SMX East 2016 Day 2 – SEM for Brands, SEM Testing Best Practices, SEM + TV, Beyond Search, Multi-Channel

September 28, 2016 Andrew Park

Day 2 of SMX East 2016 is in the books - here are the insights we've recorded from some of digital advertising's best and brightest. 


(pictured: Itir Aloba-Curi and @KSCDigitalPulse)

As QuanticMind continues its journey into the latest digital advertising trends at SMX East 2016, we invite you to check out the tips, tricks and insights we’ve gleaned from a variety of paid search and social panels. For your perusal, here are the quick hits:

Brand SEM insight from “Brands Talk Search Marketing”:
Featuring: Daniela de Simone, @erinever, @jknob8, @simonheseltine, @CJSherman

  • Some of the greatest challenges to brands at present include attribution, enhanced e-commerce, measuring mobile in-app metrics and how these and other factors directly impact in-store sales and conversions.
  • Every brand is at a different point in its SEM journey - for some, SEO departments manage keyword lists, while others are starting to focus on secondary search engines. 
  • Several brand SEM professionals warn of the dangers of having an overly siloed organization in which SEO, SEM, acquisition and other channels don’t fully understand each other’s goals or processes.
  • Panelists warn against over-focusing SEM efforts on lower-funnel prospects on such metrics as return on ad spend (ROAS) and return on investment (ROI) - doing so means your brand may not be making enough touchpoint contact with customers during their buying journeys.
  • Panelists discuss the ups and downs of various SEM tools, particularly on a finite budget. While some free tools are fantastic, they only go so far - at which point, seeking a premium software solution comes down to having the budget, resources and training to manage properly.
  • Panelists also discuss the pros and cons of retaining an agency; while this call often comes down to available time and manpower versus budget, it’s important to weigh additional factors such as expertise and risk management.
  • When asked to predict the future of digital marketing, panelists suggested a continued decline in brand loyalty, particularly for consumer brands, as well as more adoption of voice-activated search, additional mobile adoption and features and possible encroachment from virtual reality and augmented reality.

Tactical SEM tips from “Perfect Your SEM Testing: How & Why to Evaluate Everything”
Featuring: @tedives, @suzyvirtual, @jpinocchio, @bgTheory 

  • Panelists discuss the overall importance of testing - to maximize the return of revenue or conversions against the limited resource of impressions and clicks received.
  • In cases of businesses with a strong local focus, rather than limiting testing to gated and ungated landing pages, such companies may want to consider call tracking, particularly if most of their business is done by phone. The primary goal of businesses that use a website for conversions is to make it easier for prospects to convert.
  • Panelists also discussed multiple examples of different use cases measured against different goals. While it can be tempting to optimize campaigns purely to meet a single metric, such as increased revenue or decreasing cost-per-click (CPC), it’s important to take an over-arching view of companion metrics to ensure that optimizing for one metric doesn’t throw the rest out of whack.
  • Panelists explained the ins and outs of Google AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE), which is being sunsetted, against its replacement, Google Campaign Drafts and Experiments. While many SEM professionals consider much of what they do to be “testing,” they may not actually be doing so at sufficient scale with sufficient data. SEM tests are best run with clear-cut guidelines and goals and clearly-defined controls and variable, such as geo, variable CPC levels, different languages, implemented negative keywords or alternate extensions.
  • For Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), panelists have not observed strong performance lifts for headlines under 35 characters, as in the format for Standard Text Ads) - experimenting with longer headlines is recommended.

Cross-channel insights from “The New 1+1=3: Using Search Marketing to Amplify TV Buys”
Featuring: Itir Aloba-Curi, @KSCDigitalPulse, @CJSherman

  • Panelists suggest that paid search can not only reap its own rewards, but can also augment other types of marketing like a “companion pony” in a horse race.
  • A Bing-commissioned report from Forrester reveals that search engines are the #1 resource used by customers to research a purchase - 49% of all surveyed, and that 74% of consumers trust search engines as much as a visit to an online storefront or company website.
  • Panelists also point out that as of summer 2016, 55% of marketers surveyed don’t include SEM in their marketing mix; yet as a result of global adoption of mobile devices, 75% of consumers watch TV with a tablet on, 71% watch with a phone on and 60% watch with a computer on. More importantly, volume of branded search queries on these second-screen devices apparently decreases 50% once the TV gets turned off.
  • Panelists reviewed a number of eye-opening case studies, including using a tentpole consumer event (the Super Bowl) to time SEM ads around televised Super Bowl ads, noting that brand queries had traffic of roughly 60,000 with 100% bid coverage, while non-brand queries had comparably enormous traffic of 860,000 with only 50% bid coverage. This suggests potentially huge upside for non-brand queries during such events.
  • Another case study involved a beer company that ran SEM ads during and 15 minutes after a competitor’s TV ad for frosty adult beverages. The company’s SEM ads showed a 98% increase in click-through rate (CTR) and a -32% decrease in CPC.
  • These tests suggest that timing SEM around opportune marketing beats in other channels, such as high-profile TV campaigns with relatively low bid coverage, can offer potentially big upside.

Forward-looking search thoughts from “Searching for Searchers Outside the Search Box”
Featuring: @christijolson@CJSherman

  • Microsoft Bing Ads Evangelist Christi Olson suggests that messaging apps are becoming the new browsers and smartphones, causing further disruption to an already-fractured media landscape.
  • Language in search is expanding beyond “desktop,” “clicks” and “queries” to “predictive,” “customized” and “personalized” because search has arguably evolved from being product-focused (for which keywords were emphasized) into being “people-focused,” for which marketing funnels should perhaps become even more personalized and focused on intent inferred from user activity.
  • Olson: “All campaigns should be remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) campaigns” because advertising messaging should be visible and custom-tailored to prospects at every stage of their journey. 
  • Olson: “Search is the glue that will move us forward one to five years down the road.”
  • While voice search accounts for less than 10% of overall search queries today, it will only continue to grow.
  • Olson: “Five voice search tips to think about today:”
    • Think in natural language terms
    • Add question keywords such as “where” and “which”
    • Consider prepositions
    • Target local “near me” queries
    • Use broad match
  • Olson: Searching suggests a predictive intelligence - research teams at Microsoft have determined that for users making queries for “colon cancer symptoms,” roughly one in six searchers are diagnosed. As such, search data might serve as a predictive early diagnosis to help at-risk patients get checked out early and possibly prevent this deadly disease.

Multi-channel musings from “The Art Of Engaging Customers In A Multi-Channel World”:
Featuring: @erinever@CJSherman

  • Erin Everheart of Home Depot suggests that people increasingly “have an attention span problem.”
  • Everheart: “As marketers, we now compete with text messages, news, and our own content on other channels. We compete for attention in a way that we never had to before.”
  • Everheart cites the example of seeing a commercial for a self-guided vacuum cleaner, deciding to purchase a conventional vacuum cleaner, doing extensive research on best models via search engine and commerce sites, exploring Reddit, then taking a break from her search on Facebook only to be hit by retargeting ads that parsed her browser history. She points out that her eventual purchase had nothing to do with the self-guided vacuum cleaner that started her buying journey.
  • Perhaps a less-siloed approach in which SEM and social teams join forces will let search marketers capitalize on the power of emotion as a purchasing driver - emotions such as happiness, sympathy, and fear of missing out can be powerful hooks, as can third-party expert testimonies, word-of-mouth from friends, and reviews from total strangers. This is also why it makes sense to have reviews and ratings on every single possible page that might be part of a customer’s journey, not just on a product landing page.
  • A focus on customer benefits (rather than on the selling points of a company’s own product) can be a much more-effective conversation starter - providing value in the form of content (such as an eBook or other offer) may instill a sense of obligation to “repay” the courtesy, making prospects more likely to buy.
  • Using social beacons to track guests that enter brick-and-mortar storefronts via mobile phones that have notifications enabled empowers advertisers to then remarket to those same users via Facebook, tracking online activity as it converts into in-store sales.

That’s Day 2 in the bag. For more SMX East coverage, see our coverage of Google’s keynote address , our Day 1 coverage or our Day 3 coverage.

About the Author

Andrew Park

Andrew Park is a content marketing manager at QuanticMind. A UC Berkeley graduate and lifelong Bay Area resident, Andrew has done tours of duty in editorial, PR and marketing, and now works with the QuanticMind team to communicate the importance of data science and machine learning in digital advertising.

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