Human Facebook Ads Machine, Addie Conner, Unplugged
To online marketer insiders, Addie Conner is a wonderful trade secret. Hailing from her rustic cabin on Walden Pond outside of Boston, she works the Facebook Ads machine at an enterprise level most PPC professionals dream about: running a Facebook marketing subsidiary for The Washington Post.
You’ve seen her speak about search PPC at mainstream conferences where, instead of creating dense PowerPoint decks, she’s more likely to leverage Nerf balls and dart gun toys to get her point across. But don’t take this congenial young-as-she-looks lady in blue jeans for anything less than the very embodiment of next gen’ marketing meets high finance, in the vernacular.
Recently we had the opportunity to ask Addie a few questions, as she prepared to appear at SMX Advanced, Seattle next week. On Day 2 (June 8), Addie will take the stage on the Facebook Ads, Meet Search Ads session, at 10:30 am PST, along with aimClear’s Marty Weintraub. Read on for the fruits of our candid Q&A.
| aimClear: Your reputation as a shrewd, nearly devilish, AdWords, Yahoo, & Bing PPC technical genius precedes you. What’s most exciting about the intersection of Facebook Ads targeting, technical, & creative?
Addie Conner: Facebook ads are just so much more fun. Whereas in search you just have three ad elements and the engine’s algorithms to deal with, on Facebook there are tons of added variables to play with and learn from. Facebook isn’t just an acquisition platform; it’s a place to research and discover learnings about your audience while at the same time acquiring a base of users. Clicks aren’t one and done, they’re just the beginning. That’s kind of how I feel everyday. We are just scratching the surface of the platform and it’s exciting to be part of the innovation.
| aimClear: What is your educational background, and the top characteristics you look for in marketers you would hire and train?
AC: I was an economic major and I use it everyday. Economics is the study of how users make choices, which is exactly what I always work to understand within any advertising campaign. Admittedly, I’m partial to econ majors (I just hired three starting this month). What I really look for is balance of quantitative and qualitative. Sometimes you can achieve that balance across people within a team; other times, people themselves have that balance. My favorite people are 70/30 quantitative to qualitative – basically a creative, rational problem solver. I think I’m more like an 80/20.
| aimClear: Who are the top 3 marketers you look up to, and why?
AC: I think Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Charlie Sheen have all run brilliantly entertaining advertising campaigns lately.
| aimClear: Touché! In the years you spent at your previous gig (Course Advisor/Avenue 100), you helped build some of the edgiest PPC API tools on earth, which were deadly and proprietary. Now you’ve done it again with FB Ads for SocialCode, the new advertising agency you helped build as a new subsidiary of The Washington Post. What advice would you give fledgling tool makers, who have enough volume to justify the investment of building an in-house single platform management tool? What’s the secret? How do you bootstrap it and when is the obvious time to start spending more money on building out the tool?
AC: I always feel inferior that I’m unable to build tools, I can only just think of them. But that’s my role. At CourseAdvisor/Avenue100 I was lucky to join an extremely talented team that had already built some great tools to expand upon and hone. Coming from an SEM company that had problems on the tool building front, it was an amazing change in environment. Anything I was able to think of, our engineering team could execute. It was a privilege that doesn’t exist in most places and allowed me to progress in my own thinking and understanding.
At SocialCode, I’ve gotten to start from scratch, which has been something I’ve wanted to do. Building a tool for Facebook right now needs to strike the right balance of nimble and scalable due to the constant changes on the platform. I’m a skunkworks team type and like going fast, which Facebook innovation supports.
In terms of advice, go after the lowest hanging fruit first, i.e. don’t waste valuable time on something like a complex bidding algorithm up front. Start rules based. Automate tedious workflows. Work on collecting data to inform what and how to build. Experiment a lot manually and see what sticks. You can get far with some basic but custom automation and then do significant amounts of R&D prior to building something complicated within a tool set. Once you know you have something that’s proven and scalable, it’s time to build it.
| aimClear: Sage insight. Now, onto the real scoop. What’s your favorite city, food, wine, natural location? Are you a dog or a cat person? Pictures, please!
AC: This is five questions in one! City: San Francisco. Food: Sushi at Yasuda’s in NYC. Wine: Just had an Archery Summit Pinot Noir from Oregon that was pretty awesome. Natural location: Alta, UT if you are making me choose one. I’m a dog person, big dogs though. If they let you have big cats, like full grown leopards, I might be a cat person.
| aimClear: You’re speaking my language. Especially in the dog department– go big or go home. So, you’re speaking with Marty at SMX Advanced, Seattle, June 8th, on the Facebook Ads, Meet Search Ads panel. Care to share a preview of what you’re going to discuss?
AC: First of all, I think this is the first time, after all these years, that Marty and I are actually on a panel together. I’m quite excited. Marty will probably have 100 slides, I’ll have like 10. Since I don’t do search anymore, I won’t be looking at interactions. That I know. I plan on comparing and contrasting Facebook and search in hopefully an interesting and thoughtful way. I have no idea what the audience will be like, so we will see how it goes. At least Marty will like it .
| aimClear: Right on . Thanks for your time today, Addie. See you in Seattle!