Andrew Seidman
By Andrew Seidman | SEM, Video | July 5, 2016

Digital Reach & Google Partners talk AdWords Training

Google Chats: A Look into AdWords Training

Recently, our President Ben Childs had the chance to go drop in and meet with Google’s Agency Partners to talk about what training looks like for AdWords (among many other things). We thought you might enjoy the conversation – here’s Ben’s conversation with Google Agency Representative Christina Berry:

Full Transcript:

Christina Berry:

Hi, my name is Christina Berry and I’m an Agency Development Manager here at Google headquarters based in Mountain View. Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Ben Childs.

Ben Childs:

Thank you.

Christina Berry:

CEO of Digital Reach. Ben’s showing us today, to teach us a bit more about their training program.

Ben Childs:

Yeah, absolutely. I’m the CEO of Digital Reach, we are a digital marketing company in San Francisco. We do SEO, PPC, especially AdWords, and web development. I think training’s really important because it’s a pain point with clients. They always feel like they’re getting rotated on someone younger and so I want to be able to put someone on their account who actually knows what they’re doing fast. It’s also a pain point for agency’s themselves because you have someone who you just hired and you need to get them working on accounts as fast as possible but avoid that problem of where they just go in and blow stuff up because they don’t know what they’re doing.

Christina Berry:

We don’t want that.

Ben Childs:


Christina Berry:

You’ve been mastering AdWords for quite some time now.

Ben Childs:


Christina Berry:

Tell us a little bit about the initial learning process for those of us who are just starting to learn about AdWords.

Ben Childs:

Yeah so my initial learning process was funny because I didn’t actually do AdWords. Back in 2010, it was a different time, clicks were 5 cents, it was crazy. I started working at a small agency and what we did is, I did business development and so we’d screen share and look at accounts, and the only thing I knew about AdWords was all the guys around me and what they told me to look for. I had a list of 9 or 10 things, I’d be like you’re not rotating ads, you have bad search terms, look at all this broad match. I could just play gotcha ya. If I could find 4 or 5 things people signed up, and they needed help but it taught me really nothing about AdWords, I just learned what to look for.


Back in those days I took the AdWords certification test which was $50 a test, back then, and I failed the first one so it got expensive real fast. Stayed up all night, chugged a Mountain Dew, studied, and then I passed the next one because I had to.

Christina Berry:

You finally did it.

Ben Childs:

Absolutely. As much as I could I tried to learn on blogs so the world was very different back then. Content marketing really wasn’t a thing, the only I think good PPC blogs that I read consistently were WordStream and PPC Hero from Hanapin Marketing and some other things in [and 00:02:28] that. There’s nothing that really taught you how to do AdWords it’s just like here’s what quality scoring is and then I learned more to tell clients to show them that I knew what quality score was. You could say that when I began I knew the recipe for chicken cordon bleu but I’d never cooked. Or I could pass the driving certification but I would crash because I’ve never driven. It was a really weird way to learn AdWords and it was good but didn’t help too much later.

Christina Berry:

Got it. Definitely quite an interesting path to learning AdWords and where you are today. I would love to hear a few stories from your initial experiences. Do you have any lessons learned from your first few clients, good or bad?

Ben Childs:

Some good ones, a lot of bad ones. I started freelancing in 2011 and I, basically, just learned by feeling around in the dark. I called 866-2GOOGLE a lot, I googled stuff a lot but back in those days if you had a problem and you were reading the Google training manual … if you search for something on Google the first thing that showed up was the Google training manual because there just wasn’t a lot of info out there. What I learned and what I got better at over time is I didn’t prioritize. I looked at AdWords, I saw it’s basically a bunch of Excel sheets and it all looked important to me. I didn’t say, “I need to focus on conversions, I need to focus on quality score, I need to focus on testing.” If things weren’t going good in Wisconsin or at 2 pm I was freaking out trying to change that. Meanwhile, the entire account’s going down and I don’t know why.


The other thing that I didn’t have and this really changed my business and changed my training program, is I didn’t have a process. I think, the best way to work on any AdWords account and, maybe, anything is having a good process. What I did, I had like Trello, it actually was Trello. I had a Kanban board where I had clients that I needed to work on that week right here, I had clients that I was working on that day right here, and clients that were done and I’d sent their report right here. After that week I would move them all over and I would just say, “I wonder what I’m going to do this week,” because I had no idea. I had written all my notes on pen and paper, which looking back was really silly. People actually used pen and paper and I would just start fresh and be like, “What do I think is on fire,” and it’s a very reactive place to be and not a good way to run an AdWords account.


The other thing, and this is related to that, is I never stepped back and looked at the forest for the trees. Should this person be on AdWords? Are things going well for their business? How is this helping them? What are their KPIs? I’ve done a thousand bid changes this week, does that even matter? I never even thought about that, I was just in and doing it, and doing it, doing it. I learned a lot of those things the hard way, that you have to have a process, that it’s repeatable, you can train people on it, you have to prioritize, and you actually have to look at things as a whole as opposed to just applying what you learned on a blog.

Christina Berry:

Yeah, definitely. If we were to flash forward to 2016 what would that process look like.

Ben Childs:

I talked about the disconnect in theory and application and, I think, theory is great, you need to have it but you can get it even faster now. Just starting with that, there’s so much content out there. Content marketing really took off back in 2010/2011 to where now there’s just so much content about everything, there’s video walkthroughs, there’s blogs with screen shots. You can just walkthrough and get the exact way of how to do something as opposed to knowing what it is. There’s a lot about AdWords because content marketing, about the digital marketing industry, there’s a lot out there. Probably, more than there should be.


The other thing that I want done is I want when someone learning to think about it as an application. Not just I know this word, this is good lingo to have. Although, that’s important because if you use the wrong lingo with a client you’re just going to get fired. You don’t want them to think that they know more than you which is really bad. I want them to say, “Okay, I can restructure an account.” In reality a lot of people can do that, setup some good campaign structure, setup some good ad groups, make them thematic, write some good ads. All right, good to go.


I want to look at something like the management, I want to look at something like quality score improvement, and I only want to think about those in an ongoing way. How do I this month over month? How do I adjust bids lower and then if it doesn’t get better what do I do? Taking it one step further you’re able to get the context of why it’s important and you won’t run into those issues because you actually know what to do when the rubber hits the road, which I didn’t.


Then the other thing that I want people to do when they’re learning is to always take a step back. Does what I’m doing support my goals or the client’s goals? It could be that they shouldn’t be running AdWords at all. It could be that you’re doing some great ad rotations, some great bid adjustments in a campaign that just shouldn’t be there. You have to ask yourself do I have a bias towards having all of these turned on at the same time? No bid adjustments in the world is going to overcome that one of these campaigns should just go. People don’t step back and look it in terms of the goals and see the forest for the trees. Does that make sense?

Christina Berry:

Yeah, it definitely does. I’m thinking about a lot of people who are trying to master AdWords, and currently walking through mini trainings, learning the theory, and trying to understand how to operate an account. You mentioned that application is critical many times so I’m curious to know how does someone go from learning, and theory, and training to actually being able to say they’re proficient in AdWords? What actions they need to take?

Ben Childs:

Yeah, absolutely. The first thing is to get a dummy account. If you’re learning by yourself it’s really easy to sign up, you don’t have to spend any money you can put it on pause. Everything you learn about you should, probably, be doing it in your dummy account. If you learn how to write an ad you go in and you actually write an ad. It’s very different to know how to write an ad and then actually go in there and try and fit in 35 characters yourself, it’s very different.


If you work at an agency, hopefully, they let you touch somebody’s account. At our agency we have people that are working in editor and doing changes that we don’t push live. We take a look at it and we say, “Okay, here’s what needs to happen, here’s what needs to change. If this actually got pushed live you would’ve ruined this account. How can we learn from that?” Then, we actually give it to the regular person to do. I don’t want people sitting there watching videos or reading a blog. I want them actually applying it from day 1. Well, maybe, not day 1 that’s dangerous but I want them actually in an account as fast as possible. That’s easy to do at an agency, they usually have a lot of accounts, because that’s the only way you’re going to learn.


The other thing I want people to do is really dive into the content. Like I said, content may have held me back getting started because there wasn’t a lot out there. Now, if you have a dummy account and you’re learning on your own you can find great videos, you can find great walkthroughs so then you can do it in your dummy account and learn. The other thing that you need to do if you’re learning is everything you’re doing … now, if you work at an agency they probably have a process, we do.


If you’re a freelancer you may have to create your own but everything you’re doing put it in a repeatable process so you would think about it. I don’t just do bid adjustments, I do them once a week or I do them once every 2 weeks. You can find a lot of things online that talk about how often people do different things. It’s all different, depending on the goals of the account. Everything you do you want to put it into a process that then you can repeat. That just makes your life so easier, you do the minimum viable amount of work to make sure the account doesn’t light on fire so then you actually have time to do strategic work.


I think, that’s what turned around my training program is creating a process that then you can teach other people. Then getting people into accounts as fast as possible, as safe as possible so they don’t actually do anything but they’re learning. Does that make sense?

Christina Berry:

Yeah, it’s great. Yeah, really insightful. Thank you so much for taking the time …

Ben Childs:

Absolutely, yeah.

Christina Berry:

To join me today in the Google studio and thank you so much for tuning in.

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