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Hiring on a Budget: An Insider's Guide to Finding Good PPC Talent

PPC talent - woman being interviewed by three business professionals

In the fast-paced world of PPC, the demand for skilled professionals is at an all-time high. With 22,978 Global Ad Partners and a conservative estimate of approximately 100,000 PPC specialists employed globally by Google Partner Agencies, one might assume that finding the right talent for your advertising needs is straightforward. However, the reality is quite the contrary, especially for businesses aiming to collaborate with PPC professionals' crème de la crème.

The elite top 3% of PPC experts are often beyond reach for most companies. They are usually operating at full capacity, and their services come with a prohibitive price tag for the average business. This scarcity of accessible top-tier talent poses a significant challenge for advertisers seeking to elevate their digital marketing campaigns. So, how can companies navigate this competitive landscape to find the PPC expertise they require?

The solution lies in expanding the search to the top 30% of PPC professionals. This broader talent pool is not only more accessible but also highly skilled and capable of delivering exceptional results for your PPC campaigns. 

However, the question remains: How can one effectively identify and attract this talent?

Rather than setting unrealistic standards that few can meet, it is essential to focus on what truly matters in the dynamic PPC industry. Core Skills, EQ (Emotional Intelligence), and a proven track record of rapid learning should be at the forefront of the hiring criteria rather than nice-to-have requirements that serve to exclude rather than include potential candidates.

By adopting a practical approach to hiring PPC professionals, companies can uncover a wealth of attainable talent that can drive their advertising objectives forward. This strategy widens the talent pool and fosters a more inclusive environment where diverse skills and perspectives can thrive.

Listed below are three sets of skills, with a focus on the essentials.

Communication - a black man and a black woman communicating through sign language

Part 1 - The Emotional Intelligence Skills

Communication (Essential)

A skilled PPC professional excels at conveying ideas and strategies and actively listens to stakeholder feedback. Clear and concise communication ensures that everyone involved in the campaign, from clients to team members, is aligned and working towards common goals. Moreover, the ability to explain complex concepts in simple terms is invaluable, especially when discussing campaign performance or proposing new strategies.

Example: It's midday on Black Friday, and the CMO wants an hourly update on Slack. Conversion data, however, takes 24 hours to populate. So, instead of hourly updates, you create three forecast scenarios. As the day passes, you update the CMO on which forecast you are most likely to hit based on the limited data you have on hand. 

Growth Mindset (Essential)

A top-notch PPC expert stays abreast of the latest trends, algorithm updates, and best practices. This attitude towards continuous learning ensures that campaigns leverage cutting-edge strategies for maximum effectiveness. In addition, as things happen so quickly in the industry, this skill is the bedrock of staying current and adapting swiftly to new challenges. 

Example: Google suddenly requires a new Consent parameter to be passed into Google Tag Manager so that your remarketing Ad Audiences can populate correctly. You visit PPC News and get the last scoop, then find a deep dive on and begin diagnosing the problem while asking the PPC Live community for help. 

Attention to Detail

The devil truly is in the details. A keen eye for detail allows a PPC professional to spot nuances in campaign performance, identify areas for improvement, and ensure that every element of the campaign is optimised for success. Moreover, this skill ensures that every aspect of the campaign is noticed, minimising the risk of errors and maximising the effectiveness of advertising efforts.

Attention to detail sets apart the good from the great, making it the skill the top 3% of PPC professionals possess.

Example: YouTube Audiences are not populating, and you've checked every setting. After hours of investigation, you learn that the following setting inside YouTube is selected: Disable interest-based ads. So, you disable it and wait to see the broader audiences start populating. 

Commercial Understanding 

Beyond just the technical, a PPC professional with commercial understanding deeply comprehends business objectives and market dynamics. By understanding the economic context in which their campaigns operate, they can make informed decisions that impact things outside PPC.

Ultimately, this skill transforms PPC professionals from specialists into strategic partners who drive tangible business outcomes through their advertising efforts.

Example: Lead volume is at an all-time high, and cost-per-lead is slowly decreasing. The marketing reports all look great, but after a catchup with the sales team, it's clear the new volume of leads is lower quality. Instead of tweaking the Ad Campaigns, you spend the next week with the sales team, listening intently to the sales calls and understanding the ideal customer profile they are looking for.

black lady working on her computer with a coffee

Part 2 - The Intellectual PPC Skills 

Ad Copy Writing 

The impact of compelling ad copy cannot be overstated. It's the only thing we, as PPCers, produce; it should be our masterpiece. Therefore, a PPC expert must be able to craft ad copy that resonates with the target audience, highlights the unique selling proposition, and encourages users to take action. This skill merges creative insight, a deep understanding of emotional triggers, and a call to action to drive action.

Budget Management (Essential)

Effective budget management is essential to PPC advertising. A PPC expert must be proficient in allocating budgets to maximise ROI and understand how to distribute spending across campaigns based on performance and business objectives. It is vital to carefully pace the client's ad spend and allocate resources to where it will achieve the most tremendous success. Sometimes, this is a juggling act on its own.

Targeting (Essential)

Keywords and targeting form the backbone of PPC campaigns. A skilled PPC expert knows the art and science of keyword research, including selecting the right keywords and effectively targeting them to reach the most relevant audience. This includes determining the intent of a keyword, a subtlety that's often overlooked. This skill ensures that ads are served to users most likely to convert, thereby increasing ROI.

A/B Testing 

A/B testing is a critical tool in the PPC toolkit. It allows for comparing different versions of ads or landing pages to determine which performs better. A PPC expert must be proficient in designing and interpreting A/B tests, using the insights gained to optimise campaigns continuously. It requires an open mind and the ability to think as the target audience would. 

reporting stats showing CTR, and quality score - the rest is blurred out

Part 3 - The Surrounding Skills

Measurement (Essential)

The foundation of successful PPC management lies in accurate measurement. This ability allows for correctly tagging events in line with the overall strategy, allowing bidding algorithms to continuously optimise campaign performance. A proficient PPC expert should be adept at dissecting data, understanding campaign metrics, and interpreting what those numbers mean in the context of overall business goals. 

Reporting Insights (Essential)

The true essence of this skill lies in the ability to see beyond the surface-level numbers and in understanding the story these numbers tell. Moreover, communicating these insights is just as important as uncovering them. Data, after all, is essentially useless without the context and insights that give it meaning. An expert in PPC will be able to analyse and interpret data and compile and present it in an understandable and actionable way for all stakeholders involved. 

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

CRO is pivotal in enhancing the performance of PPC campaigns. A PPC expert with CRO skills can identify opportunities to improve the conversion funnel, from ad copy and landing page design to call-to-action buttons, ensuring that traffic driven by PPC campaigns converts at a higher rate. A valuable PPC expert will know and understand the peripheral elements of an excellent PPC campaign.

Niche Experience 

Amidst these skills, one more layer adds invaluable depth to a PPC expert's profile: experience in niche industries. The nuances of different sectors can significantly influence PPC strategies—from understanding unique customer behaviours to managing industry-specific regulatory restrictions. 

An expert with experience in your particular niche can leverage their specialised knowledge to craft campaigns that resonate more deeply with your target audience, offering a competitive edge that's hard to replicate.


In conclusion, hiring PPC talent on a budget requires a practical approach focusing on essential skills and experience rather than unrealistic standards. 

Instead, expand your search to the top 30% of PPC professionals. Prioritise essential soft skills such as communication and hard skills like budget management, targeting, measurement, and reporting insights. This allows businesses to find capable individuals to drive their advertising objectives forward. 

Remember, the key is to look beyond the surface and find PPC talent that not only meets the immediate needs but also has the potential to grow and adapt in the ever-evolving landscape of PPC advertising.

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