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How to Drive Paid Search Strategy at the C-Suite

Leveraging PPC industry data in the boardroom is essential to get buy-in. Learn how to show the value of paid search to the C-suite with SEM reporting.


Leveraging PPC industry data in the boardroom is essential to get buy-in for campaigns.

Yet, digital marketers often struggle to prove the value of paid search to key stakeholders.

On May 6, I moderated a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Ashley Fletcher, VP of Marketing at Adthena.

Fletcher shared tips on how to find value in SEM data and reporting, position the power of paid search, and leverage it in the boardroom.

Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.

What PPC Pros Can Do

Armed with data and the right approach, PPC professionals can influence the C-Suite in terms of driving paid search strategy.

Ideal Preparation

Preparation takes time. Make sure to:

  • Craft your message.
  • Perfect the delivery.
  • Set expectations.

It can be nerve-wracking to prepare for a meeting with senior executives. But understand that they’re no different from any other human being.

The key is to find a similarity – something you have in common – to bring into the conversation.

And often, this goes all the way back to the consumer and the end goal all of the time.

Find that similarity with your audience and then you’ll be on a level playing field.

Additionally, come to these meetings knowing that you’ve got a list of five things that you’re putting forward and it’s actually a win if you come out with two of them approved.

Set expectations accordingly to avoid massive disappointment.

What’s Your Hypothesis?

When you’re influencing the C-suite, it’s a good tactic to present a hypothesis.

What this tries to encourage is a forward-thinking ideal as to where you want to take your strategy.

As you’re presenting, tune into the words that you’re using.

You need to stay strategic as to where you’re going with the C-suite and the vision you’re casting for them.

You want them to look at strategic topics, including:

  • Benchmarking and explaining our performance back to the business.
  • Helping make brand budgets more impactful with Search.
  • Drive efficiencies in Paid and Organic.
  • Historical conversion trend data vs. historic spend.
  • Efficiencies and waste reduction.

We do not want to talk to this audience about “campaign-level” matters such as:

  • Ad copy creation.
  • New landing page launch.
  • Keyword expansion.
  • Etc.

Always drive the audience towards strategic topics that they will care about.


Adjust your message accordingly. If possible, use the shortest amount of time to deliver your message.

Dealing with the C-Suite

Common Requests

The C-suite often has some common requests in relation to paid search performance.


You’re asked to grow the performance of your digital campaigns as well as any of the following:

  • Improve ROAS.
  • Expand to a new market.
  • Launch a new product.


When we move into this new geo, the C-suite wants to identify:

  • What is our market share? How much more can we get once we’re there to saturate that market?
  • Where to spend? Where should we move budgets to get maximum reach?
  • Who are our customers by region? This involves understanding what they’re doing, what they’re saying, what their needs are, etc.


The C-suite wants to defend what you’ve already got, including:

  • Market trends.
  • Customer journey: Focusing on how customers are finding your brand is key.
  • Brand equity: How will you protect your brand and compete with well-known brands that run a lot of digital and brand awareness campaigns?

There are free tools and things that are accessible to PPC pros looking to respond to these common requests.



  • Google Rep
  • Answer the Public
  • Google Reach Planner


  • Auction insights
  • Reactive scripts
  • Google Analytics Benchmark


Why do benchmark reports work so well?

Benchmarks help track progress and inspire confidence.

This is why the C-suite loves benchmark reports. They give you a clear step forward.

Example of a benchmark reportExample of a benchmark report

Winning Plays

Here are some winning plays to keep in mind and implement.


  • Grow wisely: If you’re not using the best data, it’s going to make the strategy very high-risk.
  • Define new categories: This really comes back to the segmentation. If you took travel credit cards as your
    key segment to take first, then go on to the next. Try not to take all of these in one fell swoop because you won’t be able to prove you’re winning in any one market all at the same time.
  • Product roadmap: Treat it like you’re in the product team working on launching a new product to the market. There must be clear dates on when things are coming, the target users you’re going against, and when these are launched.


  • Benchmark position: When you’re going to the C-suite, you need to have a starting position so you can project the progress you’re expecting.
  • Spend efficiency: Understand the efficiencies on how you could get more or less for your money. You don’t want to be burning budget on your campaigns.
  • Messaging is key: Understand your audience and adapt your messaging around their needs. If you don’t spend good time writing compelling ad copy, your campaigns won’t be effective.


  • Get ahead of seasons: You will be guiding the brand where to go to next considering the current climate and you need to do that on the best possible data.
  • 101% customer-centric: Care about your customers’ experiences coming through to every part of your brand.
  • Defend brand at all costs: When someone coming from a different channel goes to search to find your brand, you need to make sure that they get to your brand safely at all costs. That could be a potential new customer and could potentially have a very high LTV.

Industry Trends

Here are some of the trends Adthena is seeing that are influencing C-suite decisions and tips on how to pivot.

Travel Health Insurance

Travel Health Insurance Trends from Adthena

C-Suite needs:

  • CEO monitoring movements daily.
  • High volatility in Travel Insurance across key categories.
  • Pivot to new segments.
  • Prepare budgets for bounce-back in H2.

Retail – Home Appliances

Retail - Home Appliances from Adthena

C-Suite needs:

  • Be no.1 in Home Appliance category by all regions.
  • Drive efficiencies in C-Suite reporting across all regions.
  • Confidence to enter new markets – land and expand.

Fashion Retail

Fashion Retail from Adthena

C-Suite needs:

  • Support a transition away from physical stores to digital.
  • Continue to push “Seasonal” trends through unprecedented times.
  • Double-down on Brand, conserve Generic spend.

Auto Insurance

Auto Insurance Trends from Adthena

C-Suite focus:

  • ROAS by region and allocate.
  • Brand Equity by region.
  • Messaging by region.
  • Direct agency strategies.

Technology: Hosting

Technology - Hosting Trends from Adthena

C-Suite focus:

  • Challenging market for lead generation.
  • Top of funnel awareness strategy focus for expansion.
  • Observations of key players in the market for next steps.
  • Competition influx, as much as 7 new entrants.


eGaming Trends from Adthena

C-Suite focus:

  • Sports book closed across Europe.
  • Immediate pivot in strategy to slots/casino.
  • Expand territories.

Bespoke Agency Product

C-Suite focus:

  • Unique COVID-19 reports.
  • Market movements at a glance.
  • Secure account budgets.

[Video Recap] Paid Search: Driving Strategy at the C-Suite

Watch the video recap of the webinar presentation and Q&A session.

Or check out the SlideShare below.

Join Us For Our Next Webinar!

2024 Trend Updates: What Really Works In SEO & Content Marketing

With Zack Kadish and Alex Carchietta, we’ll show you which SEO trends to ignore and which to focus on, along with the solution to overcoming rapid, significant and disruptive Google algorithm updates.


Image Credits

In-Post Images: Adthena

Category Webinar PPC
SEJ STAFF Loren Baker Founder at Foundation Digital

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ...

How to Drive Paid Search Strategy at the C-Suite

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