Interview: Randomness, Black Swans and Fragility and How they Affect SEM (PPC Hero)

Yesterday we had an amazing opportunity to talk to Andrew Goodman who talked about Randomness, Black Swans and Fragility & How They Affect SEM.

PPC Hero: Could you start by telling us a little bit about your background in PPC?

Andrew: It’s nearly as simple as having tinkered with AdWords Select in Mar 2002 & being blown away by its power. I had written an article in 2001, “Paid Search is Here to Stay” (about GoTo). Few believed it at the time. As a fan of Permission Marketing (1998), I also wrote an Op Ed piece in 2000 called Stay Out of My Inbox. Within weeks of AdWords’ 2002 launch I created the first Ebook on PPC tactics & released several editions.  We won consulting biz from there. My book, Winning Results with Google AdWords (2005, 2008) came later. I toiled on a PhD before that, so tend to seek theory, science, models & research to improve operations. Ironically, the model du jour is Taleb’s suspicion of top-down interventionism by the “Soviet-Harvard elite,” haha!

PPC Hero: This is a bit of a heady concept. Would you be able to distill for us your overall thoughts on this topic?

Andrew: The concept of Black Swan events connects to Taleb’s “rational sounding turkey with the convincing Powerpoint.” The turkey can show “increasing statistical confidence” that “being a turkey is safe,” right up until Thanksgiving. How does that map to PPC? It isn’t as bad as the global economy, but an account can still be a ticking time bomb. It can be worse when it isn’t battle-tested and when key information is opaque. That’s fragility. Once you get the hang of it, you see examples in nature, civilization, etc. — rational plans fail, experience prevails. Even how a home is situated in relation to a hill or flood pattern can show how experience beats “smart ideas.”

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