Inspirational talks on PPC & paid social from Biddable World

Yesterday, I stepped out of my little Northern comfort bubble and took a train down to London to attend my first ever conference, Biddable World. This event covered topics in relation to paid search, performance display and social media marketing, providing an opportunity to share and hear others’ experiences within the world of biddable media.

I have worked in PPC advertising for just less than 2 years so in terms of length of service, I would have been considered as quite a newbie at yesterday’s conference, as a quick show of hands indicated that some attendees had been in it from the very beginning. This was great news for me, as I was in the company of those who had been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.

The entire day was jam-packed with really useful hints and tips, opinions and strategies, but the three things that I took away from the conference were:
1) Audience; Understanding your audience and how to target them effectively
2) Mobile; The growth of mobile device marketing and its role in PPC
3) Social Media; How paid social media differs from paid search marketing

Audiences are the new keywords

The conference kicked off with a talk from Jon Myers, VP & Managing Director of Marin Software. He gave a great overview of the last decade of biddable media, which was an excellent background lesson for me as I wasn’t aware of some of the key events in digital marketing that Jon discussed, and he set the scene for the biddable landscape moving into the future.

As a PPC analyst, I am often faced with the task of optimising keywords and ad copy to ensure that relevancy is upheld, quality score is maximised and CPC bids are lowered. I have utilised the keyword planner, sat and dreamt up lists of relevant and targeted keywords with clients and colleagues, worked tirelessly on analysing search term reports, picking out keywords and search terms that are and are not relevant to the product or service for which I am advertising. Once completed, this then involves optimising ad copy and landing page content to enable these chosen keywords to perform well, and I have gotten some promising results.

However, I have soon become exhausted by these methods and hit a brick wall in terms of how far I can optimise a keyword until it plateaus out at the best quality score it is able to potentially achieve.

With this simple point from Jon, “audiences are the new keywords”, I felt a whole new brainwave of ideas for optimisation. Jon was discussing the success of Facebook advertising and I was sat there thinking, “Yes, because they have engaged with the right audience and have fully understood their users”.

Jon discussed the decision from Facebook to buy Instagram back in 2012, a perfect and logical move with their audience at the forefront of their business. Facebook users predominately upload and share more photographs and images than the average Twitter user. The social channel gives you the option to upload albums rather than just single photographs/images alone; users LOVE to do this.

So, as PPC analysts, instead of using search term reports to merely compile a list of relevant keywords, we should also be reading the context in which they are searched and tailor a user experience and customer journey within that context, therefore giving our customers exactly what they want.

Like Nick Christian from said, “We need to think less like search geeks”.

The importance of mobile marketing

Jon also went on to discuss the importance of mobile marketing throughout 2014. “With 75% penetration in the market by smartphones, mobile is the place to be in search”. This shouldn’t be a surprise to us marketers, as mobile has been on the radar for quite some time now and since the introduction and implementation of enhanced campaigns, paid search analysts cannot avoid the consideration of mobile marketing as now it is a necessary aspect to plan for in terms of budgeting and bidding.

This turned out to be a hot topic, frequently featuring throughout the talks. Adobes Dr Wing Lee Ying even provided a mathematical formula for advertisers to use when deciding their mobile bid adjustments. This illustrates just how serious some of your competitors could be taking the concept of mobile marketing.

Advertisers need a completely separate and individual strategy for mobile than that of tablet and desktop and rightfully, campaigns and ads should be optimised in an entirely different way, bespoke and tailored to the mobile user. As PPC specialist Tara West from Koozai pointed out, “Device level quality score is based on…. a separate calculation,” so it is crucial for us all to get our paid search accounts structured and optimised for each device correctly and as soon as possible. “Location is an even bigger play for mobile relevancy. You need to be reviewing your mobile user journey, creating mobile ad extensions, and segmenting your performance by device”.

Paid social media advertising

As a PPC analyst, I am most confident with campaigns that run within Google and Bing and it is only recently that I have joined forces with our Social Media Executive, Pamela Bustard to venture out into the world of biddable social ads. We took a shot at Facebook ads, promoted Tweets, Twitter Lead Generation cards and also LinkedIn advertisements.

My initial input was to take everything that had worked well with AdWords and apply it to the social channels. Needless to say, I felt a little embarrassed sat beside our Head of Agency, Richard Wood at the conference yesterday when Heather Robinson from Skittish talked about ‘Tentative Steps Into Twitter Advertising’, especially when she mentioned that when advertising on Twitter we should “forget [our] AdWords strategy, this is different”.

A learning curve outside the marketing bubble

I realised yesterday that it is difficult for me to remember how people outside the world of marketing receive and react to advertisements. People don’t log into their Facebook accounts because they fancy having a look at the latest paid search ads but they are there when they do log in; heavily featured within their newsfeeds and also down the right hand column of their account. On reflection, a hard sales message on a social media page wasn’t one of my finest ideas! Audience and context need to be at the forefront of our campaigns.

That concluded, I have come away from the Biddable World conference with bags of inspiration from all the talks. I took away something usable and something to consider when putting together my paid search strategies from each and every person that contributed to the day. There was a great atmosphere, a great vibe and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the day. Thank you to everyone who took part and made it as informative and entertaining as it was.

Check out our photo gallery on Facebook from the day.