Cast your memory back ten years. Did you have any clue what pay-per-click advertising was about? Neither did Jamie Crosson, but that didn't stop her from diving in headfirst. In those relatively early years of the discipline, she was a data analyst in her native California. "I was working with a pay-per-click manager a lot, and I was completely fascinated," Jamie remembers. "She showed me how you could see exactly what a customer was looking for at that exact moment, and how you could drive them to a specific page on a site."
She segued from the analyst job into PPC, and after five years in the booming field of search, Jamie's agency transferred her to London to launch a UK office. "I did almost everything, from finding office space to interviewing to consulting with clients. I'd always wanted to live abroad so it was a good opportunity. I love to travel, and there's no better place to live than London if you love travelling."
When she's not zipping up a suitcase and setting off in search of worldwide adventure, her current role as global head of PPC at RS Components satisfies her yearning for new experiences. The company offers around 500,000 products to over one million customers across 32 countries. As the world's largest distributor of electronics and maintenance products, it's shipping more than 44,000 parcels each and every day.
The sheer volume might seem daunting, but Jamie relishes the challenge. "If you're someone who wants to be learning new things, search is perfect. No two days are alike and you instantly see the outcome of all your efforts. There are not that many jobs where you can get that instant gratification."
The human interaction is another angle that makes a search career such a good fit for her. Having studied biochemistry at university, Jamie's first job out of school was working in a lab. "I just knew with confidence that this wasn't the life for me," she says. "I'm just more of a social person, and it was a four-walls-no-windows kind of atmosphere."
The background as a scientist has stood her in good stead — and the benefits don't end at the windows. "I love data, so the stuff that we do now is really exciting. We can generate segments across hundreds of different channels and platforms, finding and targeting the same customer across each of those, and then target them with an appropriate ad at that time. To me it is really exciting and game-changing."
So does Jamie believe search is at the heart of the digital marketing mix? "I do! But then I might be a bit biased," she grins. "The thing about search is that a customer is telling you exactly what they are looking for at that exact moment, which you don't find anywhere else. To me, that's a customer that's in-market at that time who is telling you what they want, and you have an opportunity to give it to them. That's the core of the whole thing."
Looking into the future, she's enthusiastic about the prospects around QR code scanning. "Someone can scan the product and the next thing you know, the product is delivered." In the broader context, she's passionate about encouraging other women to enter the search arena. "It's shocking that the industry is 70% male," she observes. Her advice to anyone thinking of following in the trail she's helped to blaze? "Get stuck into training and development, learning as much as you can when you leave school. Once you have a couple of years under your belt, then the sky's the limit."