From the I.T. help desk to a passion for paid ads and research
It’s a tale as old as time: A young man starts his career trajectory in I.T., then decides he wants to go into computer science, then completely pivots and goes into digital marketing and S.E.O. It happens all the time, right? Well, not exactly, but that’s the case for Zen Media’s Vice President of SEO and PPC, and we’re here to tell his very interesting story.
“I was working as an I.T. support guy at a young age,” Shnall says, “and somehow got introduced to software and coding and took it from there.” He graduated with a degree in computer science, but that’s when things changed for him. “When I graduated, I noticed that my skills pulled towards digital marketing. The overlap of understanding programming and my obsession with digital marketing made me push myself harder.”
But that push came from somewhere: Not just from his upbringing, but his pilgrimage halfway around the world from Rehovot, Israel to Dallas, TX, where technology was blossoming at the time.
It was 1990. Neon was starting to give way to grunge, TV shows like “Seinfeld” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” were molding young minds across the country, and Shnall had just moved to the U.S. Quite the culture shock to move across the world in itself, but for Shnall, who was only in his teens at the time, it was a moment for him to discover what would later become his passion: technology.
Sure, in the ‘90s, our perception of technology was giant mobile phones and box-like computers; but tech was gaining traction. It was the beginning of the Internet and the electronic age, and computer geeks took to their garages to create. But for Shnall, just discovering how things were made was all he needed. Even his cherished Atari was open for investigation—when he wasn’t playing Space Invaders, that is. “I was a very curious kid,” Shnall says. “I always wanted to research and create new things.”
Let’s fast forward. It’s that curiosity that eventually led him down the path to “zen” right as it was having its first big moment. He started with Zen Media more than a decade ago as an SEO Manager and the rest, as they say, is history.
As the company evolved, Shnall continued to evolve with it and work with more enterprise B2B brands. Out-of-the-box strategic and forward-thinking is needed for SEO and PPC work, and he has always had both in spades.
When asked about how he grew his role from SEO Manager to VP of SEO and PPC, Schnall explains that as his passion grew, Zen’s needs grew in parallel. “In my 30s, I enjoyed the execution of new SEO and paid ads strategies,” Shnall says. “In my 40s, I enjoy building and leading our explosive SEO and PPC team and helping scale Zen Media as a company even more.”
He’s developed his skills so substantially that he’s now running the SEO department. When asked about the process of his promotion, he shrugs, “I was presented with an opportunity, and I never looked back.”
Shnall not only crafts SEO strategies for our clients, creates amazing PPC ads, ensures collaboration between SEO and content teams, delivers excellent ROIs to clients, and oversees the development team to ensure websites are search engine optimized and mobile-friendly—he also measures results and KPIs, and scales our business here at Zen.
Yeah, he does a lot—and loves it.
“SEO and paid ads are my passion,” he says. “Over the past year, I’ve learned that understanding algorithms and combining it with digital creativity made our strategies go the distance for our clients.” And it’s that passion and eagerness to pursue learning that helps him and his team continue to evolve along with client needs.
The current evolution he’s working on—integrating new strategies into the Metaverse space, and he’s doing it via his favorite pastime: research, research, research. “In my department, research is a huge game-changer,” he says. “Lots of competitor analysis, learning from different studies, and keyword discovery are key.” It’s this dedication to research—and constantly growing his own knowledge, that helps him excel.
While Shnall has since misplaced that beloved Atari, he still makes time for fun. In his free time, you’ll likely find him traveling to exotic places to soak up the sun with his family (he avoids the snow and the cold as much as possible). Regardless of where he is, you’ll always find him learning new things and absorbing data. That’s just how he stays zen.