Paid Search Industry Trends for 2017

Fine Point Grey Ben Carson, Global SEM Manager at Microsoft Lisa Sanner, VP Search Marketing

Paid Search Industry Trends for 2017

(31-minute podcast)

What big changes are in store for paid search in 2017? How will it impact you? Microsoft Store’s SEM expert Ben Carson joins Point It VP of Paid Search Lisa Sanner this week to analyze the evolution of bidding strategies, shopping feeds, voice search, attribution, migration from keywords users, waning of SEO, seamless transitions between mobile & desktop, & leveraging automation. They also talk through the week’s news, Facebook data audits, Matt Cutts moving from Google to run the US Digital Service, and Snapchat advertiser’s leveraging app users’ offline sales data.

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Featured Experts:

Ben Carson, Global SEM Manager, Microsoft Store

Lisa Sanner, Vice President, Search Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Guests and Experts

EXPERTS:
Ben Carson, Global SEM Manager, Microsoft Store

Bio: Ben is a data-driven eCommerce and Marketing strategist passionate about expanding developing brands’ customer reach and revenue. Beginning his career as a psychology and biology undergrad who spent time working with rural clinics in Kenya and Tanzania, started a chicken farm in a leprosy colony in India, and has written and recorded his own music for Red Bull, Lionsgate, and the NFL he has found that paid search is the perfect blend of creativity and an outlet for his fascination with research and analytics.

Lisa Sanner, Vice President, Search Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Ms. Sanner holds a Bachelors of Art in Advertising and MBA degree in Marketing from Penn State University. After graduating, Lisa worked at a traditional advertising agency buying print and broadcast media for brands such as Sears, Servistar (now True Value) Hardware, and Stanley Steemer. Lisa started at Point It Digital Marketing Agency in 2006 and is now the Vice President of Search Marketing. Lisa is a Bing Ads MVP and leads an award-winning (The Landy’s, US Search Awards, Pulse Awards) paid search team.

HOST:

Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.

Transcript

Maureen Jann: Welcome to Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Each week, we feature industry experts, and some lovely guests talk through what’s happening in digital marketing today. I’m Maureen Jann, the Director of Marketing at Point It, a digital marketing agency in Seattle, Washington. I’ll be your hostess. Lots going on in the world of advertising. It looks like the year is starting to hit its stride. I know for us, we’re trying to jam a lot into January so we can cruise through the rest of the … I mean, cruise being, you know … I mean, let’s be honest, nobody cruises through the quarter, but just so everything is lined up and ready to go for the rest of the quarter. It’s been a busy, busy, busy time. That’s why it’s so exciting to have my guests here today. We’re going to talk to Ben Carson, our client and Global SEM Manager from Microsoft, along with Lisa Sanner, our VP of paid search and industry expert. We’ll be talking about paid search trends in 2017, and I can’t wait to dig in. Welcome, Ben …

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: … Lisa.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah, thanks for having me.

 

Lisa Sanner: Thanks. Glad to be here.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah? It’s going to be fun.

 

Lisa Sanner: Excited. Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Yep. We’ve had a lot of fun with our podcasts with our other guests, and it’s so much fun to have a client on. I’ve only had that opportunity one other time.

 

Ben Carson: Well, I’m excited to be here.

 

Maureen Jann: Perfect. Okay, well let’s dig into the headlines. The first headline is: 40% of marketers say they plan Facebook audits in the new year.

 

Lisa Sanner: Hm.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah, and this is from Ad Age, which is always interesting because they do a nice job of encompassing advertising as a whole, and ad tech has been always in the last probably 10 years a huge part of that conversation. I’ve kind of tuned Ad Age out, which I think, “Isn’t it kind of interesting?” But now I’m bringing it back.

 

Lisa Sanner: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen Jann: Bringing it back. The big issues for Facebook are Facebook metric issues, fake news, and ad fraud are causing marketers to look twice at their Facebook analytics. I mean, we’ve heard about this, right, Lisa?

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah, I’ve heard about this. I think we kind of look at every … any publisher’s metrics a little bit with a weary eye.

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Lisa Sanner: We usually compare what a publisher is telling us, that they’re … you know, how great they’re doing, versus what we might see in Google Analytics or something.

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Lisa Sanner: We often will like, for Facebook or Google or Bing or anyone, we do a lot of that comparison.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: I’m not sure that we are totally seeing … I mean, I’m not sure we’re totally more suspect of Facebook than we are of any other publisher that we deal with. I think Facebook in itself is a different type of environment than other mediums and other channels.

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Lisa Sanner: I think when you look at ad fraud on video views, like, is somebody really watching a video? I know they changed how they measured that in the last year because of auto play. Right?

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah. I suppose if you’re skeptical all the time about [inaudible 00:02:58] that’s it not a shocker. This isn’t coming out of left field for anybody.

 

Lisa Sanner: Exactly. Right.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: I don’t think, at least for us since we are looking at usually a second source of analytics, that it’s going to change any of the way our advertisers are spending their dollars.

 

Maureen Jann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Lisa Sanner: But this was interesting to me that some advertisers say they’re actually thinking about moving money. I’ve heard that anyways. People are moving a lot of dollars to Facebook just because of its great targeting capabilities and it’s reach. You know?

 

Maureen Jann: Sure.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah. I think that’s more like the unique advantages of social. It’s interesting to see here that like 50% of advertisers are feeling less confident in social platforms, but I think to Lisa’s point, it is important to look at any publisher’s data with a bit of … I don’t want to say … healthy skepticism.

 

Maureen Jann: Sure.

 

Ben Carson: You know, everybody wants to tout how great their platform is, but I think you balance that with the fact that social does have a lot to offer that we can’t fully reach and search in just pure paid search.

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Ben Carson: I think there’s still quite a bit that Facebook offers, even though … Yeah. I would say that with this most recent election cycle was not really helpful with their image.

 

Maureen Jann: 100%.

 

Ben Carson: Bombshell here — I’m a millennial marketer that does not have a Facebook. I haven’t had one for three years.

 

Maureen Jann: Are you going to be okay?

 

Ben Carson: I’m going to be okay. Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Okay.

 

Ben Carson: I spend less time on my phone. I think that that’s-

 

Maureen Jann: Do you still have friends?

 

Ben Carson: I still have friends, believe it or not.

 

Maureen Jann: Okay. Just checking.

 

Lisa Sanner: Wow.

 

Ben Carson: I get less of those event spams, you know, where people just want you to come to their band’s gig or something.

 

Lisa Sanner: Oh, right.

 

Maureen Jann: Or sell you leggings or Tupperware or Glassybaby.

 

Ben Carson: I think-

 

Maureen Jann: I don’t know how you live without that.

 

Ben Carson: I know, I know.

 

Lisa Sanner: I honestly don’t, either. I am probably on the other end of the spectrum where I probably spend way too much time on Facebook. I have so many friends that I’ve reconnected with.

 

Maureen Jann: Me, too.

 

Lisa Sanner: I actually haven’t seen them in like 30 years, and they’re one of like somebody that I know what’s going on in their life now.

 

Maureen Jann: Like, “How is your kids? It looks like they were in a ballet?” Blah, blah, blah. You know? Yeah, it’s a thing.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah, I’m with you.

 

Ben Carson: I think that Lisa’s point is spot on. I think there’s a good reason to look at the data with a healthy level of skepticism, but there’s also a good reason to be investing there.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Ben Carson: The audience reach is … it’s pretty unparalleled still. I think search is behind a little bit.

 

Maureen Jann: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yep.

 

Maureen Jann: I mean, all of it files back down to transparency from the publishers and making sure that we have as much information as we can have and that they’re being really critical of their own processes. I mean, I just think we need a little flag that says, “Transparency,” so I can wave it around every once in a while.

 

Lisa Sanner: Right.

 

Maureen Jann: Actually, probably once a day. Yay. Okay, so speaking of election cycles, here’s some interesting information.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Matt Cutts resigns from Google to become the acting administrator of the United State’s Digital Service.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yes.

 

Maureen Jann: I’m delighted to hear this on many levels because I think that we need … From an industry perspective, it’s really important for us to have somebody who’s deeply entrenched into what’s happening in the industry since there are going to be clearly economic impacts. Just keeping that in mind and having somebody who just really gets it is huge. I mean, he was on Google’s webspam team, and this is a permanent change. It’s not a leave of absence. He’s out.

 

Lisa Sanner: Right. I kind of knew he was quiet at least on the Google side of things for a few months. I didn’t really know why.

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Lisa Sanner: And then to read his … I just saw him, he announced it on Twitter. I noticed last night, actually. I was like, “Oh, that is pretty cool that he’s kind of taking his skills, his way he thinks about security and spam and all that stuff, and doing it for some public good and public service reasons.” I really respect that, myself. I think it’s a great thing.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah, and so necessary because the technology is progressing at a point that’s much faster than any sort of legislation or anything that’s needed to keep some of that spam or security in check. I think this is really, really interesting. Cool news. I actually didn’t even know that.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah?

 

Ben Carson: That’s really cool. I think it’s completely necessary for, like you said, for that reason, having someone on that side of the fence kind of lobbying for what’s happening in our industry, and also making sure that legislation is up to speed and keeping pace with how fast things change in our industry.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah. I could see like the United States be legislating Google Glass, and I was like, “Hey, we’re not really doing that anymore.” You know? That was like three years ago. Yes, exactly, keeping up with the times and having that legislation.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah, but whatever he decides to work on, whether it’s the search industry or not … I mean, it sounds like he was working on the healthcare.gov website and some other types of things. I mean, I just know those skills are totally applicable and transferable. I have a family member who is at this security agency. She can’t tell me anything what she works on, but I know they look for talented, smart people.

 

Maureen Jann: I’m delighted to hear that. More of that, please.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yes.

 

Maureen Jann: I think that has lit a fire, this year has lit a fire under a lot of people who are interested now in public service, and I’m looking forward to some of those changes just in general.

 

Lisa Sanner: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen Jann: Very cool. Well, the big quote that he’s put out right now is, “Working for the government doesn’t pay as well as big companies in Silicon Valley. We don’t get free lunches. Many days are incredibly frustrating. All I can tell you is the work is deeply important and inspiring, and you have a chance to work on things that genuinely make people’s lives better.” Cheers, Matt Cutts. You’re a rockstar.

 

Lisa Sanner: Go, Matt.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: Get it done.

 

Maureen Jann: Okay, so the next one is … we’re talking about Snapchat advertisers can now target the app’s users based on offline sales data. This was both from an advertising perspective very, very sexy, and from a user perspective, a little disturbing. The big things that I thought were interesting was that … so the combination is … Snap has been talking to Moat Nielsen and Millward Brown for the last year and creating partnerships with them over their data. This new partnership is actually oracle, and it’s all about matching the offline purchases, the one you’re doing in stores, with data from things like loyalty card purchases, to target consumers with relevant Snapchat ads. Took me a little while to consume this one because it was meaty. Right?

 

Ben Carson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen Jann: The big example that I thought was really, really helpful was movie tickets. Amy Elkins, the SVP of Media and Marketing Innovation at STX Entertainment said in a statement, “Onboarding ODC moviegoers’ data … ” Oh, goodness. Let me try that again. “Onboarding ODC moviegoer data eliminates marketing waste by allowing us to reach an audience that we know visits movie theaters.” I thought, “Wow, that is pretty interesting.”

 

Lisa Sanner: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen Jann: I’m not a Snap user myself because I have many other messaging modes, but I could see how that would be a huge market for them. I mean, have you guys had any experience with Snap as an advertising platform?

 

Lisa Sanner: We haven’t.

 

Ben Carson: No.

 

Maureen Jann: No.

 

Lisa Sanner: I haven’t.

 

Maureen Jann: No, me neither.

 

Lisa Sanner: The only exposure I have to Snapchat is my kids are on it all the time. I’m like, “What do you do?” I don’t quite get it, but, I mean, I think a lot of different people are trying to make the offline to online connection. It’s like kind of where that technology goes and how they do it — I’m kind of less interested about how they do it — and then how it performs and how, then, we can leverage that for our clients.

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Ben Carson: I think, not to get too off topic here, but I think sociologically this is really interesting, like the fact that your kids are using Snapchat and they are sharing this level of information. It’s a whole new generation that’s coming up with just kind of assuming that your data is being shared and leveraged. In an era of personalization, I’m just really interested to see how this … We know that Snapchat is a younger user base.

 

Maureen Jann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Ben Carson: This is perfect cocktail party conversation, right?

 

Maureen Jann: Sure.

 

Ben Carson: I’ve brought up in-store beacons and the whole omnichannel online to offline, and I’m just blowing people’s mind, like my peers, about like-

 

Maureen Jann: Really?

 

Ben Carson: You walk into a Sephora, and they know if you spent five minutes in front of mascara versus two minutes in front of foundation.

 

Maureen Jann: 100%.

 

Ben Carson: To my peers, that is just like almost an invasion of privacy.

 

Lisa Sanner: Oh, yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Oh, yeah.

 

Ben Carson: What’s interesting is to see here, and from my perspective, is like how this younger generation, if they’ll tolerate … not tolerate it, but is this going to be an overreach? Because to some extent, it is a little weird. It’s your-

 

Maureen Jann: It is very-

 

Ben Carson: … mobile ID. There’s location services.

 

Maureen Jann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Ben Carson: I mean, as a marketer, I’m really excited about that …

 

Lisa Sanner: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Ben Carson: … but I think there’s kind of an interesting sociological divide here that’s happening, where to my peers, late 20s, early 30s, this seems like an overreach.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Ben Carson: But to kids on Snapchat these days … Man, that makes me sound old.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah. And another thing, get off my lawn.

 

Ben Carson: Exactly.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah. It’s just part of the party. You know?

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: It’s just part of the thing.

 

Maureen Jann: The two things that I find are super interesting about this is Snap is a messenger, right? It’s not a public space. It’s between people who agree.

 

Lisa Sanner: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Ben Carson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen Jann: It’s a movement to get off of that public sphere, but yet we’re releasing more data so that we can be targeted more relevantly …

 

Lisa Sanner: In the messaging.

 

Maureen Jann: … in a private message.

 

Ben Carson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen Jann: There’s kind of a full-circle movement there.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Then the other thing that I thought was really interesting about it was for me, I like relevant advertising. I would prefer that … like, if it takes a little bit of my data to make it so that you’re not trying to sell me a Studebaker, then I’m going to be stoked because that’s not … I’m not interested in that.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yep.

 

Maureen Jann: I like to buy.

 

Lisa Sanner: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen Jann: I like to buy, but I’m in the market for something very specific. My buying behavior is clear. If you can’t read it, or you misuse it, then I’m not going to trust you anymore. I think this is really smart. It comes down to user experience, right? It doesn’t matter what platform you’re on or what brand you are. It needs to be seamless. It needs to be useful and helpful and add value to my life. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing business or I’m trying to cook a meal.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: That’s an interesting part of this too, in my opinion.

 

Lisa Sanner: I think the publishers that have been most successful have had this overwhelming arching vision of relevancy.

 

Maureen Jann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Ben Carson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Lisa Sanner: I mean, you have to have relevancy for users to stick and to come back, right?

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Lisa Sanner: If you give them crappy, irrelevant ads, they’re not going to use your platform.

 

Maureen Jann: Right. Yeah. Well, we’ve covered a lot of big changes in the industry just today in the headlines that we talked about, so let’s talk about the big changes in paid search.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Ben Carson, from Microsoft, and Lisa Sanner we’ve been talking to over the articles here. Ben is one of my favorite clients. He’s both deeply focused on-

 

Lisa Sanner: Aww.

 

Ben Carson: Aww.

 

Lisa Sanner: Mine, too.

 

Ben Carson: I didn’t know that.

 

Maureen Jann: Ah, well, you’re very easy to work with and you trust us, and I just love that. It’s been a joy to see all the progress.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah. Well, thanks, guys.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah. He’s both deeply focused on performance for Microsoft Store by committing to partnership with his digital agency. Spoiler alert, it’s us. Lisa Sanner is a long-time paid search expert who has been our Microsoft relationship manager for the last 10 years, and has helped nurture that collaboration and partnership necessary for a really successful team. It’s been an exciting overall partnership, I think, on both sides. It’s a pleasure to have you here. It’s even more exciting to talk about what’s happening in paid search and what happened last year, and what are we looking at in 2017? Let’s get started on that.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: What are the big changes you guys saw last year in paid search?

 

Ben Carson: I mean, lobbing it over the plate, easy ones, right off the bat — ETAs, super excited about those, and also the-

 

Lisa Sanner: Extended text ads.

 

Maureen Jann: Thank you.

 

Ben Carson: I’m sorry, guys. Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Generalist.

 

Ben Carson: The extended text ads, I’m really excited. I don’t think we’ve really had a chance to measure the impact, but I think the direction that Google’s indicating that they’re going is that the roll out of ETAs, extended text ads, is, I think, an indication of just how much mobile is part of the picture these days.

 

Maureen Jann: Sure.

 

Ben Carson: Expanded text ads, making that experience seamless across mobile and desktop, and that also ties into the results page restructuring as well. Those, to me, were the biggest changes that we saw that had an impact to our campaigns, specifically the results page and taking away positions five …

 

Lisa Sanner: Well, the right side rail.

 

Ben Carson: Right rail, yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: The right rail was-

 

Maureen Jann: That was a big deal?

 

Lisa Sanner: … removed in like February or March.

 

Maureen Jann: It was February.

 

Lisa Sanner: February.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: Everybody’s like, “Oh my god, the earth is falling down.” You know? It really gave Google the ability to kind of really monetize the page with your top ads getting premium location, shopping ads taking more and more of the real estate on the search page, and then with extended text ads also happening and a ton more new ad extensions that they’ve been trying and testing and finding various advertisers having success with. Unfortunately, for our SEO friends, they’re struggling.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: I mean, they’re losing location.

 

Maureen Jann: Sure.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah. It was all, “Oh my gosh, the world’s going to change. What’s our tomorrow going to be like with this new, like, no right side rail?” I think definitely there were losers. Organic lost, positions 5-11 lost.

 

Maureen Jann: Sure.

 

Ben Carson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Lisa Sanner: If you have great ads that are relevant and speak to users, Google’s finding you a way to get you up there as long as you’re paying the right money.

 

Maureen Jann: Are you saying that everything has a price?

 

Lisa Sanner: Well, you know, they are in business.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah. They’re good at it.

 

Lisa Sanner: In a good way, you know?

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: I think people follow money.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: If advertisers wouldn’t be having success with it and wouldn’t be finding a great ROI with it, you’d find other places to spend that money.

 

Maureen Jann: Yep. One of the articles we read earlier, or we talked about earlier, kind of talked about how that is one of the places where people are … still actually have a lot of confidence because they’re seeing results.

 

Lisa Sanner: Right.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yep.

 

Ben Carson: Exactly.

 

Lisa Sanner: It’s a thing. Yep.

 

Maureen Jann: Yep. For sure.

 

Ben Carson: That’s such an interesting and good call out in terms of SEO being a little bit deprioritized in this new landscape.

 

Maureen Jann: For sure.

 

Ben Carson: I think that’s something that’s often missed. I think that’s something that brands need to get used to in terms of paying more for that traffic that they’re used to seeing come organically, which is scary as we’re looking into the crystal ball.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yep.

 

Ben Carson: As a paid search manager, it’s great job security.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah, for sure.

 

Ben Carson: It’s interesting. I’d say those two, extended text ads and the right rail restructuring, those were the two biggest impacts. I mean, most impactful changes that I experience.

 

Lisa Sanner: I think implementation wise, those were the big changes that we had to figure out how to optimize to, and a lot of it took a lot of heavy lifting and creating new ads for the ETAs. Actually, platforms are still catching up with that. I mean, and still, you can still have standard text ads, you just, after January 31st, you can’t change those ads anymore, or you can’t upload new standard text ads. It’s kind of been this really long rollout phase of extended text ads, which was pretty cool because it gave advertisers the opportunity to test things and to see how the performance may or may not change. I know we want to move on to some other things, but yeah, it was kind of an interesting rollout the way ETAs work this year.

 

Maureen Jann: Oh, awesome. I am always learning new paid search terminology, and the ETAs, thank you for definitions and thank you for clarification. Generalist. That’s another flag I need.

 

Lisa Sanner: Us PPCers talk in acronyms a lot.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah, a lot.

 

Maureen Jann: I know. I love it, though. I love it. I’ve learned a ton, that’s for sure. Okay, so let’s talk about, what trends do you expect to gain traction in 2017? What do you see? Look into your crystal ball again, and what does that look like?

 

Lisa Sanner: I think there’ll be smarter bidding strategies and optimizations. I think with going back towards device type of bidding and bid modifiers by device, including tablets for Google, I think there’s a lot of options in order to optimize bids and the price you’re paying for various users. The way I think advertisers are going to is you’re thinking about audiences now versus keywords. This is a lot of things coming together. It’s like the attribution metrics that people have been talking about for years.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: It’s finally like people are starting to be comfortable with what those attribution measurements are in order to start thinking about customer journey, customer strategy, how does paid search, how does it fit in that whole path to gaining a customer?

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: When I was talking about bidding strategies, it’s much more about the user and less about the keywords. It’s even more individualistic than it’s ever been, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity there to really fine tune the gears in optimizing towards performance targets.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah, and that’s something that I’m seeing when I read about SEO and about programmatic. It becomes about the user. I think that’s an industry-wide shift that we’re seeing for sure.

 

Lisa Sanner: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Ben Carson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Lisa Sanner: For sure.

 

Maureen Jann: Yep.

 

Ben Carson: I mean, you stole my thunder.

 

Lisa Sanner: Oh, I’m sorry.

 

Ben Carson: Thanks, Lisa. No, I think it seems too obvious, but yeah, audience and attribution, I think it ties nicely into some of the articles that you brought up earlier. As our digital lives become further fragmented into different channels, you’re right, audiences are going to be way more important than keywords. I mean, way more important … but I think that audiences is still underutilized by a lot of marketers out there. I think that is where social has the edge on search, and I think there’s still some catch up to be done by search marketers in terms of our audience targeting. And then attribution, I think, will continue to be a challenge for large and small advertisers, especially as our digital conversations are happening in more and more places.

 

Maureen Jann: Yep.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: It’s the great conundrum, attribution.

 

Ben Carson: Yes, exactly.

 

Maureen Jann: I give a lot of thought to it because I find that it’s key no matter what size you are, and it’s a big part of that conversation. What I’m starting to feel is like there’s a stream of information out of there, and people dip into it wherever they feel like it. Taking insights out of that seemingly random has got to be really … is just really challenging. It just really is.

 

Lisa Sanner: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Ben Carson: Yeah. Or what’s even scarier is drawing the wrong conclusion, like you said …

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Ben Carson: … where you drop into the … You know? There’s a stream of information you dip into and do some analysis, but you might not be looking at the whole picture.

 

Maureen Jann: Right.

 

Ben Carson: To me, that’s what’s most concerning about the attribution conundrum, is there’s beginning to be more of those metrics out there, but are you making the right decisions? If you only get a slice of the data, or not the full picture, that’s why it’s so crucial. That’s what I think is going to gain a ton of traction in 2017.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: One of the things I think we saw with multiple clients — and I don’t think you guys with Microsoft Store, but with some of our other advertisers — is that we’re hearing much more about other channels, what’s going on in other channels. It used to be, five years ago, that that was on our list of questions. “Hey, what’s going on in your email marketing? What are you doing over here? What are you doing over there? How can that help me inform my paid search strategy?” Now, it’s much more about advertisers realizing that a lot of it just weaves together and integrates, and so it’s less about us asking for that information rather than our clients giving us that information because they know it’ll help us inform our strategies.

 

Maureen Jann: Yep.

 

Lisa Sanner: We’re seeing fewer clients operating in whatever their digital marketing silo is, their paid search silo, their SEO silo.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: They’re still learning how to talk to each other. They’re still learning how to kind of break out of whatever they’re responsible for, whatever their metrics are, and think about the bigger picture in the holistic marketing strategy. It’s really fun to be a part of some of those conversations. I’m like, “Wow, that’s really changed in the past five years.” You know?

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah. It’s nice to hear that because I know siloed marketing departments has been a challenge for so long. Really, from a user experience standpoint, it’s key. You have to have that consistency across your channels or else you’re not serving your customer in the best way. You just aren’t.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah. Okay, well, there’s a lot coming, and I imagine that means a lot of more work for the rest of us. But despite that, it’s exciting to be part of all of this change.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: What would you guys say is the most exciting thing you’re seeing coming down the pipe from a technology standpoint?

 

Lisa Sanner: I mean, I think people are talking about voice search, anything that’s really fun to talk to. People got probably Google Homes or Amazon Echos for Christmas and are trying them out at the holidays.

 

Maureen Jann: Sure.

 

Lisa Sanner: It’s like, “What’s this mean? I talk to this device way differently than I would enter a search in a query box.” Right? For me, it’s a like, “Huh, I wonder how people are going to test this. I wonder how people are going to try to monetize this. I wonder how we’re going to be able to see what lies ahead with voice search.” I think it’s kind of a fun thing for people to be part of, too.

 

Ben Carson: No, I think it’s interesting to think about the impact of it. I know there’s a lot of conversations happening around: what is the impact? How do we think differently about our keywords and what we’re bidding on in our messaging? I think it’s a little bit further into the future. I don’t know if we’re quite there.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Ben Carson: I don’t know if that’s going to be the thing that stands out in 2017.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Ben Carson: I think, for me, what I’m most excited about from a technology standpoint is, I would say excited and a little bit nervous, is the increased levels of automation and the insights that Google can proactively provide. If you’re running a mom-and-pop shop and running smaller accounts … Like, Google is really getting better at providing you insights to optimize your account. I’m really interested to see how that plays out and how that frees up digital marketers to get some of the mundane, repetitive tasks off their plate to do more of like the strategy and the analysis, getting your ads in front of the right audience. So worrying less about the bid changes and focusing more of our efforts on driving the strategy. That’s what I’m like excited about, but Lisa, I would love to hear what you think. What do you think the impact will that be on search agencies moving forward as Google gets more proactive about offering optimization ideas?

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah, no, I think it’s exciting. I mean, that’s one of the things on my list as far as an agency of what … you know, I’m trying to think about how we can be more efficient. Right? How can we use some of these automated tools in our just general account management to do like, yeah, some of the heavy lifting that you’re talking about, whether it’s bidding, whether it’s identifying opportunities. I’m not too worried about our jobs.

 

Maureen Jann: No.

 

Lisa Sanner: I think we add a lot of value from a strategy insight, respond to situations, provide a lot of value in driving results. At this point, I mean, I think the growth of our industry is pretty bright.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah, I agree.

 

Lisa Sanner: And that if we kind of learn how to leverage machines to do our jobs better, and then use our human brains to come up with creative and innovation and ideas of things to try and test, then it kind of opens some new opportunities for us to grow as people.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah, and then we go away a little from being search marketers, maybe, and more into search strategy. You know what I mean?

 

Lisa Sanner: Mm-hmm (affirmative). For sure.

 

Maureen Jann: Search and marketing strategy.

 

Ben Carson: Yeah.

 

Lisa Sanner: Yeah.

 

Maureen Jann: Yeah. Sort of just levels us up a bit.

 

Ben Carson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen Jann: Awesome. Well, I’m sad that we’ve run out of time.

 

Lisa Sanner: Aw.

 

Maureen Jann: We must close the show, but thank you guys for sharing your perspective. It’s certainly an exciting time for advertisers and agencies. I think things are just going to keep getting more interesting. I want to thank you guys out in podcast land for joining us. I’m Maureen Jann with Point It Digital Marketing for Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Find us on Twitter for our latest content, podcasts, and more. Subscribe to our podcast via your favorite podcast distribution source, including the iTunes store. Anything we have referred to here will be also in the show notes, so be sure to check if you have any questions. We’ll see you next week. For now, stay on point.

 

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