Women in PPC: The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful

Posted by: on Aug 13, 2014 | No Comments

FwomenH1009-30a5a2f4-3a32-4dd1-abf6-8bb110806203When I was a kid, I was really into basketball. So, when I was around 5 or 6 my parents signed me up for YMCA basketball. My team was…terrible. I don’t recall our record, but I’m pretty sure we finished 8th out of 10 teams. Come the end of the season, however, I left with a trophy. Even at this age, I apparently asked my dad why I was getting a trophy. We finished 8th for pete’s sake! To this day, neither my dad nor I can remember what his response was, but I’m sure it was mostly along the lines of, “Good question. I’m really not sure.” We’ll get back to this later. Promise.

Contrary to the title, this isn’t a post evaluating the skills and beauty of the prominent women in PPC. That would be worthless as beauty is subjective and all of the PPC women are amazingly talented. What this post is about is the current “movement” or discussions about women having a bigger share of voice in the PPC industry. My opinions on this topic (women in business, in general) have been around for a while, but I didn’t think to write about them until the discussion made it’s way to our industry.


A few week’s ago, PPC Hero put out their annual list of the most influential PPC experts of the year. The list was filled with wonderfully talented and smart guys definitely worthy of the list. But it was a list mostly made up of men. There were only three women on the list, making up a whopping 12%. The lack of parity between men and women was pretty quickly realized by the crew over at #ppcchat who began to talk. Anyway, long story short, John Lee, Heather Cooan, and I set out to put together a list of the most influential women in PPC. Our list, like PPC Hero’s, was a list full of amazingly talented people who anyone trying to learn anything in the PPC arena would be wise to pay attention to. It’s just so happened ours was 100% women.

After some further thought, I realized how this related to my opinions about the overall “women in business” theme. I have a hard time accepting diversity for the sake of diversity, especially when I’m considered the minority. It makes me feel like someone thinks I need taking care of. Like I can’t handle my own business. So before I begin to sound too defensive, whiny, or I offend someone, let me delve into the three parts of my argument: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful.

The Good

I think there are many good things about the call for women to have a bigger share of voice in the PPC industry. First of all, I think there is a large number of very influential women in our field (re: Clix post). Second, I think women make up a larger share of PPC experts than are represented in social media, blogs, and at conferences. For whatever reason, they haven’t made their way into the spotlight. Yet. Making it known that there’s a push for women to become more prominent might spur some of them to leave the shadows and come share their ideas. I certainly hope it does.

The Bad

Just because there are more women out there who work in PPC, doesn’t mean we should start passing the microphone out to all of them. To be fair, the same is true for men. Our industry, more than many others I’d like to think, is pretty unbiased when it comes to content source as long as the content is up to snuff. But as our industry has grown, there’s also been a big influx of “noise” as well. If your ideas are new, actionable, and legit (not noise, black-hat, or unfounded), then you’re pretty much guaranteed to get some people talking if you share them properly.

Having more women speak at conferences or blog their ideas on a grander scale would be amazing, but only if the content is worth sharing. If our industry is anything, it’s fast paced and intricate. Conferences that cover topics that aren’t up to date, ground-breaking, and actionable, whether from a man or a woman, are more openly being viewed, and discussed, as a waste of time. Why pay to attend a session on the differences between the keyword match types if you can simply look it up online? So, at risk of sounding like an ass, I think conferences, for the good of the industry and their attendees, will always do better by picking the best topics, regardless of the sex of the speaker.

The Beautiful

This is my favorite part. Although to some I may have somewhat undermined the idea of putting women in the spotlight, I actually think I’ve done something different. Rather than giving anyone the power to put someone in the spotlight, I believe it’s up to people to take it for themselves. As I said above, conferences need to be able to present the best product (topics/sessions) possible for their attendees. So what do women need to do to become a bigger share of voice? Start putting together some killer freaking content and sharing it with the world!

The ball is in our court ladies. If we want to be on more panels, be a larger share of the most influential list next year (and years to come), want to have our ideas be more prominent, well, then that’s on us. So here’s the challenge: more women creating more awesome content than their male counter-parts to become a larger share of voice in the industry. The beautiful part: it’s on us. This isn’t something men can do for us. It isn’t something we can blame them for if we don’t succeed. Our destinies are in our hands. I find that very empowering and motivating. I don’t want something handed to me. I want to earn it.  I want to take it.

While I’m proud we were able to point out many of the awesome women in the PPC industry, it felt like an afterthought; like a consolation prize. Much like my YMCA trophy for 8th place. This year, let’s steal the spotlight by making a bigger splash and kicking ass. After all recognition, like trophies, truly mean more when you work hard and take them for yourself.