SMX East + Digital Marketing Headlines

Fine Point Grey Katy Tonkin, VP Digital Strategy Maddie Cary, Director of Paid Search

SMX East + Digital Marketing Headlines

(25-minute podcast)

Maureen Jann, Director of Digital Marketing speaks to the digital marketing headlines. Katy Tonkin, VP of Digital Strategy and Maddie Cary, Director of Paid Search with Point It Digital Marketing talk about their experience with SMX East and receiving a Landy Award.

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Featured Experts:

Katy Tonkin, VP of Digital Strategy, Point It Digital Marketing and Maddie Cary, Director of Paid Search, Point It Digital Marketing

Guests and Experts

Katy Tonkin, VP of Digital Strategy, Point It Digital Marketing


Katy is an award-winning marketing strategist that brings her passion for technology and creative problem solving to client and organizational challenges. With a background in retail, she’s demonstrated her love of solving complex challenges while working with companies like Starbucks and a selection of fast-paced startups. Katy currently acts as the Vice President of Digital Strategy at Point It Digital Marketing, a partnership-driven organization built on a foundation of transparency and expertise.  Part architect and part technologist, Katy is the problem solver and envelope pusher that drives client success. Her leadership has resulted in several prestigious industry awards, such as the US Search Awards, and The Landys. In her spare time, she is a passionate patron of the arts and board member of the SCT (Seattle Children’s Theater). She enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.

Maddie Cary, Director of Paid Search, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maddie Cary is the Director of Paid Search at Point It Digital Marketing in Seattle. Her role involves overseeing and developing an amazing team of PPC account managers, while also running the global SEM program for Point It’s largest client. In 2015, she won the US Search Award for “Young Search Professional”, as well as was acknowledged as a “Rising Star in PPC” by both SearchEngineLand & PPC Hero. You can find her speaking & learning at great conferences like SMX, HeroConf, & PubCon, or writing posts for the Wordstream blog. Outside of PPC, her biggest loves are her family, friends, and her idol, Queen Beyoncé.

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.



Maureen: Welcome to Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Each week, we’ll feature some industry experts and our guests to talk through the latest and greatest in digital marketing. I’m Maureen Jann, the Director of Marketing at Point It Digital Marketing here in Seattle, Washington, and I’ll be your hostess.


Today, we’ll be running through a few headlines we’ve seen in the news and I’ll be introducing you to Maddie Cary, our Director of Paid Search and Katy Tonkin, our VP of Digital Strategy. We’ll be talking about last week’s SMX East event on the heels of the Point It Landy Award win. Welcome, Maddie and Katy. Thanks for joining me.


Katy: Hi.


Maddie: Hi. Thank you.


Katy: Thanks for having us. Yeah, thanks. This is great.


Maureen: Sounds like you guys had a good time in New York.


Katy: We did. We got to spend time with folks at SMX East, which was obviously a lot of fun. We also got to take in a Broadway play.


Maddie: We did.


Katy: Which was really fun.


Maddie: It was amazing.


Katy: I still have blisters on my feet from some city blocks that we ran to make it there on time.


Maddie: Yeah. It was great.


Katy: Yeah. We got a real New York experience, you might say, in that way.


Maureen: Perfect.


Maddie: It was nice to see a lot of the faces that we don’t get to see but a couple times a year in the industry. It’s good to connect with those folks.


Maureen: Perfect. I’m looking forward to hearing more about that a little later. Let’s get started on the headlines. I generally pulled these from nozzle feed. It basically aggregates what people are talking about in my Twitter network. Right now, my network is talking about Twitter moments, Apple, and the Google Assistant. Let’s get started with Google Assistant. This is both creepy and fascinating in my opinion.


I find it interesting that they’re really looking to take on the Amazon Echo. The quote is literally, “fancy machine learning” is what it said. That was direct out of the article that I read. Their whole thing is they want you to think of it as an actual person that can converse with you to get things done. Do we see any ad impact there? Are they going to start talking to us about things we’re searching for?


Katy: That’s creepy, but that’s all right. That’s all right. First things first, I think you got to keep in mind that these things are only as good as the amount of time that you invest giving it information about yourself and sharing information about yourself. It takes quite a bit of time to train these devices on who you are, what your preferences are. It’s not just as simple as connecting them up to Google, for instance, with Google Assistance.


We have an Echo at home. We use it. I think it’s fun. My almost 7 year old thinks it’s hilarious. We talk to our Xbox too, to get traffic and weather. It’s starting to become part of the routine, but it’s not there yet. I think the ad impact is less around having it actually be an ad serving device, but more as a data collection device, and a predictor for the type of audience bucket that you would fall into for Google.


Then for an Echo, and some of these other … With Microsoft, with Xbox, it’s who you are as a consumer, and how they can cook you, and use you in other ways, and maybe sell your data. My gosh.


Maureen: It is as creepy as it sounds.


Katy: Yeah, it is, but I guess it’s a trade off. Do you find … Does it to save you time? Does it make your life easier?


Maureen: Good.


Maddie: Yeah, I think that’s the ultimate goal is … In Google, I understand that the intent of search is to find things, and to find things quickly in a central place. I think they’re trying to do everything possible to remove friction on that, and they’ve realize obviously voice is a way to do that. Most of us can probably speak faster than we can type, at least I would hope so. If you introduce these personal assistants into your daily lives, then people build habits into searching with their voice, and doing that in a way also expecting to be able to do that on other devices as well, on their desktop, on their mobile.


It may be less of a play to … You’re not going to suddenly probably start hearing ads after you say, “What’s the weather like?” You’re not going to suddenly get an ad for a raincoat or something, but they want to, I think, instill a habit in people that they then replicate or start to carry over into devices where ads are being run. I think it’s probably a long-term play. It’s the same with Amazon, and it’s the same with Microsoft. It’s all the same thing. They’re trying to make your life easier via technology in hoping that that carries over into the place where they do have ad inventory.


Maureen: Interesting.


Katy: It’s the internet of things, people.


Maddie: Yes.


Maureen: Yeah.


Katy: This is the internet of things.


Maureen: It’s almost a customer education ploy with the way … If you train your user here, then it will train them across all devices. That’s an interesting idea.


Katy: Right, yeah. The cars are another thing too, that we haven’t yet … That we don’t see a lot of focus on, is people searching in their cars. One, safety.


Maureen: Sure.


Katy: It’s a huge benefit of it, but I search for things all the time in my car using my voice, and I think it’s fantastic. I use Google, but I also use my navigation. Talk about a rich captive place to get people to interact with you.


Maureen: Yeah, absolutely. I was hoping that it would start babysitting my 4-year-old, but I’m thinking that’s not going to happen.


Katy: I don’t know, man, I’m telling you. Put a kid in front of an Echo, and watch how many dumb questions they can get answered. It’s pretty amazing.


Maureen: (laughs) Noted.


Katy: Yeah. (laughs)


Maureen: This could be a fun weekend project. All right, great. The next thing that I saw that was pretty interesting is, Apple’s rolling out search ads for the App Store, which I thought was fascinating. Ad Age talked about how the … Basically users are downloading zero to one apps a month. It’s a pretty low number, and they’re looking to boost that with these ads. Basically Ad Age implies that that was just the starting place for them. I just thought that was pretty interesting. Who knew Apple would …


Maddie: I’m surprised it took them maybe this long to do this.


Katy: This long, right, right.


Maddie: Maybe that was to try to protect that App Store experience for a while. Apple’s weird about, not only their App Store, but they’re a lot more strict about when you even make changes to your app as an app developer or app owner. They’re pretty strict. I think it’s because of that history with iTunes, and wanting to keep a certain quality to how people interact with it. Yeah, I’m surprised. Google, the Google Play Store did that. They were super expensive though, in order to even get [crosstalk 00:06:30] placement or show.


Katy: Oh, yeah, to get-


Maddie: Maybe this is the Googles and Apples of the App Store world trying to look for that less expensive tier to create that new option for creating that ad. I both am surprised, and not surprised by it, I guess, is the short of it.


Maureen: Yeah.


Katy: Ditto. I’m surprised that it took them this long, and I’m curious to see what they do with it, but it’s not as open of a marketplace as what Google has done. We’ll see. We’ll see.


Maureen: Yeah. I broke up with iTunes because I couldn’t pull my music off of there, and that was the end for me.


Maddie: Right, exactly.


Katy: That’s not an open platform.


Maddie: iTunes as a platform has changed a lot. Even when I go in there, I get frustrated that it’s not like the old iTunes that I’m used to. It feels more like a subscription experience. They’ve changed it a lot in the past couple months, I think to compete with the Spotifys and the Rdios, and all those groups.


Maureen: That’s smart. That’s smart. Great. Twitter is also doing some interesting things. I looked at the … The new moments feature is very interesting. Basically moments is the, creators can now tell rich stories by creating and sharing a collection of tweets in a moment. The tweets can belong to anyone.


Maddie: A scrapbook of tweets?


Katy: It’s curation, it’s curation. It’s actually. I think it’s a play, and I think it’s probably, I saw this one too. I was talking with our Director of Social over the last few weeks about Twitter, and I’m not going to call it the decline, because I wouldn’t want to go so far as to make a predication about where Twitter’s headed. Although I do think that obviously there’s been a decrease in usage. Twitter, as itself, has struggled with adoption, and then continued success. There’s so much noise.


This opens up … I’ve always thought Twitter would be way more impactful if we had, in Twitter if I could create different audiences, or different groups. Instead of just following hashtags. If I could assign people, or different types of tweets, an lumping them in different and more flexible ways. When I saw this one, I thought, “Oh, this is … Maybe they’re getting it. Maybe they’re thinking like a curation is actually where it might be for them as the next generation for how Twitter users can share and interact with each other.”


Maureen: I actually looked at it, and I thought, “This is inspired by Snapchat, and the stories.”


Katy: Instagram, too. What Instagram’s doing. These guys in the office finally just educated me the other day. I had no idea. I was like, “What are these things at the top of my Instagram?” I felt like an 80 year-old lady.


Maureen: (laughs)


Maddie: It’s, all those are that … That’s that blatant rip-off Instagram did of Snapchat.


Maureen: Yeah.


Katy: Same kind of thing. I think people are finally understanding that telling that story, and having that accessibility, but yet while curating that, and being able to do that all together is where it’s at.


Maureen: It was just really interesting. I’m hoping that Twitter isn’t on the downfall, because I love Twitter so very much. It’s such a phenomenal way to connect with colleagues.


Katy: I [agree 00:09:35] from a professional standpoint, it’s a great way to level the conversation. I also like the, I think that it was that original accessibility where you could talk with anybody in the world in ways that you’d never been able to before. This way of curation, I think is smart for them, because folks in more public arenas can start to create batches of content that they find relevant that I think users are going to really buy into following.


Maureen: I’m curious if you’re going to be able to do sponsored moments.


Katy: I’m very sure.


Maddie: Every time you see something like that roll out from Twitter or Facebook, you’re like, “And here’s the paid version of it.” Usually it’s not long after, you’re like, “Oh, there it is.” I could definitely see that happening.


Maureen: You’re like “Three, two, one. Paid.”


Katy: There it is. Commoditization.


Maddie: How do we monetize it. Exactly.


Katy: They are struggling with monetization. Maybe this will help be a …


Maureen: Their ads are not very effective. That’s for sure. Not at least in our efforts. Cool, so moving on. I’m excited to have you guys here. We’re going to talk about SMX East. What’s great, I’m very, very excited to introduce you guys, because we can talk about your speaking events at SMX East as well.


Katy: Yes.


Maureen: You also had the pleasure of accepting an award on behalf of Point It for a campaign we did with Microsoft. Right?


Maddie: We did. Yes. That was-


Katy: Honor. Big honor.


Maddie: It was.


Katy: It was a big deal. We were really excited about it.


Maureen: Awesome. Maddie is obsessed with Beyonce. I like a little personal touch. You can’t see this, but Katy always looks impeccable. Good things to know as you noodle this. This conversation. First, can you guys tell us a little about your sessions here at SMX East.


Maddie: Sure.


Katy: You go first. You take it, girl.


Maddie: Yeah. I did a panel on Mobile Paid Search at SMX East. It was called “Your mobile PBC sucks, but it doesn’t have to.” It was a variation on a theme that I was just hearing a lot of people talk about their frustration with mobile performance. As search marketers, we are very last click model driven people. We’re so use to being able to measure things, and focus, oftentimes, our efforts lower in the funnel, because search is intent driven.


We expect to be able to see the same kind of results across different devices. We get frustrated when mobile doesn’t perform accordingly. That’s because people don’t always use mobile as their last step before converting. They may move to another device, they might use it as a research tool, they might be in different phases. How we use [in 00:12:13] mobile devices are just very different.


That’s a lot of what I talked about, is how do we kind of all have a moment to just accept that. That mobile is not going to perform exactly the same as desktop. How do we value it differently? How do we talk about how attribute models should be different. Then on top of that, let’s stop ignoring it, because it doesn’t perform well, because the search trends are telling us that mobile’s already surpassed desktop search volume. You can’t ignore that people are using that device to find you. On top of that, make sure you’re not actually doing your mobile paid search really poorly.


Talking through things like extensions, and ad types, and campaigns types to be aware of. To make sure in that mobile moment, that’s a very Google term, but in that moment you are in front of people when they’re looking for you. Just because it’s harder to do, or because it doesn’t perform exactly the same, ignoring it is not going to work for you long term.


That’s what I talked about. This lady over here, also-


Katy: I was on a panel. I was on the, I’m going to call it the closing paid search panel. I took questions. I basically sat and fielded questions from the audience about things that they’d heard, things that they disagreed with that they’d heard on the conference, things that were on their mind. They asked a lot of questions about trends, and what’s happening in the space. I’ve been on that one a few times now.


It’s like that because you get people that are there that are reflecting, and going, “How am I going to take all this stuff that I’ve heard and do something with it? What should I care about? What should I de-prioritize? How do I make an impact when I go home, back to my companies, or my businesses with what I’ve learned?” It was fun.


Maureen: Yeah, that sounds fun. It sounds dynamic [crosstalk 00:14:00], and full of surprises.


Katy: It was. I know. There’s always a few in the audience that are throwing a little wrench, and trying to get you off your game.


Maureen: (laughs)


Maddie: Yes, that’s very true.


Maureen: What would the marketing industry be without a few wrench turners.


Maddie: Hecklers.


Maureen: We’ll have both of your decks up on the podcast page.


Katy: The best thing is, I didn’t do a deck. You’re just going to have this lady’s on. I just, [crosstalk 00:14:26]


Maureen: So Maddie’s [deck 00:14:27]


Katy: I literally just take rapid fire questions, [crosstalk 00:14:30] and sit in front of people, and just … Yeah.


Maureen: Fantastic. Note to self.


Katy: Don’t do decks.


Maureen: (laughs)


Katy: I’m kidding. It’s a lot of fun. It’s always an honor to do those.


Maureen: Fabulous. Maddie, can you tell me a couple of your key impressions from SMX?


Maddie: Yeah. I think, generally, there was a lot of discussion around the new expanded text ads. That’s actually really a whole session dedicated to it. Not only how to approach them, and the best practices around them, but what they meant for performance. I think when Google rolled out new things, there’s usually two philosophies. Either like, this is really horrible and I’m mad that Google’s done it, or this is really interesting, and it’s going to totally change performance.


Expanded text ads is kind of in this weird middle ground of, we’re seeing some positive results in some places, and others, very different, and will confuse us to why. Being that, you would think giving people more text and longer headlines on the [surp 00:15:29], that that would stand out to people, and you would see better click [through rate 00:15:32], and better performance for advertisers, but some are not seeing that particularly, and on branded queries, which is a head scratcher for a lot of people.


That was a big topic [of 00:15:42] conversation. There’s still a lot of conversation about how to continue leveraging audience, data, and search. A lot of talking about that. It was more of an affirmation of themes that, when we talk with clients, those are the kind of things we’re talking about. Going to conferences like that help solidify that we’re on the right track, and if not, at times, a step ahead on some of those conversations with our client base too.


Those are my two big takeaways on, “[Whoop 00:16:10] new ad formats, got to figure those out.” Figure out why they’re performing the way they are, including for our clients. That audience is a theme that, really, for the last especially two to three years, has stayed true. Advertisers are trying to figure out how to get better and better at messaging to audiences differently on search.


Katy: Leveraging them, too, and when is it overkill. That’s one that really stood out to me, too.


Maureen: Were there any additional themes that you picked out?


Katy: Expanding on some of the PBC stuff, one of the favorite. I always love seeing Larry Kim speak. I went to his RLSA panel. I always like how he brings something a little disruptive to a conference, or something a little controversial. He presented this idea that, with impression volume in general in this space, struggling on desktop.


Impressions decreasing on desktop in search, as users convert to, I mean, they’re actually using mobile devices, or tablets, or whatever they are using are interacting with apps. What if brands, or industries got together, and used RLSA in conjunction with each other to target audiences, and decreasing the overall CPCs that an industry would see in some of the highly competitive [lead gen 00:17:35] spaces, as well as things …


He presented a great idea for the automobile space, where … That’s a very, very high … There’s local impacts to dealers. Brand affinity concerns, because as people are looking for different types of cars, some have a very strong affinity to one type or another. They would prefer to see those types of ads, and if we had audience data on them, we could message to them. The local, and then that brand affinity, and just then the CPC cost. I love that kind of stuff. I love it when Larry brings good ideas there.


A few of the other things. Feed qualities, shopping, was another thing. People kept talking about shopping. It came up in my panel. People just throwing rapid questions about feed management, and how to do it better, and faster, and cheaper. That, especially with Q4 being on the doorstep.


Natural language, from an [SEO 00:18:28] perspective, and a PBC perspective. Natural language voice search, and the implications, we talked a little bit about that. That was one that … Accelerated mobile pages. Just do it. Don’t not do it. There was a lot of angst around that as we look to figuring out how to talk with people, and how to interact with people as advertisers and brands with people on mobile devices.


It’s like, start with making your site mobile friendly. Step number one, you can’t do that, don’t worry about anything else. That’s first. I think, gosh, I mean those are the real big ones that stood out to me. There’s a lot of good talk there, though.


Maureen: Yeah, I mean it’s a hot event. There’s a lot of industry experts there. I love it.


Katy: Smart people.


Maureen: We followed along on Twitter, in the Marketing department, and just re-tweeted and enjoyed the stream of conversation. It’s always a good time.


Katy: As you say re-tweet, that was another thing that kept coming up, is people saying, “Social is a very viable channel in your marketing funnel.” To take just a little bit of a step up from not quite down as low in the funnel as search, but social, Facebook, and Instagram, in particular, as a extremely positive and strong last click tactic. As people are looking to interact with customers, and prospects in new ways, that’s something to revisit. Even if they’ve already tried it, and if it’s been a couple of years.


Maureen: It’s important to try it out for a couple years, because it’s changed so much. [crosstalk 00:19:58]


Katy: Yup. You got to try it.


Maureen: It’s not even the same thing. [crosstalk 00:19:58] It was a year ago, it looks entirely different as well. Fabulous. I’d love to talk about the award a little bit. Yay.


Katy: Yay.


Maddie: Yay. (laughs)


Maureen: Spontaneous celebration. [crosstalk 00:20:12] (laughs) Tell us a little bit about the entry, if you could Maddie, that’d be awesome.


Maddie: Yeah. These Landy Awards, they have a call for entries, and they have a couple different categories that you can submit for. We were nominated for our enterprise campaign, a B2C Enterprise campaign for the Microsoft store. What they do in the entries, is they … I think people expect that it’s just like, fill in a couple boxes, but it really is, you need to be able to tell the story of what your team did, and provide a fair amount of details from a tactical perspective of what was completed.


There’s a lot of questions around budget, and the challenges you face, what was your strategy, and then really just kind of a bank canvas of, all right, and then what are the results, what did you do. We submitted for Microsoft store did basically a surprise, it was a surprise for us at least, a little bit less a surprise for them. A surprise product launch for Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book globally.


For their largest market, the US did a 24 hour turn around on paid search campaigns for that product, so that we could capitalize on the sudden interest and spike in demand that we knew would come. With launches like that, it’s really easy to do them fast, and poorly. We basically all came together, and came up with a strategy that involved how we were going to approach mobile, how we were going to approach audience targeting, how our messaging was going to be updated to reflect a new product line that people didn’t know anything about, while still focusing on those kind of purchase intent type of searches.


Then, how we are, from a bidding perspective, going to ramp up in that initial interest period. With a product launch, you expect some good conversion rate, you expect some good performance, but we ended up driving the highest paid search revenue month for a store that they had ever seen.


Maureen: Wow. High five.


Maddie: That’s a high five, yeah. Which was, in a way, shocking for us. We knew what we had done was good work, but it was fantastic to see that we capitalized really at the right time, and that we did it in a smart way, not just a quick way.


Maureen: Sure.


Maddie: Yeah, so that was outstanding. We thought it was Award worthy, so we put it together, and sent it off. We had some tough competition in our field for our nomination. When Katy and I were at the Landy’s in New York, we had fingers crossed, but we knew we were up against some other great groups. When they said our name, it was fantastic. It’s a reflection of the work of the team that Katy and I get to work on, and work with the paid search people here. Stuff like that is taxing, and it’s challenging. It pushes them to new levels of growth.


It was fantastic to do that for our client. It was great to be honored again. The Landy Awards are still pretty new. This is only their second year, but I’ve even noticed from year one to two, the competition has bumped up a lot higher. They had way more entries than they did in the first year. We won the first year as well, but to win a second time when things are getting more complex, and harder, and you’re up against some real smart, great people, was … It made us feel really good. It was an honor. It was great to be recognized by some great industry people.


Maureen: Sure.


Maddie: We had a blast.


Maureen: Yeah.


Maddie: We were very excited. It’s fun to take home a giant trophy in my suitcase the next day, and hope that TSA wasn’t like, “What’s this pointy thing in your bag?” It’s like, “Don’t worry about it.”


Maureen: Yeah.


Maddie: “Just an award. Don’t worry about it.”


Maureen: (laughs) Just make it go.


Maddie: “We’re kind of a big deal, just let us through.”


Maureen: (laughs)


Maddie: “Just let us through with our award.”


Maureen: Private screening, private screening. Katy, can you share … What does that mean to Point It when you win [an 00:24:15] award like this?


Katy: Oh, man. Well you know … Sally Field, like at the Oscars. You know, when she like …


Maureen: (laughs)


Katy: I know, I’m going back. I might be showing my age or something, I’m not sure. You know, they … “You like me, you really, really like me.” It’s vindication, and it’s just this affirmation that we’ve been heads down, doing a lot of work, doing what we feel in our hearts and souls here at Point It is the right thing to do. Not just for our clients, but for our people, and for the industry. To be recognized, in the second year, same category. Honest, it’s a different client situation, but the same client. This is a … We’re just beyond thrilled.


I do want to give a really big shout out to Microsoft store. They are the picture perfect client partnership. It’s a wonderful relationship that we’ve had with them for nine years. We’re very proud of it, and we’re very thankful for the partnership there. A big, also, a big shout out for the Landy’s. Like Maddie said, it’s their second year. They really upped their game.


Maureen: Oh, cool.


Katy: What they’re doing for the space, and the industry is fantastic. It’s an honor to be a part of it, and be recognized by that. Very humbling.


Maureen: Very nice.


Katy: Thank you. For everybody.


Maureen: We were cheering along here.


Maddie: (laughs)


Maureen: I was looking at my phone that night, and waiting, and just, we were so excited. It was just a huge love fest over email here, that’s for sure. Well, great. Thank you guys so much for joining us. It’s been really fun to hear how it went. Thank you guys all for joining me, Maureen Jann. Director of Marketing for Point It Digital Marketing.


For our second podcast, Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. We’re here at the Point It studios in Seattle, aka the Conference Room. Next week we’ll be talking to Sean Van Guilder, Point It’s Director of SEO. We’re looking forward to having you join us then. Until then, stay on point.


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