SMX Overtime: Rise of the PPC geek
For the first edition of SMX Advanced Europe, the PPC track was strongly dominated by a new breed of search geek. Today’s PPC is “the science of managing data pipelines,” as Chris Gutknecht from Bergzeit put it. The main themes of the PPC track were concentrated around entity harvesting, automation, audience targeting and the concept of “broadience.”
I was fortunate to moderate SMX Advanced Europe and its amazing PPC track. I always thought of myself as a techy marketer but the techiness of this PPC crowd was overwhelming. The venue by the Spree River was a beautiful and very pink hotel called Hotel nhow and a few hundred meters from a long stretch of the remains of the Berlin Wall.
Speakers in the PPC track suggested learning python and work on building a proprietary entity catalog. They recommended mastering SQL in order to get the most out of BigQuery.
There was also a whole host of ideas on how to hack everything from the customized ads data feed in order to build conditional ads to how to use Google Ads scripts in combination with the Google Ads API to run and maintain your campaigns. How to start enriching your own dictionary of entities via Big Query, spaCy, Prodigy and AutoML were also included.
For many years on this level of conferences, we would hear all the SEO geeks lament the lack of collaboration with PPC departments and incompatibility in data sets. But this year, I heard the PPC geeks suggest that a learning organization should be harvesting queries from both organic and paid to build a proprietary library of entities to enrich search marketing operations over time. Perhaps at long last, we will see a technical integration of the two parallel lines of search marketing, organic and paid in harmony.
But it was not only a geekfest. There were also some solid run-throughs of how to organize for scale in multi-million-dollar accounts and how to actively build an analytics structure around a user journey across various channels. And then there was an inspirational presentation including a new marketing concept, “broadience.”
Purna Virji from Microsoft Ads presented a concept she calls “broadience.” The short story is to overlay audience targeting on broad-matched campaigns. It will be counter-intuitive to a lot of search marketers who have always tried to make targeting more precise and more specific. But with audience targeting, broad-matched search targeting can be used earlier in the user journey and still be efficient.
Deep-dive into audience reporting
Co-speakers Amy Bishop and Michelle Morgan took us through targeting along the user journey and one of the most notable stops along the way was the deep-dive into audience reporting in google analytics. “You can totally geek out with audience reporting,” is how Amy Bishop put it. Many European marketers might have turned audience tracking off due to GDPR but in this presentation we had a good geek look into the levels of reporting and insights you can extract from it.
Several sessions addressed the handling of search query reports and how to build knowledge of useful entities from those reports. Marco Frighetto for whom “Big Query is not optional anymore” addressed this from an automation perspective. He ran through a tools stack for extracting, segmenting and managing the keywords depending on whether they cannibalize, burn budget or are performing strongly.
Christopher Gutknecht also started with the search query report and added layers of machine learning tools in order to build his library of entities using tools like SpaCy and AutoML.
And finally, Marcel Prothmann showed his tool stack and entity handling using Big Query, Apps scripts and Big Query ML as well as the various custom-built scripts they add in order to control and optimize the process and showing how the set-up can predict profit per click as output from the process.
Using automation for paid search
Automation was an omnipresent theme on this track. It confirmed research from Innovell (my company) that found that 25% of advanced teams would, “automate everything that can be automated.”
Automate search terms report, use ad feeds to dynamically update ads and in the last session of the day, Dmytro Konkikh explained how his colleagues would invest a lot of time in building rich content for their real estate database so that the publication of campaigns could be fully automated. “When they upload the product database, we automatically set up the campaigns and the targeting and then we let DSA [dynamic search ads] do the rest.” So, no human intervention.
This triggered me to ask Konkikh during the Q&A: “Tell us what your workday looks like.”
“I first check that my scripts run ok since the day before or over the weekend and then I spend some time automating new processes via scripts I build,” Konkikh said.
It looks like we are at the dawn of a new PPC marketing approach – and it is very geeky.
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About The Author
Anders Hjorth is the author of the Search Strategies Report and the founder of Innovell, a digital marketing insights consultancy researching trends in digital marketing. As a pioneer in SEO, one of the first Google Advertising professionals and the co-founder of several agencies: Relevant Traffic (search marketing), BDBL MEDIA (biddable media) and AZNOS (content marketing), he has a broad and long-running experience across SEO, paid search, social media, content marketing and programmatic. Anders was also COO for GroupM Search across EMEA. Anders is also active as a member of various awards juries and advisory boards.