Paid Media, PPC – with Jim Banks

10th May 2016

Jim Banks


Previously the Global Head of Biddable Media at CheapFlights UK and now the CEO of digital marketing agency Spades Media, Jim Banks is only too familiar with paid media options for marketers. In anticipation for his attendance at the Retail Global, we take a look back at his introduction to PPC, the current state of online marketing and what guests can expect at Retail Global 2016.

An Unexpected Opportunity

Initially, Jim had set up an agency with the intention of being a sales trainer. Eventually, he sought ways to generate leads himself, discovering the original PPC in the process. Who knew it would lead to a successful career change?

“If you think about the whole concept of paying people to come into your shop, it sounds barbaric! If you said to a bunch of people in the streets ‘hey why don’t you come into my shop and I’ll pay you’ you’d have a queue going round the block. That’s effectively what PPC was – and is. You’re inviting people into your shop and you’re paying for the privilege.

I got into it purely by accident and it soon became apparent to me that there was an opportunity to sell that as a service.”

Digital Progression

Going back to the when Jim started out in PPC, it’s interesting to take a closer look at the trends of the time.

“Back in 1999, the .com bubble was just bubbling up. The internet wasn’t being used by everyone. The world was in a bit of an economic slump and a lot of people were switching to digital because they couldn’t’ afford to do the traditional stuff that they’d always done – they couldn’t afford to do TV, radio and print, so they switched the budget up to do a bit of online and were pleasantly surprised at how successful it was and how well they could track everything.”

It was these ideas that gave Jim the insight that paying for traffic would be a future marketing trend.

The Evolution of Paid Media

Between then and now, paid media has evolved – especially high profile companies like Google.

“Google were not always the 800lb gorilla. They were comparatively late to the game in 2002 whilst the forerunners like Yahoo had been around for a couple of years,” Jim recalls.

Now, we can see how these companies and their approaches have transitioned into the digital age.

“It started out being plain text ads, but now you have banner ads, video, tonnes of stuff for online retailers. The whole ecosystem has evolved quite dramatically over the years.”

Where to Begin?

With paid media becoming so popular and accessible to the masses (with even Facebook now offering a ‘Boost Post’ button), more and more retailers are starting to consider it an option. But with so many options, it can be an intimidating task. We asked Jim the best place to start.

“Definitely Google AdWords, but I’d also suggest Google Shopping. Most retailers that work with BigCommerce or Magento or Shopify – they have a feed that they can take, push it into Google as an XML file to enable them to take their products and turn them into visual ads on the Google interface.”

As for Facebook’s offerings? Not such a great idea for everyone.

“I know that Facebook has just come out with Facebook Shop,” says Jim. “For the people that crack it, they’ll do really well, but 95% of people will never work out how to make it work for them. I think Facebook is fraught with danger – you can spend a lot of money without getting the results if you’re not careful.”

Return to the Gold Coast

This year, Jim will be speaking at the Retail Global for the third time. He’ll be taking a fantastic formula from last year’s AMA (ask me anything) panel and updating it for 2016 with brand new information.

“Primarily I’m speaking about paid search. Last year, we did a PPC ask me anything and the feedback was pretty good – it’s very freestyle, very open – whatever burning questions are keeping people up at night they’ll have the opportunity to ask. This year we’ve got Shahid Awan who was on the panel with me last year and Michelle Bourke who’ll be adding that Australian flavour to things. We’re very excited to put that panel on again.”

But why is it Retail Global specifically that Jim keeps coming back to?

“I’ve spoken at lots of conferences, but I’m amazed at how much camaraderie there is between Australian retailers,” he explains. “How friendly everyone is, how willing to share information they are, how enthusiastic to learn.”

But the latter goes both ways!

“I try and impart some of my knowledge. I work a lot with American and European companies and in some respects we are a little bit further ahead of the learning curve than maybe Austalian retailers are. That’s not to say Australian retailers aren’t good, it’s just they’re good in a different arena. So for me I can bring along some good things for people to learn but I also take away a lot with me. It’s that ability to feel like you’re part of a community. It’s a great community that Phil and the team have built up.”

So if you’re on the fence about whether to attend, it’s worth taking Jim’s advice.

“Honestly, this is the biggest no-brainer event to go to as far as what it costs vs. what you get for your money. It is the most cost effective – I keep saying to Phil his prices for his tickets are way too cheap!

You get great speakers, great networking, great food, great entertainment, I love the charity dinner – that’s phenomenal – you’re doing great things and raising money for the charity.

But for me it’s the networking itself is worth the price of the ticket. You’ll walk away with a huge amount of information you can take back to your business and turn into money.”

Until then, you can stay updated by following Jim on Twitter at @jimbanks or check out Spades Media at