This year's Search Insider Summit event touched on a number of important themes - attribution, brand loyalty, cross-channel, retail and more. Get your executive summary here.
This year’s Search Insider Summit event in Park City, Utah combined classic winter weather with new-age marketing insights in key disciplines that are important to all performance marketers. Here’s your executive summary on all the key themes discussed:
Transforming the Customer Experience Through Search
Takeaway: In the face of decreasing brand loyalty, customers seem increasingly loyal to better experiences instead.
- Rather than using search to “ask” for their needs (“Where is the nearest pizza place?”), customers now issue “commands” to search (“Find me the nearest pizza place.”)
- The next shift in search marketing seems to be to conversations - rather than using text queries with about two keywords, more searchers use voice queries with about 10 keywords.
- The rise of voice search and click-to-text suggest that users are becoming increasingly dependent on artificial intelligence (AI)-powered digital assistants.
Takeaway: Attribution remains a challenge and will be for some time. Perhaps instead of focusing on getting to complete, 100% defined attribution, it may make more sense to focus on how your overall media mix (search plus social, call programs, TV and others) affect your bottom line.
- Advertisers still struggle with attribution from last click reporting, but still benefit from the traditional “halo effect” of TV and radio ads
- Carly London of @dollarshaveclub: "One way to close the attribution gap is to use media trackers and customer surveys to track influence."
- @franksem: "Setting expectations internally is also a big part of the attribution challenge - prepare to ask questions like:"
- “Are my customers only influenced by the ads they click on?”
- “Are they not likely to see multiple ads during their journey?”
- “Do they not use multiple devices when interacting?”
- “Is it possible for the sum of my channels to deliver more than 100% of my conversion events?”
Takeaway: Search cannibalization isn’t necessarily a 100% good or bad thing, especially in the case of cross-channel where users may repeatedly jump from device to device before purchasing - but the real challenge is still using internal data to power bidding along with existing automation solutions.
- @ChrisHumber: "While incrementality has different definitions for every company, tracking data is the king of all important points here. "
- @AlexOtrezov: "The top of my wishlist is a way to marry my internal data with my automated bidding."
Takeaway: Be wary of possible siloing among marketing and advertising teams - consider having an omnichannel observer to pull all your touchpoints together across different channels.
- Bring teams on different channels together to track and prepare for unexpected lifts in one channel from another, such as a TV ad lifting brand search traffic.
- Be aware of demographics: millennials are willing to share more personal data than older users if they have a good user experience.
- There still exists an open question regarding credit card data, which is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when connecting ad interactions with in-store visits. (The last piece of the puzzle is the actual revenue that results.)
- To mitigate the challenges of revenue attribution, consider tracking emailed receipts as a proxy metric.
Takeaway: Brands continue to struggle with the increasing volume of data in performance marketing - it’s important to determine exactly what data is worth tracking.
- @erinever: Exactly what data matters comes down to what each stakeholder needs across each part of my campaigns.
- @gsgreenberg: "We tend to end up filtering necessary data down to the different departments by ask and by function."
Keynote: How To Justify Spending More On Mobile
Takeaway: One of the key learnings from an established enterprise brand’s early adoption of new Google and Bing advertising features is the significance of mobile.
- Digital continues to add new touch points each year, which means that 100% perfect attribution simply isn’t possible at this time.
- Despite the growth of mobile, getting the mobile experience “right” wasn’t a quick fix - it took four years of iteration for HP, along with internal collaboration between marketing, design and user experience teams.
- Mobile’s impact on the research phase of the customer journey makes it arguably the most important device on the market at this time. However, there still isn’t a perfect method to measure 100% of this important channel’s value.
Takeaway: Are AI-powered chatbots the future of search?
- The appeal of a smart digital assistant like Jarvis from the movie Iron Man is appealing, but this type of technology is still far off.
- Digital assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa are part of the trend in pushing insights and data to AIs, which will crunch data, identify user intent and return the right content or offer in response to the query.
- @dianaboyles: Future use cases for AI assistants might include smart home devices instantly performing maintenance searches - a smart refrigerator that diagnoses itself with a problem might immediately run a local search for appliance repair services, for instance.
- @drsidshah: Some vendors are trying to build customized algorithms that perfectly fit individual business needs - perhaps to mitigate the fact that human beings aren’t always good at making micro decisions at scale.
- Jacob Loban of @MediaComUS: Perhaps machine learning engines can speed up learning by talking to other machine learning and AI platforms.
- @awpoon: AI and bots are probably not in a stage to deliver ROI - now is the time to make early investments for payoffs that will come later.
Takeaway: Machine learning is perhaps the future of search, given its ability to parse data, manage bids and even test creative.
- Machine learning has expanded into unsupervised (parsing data for data-scarce keywords) supervised (bid management and Conversion Optimizer) and imposed supervised (human-supervised decision-making, such as creative testing) contexts.
- Machine learning will ultimately inform smarter customer journey analysis, assuming enough publisher data is available to analyze.
Takeaway: Website experience should be considered an important channel that is not independent of other channels - consider coordinating website layout with strategies employed by channels such as search and mobile.
- Testing is always important for user experience - this include ad copy which can and should be heavily targeted for specific demographics within each ad group.
- Unsilo teams - have marketing regularly chat with user experience and user interface teams to ensure that your website serves your marketing needs.
- @jonkagan: To make sure your marketing resonates, consider whittling down your audience using Google demographic targeting before crafting your message.
Cracking The Code for the Next Phase Of Organic Search
Takeaway: The future of paid search could be tied to an evolving form of SEO as more search queries go from text to voice, which tends to involve longer queries with more keywords.
- Voice chat is arguably the future of search - adoption is increasing across the board.
- Voice search is changing search by adding more longtail traffic than existed in the text-only search days.
- The voice of the customer is an important factor in the evolution of search marketing - some enterprise-scale companies use call center data to drive decision making for content creation.
Keynote: Reinventing the Cisco Brand
Takeaway: One of the keys to helping reinvent a mature enterprise brand has been a shift of emphasis away from product towards customer focus.
- Testing will always be important - HP once observed a 300% conversion rate lift just from moving our creative up slightly on the same page.
Reaching Back To Basics For Digital Growth
Takeaway: Despite the looming future of AI and chatbots, there still exist very human and very doable methods to optimize campaigns,
- “It’s OK to fail in digital - if we never fail, we never learn or grow.”
- There’s no substitute for taking a strategic view of campaigns prior to getting started, such as taking inventory of top SKUs for a retail campaign.
- @TADuerr: "Do search campaigns as you did when you first started. Keep calm and continue testing."
Takeaway: The most important aspects of a good agency-client relationship in the world of performance marketing include accountability, candor, and data-driven results.
- The biggest single change in agency/brand relations is arguably the advent of big data, which lets agencies share data through strong integrations - but brands need to be willing to share.
About the Author
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.More Content by Andrew Park