’s utilized, kind of like you said, on the back end.

Chris: Yeah. I think being able to streamline that whole leads process is something that really helps with, obviously the efficiency of customer’s businesses where, yeah, that’s going to help you in the long run. It may not be a direct output of these are the paid campaigns we’re building for you, but we have this streamline process that’s saving your sales reps time, and it’s making you more efficient. So saves you more money in the long run.

Chris: So yeah, I think that’s definitely something really interesting that we, at least me, again personally, haven’t had a ton of experience with. So yeah, that’s definitely a unique experience that we haven’t heard a lot from other people.

Mark: And one thing that I didn’t mention is right when I got out of university, out of college, and I started working, I think I mentioned an e-commerce business. Just a large retailer. They kind of pulled me in to start building product pages for them. So basically, I was part of the SEO team so to speak. So I should say, I started dabbling in the search engine side before going to that luxury real estate business. So I was essentially making product pages for them, and we were creating these product pages to kind of grab when there were spikes for certain search queries. So certain products were starting to peak because of the season. We’d create product pages for those.

Mark: So I would be building the product pages with code, because I kind of learned basic HTML and CSS on the job, and learned how to code a little bit. And I would build these product pages. And with the SEO managers, we would kind of know when to put out the pages based on the organic search trends. So that was kind of an introduction to keywords, and ranking, and all that jazz.

Mark: So I think I found that kind of interesting. And I think when I went to real estate luxury business, I was hoping that I would kind of do a little bit of SEO at the time, because I found it really interesting. So the gears were spinning, pretty much, I think from when I graduated in this whole digital marketing space. It’s just getting opportunity to work on PPC was really what propelled me forward with it.

Chris: Sure. So what made you want to, I guess, what was the final sticking point of like, “Hey, I think this could be a legitimate career opportunity moving forward.”

Mark: I just really enjoyed the strategy of it. It’s just, you really, when you play it… I say play. It’s a game. Right? So when you’re playing it, it’s a strategy. You’re fighting, you’re playing a system. You have keywords, you have bids. All of that. You have all these metrics that you’re really fighting, and you have to interpret, and you have to change your campaigns to better these performance metrics. And I just found it really appealing, and I found it like a game. And I think the problem solver in me just loved putzing with these campaigns, and trying to figure out how to get better performance. And I think for any PPC marketer, you can have the best days, you can have the worst days, and they’re largely based on the performance of your client’s campaigns.

Mark: So there was nothing quite like the kick. The dopamine kick, or the kick you get when you see… You come into the office, and you see that your client got five leads or 100 dollars in sales. Whatever ROAS you got, return on ad spend. But you just see positive results, and it’s just like almost the best feeling. I’ve always, some of the best feelings you can get in digital marketing is when things go well. So I just loved that feeling, and I loved the problem solving and the tinkering. Because I’m a big person where I like to really work with my hands. I have a lot of hobbies where I use my hands and build stuff and whatnot. And I think a lot of that kind of can be translated to PPC. Because I think digital marketers, and people who work in paid PPC, you’re building stuff, you’re tinkering. You’re trying something different. If something doesn’t work, you try this, you try that. So I think that those kind of skills that I’ve always had in my mind since I was a kid can be applied to PPC, and they have been applied, and I have applied them. And then I think that’s really why I liked it so much.

Chris: That’s actually really interesting, and I never put those two and two together. So for anybody who doesn’t know, Mark is… Mark, correct me if I’m wrong. I would qualify you as our resident gamer.

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: And our resident model-maker.

Mark: Yeah, so I’ll explain it. So essentially, since I was a small little child, I was big into really, most WWII history. I’d say I’m a bit of a WWII historian. And when I was young, I was just obsessed with tanks. So just traditional kind of WWII tanks. And I remember when I was a kid, I had a remote control tank. The Tiger Tank, which is a German WWII tank. And I had a remote control version of that. And I read so many books about WWII when I was a kid. And then when quarantine hit, I wanted another hobby. And I’d gotten hired at Granular, and had a little bit more money. And I wanted a hobby, and quarantine was going on. And I remember months before quarantine, months before COVID, I looked at starting model building. But eventually, I just didn’t do it.

Mark: And then COVID it, and I got hired at Granular. And I wanted to do it. So I build scale models that are of mostly tanks. But I also have built planes. I have a little shop, a room in my basement that I build them at. And I take pictures, and I put them in Instagram, and all that stuff. So yeah. I’m definitely a gamer. I play a lot of video games. The biggest game I play probably is a WWII shooter. So WWII history and fascination never really stopped for me. And I build scale models. So that’s my big hobby at home. And it’s a lot of just putzing with really tiny pieces and using a flashlight to find the piece that you dropped on the floor. So those are the things that I’m interested in.

Chris: So before I bring this all back full circle, I’m planning on it. You can’t not plug the Instagram with some sweet models.

Mark: Ah, okay. So if people want to follow my scale model Instagram, it’s marko, M-A-R-K-O, scale modeling. No underscore, no space, all just one long word. And you can check out what I’ve created. You can follow me if you want, or you can just creep and see what I’ve been working on the past year.

Chris: There’s some pretty sweet stuff on there.

Mark: Yeah. I setup a camera. I have a nice Nikon and an IO light box. And I think photography’s always something I’ve been interested in. So I’m kind of using a lot of old hobbies and a lot of old interests to basically grow this one hobby I have.

Chris: Sure. But yeah, bringing it back full circle.

Mark: Right.

Chris: Like I was originally planning on doing. It is just interesting how you compared PPC to what your exact hobbies are. The gaming, the tinkering.

Mark: The attention to detail is huge.

Chris: The attention to detail, the… I’ve definitely had days, and I think today might be one of those days for you, where you feel like you’re on your hands and knees with a flashlight looking to find the screw.

Mark: And you just want to kind of give up. Or you want to take a break.

Chris: Yeah, you’re just done.

Mark: Yeah, you’re done. I think the biggest one that I didn’t mention, we just mentioned now, was attention to detail.

Chris: Yeah.

Mark: There’s so much attention to detail that you need when you’re building these campaigns. There’s so many things that you have to think about, and there’s so many things that you have to plan for. And I think, if you can have any hobbies that really require attention to detail, I surely believe that the skills that you do offline can be brought and benefit you online. I think it has for me. The attention to detail. So I’m pretty happy that I’ve been able to kind of use the same sort of skill set with PPC.

Chris: Yeah, that is sort of interesting, too. Because growing up, my mom always told me that I didn’t have the patience for LEGOs. So things like that, the building part of it, was never really something I was interested in as a kid. But at the same time, I do sort of have that obsessive compulsive, or I’m not sure what the best word for it is. But the point of the attention to detail where, even if I’m texting and I use the wrong “your,” I’m going to correct myself. And I will correct everyone else’s grammar, too. Just so everyone knows that. I am that guy.

Chris: But yeah, it is that attention to detail. One small slip up, you could spend 5,000 dollars extra in a month. Oops.

Mark: And… Yeah, you just have to be super on top of it. And I think the more you do it, the more you know what to look for and what not to.

Chris: Sure. So yeah. I guess, moving on a little bit. When you did first get your start in PPC, what did the landscape sort of look like? What were the trends, what were the big [inaudible 00:18:08] people were talking about?

Mark: Really, it was… I mean, I don’t know if people were talking about it, because I was in my own little shelter. Because I was the only person who really knew PPC MA at my company. I mean, that really learned it. I think my boss didn’t really even know it. She grew as we learned it together. But eventually, why I decided to leave that company is because I liked PPC so much that I wanted to do it more.

Mark: So I really grew into it within that year that I was doing it. So within that year, it was a lot of manual bidding. So at the time, the biggest thing, really, was manual bidding. Automated bidding at the level, max conversions, max clicks on Google, wasn’t a thing. So it was really manual bidding, or ECPC. And really, bidding on keywords. And kind of doing that. That was really the biggest thing for us. I was focused, and really, I was learning how to build campaigns on manual CPC. And at the time, we had a lot of issues with…

Mark: Another thing I learned there was GTM’s. Google Tag Manager. Because we had a lot of issues with conversion tracking, because they used… Well, one this is that largely, people would not fill out forms. The forms that we would put out. And they would just go into the location of the apartments and just tour. And then the tour people, the leasing people would not. They didn’t know how to connect the person who came into one of our leads.

Mark: So we had a lot of issues with conversion tracking. So many of our campaigns, we really didn’t have any conversion tracking at all. So we were really relying on CPC to drive our performance metrics. So for me it was like I have to learn manual bidding, I have to get good at manual bidding, because I want to get the most traffic for the lowest cost. Because that’s really the main KPI for us.

Mark: So yeah, manual CPC and learning that was really the biggest thing that we were learning at the time. And GTM, I was just learning. And I think for Facebook, the level that we could target on Facebook was so much larger then.

Chris: Pre-[inaudible 00:20:25].

Mark: Right, yeah. Pre-that. It was just so much more. And I mean, it was pretty crazy, considering we were housing what you could do.

Chris: Sure, yeah. Yeah, because that’s one of the categories that falls under employment, as well.

Mark: Right, that wasn’t a thing back then. We could just target however we wanted, really.

Chris: Sure. There were no legal implications there.

Mark: Yeah. You didn’t have to say that you agreed to any type of housing acts or anything like that. It was just free.

Chris: So manual bidding. You can target basically anybody on Facebook. I wonder where things evolved since you’ve started.

Mark: Yeah. I think the biggest things that I’ve noticed is everything’s automated. Automated bidding. Everyone’s going to automated bidding, really. Even myself, even some of my campaigns. Just for it’s ease of use, and because largely, the campaigns do really well on automated bidding. And then the other one is privacy. I think one of my big issues… Not issues, one of my big interests has been cookies and privacy, private browsing. And just like the drop off and third party cookies. I think that’s super interesting. The intelligent tracking preventing. ITP, as they say, for Apple. And now, iOS 14. So I think that’s been the biggest shift. I think the public’s just becoming more interested in kind of having a private browsing experience, and a private internet experience versus they probably didn’t care too much before.

Mark: And as marketers, we’re really having to kind of adapt to the changes. I’m also, I personally really support the changing landscape. I have a VPN at home. I pay for services to hide ads. I’m the most anti-ad advertiser out there, really. Because I personally just, I want a private browsing experience. I don’t want my data out there as much as I can.

Mark: I use ProtonMail, which is an encrypted email server. So that’s kind of how I’ve always been. So I support it. It’s just, as marketers, we’re having to adapt to it as the public kind of grows to want that a little bit more.

Chris: So I guess my personal question is who cares? Because I guess I’m the exact opposite of you, where I opted into all the different tracking prompts.

Mark: Right.

Chris: And I’m totally fine with whatever. If somebody wants my data, take it. What’s the big deal?

Mark: It’s a fair question. Because I’ve never seen my data get used up ever. Everyone’s seen an ad about something that they just talked about to a friend or whatever. But I’ve never seen my information get used, I’ve never… I mean, I deleted Facebook. So largely, I’m not exposed to any of the type of tracking that they would even collect. So it’s a good point. Like, why does it care? But personally, for me, I think it’s more just about the principle of it. It’s just about the principle for me to mask my IP or to not get Gmail ads. That’s why I got ProtonMail, which is an encrypted server email platform. Not because of really… I don’t have anything to hide. My emails are just order receipts and stuff from USPS I guess, or eBay.

Mark: So I have nothing to hide, but I didn’t want Gmail ads. And I didn’t want my information to be used just to serve me Gmail ads. So I got an email that doesn’t have. So I think a lot of it is just the principle with me. I guess I want to live… I’m kind of a private person in many ways, which I think in other ways, I’m not. But as far as my internet browsing, and my kind of personal internet experience, I want it to be as kind of private as I can.

Chris: Sure. Yeah. I mean, people who know me know that I’m not stubborn at all.

Mark: No.

Chris: So when it comes to an explanation being for the principle of it, I understand completely.

Mark: Yeah. It’s just the principle.

Chris: Because I’ve never done anything for the principle of it.

Mark: Right. Never.

Chris: I guess, bringing it back to you specifically a little bit more. Obviously you started off within real estate, and more of the back end, the HubSpot, and things like that. Are there any other sort of verticals or specializations that you have?

Mark: Yeah. So I’ve been lucky that many places I’ve gone to, many agencies, so my past three agencies in Milwaukee, I’ve really been… I don’t want to say the only person who knew GTM, because that’s not true. But I’ve kind of taken the self-proclaimed title as the GTM Expert. So I’ve jumped into it with every agency, and I’ve worked on any GTM projects or really, GA, Google Analytics. Any back end site stuff.

Mark: Sometimes I look back, and I kind of wish I would have gone to school for software engineer, or to be a programmer. Because I just find code absolutely fascinating, and figuring out how it works. So I think that’s what gravitated me toward GTM and GA, and learning program and languages like Sequel and JavaScript. And like I said a little bit before, HTML and CSS.

Mark: I’d say, really, that area of expertise is where I’ve really proven to stand out a little bit, and where I’ve kind of focused a lot of my attention outside of just being a PPC marketer is getting as good as I can at GTM, getting as good as I can at understanding GA. And it all comes back to that idea of problem solving. I think that’s why I love GTM, and GA, too. But GTM, because usually you have to set things up.

Mark: What I love about it so much is it’s just problem solving. It’s literally, it is like building a scale model. It is like building LEGO. You have your tag, you have your trigger, you put them together, you add your variable. And then you build it. And when something doesn’t work, you have to figure it out. And when you need a certain value or you need to pull out the, for example, something I was recently working on, you have to pull out the product value, or the purchase value on the order confirmation page where the order confirmation, or the product value is hidden within the code within, basically, a data attribute. And you have to pull that out.

Mark: And I just love it, because I’m tinkering. I’m problem solving. I’m trying this, I’m trying that. And that’s what I love so much about it. So really, GTM and GA are really the verticals that I’ve gone to. But it’s not, I don’t think it’s the ceiling for me. I’d like to learn more code languages. So I’d like to learn R, I’d like to get better at Sequel.

Mark: And I think another avenue for me that I’ve been working closely with Chris and I’s co-worker, Ian, is reporting. So just getting good at client reporting. And that’s another thing, it’s really about problem solving. It’s about collecting data, it’s about organizing it. It’s about organizing it from a back end perspective, but also from a visual perspective. And really providing the clients what they need to understand how we’re doing as far as performance.

Mark: So reporting, and GTM, and GA are really my areas of focus as I kind of go forward in my career. So yeah.

Chris: As someone who, quite honestly, doesn’t like doing any of that, I’m glad that you’re here.

Mark: I literally will do any of it. I don’t care. I will spend a half a day if I have the time just putzing with one single problem, because for me, I think I’m at my best, and I’m at my most focused and I’m at my best in kind of, I think with the way my brain works is if I’m just problem solving. If I’m just putzing with things, and just trying different things. It’s almost, I feel most at calm, or most at ease when I’m doing that versus building campaigns or anything like that. I don’t know why.

Chris: Answering emails, jumping on calls.

Mark: I think it’s just how my brain works. So yeah.

Chris: Yeah. I mean, definitely. Having worked with you for a year now, since you’re our longest tenured new employee… That’s the title I’m giving you now is the longest tenured new employee.

Mark: I’ll take it. Yeah, I’ll take it.

Chris: Yeah. I mean, I think that I would 100% agree that you… Well first off, I would much rather give you one 20 hour problem and take all of your menial things.

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: And cover those for you.

Mark: Trust me, I would take that 20 hour.

Chris: And I know you would have the time of your life doing it.

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: So I guess that sort of transitions well into our next sort of topic to cover. Just you as a paid media manager overall, and how you operate, how you communicate with clients. Just on a day to day. What’s, I guess, first off, what’s sort of your personal approach of, obviously, working with clients, managing clients, managing their accounts?

Mark: Yeah, so to give a little, I guess story… When I first got into my first agency back in 2016, one of the things that my manager told me that, because I had never managed. I had, like I said, I worked with these properties across the US when I was working real estate. So I was kind of managing clients, but it was very chill. There was, really, I was kind of like their boss, because they had kind of things to complete for us. And they’re working towards the goals that we set.

Mark: So I didn’t ever think of them as clients. And then when I got my first agency, and I was really starting to have clients, I think I struggled to match the client’s personality. So if they’re really direct, I wasn’t… I didn’t really match, I didn’t really feed off of. And one of the things my manager at the time taught me was figure out what their personality is and really try to match it.

Mark: So if the client is just super non-direct, they love having conversations, then match it. But if the client’s very direct, and they just want to kind of get to business and get the meeting over with, do that. Because I think you can have more issues in the long run if you try to speak to a direct person with a non-direct attitude. So that’s kind of how I try to manage my clients is just understand their personality and be as open with them as I can be about… And I know, direct can sometimes clash with being open, but you know… Give them what they need to understand what’s going on. And just try to be as helpful as you can, really.

Mark: They don’t have all the answers. We don’t have all the answers. But I want there to be a real genuine kind of cooperation between the two.

Chris: Team work.

Mark: Team work, that’s kind of how I have it.

Chris: Yeah. Very cool.

Chris: So moving on, back to present day. Outside of the abstract, bringing it more concrete. You’re obviously now here working at Granular for over a year.

Mark: 366 days.

Chris: 366 days. How’d you get here? What started it all off?

Mark: So back in 2016, there was something for the OG’s in Milwaukee… Well, I shouldn’t say OG’s. It’s only 2016.

Chris: I was going to say, three, four, five years ago.

Mark: Right. So they’re not really OG’s. But people who remember, there was a thing called MKESearch. Because I was so fascinated with… Well, I am fascinated with Milwaukee. But I was so fascinated with PPC, I wanted to get better at it. I’ve always kind of considered myself to be… I’m so incredibly, if I find something I like, I’ll put everything into it.

Chris: Sure.

Mark: That’s just how I am. I put 110% into everything. There’s benefits to it, and there’s definitely negatives. But I was putting 110% into PPC at the time. And I don’t know how I… I think a co-worker said, “Hey, there’s this event in Milwaukee. Do you want to go to it?” And it was an MKESearch event. And he ended up not going, so I went alone.

Mark: So I went, and there was a presentation on, I can’t remember. But I think I met Steve and Jordon, or Jordon or Steve. I don’t remember, because it was five years ago. But I met them, and I had known the agencies in Milwaukee a little bit, so I kind of knew who they were. And like I said, I had met them, and maybe I added them on LinkedIn or something like that. And then in, I think 2017 or 2018, I think it was 2017, I was leaving the real estate firm to go work at an agency. I was going from in house to an agency. It was right across the street from Granular.

Mark: And I knew that Granular was there. And I knew that Jordon and Steve were working at it. And I kept going to the MKESearch events. And I remember just slowly starting to kind of recognize people who worked at Granular, because I saw the website.

Chris: So you stalked the website.

Mark: So I stalked the website, and I knew who was working at it. And I remember being at MKESearch events by myself, because I didn’t have any other people that I knew that did PPC. And I remember seeing the people who worked at Granular, and kind of knowing that they worked at Granular. Or knowing that people who worked at other agencies. And I remember it was like the Cook Kids Club. I know who worked at the other agencies, and I was like, “Those are the cool kids. I want to be doing what they do. I don’t want to be by myself. I want to work on a team. I want to work on some of these big clients. I want to be good at what I do.”

Mark: So I knew who worked at these agencies, and I knew Steve and Jordon. And then I just kind of kept in touch with them. And then I moved from one agency to another, and then I think I just basically put myself out there. I tried to be… I went to Momentic next door. I went to a little even that they had, and I just tried to be around people. And eventually I think, like I said, I kept in touch. I started talking to Jordon and Steve a little bit more. And then really, they kind of threw an opportunity at me to come join. And I couldn’t really say no, because to be honest, I wanted to work at Granular from pretty much the day that I saw the storefront. Because it had the cool language. It had digital marketing, it had analytics on it.

Mark: It’s like, this is all stuff I wanted to do. So I was like… It just oozed class. This is going to sound cheesy, and this is going to sound fake. But it’s genuinely not. I remember just looking at Granular’s office, I mean, “I want to work there. I have to work there.” Because I knew, and like I said, this is going to sound cheesy, but it’s genuine. I knew that this was probably the best place that I could go to in Milwaukee to do what I want to do. So I was like, “I have to go to Granular. I hope that I eventually get to work there.” And that was really how it was.

Chris: So you said you saw the people at MKESearch, and you knew the people that worked at Granular, and they were like the Cool Kids Club.

Mark: Some other agencies.

Chris: I would say, not that I worked at another agency at that time, but are you saying that they weren’t the cool kids? Because I’m probably offended if that’s true.

Mark: I don’t know. I just saw a bunch of people, and I think I recognized Jeremy. Our co-worker Jeremy. And maybe Anna. And some other top four people. Shout out to top four.

Chris: Hey that was me.

Mark: Okay.

Chris: See, so the cool kids were all…

Mark: Yeah… So, when I joined, I knew that… I think you were one of the guys that I saw at MKESearch events. So I knew that you guys were the cool kids, and I was just like this little [inaudible 00:37:22] doing PPC by himself.

Chris: Hey, we’re all nice people. You got to come hang out with us.

Mark: Well, I think I was too shy at the time.

Chris: I would say, knowing both your and my personality, neither of us would have walked up to somebody we didn’t know.

Mark: No. No.

Chris: And be like, “Hey, what’s up?”

Mark: I’m a giant introvert. But when I’m talking to someone, I’m a huge extrovert. I’m an introvert until I get a chance to talk with someone, then I’m an extrovert. So I don’t think I would have ever gone and approached someone.

Chris: An outgoing introvert, basically.

Mark: Basically. Yeah.

Chris: Yeah, I’m right there with you.

Chris: So yeah, I guess… Long story short, you’re here.

Mark: Yeah. I’m… I don’t want to say I’m blessed, because that sounds so weird.

Chris: Hashtag.

Mark: But I’m hashtag blessed to work at Granular. Everything that it comes with. I’ve never worked at a place quite like Granular. With the perks, and the clients that we get to work on, and the people that I’m surrounded by. One of the things is I left agencies in the past, and I left in house places in the past, because I was the only person doing PPC, really. I’ve worked…

Mark: I shouldn’t say the only person, but maybe one out of two or three people. And I knew going to Granular would be definitely out of my comport zone. I definitely have to learn. But I knew that I was going to be around the people that I need to be around to be good at what I do. And the amount of experience I would gain from being here would outweigh, really, I guess any nervousness or anxiety that I knew was going to come from it. Because I’m kind of an anxious person, and I don’t really like to get out of my comfort zone. But going to Granular, I really knew it was going to be out of my comfort zone, but I had to do it. And I think, so far, it’s kind of worked out.

Chris: Okay. So you’re here. You’re not really a new employee anymore. But I guess, after a year in, what do you like so far? What do you like the most about being here?

Mark: I like the fact that my own fiance is extremely jealous of the perks and the position I get. She actually… So, for those that don’t know, after three years of working at Granular, we get a sabbatical. Which Chris is about to take.

Chris: You bet you.

Mark: In four days. Three days, really. And she and I were discussing how my co-worker’s getting a sabbatical. And one of the things she wishes and she hopes is that I’m here for three years so that, when I get my sabbatical, we can travel across Europe for a month. And just the idea of that is, she thinks it’s the coolest perk in the world. And that’s how she wants to spend it if that becomes a thing. And I think just the perks that we get are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. From little perks, to gift cards and stuff like that, all the way up to… I’m trying to think of what the high level perks are, because I think for me, the best perks have really been things like the gift cards. Drink gift cards, and gift cards to the public market. And I think a lot of that is really what drives you to be at an agency, and drives you to be somewhere where you want to stay.

Mark: I mean, those are just the perks that are more personal. And then the work perks. I get to work with some really great clients. I get to really do, and I see a path for me working on GTM and working on GA, I see a path for me forward. And I think that’s the biggest perk. So there’s the perks that you get in office – the snacks, all the time we’re getting treats and… Like, for my birthday, Jaime, who works here, made cinnamon rolls for me, which were incredibly good.

Mark: And last year, for Christmas, we got 10 days or whatever it was, for Christmas. I think it was more days.

Chris: 12 days of Christmas. Like the song.

Mark: That sounded wrong. So we got 12 days of Christmas, and we got to open up 12 different presents. And they were personalized. And I haven’t worked anywhere where they’ve done anything like this. I really haven’t. And it just makes you feel welcomed, it makes you feel appreciative.

Mark: Oh, also the swag. All the cool clothing. We get the hats, the sweatshirts, the onesies, the sweatpants. I mean, everything under the sun we get. All of this stuff is really nice. And makes you feel welcomed, and makes you feel like you really want to rep the place where you work. And that’s just outside of the work that we do everyday.

Chris: You missed about the best perk. Is you get to work with me, obviously.

Mark: Yeah. Obviously I get to work with you, next to you, in the office.

Chris: Yeah. No. I was just having this same conversation with somebody else too, where, you’re going to have headaches at work. You always do. Client headaches or just administrative headaches. But that’s going to happen no matter where you are.

Mark: Yep. Would you rather enjoy having headaches somewhere than not enjoy having these headaches at somewhere else.

Chris: Right.

Mark: I mean, this is… I’ve liked every place I’ve worked at. I have nothing negative to say about any place I’ve worked at. But I haven’t found a place that I’ve liked working at as much as Granular. I’ve never had a place where, after a year, I haven’t had some issue… Not issue, that sounds harsh. But there’s something that I haven’t really enjoyed or something that I didn’t appreciate about the place. I’ve never had that. I haven’t had that with Granular, I really haven’t.

Chris: You know what I don’t enjoy, actually? This is real talk.

Mark: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris: Those big, stupid balloons that we have to take a picture with, like at your anniversary.

Mark: Yeah, those big balloons. And I have to take them home.

Chris: No, see, that’s why mine is staying at the office.

Mark: Yeah, mine will probably stay at the office. My cat will eat the ribbon on it.

Chris: Yeah, because Emily just took hers home…

Mark: And she ripped it.

Chris: And it didn’t make it inside the screen door, because there was an accident. So, I didn’t think mine would make it through my car.

Mark: I just don’t want… I love it, it’s a really nice balloon. I appreciate it. I mean, it’s nice to have an agency really give you a balloon and take pictures of you for your one year anniversary.

Chris: I just don’t like that attention.

Mark: No, well, I just don’t want the balloon to go home with me. I rally can’t, my cat will eat it. And I’m eventually just going to suck all the helium out of it.

Chris: That should have been this podcast.

Mark: Just don’t think helium.

Chris: Talking on helium, yeah.

Mark: Nice.

Chris: Well, now we know, next time.

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: Cool. So I guess, before we start to wrap things up. We talked about the past, how you got here, what it looked like. Obviously the present, what things are like now. Obviously how much you enjoy working here.

Chris: So obviously you can see where this is going. The future of PPC. What do you foresee as the future of PPC? Both, what are you excited about, and what concerns you?

Mark: I think the future is heavily based on automation. Our role as a PPC marketer, I don’t think it’s going to diminish, I don’t think we’re going to all start losing our jobs. It’s just going to change how we do it. We’re still going to have to build things, but I think a lot of our day to day tasks are going to be handled by Google.

Mark: So that’s really one of the things that I think is the future. But I also see the industry having to shift towards the kind of the increasing amount of privacy-focused individuals. That sounds weird. But the ever-increasing focus on privacy, from all browsers, from iOS 14, for Apple, to phones, to browsers, to whatever. It’s a changing landscape, so I really see automation and the changing of how we track. How we handle an attribution is going to be huge. And how we shift away from cookies to…

Mark: One of the things that… I asked a question to a Google rep today was service ad tagging. So essentially, GTM… I’ll keep this really high level.

Chris: Good. Because you already lost me.

Mark: So essentially, GTM right now is browser level. So it’s cookie-based. And you set a cookie on the local storage for the browser. Service side is basically everything’s handled through a server. So there’s no cookies, there’s no third party, first party. And I think that’s going to be huge going forward, because a lot of the tracking that we’re going to be able to do if we can handle it through service side, I think it’s going to smarter in the long run, it’s going to be more privacy-focused.

Mark: So I think that’s one of the things that’s going forward. And I’m all for it. So I’d say the changing of privacy tracking and I guess the privacy environment. I don’t say it’s a concern for me, but it’s definitely something that’s going to change. And how it’s going to change, we’ll all figure it out. But it’s a thing I look froward to.

Mark: The automation, I’m not totally sold on if I’m actually encouraged by it, or if I’m just mostly concerned by it. Because I think PPC marketers like control, and when you do automation, you kind of lose that control. Yeah. So those are really the things that I’d say I’m concerned and looking forward to in the future.

Chris: Excellent. So as we wrap this up, one thing I like to ask everybody is if they have any sort of words of wisdom to leave people with.

Mark: Yeah, so my word of wisdom is really what I’ve told… I have a younger guy, he’s maybe two years out of college. I think he found me on LinkedIn. And he wanted to basically have a mentor. And I kind of just said, “Hey, I’d mentor you, and I support you as you kind of graduate and start to get out into the career field.”

Mark: And one of the things that I told him that I genuinely believe, and I think he kind of understood was just try things. You’re so young. Try SEO, try Facebook, try Google ads. You can find something that you like. If you working at an agency, you kind of have the experience to try all this different stuff, but don’t ever be fearful that, “Oh, if I go do PPC, or if I go do Google ads, in a few years, I won’t get a job doing Facebook if I want to do Facebook.” I think you will, and I think a lot of your skills can be moved around.

Mark: So I would say try it out. Figure out what you like. Try everything. I’m lucky enough to have a tried a million different CMS’s, CRM’s, Google ads, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Everything under the sun. And I know what I like now, and I know what my future is really rooted in as far as a career path.

Mark: So I’d say to everyone is try everything you can as far as digital marketing. There’s so many things you can try. Eventually, you’ll find what you like, and you’ll know what you want to focus on. I’d say don’t really focus yourself too early, or else you’ll be missing other things that you might enjoy, as well.

Chris: I think that you can definitely apply that to life situations, too.

Mark: Yeah. Everything in PPC is also applicable to life.

Chris: Everything maybe a broad statement, but I like it. I like the optimism there.

Mark: You know, what is the word… Bid low. Buy low.

Chris: Buy low, sell high.

Mark: Yeah. I guess that’s kind of…

Chris: Doge to the moon?

Mark: Yeah. Shout of Doge.

Chris: All right, well, Mark, thanks for joining us. Great to have you on.

Mark: Yeah. Thanks, Chris.

Chris: Let’s not wait another year to do this again.

Mark: Nope.

Chris: Get some more analytics tracking in there. Or talk in there.

Mark: I enjoyed it.

Chris: And thanks to everyone else out there today for listening to the Getting Granular podcast. Be sure to subscribe. And leave us a review, too. Always looking forward to hearing what people like, what people don’t like. So any feedback we’d totally like and appreciate. And like I said, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on an PPC tips, tricks, or news in the digital marketing world. I have been your host, once again, Chris Cesar. Thanks for getting granular with us today.