Mike Ryan was nominated by Anders Hjorth in December 2021.
How long have you been working in PPC?
About five years – since I moved to Austria.
How did you get started in PPC?
I was working as a purchasing manager at an appliance & lighting retail company, when I quite unexpectedly met and fell in love with an Austrian woman. So I quit my job, ended the lease on my apartment, sold basically everything I owned (except my books, which came with me in a series of suitcases – yes, an e-reader would have been more practical, no I don’t wanna hear about it), and relocated to Austria.
Then I got a job in ecommerce PPC. What attracted me to it was the analytical aspect and the connection to the retailer – supporting businesses like the ones I used to work at.
If you went to college, what did you study? If not college, do you have any other degrees or certifications?
I studied literature and even started on a PhD track. I loved taking theoretical frameworks and applying them to texts in close analytical reading, but it wasn’t practical enough for me to find professional satisfaction. It also kills the joy of reading after a while.
What was your first job that involved PPC?
I was hired in a content marketing role for PPC software at Smarter Ecommerce (smec), and I spent weeks onboarding with our client teams to learn how they manage PPC accounts and what our clients are up to.
What is your current position and how long have you been in it?
I just started this month in a new role at smec called Portfolio Strategist. I support the direction and alignment of our product and service offering as we continuously innovate. It’s a great role because I speak with clients, jam with our Product Managers, and observe the broader ecommerce and marketing environment.
What kinds of things do you currently handle or manage in PPC?
I’m involved in all kinds of PPC data projects together with our client teams, data scientists, engineers, and product teams – and the clients themselves, of course. That could mean profit bidding, inventory clustering, competitor insights, etc.
Has your career path had any hiccups or nontraditional aspects that you’d like to share?
That’s an understatement. I thought I’d be an English professor, dropped out right into the 2009 recession, landed in front-line retail at a big box store, worked into more analytical roles, fell in love and moved across the ocean, and landed in the software industry in a PPC context.
The main thing I’d share is that at different points along the way, I alternately felt like I was stuck on a certain path, or too invested to change, or that people saw me in one light and would never be able to see me in a different light.
You can always learn, you can always pivot, you can always be curious enough and brave enough to ask “what if?” and take action.
Every decision we make is a wall that we build. We decide largely through our attitude if we’ve built a castle or a prison. And sometimes you gotta knock down walls – even castle walls.
What are you most proud of in your PPC career?
Helping clients and helping my coworkers. Helping feels good every single time. I’m especially proud when I can help a team member not just with a specific task or in a narrow context, but in terms of advancing their career.
What, if anything, do you wish you could “do over” in your PPC career?
It’s not all sunshine and roses, but I wouldn’t do anything over specifically.
If you could give advice to someone either considering or just starting out in PPC, what would that be?
Now is a great time to start learning more about data and related technical skills.
I also encourage people to take a more abstract or wide-lens view of their work. Take time to think about how you can apply lessons or patterns across different problems. Don’t *just* read industry news – it’s better to cross-pollinate between diverse subjects and approaches. A multi-disciplinary mindset is also key to thinking more strategically and securing your value against automation. Deploying this wonderfully creative and general intelligence you have is something that differentiates you from machines (and many of your peers).
Are you interested in speaking opportunities? If so, what topics are your jam?
Sure. I like speaking about larger macro-trends and how they intersect with digital marketing as well as sharing advanced data-driven approaches to digital marketing. Any chance for me to build some charts & I’m happy! Also love to unpack Google’s business model and product strategy.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Naturally a shout-out to the #ppcchat crowd. In particular I’d like to thank Matt Van Wagner for his huge advocacy of my career. He has been so generous with his time. He saw something in me and always encouraged me, and has introduced me to so many interesting people. All from a place of genuine goodwill and love for the community.
Where can people find you to connect (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)?
Happy to connect!