12 Questions with Jim Vaillancourt
Today we're bringing you the next installment in our "new and improved " Community Member of the week series, in which we learn more about the background and everyday life of a fellow member of the AdWords Community.
Based in Minnesota, @JimVaillancourt has been working with AdWords for over six years. Read on to learn how he fell into PPC marketing--and how he stays focused in this always-on industry:
1. What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself?
Hard-working, alpha male, jackhammer. Merciless, insatiable.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
At different points in my life I wanted to be different things. I went to college for Economics and thought that I wanted to be a financial analyst without really knowing what that meant. It was a tough job market post-graduation so I took an interview for a Paid Search Analyst. In that interview my eventual Director walked through the AdWords platform with me. I was amazed at the amount of information available and how data-driven paid search was. I had a notion that marketing was more like Mad Men which is partly because they didn’t teach digital marketing in school. A number of years later I still find it interesting and am glad that I took that interview.
3. What do you do for work now?
I currently lead the product feed marketing team (Google Shopping/PLA’s, dynamic search, etc.) at Ovative/group, a digital marketing and measurement agency in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
4. How long have you been using AdWords?
I have been using AdWords for about 6.5 years. The first account that I ever worked on was active in 85 countries. I remember spending days manually optimizing bids in Excel for Google AdWords, Yahoo, Bing and Ask. It’s amazing, and a relief, to see how much more automated everything is today.
5. What is the most recent piece of AdWords knowledge you’ve learned?
I spend a lot of my time working on and thinking about Google Shopping campaigns. This is a relatively new campaign type which means that the “best practices” aren’t as developed as for general search campaigns. I read lots of blog articles about the subject and have been slowly refining the optimal campaign and product group structure to use for our clients. Most recently, I have learned some new Google scripts that make complex Shopping campaign structures more maintainable.
6. Best marketing advice you’ve ever received?
Prioritize, because there will never be enough time to do everything. There are endless tasks to do in the always-on world of paid search so you never really “get ahead”. You must prioritize and effectively communicate those prioritizations to clients and team members.
7. What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
While my job takes me to many exotic locations like Columbus, OH and Duluth, MN I would have to say that my favorite trip was Spain during the summer of 2014. We were all over the country; from the Pyrenees down to Seville. I bought an authentic sword made in Toledo which is one of my most-prized possessions.
8. What’s unique about where you live now?
Whenever I talk to new clients/vendors on the phone and mention that I live in Minnesota they will either say: “Isn’t it like really cold there?” or “Oh yeah, you guys have the Mall of America”.
However, I like to think that we have more to offer than just a mall and poor weather. Golf.com reported that Minnesota has the most golfers per capita of any state and Bicycling magazine once ranked Minneapolis as the number one U.S. city for biking. Also, we have a large variety of bad-mediocre professional sports teams.
9. What does a typical day look like for you?
Pretty standard: get into work and respond to overnight emails. Read my Feedly articles to see what’s going on in the digital marketing world. Prioritize tasks for the day and sync up with my team. Then just go to meetings and get stuff done!
10. If you had an extra hour every day, how would you spend it?
Exercising or being outside (e.g. biking, running, skiing). Maybe get to those house projects that I have been putting off for the last few years…From a professional standpoint I would like to get better at Google scripts but realistically I would spend an extra hour doing something a bit more exciting.
11. What’s been the most fun experience you’ve had or project you’ve worked on in the past year?
I really enjoy attending digital marketing conferences. I was at SMX West last year and have been to SMX Advanced a number of times as well. It’s fun to meet so many people that are passionate about the same things. There are also great opportunities to learn about new technology and tactics. I always return from conferences more energized about my field and career.
12. What’s coming up this year that you’re most excited for?
The evolution of custom audiences and automation of bid adjustments (geographic, time-of-day, audiences, and any other Google beta adjustments). I see paid search developing from a keyword-centric model to a more customer-centric one. The companies and agencies that get ahead of this will be the ones succeeding in the next couple years.
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