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The Search Insider Summit, 2014 saw panelist discuss about the emerging marketing trends in the year 2015. Moderate by Ryan DeShazer EVP, Managing Director, inVentiv Media 360* (not available) / Male Speaker, the panelist members were:

You can view the video at Ustream


Moderator: What’s keeping you up at night, going to 2015? What gets you excited going to 2015? What do you think of the big things that you want to take advantage of, going to 2015 and so that’s where we are going to go with this panel. Again, I only met my amazing panel yesterday at about 1:30, so we are sort of weighing in this one a little bit, so bear with us. But before we get into that, I am going to let my panel introduce themselves now real quick.

Marc: Hi, I’m Marc Engelsman, and I’m the Director of Strategy & Analytics, Digital Brand Expressions, a full service context marketing agency. I am also on the board of directors for SIMPO, and I would…just wanted to pitch real quick, going to ask you all to take this SIMPO status search survey; it’s currently in market; it’s our 10th annual survey. It’s open to all digital marketers, not just SIMPO members and it’s so unique in that it tracks against agencies and also marketers and brands separately, so you can kind of see and measure the difference. I took it over from Kevin Lee here, about five years ago, so please take a chance to win an ipad here or trip to another conference at a later date.

Richard: My name is Richard Mastriani, I run Search Engine Optimization for one of the largest hotel teams in the world, Wyndham hotel group. I oversee twelve, thirteen different brands that changes every now and then, both domestically, international in Europe, Asia, South America as well!

Sarah: I’m Saran McMahon, I am here from Lids Sports Group. If you’ve been in a mall, you’ve probably seen a Lids Hat store and hopefully you are also familiar with our Locker Room stores, where we carry sports apparel and novelties. At Lids, I oversee all search, paid digital advertising, conversion rate optimization on site and I also help out with some of the digital drive to store campaigns that we’re starting to launch.

Moderator: Great, thanks guys. Why don’t we quickly, sort of, go down the line and we talked about yesterday, sort of, each of the so hot topics that you were all interested on, based on the feedback I had gotten from Ryan. So I want you to just tell the audience, sort of, what you guys are thinking about going into 2015?

Marc: One of the things that I think that’s emerging, I haven’t heard a lot of talk about here, atleast not directly, are the influence of user signals in search results now in the algorithm, so whether it’s click-through rate or for organic listing, so where the bounce rate for the engagement levels, I think we are going to need to start to pay more attention to those components, as we drive the relevancy of our content.

Richard: So from a hotel perspective, we have a…just two main components within our group. It’s basic global enterprise SEO strategy that we need to implement and then there is also a very local strategy which pretty much leads right into mobile for us, so a lot of where local traffic comes from mobile and gaining attribution, you know, from our mobile traffic, so you’ve people driving along in a highway, they want to stop at a hotel or whatever reason they need to stay there, now, if they are doing the search on their mobile, are they calling the hotel, are they walking into the hotel, and how is SEO being attributed for that, now that’s a big challenge for us and leading into 2015 and going into 2016, we’re going to have a huge focus on consumer engagement as a component of SEO.

So what Catherine was mentioning before, on the key note, that’s such a very big part of what SEO is and where big brands need to be going, in generating consumer engagement for us. Different types of content, whether that’s video, article-related, you know, just images itself, and then, keeping the conversation going between the buyers and sellers within your market as well, so…

Sarah: Okay…rather than just picking one, but I think that on the retail side, both mobile and you know, the topic of marketplace is going to be a big thing, that we want to master, going into 2015, and I really enjoyed the internal session by seers because I think they are really doing some cool things about, you know, how do we use market places to serve the right kind of ads, whether we want to drive someone online or in store and I think also, how are we going to use mobile is really important because it’s not just about, you know, generating that end-sale any more. I think that we can use mobile search as a vehicle and then, you know, attribution in some of these like marketplaces, as they go more and more mobile, will, I think really kind of expose that.

Moderator: I mean, it is this clear commonality between the signals, the SEO, the content, the marketplaces and the audience targeting and doing the right messages, where user…what are we to do and you can jump in at any order you choose, but how do you think about, like based on the audience, like how do you go about doing that, like what does that mean? Like, I mean, that’s a nice topic, what do a brand have to do to set that up, to be prepared to take advantage of that, do that, like what seers was talking, right? What’s…I know it’s a great presentation, as was Orabrush; like, how do you get there, like what’s involved in that?

Richard: That’s a huge question that comes from very high level, so I have to say that’s a question that comes from the CMO usually, is, “Okay, so we want to run around this integrated marketing campaigns or these integrated approach to one of our website or community, and their overall strategy,” and you know, the first thing that comes back is: “Do we really understand our audience and who they are?”

So at this moment, we’re currently just going through a ton of research, as to who our audience is, what do they do, how do they spend their time, and then from there, we pretty much drove down into the types of content that they engage with and try to do some social media studies and some polls, like it really begins with understanding your audience; from there, having a technically sound structured website as well, and then having the resources and dollars as well to launch those campaigns across different channels and then strategies…

Moderator: It revise that market, so Sarah, may be you could talk a little bit about, you know, are there some tools that has to make that happen? Is it people? Is it culture? Is it a process? Like what…?

Marc: I think it’s a process to a degree and I think the key is in the idea of integration and the fact that search isn’t search, the way it used to be. I mean, needs to be, and we have talked about silo us and everything, but between social signals and user signals, then link signals and content signals, we’re talking about multiple channels here just for search and if you’re not approaching it from that larger holistic basis, you’re missing out on these opportunities to manage that content and to distribute it.

I actually think that along those lines, that I think you are going to start to see and I hope to see may be some additional, kind of, content integration tools coming out into the marketplace. So I know [inaudible 0:06:58] has been here, talking about, you know, how they integrate content. You can put it out there and type the things, but I would love to see some content integration mash up type of tools, where you could help distribute across channels, you know. So you put out a message on your website or in social and then it also gets into paid, gets into these other areas, and it all connects and it all gets tied together.

Moderator: Sarah?

Sarah: Yeah, and I think in terms of the tool, I mean, for retail, having like a really awesome CRM database is just so key and you know, convincing your customers to personalization techniques, that’s like, it’s okay to share some of their information and their likes, you know. “What is your favorite team?” and “Do you want a Snapback hat or do you like fitted hats?” So you know I think that’s going to be a huge help and I liked also some of the stats that were shared around stores, like you know, [Amanda inaudible 0:07:51] had mentioned that you know, ‘A website can convert 3%, but a store can convert at 20%.’

So if you can get, you know, your store in place, really educate them on the value of digital and how can they encourage customers and you know, use any digital, you know, tools, whether it’s an app., or if you’ve like a [Keyon Skin 0:08:11] store, just really tying that all together and the last thing to do is, this is a thing in retail that’s, you know, it seems like a conferences it for retailers, is it’s been a topic, but rolling yourselves up across eCommerce and the store site kind of together. So it’s not like eCommerce and the stores are like fighting for budget and they only want to drive revenue to the, you know, properties that they can take credit for, but realizing that, like, that’s not realistic any more. You really need to work both sides simbiotically.

Moderator: What about going in 2015? How would a brand or you know, is it supporting the brands? How do you balance, sort of, the, you know, we have coming up right after you guys is the third instalment of the Shiny Objects Presentation, so how do you balance, sort of, the shiny object and the desire for that and then at the same time, you know, I don’t know, out of the audience here, but my assumption is, forgive me if I’m overtly cynical here, but you know, how many people are taking full advantage of as you mentioned CRM, integrating CRM with Facebook Custom Audiences and taking advantage of stuff like that? How do you balance those worlds of sort of doing the new shiny object and actually fixing what was last year’s shining object and taking advantage of that, which hasn’t been fully exploded yet?

Richard: Getting the new shiny objects within an organization, it’s a huge process, so when you’re starting out with a process like this, I think it makes more sense to…makes a lot of sense to be very agile, so it may involve a lot of excel spreadsheets and managing and editorial countering, Google Docs, but eventually in order to scale something like this, you’re going to need some iteration of higher level tools and you’re going to have to show a very small ROI at some point or just some type of engagement that’s driving another key performance indicator, to one – put together the budget for these stores because they do get pretty expensive, but there is value to them and if there’s an operational process in line, within, you know, that’s broken down silos between different teams and these tools are going to help integrate the different…the content marketing team along with the SEO team and the social media team and the pmedia team and then if you get these tools also pull in public relations, into the messaging as well, then I think that’s an overall solution.

Once you get all these buyers and all these people on to the same room, talking about the same thing and how we are going to drive results together as a group rather than in silos, it really adds value to these tools. So for example, SEO, we are looking at right age conductor at the moment to understand our content and our audience across 13 different brands, with 30000 keywords, it’s probably less much of the 5% to 10% of all the keywords we could probably track on there, but it pulls the data in and then, you know, we build out a process from there and once the process is built out, then we could start diving deeper into the tool and then start integrating with our pmedia and our social media strategies as well!

Sarah: I just wanted to add on, I too think that like small tests are really key because I have a really hard time selling the new bright and shiny objects, as advertising campaigns and I think that’s just because you know, we are so ROI focused, but if you can get budget for, you know, one little test and just show, “Hey, if this thing is working, that’s a really good way to kind of help your advertising as a whole involved.”

Marc: I think part of the key is may be utilizing the interests that your ‘C’ level or other stakeholders may have in the bright, shiny object, to kind of pull them back into doing the integration that they should have been doing before, so it’s kind of like, “Oh, that’s great, you know, that you’re interested in that, but does that meet with your business objectives today and how can we better leverage what we are currently doing to move that forward?” So it’s…., you know, I hated when social first came out; everyone, all the clients said, “We want to do something viral. We wanted to go viral”; well, you know, it was bad strategy to try the plan, to do that. But if you can bring it back, take their attention and then focus it back in on the efforts that are really going to prove and generate the results that they’re really looking for, I think that’s a better tactic.

Moderator: It’s interesting and Sarah, you mentioned sort of harped on this…you mentioned little tests and it is something I think about a lot and to give the world that I was [inaudible 0:12:29] grant on Twitter and everybody heard that. I think you might have left and I don’t see them around here any more, but you know, I get to hear over and over again people talking about big data, right? But did you wait for the big data or … because you mentioned little tests, so are really the big wins coming from little data and little tests and small wins of improving the customer experience along the way or…? How do you balance that?

Sarah: Yeah, I definitely think so and I mean, Lids business is very segmentive a team obviously and it changes constantly, like on a weekly basis. So I definitely think like, you know, until …trying to think of a good example. You know, until we get better about understanding data, sometimes you need to do the little tests to say like, “Oh, hey, this is like a small trend that I am seeing, that we can do something with, so let’s do it and see what we can get out of it.” You know, if you wait around for the big thing, you could just be waiting so long that your competitor beats you with the small tests.

Moderator: How about the other guys? What do you think?

Richard: I’m a data guy; I love data and a lot of it, I tend to waste a lot of time with a lot of information, so I like starting off small and then growing that data and finding, you know, different key points and different match ups and interlinking between other data sets that can help us, you know, increase our ROI within SEOs, so that may include just pulling the ton of data from may be social media to understand what your audience is actually talking about, whether it’s a trend in topic that day or what do they talk about, what do they view and share before they are going to travel or just understanding some of their pain points in their life that leads up to travel, so that you can kind of create content around that, that’s an area where I would like to see some big data, but in terms of looking at, you know, the optimization of may be a piece of content or a landing page, I don’t like to focus so much on data.

I think our group understands SEO; we understand what drives SEO and we understand that, you know, if we are not on the first page, we are not getting traffic. If we are not on the top of the first page, we are, in the hotel industry, really not getting any traffic any more either, so I think it’s a combination of using small data and then diving deeper into big data as well!

Sarah: To review …to his point, regarding like search query data, I feel like there’s been some questions around, you know, like where a search query data is going, is it even really helpful any more, now that we don’t have the Google natural revenue attributed to that, and you know, I think I know Google and Mind-Share really cool tool; well, they didn’t release it, but they said that they came up with one, to teach search as a signal geographically and I think that’s so important and let us assume, you know, we’ve been able to find some areas where we would see a team kind of pick up in popularity, even if they weren’t applying that right away, or you know, we saw a certain [inaudible 0:15:15] that we wouldn’t have expected, you know, pick up in a certain area and have been able to turn around and share that data with our merchandizers and our buyers and say like, “Hey, this is an opportunity where we can make some real small tweaks and increase the conversion rate a little bit over here.” So I definitely think that’s an example where, you know, takes a little more work to do that small test, but the winds are good and you know, that’s what our business is all about.

Marc: Yeah, we would like to refer to them not as tests, but as pilot programs, so that what you can do is kind of position it for a successful roll out on the backend. The big problem with search though in any of these types of tests is it sometimes can take time for those results to manifest, so it’s managing the expectations as you’re doing and starting the test, so people know that they’re not necessarily going to see result tomorrow. It’s not like paid or display or other types of things that you can put in marketing, you know, tomorrow that you had success, right, so what we need to do is really manage the expectations of what we are achieving with organic search and SEO and then manage accordingly.

Moderator: Well, I mean, this just sort of came out of a dinner conversation last night, but we were talking at dinner last night of some of the changes going on, like with Google’s big changes coming around with the DMP policies and stuff coming up January 1, and you look at what Facebook’s doing and you know, being a Facebook…like double-click serve and Facebook and Google won’t let…serve into Google and you have this sort of new welding with what Amazon’s doing, eBay’s doing and everybody saying that, “You can use my audience data. You can target my audiences and you can use that to make better offers and better messaging, but you’ve to do it within my marketplace, within my walls.”

So sort of the open marketplace or the third-party sort of ad serving world we traditionally within a digital and starting to fade away, so going in 2015, how do we a lot of what you are saying, given that going forward, you are really not looking at a holistic sort of digital sort of audience any more? You are thinking about now, “How do I talk to Google’s audience? How do I talk to Facebook’s audience? How do I talk to Microsoft’s audience? How do I talk to Amazon’s audience?” And each of them are almost siloed in, like almost like sort of a return to what, you know, ’98, ’99 sort of walled-garden digital…you know? How does all this change, given that I can’t necessarily any more use that data across everybody now?

Marc: I think, you know, it’s interesting. I use a term ‘co-opetition’ and I think we’re seeing more and more of that, where you have all these outlets now that are featuring your products or helping you sell that and they are even like brands have sub-retailers distributors, whatever the products, so it’s like “How do you compete in the search world against all these different people who are now your competitors, atleast for SERPs, right?” So i think part of it is that you need to take a very structured approach and think branded versus unbranded types of keywords and really be focused in terms of what you think you can really achieve. I like…in the …discussion earlier today with respect to looking at lifestyle keywords, in addition to the functional keywords, because I think that’s a way of breaking through and kind of going beyond, you know, the product or the branded search needs and I think that’s something we need to be looking at as we move forward into 2015.

Richard: And to add on to that, with all these different segmentations across different channels – Amazon, Google, Facebook, it’s a challenge for marketers altogether and that going back to the small data and then go, moving on to big data, it probably makes more sense. You could really waste a lot of dollars and time and money by, you know, casting a pretty wide net across all these different channels at once, so it makes a little bit more sense to dive into one channel, get data, create a baseline for that, test that market on another channel, see what the impact of that market is within, you know, Facebook and Google and then kind of just continue, so A/B, A/B/C, A/B/C/D test across these different channels until you are getting the information that you need on a smaller scale.

Sarah: I agree to that. It’s becoming very fragmented and you can’t, you know, start to just…you definitely can’t manage everything the same way and one example I will touch on and you know, not so much….I guess it’s partly audiences, but what I am more concerned about is how are we, as advertisers, optimizing some of these channels? So if you take the comparison shopping engine spaces, like you know, Amazon and eBay, it’s not…you know, obviously keywords and bids matter there, but it’s really not about keyword search any more; it’s product search and you know, it shouldn’t be keyword analyst managing that, it should be product analyst.

So I think that’s one area where, you know, yes, you want to go after the stuff that’s getting volume, that potentially has a lot of bids and may be you have a low price point, but I think search teams could, you know, have a win by talking with their retail clients about, you know, what kind of styles do you want to push? Like you know, may be there is a certain query that, you know, yeah, you could just push like the cheapest thing, but one which you would rather have like an authentic NFL jersey and have some nice copy that really pulls the user and so, I think it’s a little bit like we need to treat it, you know, as fragments and kind of, you know, just revamp the way we see some of those new channels that are picking up.

Marc: I think what we are talking about here is really we are going beyond search optimization, right, so we are now talking about channel optimization and we are talking about content optimization and kind of thinking in that broader level than just trying plain old organic search.

Moderator: Yeah, I mean, given that, right, I mean, Marc, you and [inaudible 0:21:00] talked about sort of testing in or piloting in each of these different tactics and Sarah, you mentioned not necessarily a search analyst; it’s a product analyst and I think that’s right on because you need to be sort of focused on the product across all these, sort of, tactics in channels, but how do you integrate this and you’ve heard in the last couple of days one of the biggest challenges facing our industry is all these guys setting different teams; in many cases, different buildings or different cities or they don’t talk to each other.

You know, I’ve always said that, you know, for most advertisers search is the best performing media channel because the biggest benefactor of all the other media channels. I see some around TV, I go, search for it, right? I just hear something on the radio, I go, search for it, right, even [inaudible 0:21:35] and bring up the audio on that. It’s just an audio-based search; I’m not typing a keyword into your point, but I am searching for that info. How do you organizationally prepare going into 2015 to make sure that, sort of that synergy and that insight across these channels and tactics is actually happening?

Sarah: Yeah, we’ve kind of worked on that more, you know; I have mentioned [con], trying to work with our merchandizers more because you know, our business is heavily dependent on teams and how they perform well, so, you know, what have we bought, right, like that year, whatever we stocked well and so you know, we’ve had some small wins just by sharing, like basic tables, like “What keywords am I seeing?” Like are the stores, you know, reaching up to the buyers every so often, saying like, “Hey, did you guys like see any particular markets sell a lot more of Lid [inaudible 0:22:24], you know, when this team may be had a good win over the weekend, so you know, just sharing like, you know, small routine insights, I think.

Marc: As an agency, we would like to force that integration by inviting and saying, when we are starting often a project, we want to be sure we have all the stakeholders at the table, so we want the IT, web development team there, we want the marketing team there, we want the sales team there, we want the business anlaysts team there, so they all understand what we are trying to achieve and we can all agree on what the objectives are, so we are kind of forcing that integration in an organization by inviting them in early and also in sharing with them the results and the data that we are getting out of the program.

Moderator: What about Wyndham? How do you break down those silos and make sure those people talk within your organization?

Richard: Yeah, that’s a fantastic question, which I am still trying to figure out myself. I mean, overall, Wyndham, we are a huge corporation, and we have a lot of marketing teams working on a lot of different things at a time, and I have been there for less than a year, and in my time there, I have spent my time going over with each individual team, how SEO can help impact their team in terms of ROI altogether? That’s pretty much the big measurement internally and at one point, I made it over to public relations and I remember, I sat down in the Vice President’s office within my first, like two months there and she kind of looked at me, like, “What are you doing here?” And, “What can I do for you?” and I was like, “Well, you obviously don’t understand.

Let me tell you…” and that just kind of led to overall integration with content and public relations and now they are involved and, you know, paid media has got their own monster going on, managing 13 different brands and you know, we are looking to bring on tools and just kind of generate…we tried doing it…we have done it on a small level.We kind of had some data there, we know that we can make small wins here, so we were looking into buying the bright, new shiny objects, so that all of our teams are collaborated within these shiny, new objects and there is communication between departments and there is attribution and annotations of when changes were made.

Even IT, you know, if we could show that this change, you know, within the website, within these brands sites, impacts these search results and impact the traffic and revenue, ITs now like, “Wow! We actually did something that isn’t just a cost, you know?”So it’s really just as an SEO part of your job description, is, you have to walk into meetings that you weren’t invited to; you have to kind of keep posted as to what’s going on within the entire organization and just constantly let everybody know how they are impacting all the other teams, because they don’t know their silos, so part of it is just getting up there and telling the story and you are going to piss some people off at times, and they are most likely going to piss you off at times too, but that’s really part of the job description for search.

Moderator: So what I am hearing now through you guys is clearly good search requires cooperation, collaboration, integration, probably more so than ever, right? There was a joke yesterday about, you know, how retailer just gives a search guy a budget and he expects ‘x’ sort of return on that budget back and they could just do that in the silo. Cool we can’t do that any more. So given that and the topic of the panel, go down the line, you guys got anybody to choose, but you know, sort of a two part, sort of the answer to the question of, you know, so given that, what is the thing that has you most excited going into 2015 and what is the thing that scares the shit out of you?

Richard: I start with the thing that scares the shit out of me and that’s the changes that Google constantly makes to the [SERP 0:25:56] and in my business, right, so any type of organic traffic or revenue, any signal that they get, that we are starting to gain traffic, you know, it seems like they are going in and putting all the LTAs there and now they have a new bid platform hotel finder, and hotel finder is just everywhere, that you need to be so, in the organic search results, you are just being moved to, you know, further and further down the page, especially on desktop. So that change took place on November 14th and I am kind of just pulling in the data now and seeing what the impact of that is and seeing what type of terms that it generates from there, so that’s a scary part, is Google is constantly changing.

As a SEO, you have to constantly change and you have to be willing and ready to change, not let that get you and just really improvise all the time. Something that I’m really excited about is really SEOs move beyond what it was, you know, two, three years ago and you know, five years ago from that or I think I was having conversation with everybody about that last night and it’s really an integrating marketing campaign, so we are seeing or atleast I am seeing is, a full, there’s a lot of overlay between social and SEO and the understanding of what your consumer is doing, but also consumers understanding what publishers, vendors or businesses are doing as well.

I think it was mentioned a couple of times earlier this week, is you see a company like Airbnb, they are within their own platform, the consumer can find out data about the place that they are going to rent, but a person who is renting their place often also get data about the consumer as well, so there’s lot of community building going on within small networks or smaller websites themselves and I think we are going to see that merger to start take place more and more within searches also, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Yahoo as well!

Marc: I am actually going to take his, what scares the shit out of him and make it the opportunity. I think as search marketers, it is a constantly evolving world and I think the opportunity in that if you are ahead of the game or a little bit ahead of the game, you can actually leverage that for the advantage of your clients or your company. So you can actually take your ads or marketing approach and really drive [inaudible 0:28:12] differentiation and actually competitive advantage by being may be just a step behind what Google is doing, but being able to leverage it, which scares me the most, is the dependence on companies and the move towards this whole attribution modelling and what am I paying for.

They understand pay-per-click now to the degree that, “Oh, I know what I’m getting. I’m getting, you know, all these impressions,” but they still don’t understand from an organic search perspective, you know, and I hate getting the question, I’m scared of the dependence of what’s the value of an organic visit and trying to measure that and determine that and the focus on that as a single item as opposed to this larger picture – that’s what scares me.

Moderator: Sarah?

Sarah: Yeah, I will shift a little more to the advertising side, I guess, in terms of what scares me. I think, you know, CPCs are rising and none of these new spaces that are emerging are really any cheaper than Google and costs are only going to go up, so…I mean, I think managing that and still showing your value at some of those spaces is going to be important and in terms of what I am most excited about, definitely getting…I don’t want to just say just audience data, but getting more data insights about our consumers and what these spaces are like, I don’t think it’s going to get any more efficient or cheaper, anything like that, but I think we would be able to provide better experience for users in 2015.

Moderator: It’s interesting. I mean, we talked a lot about sort of SEO and organic side, but sort of the paid side and then the visual over the last couple of days, there’s been a lot of panels around the programmatic and the rise of programmatic and everything is going to be programmatic and everything is going to be auction-based and the search guys are going to take over the world, when you bring up their price point, right? I mean, it’s interesting because you think of the, you know, if everything is going programmatic, it’s really sort of market-dictated pricing; everything is going to come on auction, so the market is going to set the price.

Search used to be a land where the small guy could compete against the big guy, right, but who would have thought, you know, five or six years ago, that you know, some of my financial clients would spend a $150 a click for a keyword, right? I mean, that’s crazy! I mean, if you asked me that five years ago, I would have said, “You are a moron!” Then here it is!

So what are the concerns or thoughts or opportunities of how you are going to take advantage of that, going into 2015, given that, I think as everything goes programmatic, at some point, it’s going to hit a level of liquidity and right now, you can get Facebook inventory much cheaper than your estimated CPC and you can get a lot of other, sort of, programmatic inventory much cheaper than your estimated CPC or CPM, but fairly soon, I think, what’s going to happen is those prices are going to start to sky-rocket, just like we see within Google. So I think Google is a good sort of proof point of whatever might happen to the rest of the digital ecosystem. What does a brand or an agency help their brands do about that?

Sarah: Yeah, you know, I’m going to go back to the local point a little bit, like I just think that, you know, it doesn’t even have to just be brick and mortar. If you have any way that you can connect with people locally instead of like a nation-wide thing and you know, geographic targeting is not the end-all, be-all, but I think that’s a really good start for where you can say like, “Okay, so if I can do good in this one area, then may be I should put some budget there and you know, that’s more of a higher value for me.” So yeah, I guess from a retail standpoint, I mean, I would say embracing your stores and seeing how you can kind of harness those because the eCommerce space is not getting any cheaper or less crowded and for online only advertisers, good luck!

Marc: I think, you know, the connections we are trying to make, still need to be relevant, right, in terms of what we are presenting to the people and I think we are getting closer and closer and more to that personalization of the results and we have to remember that that’s a key component, so whether or not it’s because of your, you know, Facebook graph or whether it’s because you are being scanned by a mirror in the store, whatever, you know, you’re still trying to connect the dots in terms of, you know, what’s the intent of this person, what are they looking for, you know, digitally or you know, in a brick and mortar location and how can we serve up our result as the right solution to that? And if you can create that relevancy, in that gap,in that period sometimes, may be in real real time, then that’s the opportunity.

Moderator: What about may be Wyndham? I mean, you are…sort of you are lot, being focused on SEO. Do you see that as the sort of non-paid as a way to sort of help compensate the paid guys in what they are dealing with the rising costs?

Richard: Absolutely. That’s where it’s going to go with us. But I like to look at search as an overall whole and then the organization as an entire whole as well and so looking at KPIs such as cost-per-acquisition and understanding, you know, certain times of the day, when your paid channels are running at full steam, you know, when can you pull back and just let organic take over and is it worth it to be bidding such…to keep running your cost-per-click up, when organic can bring that traffic as well and when groups are siloed and paid media sometimes is from SEO, there’s a competition between the two groups SEO.

How many times has a SEO or an agency created a landing page in ranks, you know, one or two search results and then the next thing you know, you bring your brands like ads are, they are stealing your traffic and you let [inaudible 0:33:34]… You know? So when the groups are siloed, like that or the agencies are siloed, and they are not working together, you are going to have that happen when if you are working together, you could may be pull back the bid for those clicks or for those types of keywords to rank may be in the fourth or in the sixth, seventh position and just let organic take over, especially if it converts better as well!

Sarah: Yeah. I just want to add to on the personalization topic. I am not totally sold yet on the idea of getting from sensors but the BIA Council presentation really sold me on the fact that, like FitBit for example is going to provide some interesting data around like, you know, you don’t want to send someone an ad when they are sleeping or may be when they are working out, when they don’t want to see it. So pay attention to, you know, places that you can get data of like what are your customers actually doing at any time of the day or in any area and you try to use that.

Moderator: Marc, how would you counter that? You seem to be very hot on signals.

Marc: Yeah, I think that kind of gear, that type of thing where you can get that information ultimately will let us better target against them and I think it goes more towards this idea ofm the lifestyle type of search marketing approach, where if they have a FitBit, just to start with, they have a FitBit, that’s telling you something about them, right, beyond the fact that, you know, when they are asleep or awake or when they are running or what they are doing and I think, you know, it’s the same with, you know, whether or not you have tech gear.

I know people here, you know, have the smart watches now and things like that, and I think having that equipment and leveraging the apps. and the tools around that becomes knowledge that we understand that as a person and what we may be able to appeal to them from a lifestyle perspective, beyond just actually what they are doing at a given point in time.

Richard: To pick a …of that, you have to understand your audience and you have to find different ways to engage our audience through, as an SEO, I would do that through different content and different channels, but when you are engaging your audience, you want to understand, you want to get their demographic, so even through Google, if we have a hotel and you are generating a bunch of reviews about the hotel and they are all positive, helping you pull data about these people, you know, whether it’s a Google profile or the Google Plus profile and understand, “Well, it’s very easy for our hotel to make these people happy because our product applies to these people,” and then constantly retargeting that over and over again, rather than casting the bigger net and wasting money.

So you know, in terms of engagement, I would say, you know, looking at social signals, looking at people who are signing up for your newsletters, your loyalty programs are a huge component and there is so much information available there, of course, if your loyalty program is good. And then just understanding demographics that are coming in from third-party as well and just manning them all together, that’s really how you optimize an integrated campaign and if you are just focusing on one channel, it’s going to get expensive, you know.

So you have to have,…we hear all these different touch-points, so the consumers never always on one device, so I mean, I think I probably look at an ipad or desktop, my phone and I was never looking at the same thing across all devices but I will get on the plane today and I will kind of get back to all that information. Again, you know, some of it I will forget, but sometimes the companies will engage me again through an email or I’ll get retargeted on Facebook, I would love to get retargeted on Facebook sometimes, you know. I would have forgot that I had to buy that and ‘Let me pick that up on the way out…”

Moderator: kind of those ‘Candy Crush’ ads? [Laughter] Might be, I might [inaudible 0:37:09] to people if you give me another ‘Candy Crush’ invitation. Sarah, question is to you. Given that you mentioned the personalization, we talked, really, you know, Richard mentioned ‘G Plus’ and then Marc mentioned apps. You know, going forward into 2015, clearly is the trend app. usage, but at the same time with the innovation 05, you know, the web is trying to sort of reinvent itself to work on all devices, across devices with your company. How do you look at that, with that personalization and trying to balance that multi-device experience? Is the app. pushed to app. the way to go or do you want to keep them in the mobile web? Like how do you think about that?

Sarah: Yeah, that’s really good question. You know, a huge part of our customer bases, you know, millionaires are digitally savvy young people, so this is something that we have a lot of discussions about. We have an app. and you know, it’s helpful I guess for a lot of our repeat customers, you know, the Lids Club members that we know will want to come back and buy, you know, whatever style we have coming out. But I think that there needs to be like I am the apps. side, [inaudible 0:38:12] engagement side, because you know, for someone to download an app. just so that they can buy something like, you know, I can make my mobile website friendly enough that, you know, because for acquiring a new customer, that will be easier for them to convert.

So I think it’s a matter of, you know, deciding what you are going to do, where should the focus of that digital property be and I think may be for apps., it should be something that’s, you know, more about engagement. I loved the point about, you know, kids can spend like all day online, but never go near the world-wide web, so like, apps. are going to be very important, but I just don’t know on a mass scale if people are actually like using apps, solely for shopping, unless may be, you know, they are just on Amazon or something like that.

Richard: In terms of just looking at, you mentioned kids and I have a 7-year old daughter, who spends hours watching ‘Minecraft’ videos on YouTube and these videos get like hundreds and thousands of views, but my daughter…I get to see emails like my daughter loves animals and so i will get like ‘Rescue a Puppy’ or something like that…

Moderator: Don’t let her talk to Jeff Shane, because she is going to get a Dog app.!

Richard: And my daughter will actually go on, will see an ad on TV, run to computer online and sign up with ‘My email Address’ and put all this information in and then I will just start getting these emails and these [inaudible 0:39:35] in the mail, for my daughter. So you know, understanding your audience, but then also your kids, their kids as well can also have an impact on your bottomline.

Marc: I think also and this is actually a good point he said. You know, we have to think beyond text to, you know, the image optimization, video optimization. We heard about a lot yesterday very important features as we move forward, right, and you know, so we have to think, you know, in different types of context.

Sarah: I really like the point too about that, in that you know, like you know, even if your team might be hesitant to invest money in like a new video or something, you know, a piece of content that could be expensive or takes a lot of resources. You know, if it’s good, then you should definitely do it for the engagement factor, but there’s also those meta-variables that are going to help you for SEO, so it’s a really good point.

Moderator: It’s interesting. We had a conversation at dinner last night and you know, I thought I was always [inaudible 0:40:31] about a couple of people at dinner, that was thoroughly amazing. You mentioned kids being on apps. all the time and you know, using devices. For all the parents in the room, take advantage of that! Your kids only use devices, have to be charged, you can manage TV time at home, like the turning the TV off and telling them “You forgot to charge it.” It’s a really simple way to shut off the TV. Let me tell you, I do it at home, although my wife is home.

As soon as my kids realize it, and they hate us, it’s on me, but I will take that bullet, when I get there, right, and it’s sort of like Santa, right? When the first gift for you is out, you have to bribe him to not ruin it for the other two, right? So run with that. But jokes aside, before we go to audience questions, you know, if you guys…what’s the one thing that you think the audience should take away, going into the next year? This is probably like the most important thing that you should do.

Marc: I’ll go back to where I started – the integration of all the various signals including user signals now and understanding, you know, that everything you do has to be put into context, not just in the search engine space, but beyond.

Richard: I would take away SEO is no longer it’s own channel, where it’s an integrated approach across five different channels – you have public relations, IT, social media, content, pmedia – it’s an integration of all these channels, get out there, break down the siloes, let everybody know that SEO will impact the entire organization as a whole, and get [inaudible 0:41:52].

Sarah: And you know, on the omni-channel business side, it seems like there’s been a big push to, you know, “How do we get more traffic coming to, more revenue, increase the mobile ROI, so it’s on par with desktop?” and I think that moving forward, we shouldn’t look at so much as that, but how do we use mobile and mobile search, as like a stable medium or even a transition point to get people to convert? Don’t necessarily like try to go crazy and get everyone converting on mobile all the time, but how can you help, you know, use mobile to assist your customers in their purchase, whatever they want to buy, whether it’s in store, on your website, on your app., whatever.

Moderator: Great. This is really good for…questions. I just wanted to respond to…I would argue and the questioning of whether you push from multi-device through mobile, web or through app., isn’t first world problem, because if you go around the globe, you go to Nigeria, 90% of all the banking transaction is done through a banking app. via a flip phone; you know, without even a smartphone, right?

So if you go around the globe, you look at the countries that are on prepaid versus postpaid, the countries that are on postpaid will use the mobile web, and will use browsers because they are going to be generating data and it’s going to cost a shift on the time and money on their part and the countries that are on prepaid, are often on app. only, sort of, internet experiences via a tiny little phone. So I just wanted to distribute that tweak as a start up guys; it’s not a first world problem. I would argue the first world just getting up to everybody else, so given that, we’ve got about 5 minutes left. Hopefully that didn’t scare anybody. Questions for the panel.

Audience: Is it Rich? You raised a really good point in sort of what happens when the algorithm shifts or there is a product shift, particularly in the hotel category, right around January, last year, ‘Hotel Price Ads’ were introduced and I thought, particularly, I have got a lot of experience working in the travel category and the brands are always at odds with the OTA. It’s just weird, ridiculous relationship. So what I will tell the organic listings where hotel price ads were introduced, and I saw inventory available, from every OTA, but in the brand organic listings, and none of the brands had their inventory represented there. When you see something ike that, what’s the conversation like with Google?

Richard: I think it’s going to be a rough road for hotels going forward. I mean, there is this whole brand parody with OTAs where we have to be providing them the same price that we are offering and is there any real value in using OTAs, but Google just happens to favor them so much and they get to be in our space no matter what and I don’t know what the relationship is with Google and the OTAs, and I came from an OTA into the hotel space.

So you know we used to kind of have like, now that I am on that side of data, you know, if I am on the other side of the fence, it’s going to be a bigger challenge or we are going to have to get pretty creative in how we are engaging consumers and we are going to have to come up with different ways to create content and find other channels to bring our consumers into those. So if I do build up an audience, whether on Facebook or just another channel, that’s going to eventually affect how the rankings…how our pages rank within their personalized searches also.

Again, it falls back on overall integrated marketing approach and just being able to touch the consumer at different points in the buying cycle, so we might have to retail further towards the visionary, to the “Damn, I really need a vacation moment,” rather than, “I am buying a vacation today moment,” to get, to engage those consumers.

Moderator: Anybody else? Anybody? So I mean I know that was very specifically targeted towards the hotel chain, but do you find those type of moves back to your business?

Sarah: In terms of…I mean, you know, cutting certain brands out, I don’t know if I’ve seen anything. I’m trying to think of the last, like really big update I saw, that seemed, you know, effective on retail. I do think more local updates will be a little more important. It just seems like the local aspect of it is kind of picking up and you know, keeping that relevancy and it seems like in the last Penguin update that retailers were in a big focus in publication, so I don’t know if that, you know, may be just like a later phase of it, like I think that could, you know, effect nationwide retailers that want to reach people. You know, may be Google is going to start focusing on someone that has more local stores or you know, their site is a little more local-friendly.

Moderator: Marc, may be I will give you the final thoughts. What are your thoughts as an agency with some of these changes going on at Google? How do you help your clients with this? What’s going on?

Marc: Well, I am going to switch the question a little bit because you know, Wyndham and Lids are very much eCommerce-oriented and I think, you know, we haven’t talked a lot about the B2B implications of what we’re doing here and I think that’s an important thing that we need to apply some of these learnings that may be happening in the eCommere and learn how things are changing, in that in how we market from a B2B, where we are really trying to drive leads for our clients as opposed to just actual sales and I think, you know, it comes back to we need to think about how do we create those connections, create that integration at that level, as they are on their journey and they are truly starting at the top of the funnel and moving them down and following through all the way down, through content management systems and email marketing and all of those other components.

Moderator: Great. Well, thank you guys. Can we give the panel a round of applause? [Applause] That was great guys, thank you very much. I do think that might have been one of the best panels, not because they had a cool moderator, but it was a pretty good panel, I think, right? So coming up next is the third instalment of the ‘Bright, shiny objects’ and so…

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