RV Paid Search: “So… What Do You Do?”

4 minute read

It happens to the best of us. It’s just your average weekend in Charlotte. Perhaps you’re grabbing a beer in uptown Charlotte (don’t call it downtown).

And then disaster strikes.

Someone asks you the question. It’s the four words that make Katrina seem like a light sprinkle and Jonas a gentle flurry.

“What do you do?”

Seeing as it took me all of orientation and a month at my desk to really understand what I do, I hardly feel qualified to explain it to someone in a casual setting. When I first started, I really cared about being accurate and would awkwardly try to explain the RV model and customer acquisition funnel.

Let me take this opportunity to publicly apologize for boring all the strangers who didn’t really care about understanding paid search. I’m so sorry.

Luckily, Red Ventures is one of the largest (and most popular) employers in Charlotte. I’m often able to get away with just saying that I work at Red Ventures. However, when people in Charlotte know of Red Ventures, it’s often not really for what we actually do, but what we have. The kneejerk response is, “oh yeah, I know Red Ventures. You have a bowling alley [or insert other amenity here] right?”

They’re not wrong.

When I’m asked what Red Ventures does, I…

  1. Instantly sympathize for recruiters
  2. End up strangely throwing buzz words together that sound something like “Red Ventures is a data-driven digital company that uses proprietary technology-platforms to optimize full-funnel customer acquisition.”

This usually results in blank looks and a follow up similar to “uhhh so what does that mean?”

Cue my typical point of exit.

Other 20-something Charlotteans don’t understand the luxury of responding in one word, “banking” or “consulting.” Over time, I’ve tried to achieve this by saying I do “digital marketing.” While this isn’t wrong, I never really felt like that is what I actually do. When I think of a digital marketer, I imagine a more creative person who does product branding and display advertising.

In a quest to simultaneously achieve social grace and honesty, I sought the help of my co-workers.

It was bittersweet to learn that many other members of the paid search team felt the same “pupil-dilating, heart rate-elevating” panic when this comes up in conversation. (Perhaps this is the reason we only hang out with coworkers on the weekend…but that’s a blog post for another day).

The resounding conclusion was that every answer has to be tailored to the audience, so I’ve developed these 3 rules of thumb:

  • For family, friends, and loved ones, a quick demo on your phone while explaining the decisions at each step will usually suffice.
  • For grandparents, trust me, just say that you “do the internet.” They’ll be satisfied and blindly proud and Thanksgiving can continue with ease.
  • For strangers or acquaintances, typical responses could be grouped into one of four categories:

However, I did have a few personal favorite answers. Like David‘s response that we’re “word brokers,” which is definitely not wrong. Or Daniel‘s ambiguous answer of “cookie monster.” Or Bert‘s inclination to answer that he’s unemployed with the hopes that the conversation gets awkward enough for the person not to follow up with questions.

After looking into this after a few days, it came to me: Am I asking the wrong question? Instead of how to explain my job maybe it’s why is it so hard to explain my job?

Maybe it’s because our industry can’t even decide what to call ourselves… Seriously! Are we SEM (search engine marketing), PPC (pay-per-click), or Paid Search? Can we just pick one and roll with it?

Maybe it’s because Paid Search is a relatively new field… We were always told that we could be lawyers or doctors when we grow up, not that we could control keyword bids, ad copy, and ad positioning. Our entire perspective on career paths is informed by generations above us, but if you refer to the grandparent flow chart, you’ll see the trouble with this.

Maybe it’s because our job is intentionally a secret…? Much of our success comes from searchers not knowing why Google and Bing results appear in a particular order or manner. Is it better for business that clicks are a result of people not understanding paid search? Will we have to change our messaging or strategy as this becomes a well-known career field?

If you’re still stumped on how to explain paid search, here’s my best stab at an explanation:

“I advertise within the sponsored results on Google and Bing by paying for ads to show and testing different ad messaging, placements, and targeting strategies.”

Did I nail it? How do you explain what you do for a living? Share your feedback with us on Twitter @RedVentures!


Interested in becoming a Paid Search Associate, or know someone who might be a good fit at RV? We’re hiring! Learn more and apply here.

It happens to the best of us. It’s just your average weekend in Charlotte. Perhaps you’re grabbing a beer in uptown Charlotte (don’t call it downtown).

And then disaster strikes.

Someone asks you the question. It’s the four words that make Katrina seem like a light sprinkle and Jonas a gentle flurry.

“What do you do?”

Seeing as it took me all of orientation and a month at my desk to really understand what I do, I hardly feel qualified to explain it to someone in a casual setting. When I first started, I really cared about being accurate and would awkwardly try to explain the RV model and customer acquisition funnel.

Let me take this opportunity to publicly apologize for boring all the strangers who didn’t really care about understanding paid search. I’m so sorry.

Luckily, Red Ventures is one of the largest (and most popular) employers in Charlotte. I’m often able to get away with just saying that I work at Red Ventures. However, when people in Charlotte know of Red Ventures, it’s often not really for what we actually do, but what we have. The kneejerk response is, “oh yeah, I know Red Ventures. You have a bowling alley [or insert other amenity here] right?”

They’re not wrong.

When I’m asked what Red Ventures does, I…

  1. Instantly sympathize for recruiters
  2. End up strangely throwing buzz words together that sound something like “Red Ventures is a data-driven digital company that uses proprietary technology-platforms to optimize full-funnel customer acquisition.”

This usually results in blank looks and a follow up similar to “uhhh so what does that mean?”

Cue my typical point of exit.

Other 20-something Charlotteans don’t understand the luxury of responding in one word, “banking” or “consulting.” Over time, I’ve tried to achieve this by saying I do “digital marketing.” While this isn’t wrong, I never really felt like that is what I actually do. When I think of a digital marketer, I imagine a more creative person who does product branding and display advertising.

In a quest to simultaneously achieve social grace and honesty, I sought the help of my co-workers.

It was bittersweet to learn that many other members of the paid search team felt the same “pupil-dilating, heart rate-elevating” panic when this comes up in conversation. (Perhaps this is the reason we only hang out with coworkers on the weekend…but that’s a blog post for another day).

The resounding conclusion was that every answer has to be tailored to the audience, so I’ve developed these 3 rules of thumb:

  • For family, friends, and loved ones, a quick demo on your phone while explaining the decisions at each step will usually suffice.
  • For grandparents, trust me, just say that you “do the internet.” They’ll be satisfied and blindly proud and Thanksgiving can continue with ease.
  • For strangers or acquaintances, typical responses could be grouped into one of four categories:

However, I did have a few personal favorite answers. Like David‘s response that we’re “word brokers,” which is definitely not wrong. Or Daniel‘s ambiguous answer of “cookie monster.” Or Bert‘s inclination to answer that he’s unemployed with the hopes that the conversation gets awkward enough for the person not to follow up with questions.

After looking into this after a few days, it came to me: Am I asking the wrong question? Instead of how to explain my job maybe it’s why is it so hard to explain my job?

Maybe it’s because our industry can’t even decide what to call ourselves… Seriously! Are we SEM (search engine marketing), PPC (pay-per-click), or Paid Search? Can we just pick one and roll with it?

Maybe it’s because Paid Search is a relatively new field… We were always told that we could be lawyers or doctors when we grow up, not that we could control keyword bids, ad copy, and ad positioning. Our entire perspective on career paths is informed by generations above us, but if you refer to the grandparent flow chart, you’ll see the trouble with this.

Maybe it’s because our job is intentionally a secret…? Much of our success comes from searchers not knowing why Google and Bing results appear in a particular order or manner. Is it better for business that clicks are a result of people not understanding paid search? Will we have to change our messaging or strategy as this becomes a well-known career field?

If you’re still stumped on how to explain paid search, here’s my best stab at an explanation:

“I advertise within the sponsored results on Google and Bing by paying for ads to show and testing different ad messaging, placements, and targeting strategies.”

Did I nail it? How do you explain what you do for a living? Share your feedback with us on Twitter @RedVentures!


Interested in becoming a Paid Search Associate, or know someone who might be a good fit at RV? We’re hiring! Learn more and apply here.

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About the Author:

Jillian Nagle

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