5 PPC Tasks You Should Never Trust to Interns

This is a guest post from Andrew Lolk, CMO and co-founder of White Shark Media.

5-PPC-Tasks-You-Should-Never-Trust-to-InternsAfter reading the excellent post about the 6 PPC Tasks you can delegate to interns, I got inspired to write a post about what tasks you should never trust an intern with.

This is not to berate interns. I love interns (as far as I can go without hearing from the Ministry of Labor). In fact, some of my best friends have built their companies based on hiring great interns who developed into being incredible assets (HTML24.net is a great example).

Interns can be a great resource for cheap labor and if you choose interns correctly, you can actually get rid of a lot of the headaches that people relate to interns. Not to mention that hiring interns is a great way of giving back by mentoring.

That being said, not every task is appropriate for an intern. Although it might take more of your time, some tasks are better done yourself. Here is my list of tasks I would never trust an intern to do.

1. Writing Ads

Your entire AdWords account relies on properly communicating your message to the world. Without the ability to write ads according to the best practices in AdWords, you are in disadvantage.

Even if you have all the right and perfectly structured keywords, you will lose if you count on your intern to write ads. Writing ads for AdWords is a learned art. There have been very few people I’ve known to master the art of writing AdWords ads in their first try.

Thinking that your intern can take your list of benefits, or even worse product features, and convert them into selling AdWords ads is a big mistake.

2. Being Trusted with Account Structure

Account structure is a delicate matter. Even though sandals and flip-flops are kind of the same thing, you should never put those keywords in the same ad group. Taking the lead and structuring a lot of keywords in a way that adheres to AdWords best practices is a complex task. An intern’s first try will most likely not suffice. Nor will the second or third try. Without someone guiding, interns will, without a doubt, make mistakes in the structure, which can be grueling to amend later.

Too many AdWords advertisers assign employees who can do the “groundwork” to set up the campaigns. Marketing managers spend countless hours researching keywords (waste of time?), but when it comes to setting up the keywords, less-skilled people get the job. Organizing your keywords appropriately is not just crucial for your Quality Score, but also determines how well you can target your ads.

3. Handling Bid Management

Bid management is another task that requires experience and a certain level of math skills to perform effectively. Yet, this is another daunting task that takes hours of repetitive work to do (are you sensing a pattern?), and I often see this being handed off to interns or assistants.

Managing your bids is such a delicate task that I would never think of delegating it to an intern. Teaching an intern to perform proper bid management techniques will take much longer than building an AdWords Script to do the same changes automatically.

A common scenario is when a well-performing keyword suddenly stops performing well. The reasons can be many, but if your intern doesn’t take the time, or have the experience, to investigate what is actually the cause of the decrease in performance, you will never fix the issue.

It might be that your competitors suddenly have started Product Listing Ads, or a certain Ad Extension that you need to implement as well. They might be doing a big promotion that’s killing your sales that week, but when the promotion is gone next week, you will bounce right back to your previous performance levels. If your intern is blindly following the CPA goals you set for him, you will quickly see your AdWords performance declining and getting sucked into a black hole.

4. Managing Product Listing Ads

Product Listing Ads are simple, right? Just set up a feed and see the money roll in. Not quite, but that’s how a lot of people view it. PLA campaigns have gotten the reputation of being a special kind of set-and-forget campaign, but that’s far from the truth. Yes, you don’t have to spend a lot of time finding keywords or writing ads, but if you don’t spend time on the other optimization tasks, you will be lost behind your competitors.

5. Mining Search Query Reports

Granted, this isn’t the worst task to entrust to your interns. However, without strict guidelines about the type of negative keywords they need to add to your campaigns, you might end up loosing too much traffic.

Adding the wrong negative keyword in broad match can mean big trouble for your business. I had a client whose marketing assistant had done search query mining for them for a couple of months. At a certain point, most of their AdWords campaigns had stopped showing for their key terms, and hired me to research what was wrong.

The company sold custom-made signs, and it was actually quite simple what had happened. The marketing assistant had seen that the keyword signs didn’t convert well, so she had of course added it in negative broad match. This meant that all the other keywords that included the word signs now didn’t appear on search results.

Your Biggest Mistake: Thinking that an IT or Marketing Degree Means AdWords Manager

If you have noticed, a lot of the tasks I mentioned aren’t really because I think the intern is incompetent. Most of the tasks simply have to do with whether or not you take the time to teach the intern the ropes. Often, many of the tasks mentioned here can be taught to an intern if you know how to perform them yourself.

Too often, I see advertisers relying on new employees with fresh degrees in marketing (or the awful situation of an IT manager handling AdWords campaign). It’s not as much the intern’s mistake that he’s not getting your AdWords campaign up to speed, but you having unrealistic expectations about how easy the platform is. As I start my AdWords book with:

“AdWords is made to look super easy to start managing, but actually creating, optimizing and expanding AdWords campaigns successfully is a complex task only managed well by the few” 

Don’t think AdWords is easy. Actually, it’s harder than ever. What tasks do you keep interns away from? Share with us in the comments!


Andrew Lolk is the author of the 189-page free AdWords ebook The Proven AdWords Strategy. He is the CMO and co-founder of White Shark Media, a Paid Search agency specialized in delivering results for small to mid-sized businesses in the US.