Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Making the technical side of digital less intimidating to women

By Jodie Brookton, Digital Account Director at The Kite Factory

Welcome to Factory Settings, a content series from some of the women in digital at The Kite Factory.

This series aims to myth-bust misconceptions about the digital industry by showcasing the journey and talent of some of our fantastic women in digital. You’ll hear from women with a wide range of experiences and career paths – from Mohini Lakhani (Senior Digital Account Manager), who quickly made the switch from a career in neuroscience to Digital Marketing when she realised the lab life wasn’t for her; to Maria Tudor (Planner Buyer), who studied a masters in digital marketing and has tried her hand at PR and comms before settling on paid planning and buying.

They’ll share their perspectives on some of the most important things they have learned in their careers.

Introduction to me

Starting in the world of digital advertising can be daunting, especially when it comes to the more technical aspects of the field. But for me, that’s exactly where my journey began. In 2013, I found myself specialising in paid search, a highly technical and data-driven role that I never thought I’d be interested in. But, as fate would have it, I found myself working at a small agency that had unexpectedly lost its PPC manager, and I was tasked with filling those shoes to keep revenue flowing.

At first, I felt like I was in over my head. Math and numbers were never my strong suit, and everything I had heard or read about PPC required a lot of calculations and equations that I wasn’t familiar with. But with the help of an excellent mentor and a lot of research, I quickly learned that paid search was much more accessible than I had initially thought. So I dove headfirst into researching paid search mechanisms and fresh ideas to improve our current setup. I even found myself using YouTube, percentage calculator apps, and excel blogs to help me write reports and make the best optimisations.

To my surprise, I discovered that I was actually pretty good at math when it came to making money for clients. I started to see the impact of my actions within Google ads, and it was incredibly satisfying to see improvements in our client’s bottom line. I was hooked.

With a newfound passion for paid search, I decided to test myself by leaving Essex and moving to London, where I’ve worked at top agencies for the past ten years. As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients, such as Reckitt Benckiser, LVMH, Disney, Staples, Blue Cross and Unicef. Nowadays, my expertise is in strategy, planning and buying across all paid advertising channels, which is part of my role at The Kite Factory.

What skills should you acquire to become more technical?

If you’re looking to become more technical in digital advertising, there are several key skills that you should acquire. These include:

Data analysis

Uncovering valuable insights from vast amounts of data is a critical competency in today’s data-driven world and essential for optimising campaign performance and driving strategic business decisions.

Paid Search

Paid search helps you get seen on search engines for queries related to your business so you can drive visitors to your website, generate leads, and increase brand awareness. Creating and optimising campaigns is a technical endeavour, so getting a head start with a basic understanding will put you ahead in your career.

Organic Search

By utilising techniques such as improving website content and structure and incorporating relevant keywords, search engine optimisation (SEO) can increase a website’s visibility in search engine results. This results in more traffic to the site, providing more opportunities for potential customers to convert. Again, SEO requires a level of technical knowledge; therefore, any training you can get online will make your life easier.

Project management

Using systems such as Asana, Trello, Clickup, or others will be a vital addition to your technical skills in managing, monitoring and delegating work.

Measurement models

Knowing how your marketing budget is performing in terms of the bottom line and other indicators of success is key in optimising where you spend your marketing budget to increase brand awareness and conversion rates.

Tagging

To accurately track the traffic on your website, activity tagging is essential. Understanding how Google Tag Manager works is crucial for this. Despite a common misconception, you do not need coding skills to add this to your website. It is simply a “copy and paste” process. Guides are readily available online, and most website platforms have a checkbox in the editor section where you can enter your Google Tag Manager account number to get started.

What can we do in the industry to help dispel the myths?

It is important to dispel myths and make the field more accessible as we continue to fight the misconception that men are more technical than women and, therefore, more suited to these roles. So, what can we do?

Stop using jargon

Jargon is a quick way to exclude and confuse people. It is our responsibility to ensure our blogs, whitepapers, and presentations are informative and clear rather than trying to impress and over complicate the topic we cover. One of my favourite paid search blogs is PPC hubbub. They avoid getting too technical and give clear, actionable insights on paid search.

Provide training and get involved in mentorship

Keep providing training and mentorship, especially to those early in their career, and help them build their technical skills. If you are interested in mentorship, Mo, a mentor master, covered this in her article.

Visibility of women in technical roles

The objective of this series is to raise the profile of women in the digital industry, and to achieve this, we must take active steps to provide them with more opportunities to speak on technical subjects at conferences, webinars and other events. By increasing the representation of women in these settings, we can break down barriers and promote diversity and inclusion in our field.

Progress so far: Gender growth in technical roles

Back in 2015, when I first started working in the digital advertising industry, I was called a unicorn as the only woman at my agency. Fast forward to 2023, and I am now a member of a thriving digital department at The Kite Factory, where women make up 61% of the team. In fact, the digital leadership team is 80% women. This is a testament to the growing number of women breaking into the traditionally male-dominated field of digital advertising.

One of the things that I love about working at The Kite Factory is the focus on data-driven storytelling. We spend a lot of time on technical tasks such as data analysis, but we also bring that data to life by building compelling stories that showcase the insights we’ve uncovered. This requires a unique combination of skills – technical expertise and creativity. The best part is that we work with the best of both worlds, utilising our technical skills to uncover valuable insights and then using our creativity to bring those insights to life.

In short, my journey in digital advertising has been thrilling and rewarding, filled with unexpected twists and turns. But with the right mindset and a willingness to learn, anyone can become a master of the technical side of the field.

We have covered all my top tips on mastering the technical side of the industry, next the wonderful Simi Gill will address my question, “What else do we need to master to succeed in the industry?”

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