Editor’s Note: “Meet a Media Planner” is our ongoing series of Q&As where we find out what’s on the minds of media and search planners at agencies across the country. Today we’re hearing from Josh Niederriter, a senior search campaign manager for AKQA in San Francisco. Josh began his career in search over two years ago at a shop in Austin, Texas, but moved to the Bay Area in 2011 to help AKQA service a top finance category client.
Yahoo! Ad Blog: When it comes to search, what would you say are the biggest concerns for your client right now?
Josh Niederriter: One of the challenges with search, especially in the finance category, is that there’s a lot of competition. Clients are definitely concerned that we defend their branded terms against conquesting---bidding on their terms by competitors.
Another big challenge with search as opposed to other media is that we don’t buy against audiences. Search is just demand capture, so you can’t go after a specific audience. It’s hard to personalize ad copy or landing pages, because all we know is the keyword and keyword intent. But AKQA has developed some new technology to help address this.
YAB: Is it a technology you think is pretty promising for clients?
JN: Absolutely. It lets us make informed decisions from multiple data sources – first or third. It used to be that if someone came in through search, all we knew was the keyword they typed and any targeting settings that were set on the campaign. Now, we can combine the outside data with AKQA’s technology to make decisions in our campaigns.
YAB: That sounds pretty cool. What do you enjoy most about your job in search?
JN: I really like that I can make a change to a campaign and see the impact almost immediately. I can change a keyword or ad copy and within a week I can see how it affected ROI. And then I can continue iterating on the changes to optimize the campaign.
I also love the data analysis part of the job. There’s so much data being produced, and diving into it and finding unique insights is really cool.
YAB: Does your family have a good grasp on what you do for a living?
JN: Uh…no. I think at a high level, they understand that I do something with the Internet and ads, but search is unique in that half the time people don’t even realize the first three listings on the page are ads.
YAB: What do you do to decompress after a long day at the office?
JN: I’m kind of lucky with the clients I have right now because the work is very cyclical or seasonal. So I’m heads down in performance management for about five or six months during their busy season. Then the rest of the year is spent doing extensive analysis, reinventing the campaigns for the next year and working with my engineering team on technology improvements. Oh yeah, and take a vacation.
When I need to de-stress, I play bass guitar. And I also like to come home and cook a nice big meal; maybe try a new recipe. Living in California, I have access to all this great produce, so I usually go to the grocery store after work and grab a new vegetable I’ve never seen. Rhubarb and Brussels sprouts on the stalk have been a couple of my favorite discoveries.
YAB: Do you play bass guitar in a band?
JN: I’m married so…no. I don’t think my wife would love it if I was spending three nights a week practicing.
YAB: So search was probably a better career choice for you than becoming a rock star?
JN: Search is pretty great. It’s growing double digit year-over-year, and it’s on a trajectory to continue doing that. There’s still a lot out there, and you can always improve your skillset. You can stay in search, become an expert at it, and really do great work for your clients. So I plan on sticking with search.