SearchLeeds 2018: Search Laboratory Stage Live Blog

17.15 And scene…

That’s it, SearchLeeds 2018 Stage Three is a wrap. Spotted a bit of a trend this year: make sure your product titles and descriptions are on point, really think about your audiences and how you can speak to them best, then make sure your attribution is pristine.

Thanks to all the speakers, everyone who came to watch the talks, and everyone working to ensure things went smoothly.

See you next year!

17.00 Start segmenting your audience

Jon asks who has actually segmented their audience. Not many in the room. But it’s sometimes the same for clients. They might come to an agency wanting a piece of content but not have an idea of the segment they’re targeting. But getting PR and content right and targeted to the audience that might want your product can mean an uplift in paid too.

Tailor your messaging based on your audiences. Even on simple paid social campaigns. Are your customers in a particular area more price focused? Are people of a particular occupation more inclined to respond to certain language? Use the DoubleClick stack to produce lookalike audiences to help you here.

In summary, Jon says understand your data, your profiling, and then start testing.

16.54 ‘To get anywhere we need to get our data right.’

That starts with defining outcomes, audit data, plan how to fill gaps, make sure it’s of quality, and then turn to technology.

Sam talks about how personas created out of data science even ended up informing face-to-face sales for a particular client. So it’s not just your digital campaigns that these things can help with.

“Advertising used to be simple”

Sam notes how it used to be things like TV, radio, and magazines, and now it’s pretty much everywhere. You need to think about comms planning, where you’re thinking of intercepting these people in the best way. You have to understand not only what channels people are engaging with, but how they’re doing it and the affect that’s having on their conversion journey.

“87% of TV viewers watch TV in conjunction with another device.”

So if you’re running a TV campaign, your PPC and other on-site work needs to be ready for those searches.

16.43 Audience data is vital

Once we understand audiences more effectively we can work better, says Jon. We have to integrate our audience information in a more effective way. Some people who did that incredibly well were Cambridge Analytica, says Jon. What it did both terrifies and impresses him, he says. On the other end of the scale, traditional marketing has an awful lot of waste, says Jon.

“Amazon are pricing products differently for different types of people.”

And that’s down to AI realising repeat purchasers will pay a higher price. Another example of audience data being used – whatever you might think about it.

16.38 The last word

The dynamic duo of Branded3’s Jon and Edit.’s Sam close out Stage Three.

How to deliver growth in the most efficient way possible
Jon Greenhalgh
Director of Paid Media, Branded3

Sam Wright
Media Director, Edit

Sam is a multi-channel media expert, focusing in on using data to benefit Edit’s clients’ bottom line. Adept at drawing actionable insights from statistics and unlocking sustainable business growth for clients across multiple sectors, Sam is an expert in integrated cross-channel acquisition strategies which drive ROI and consumer action.

16.35 ‘These are the conversations you’re going to have’

C-level dashboards are going to be your lifeblood, says Elizabeth. You can get instant visibility of profitably, cost, and performance. You can track it over different periods, and see if the things you’re selling are in stock or out of stock and for how long. Helping you flag issues to clients about drops that might occur. Pretty helpful.

“This really changes the role of the PPC professional.”

Pricing is also absolutely key. When comparing your competitors, realise that they might be spotting your automation is a bot and giving you false data. And if you’re not competing in search against the people you’re measuring it’s not useful to look at those prices. Everyone needs to be aware of these kinds of things.

Clients are also going to be asking you about whether there’s enough stock, how long something was out of stock for, how bestsellers are performing.

16.28 Learn from high street failures

Google Shopping is turning everything on its head, says Elizabeth. She notes all the changes going on on the high street.

Back in digital we have things like increasing ‘walled gardens’ (such as Twitter etc.) and increasing machine learning. Where are you, as a professional, going to add value, asks Elizabeth.

“Machine learning has a lot more intelligence than AI.”

Elizabeth says AI is more about automation and machine learning is about nuanced solutions.

“If you want to really perform on Shopping you’re going to need a great quality feed.”

Elizabeth says you really need to change and test the product titles and descriptions. Which takes time, she notes, but that’s where automation comes in. Elizabeth pulls it back to the high street saying that although you might not want to change how you do things, you need to – high street stores seeing problems now didn’t change and adapt.

“Machine learning will change the PPC manager’s role forever.”

Getting to grips with cost centres is key, says Elizabeth.

16.20 Back to the future

Great Scott! More future insights, this time from Elizbeth Clark.

The future of shopping
Elizabeth Clark
CEO and Founder, Dream Agility

Elizabeth Clark is the CEO and co-founder of multi award-winning Dream Agility, an international conference speaker and bestselling author. The Dream Agility tech gives you the equivalent of an army of people working on your paid search, to a level of granularity that gives unparalleled results with relentless accuracy, thanks to Dream Agility’s patent pending platform with its machine learning, Visual AI and superior Feed Optimising. Dream Agility serve ads in over 20 countries from five locations – USA, Korea, France, Australia and not forgetting our head offices in Ramsbottom, UK. A Google Premier Partner (in the top 5% of Partners in the world) and one of only 42 approved Google Shopping Partners Globally.

16.06 Problems with attribution

John moves onto the ‘lightbulb’ paradox. Different channels taking ownership of conversions.

“As an industry, we really need to move away from last click. It’s not really fair on all the other channels.”

John says data-driven attribution modeling is too black box – it would be nice to know how Google is making its calculations.

Nearly half of time spent out of  all marketing channels is within digital, but we only invest 25% says John.

“Understand the problems in order to understand the solutions.”

And continuously improve. Take everything with a pinch of salet until you really understand the data, says John.

15.55 It’s all about personas

Looking into your personas is one thing, but to really take advantage you have to think about the problems they face, says John. Think about what’s stopping them converting and remove those hurdles. What can you do in your marketing to set these different people at ease.

Personalisation is great, but sometimes it can be too intrusive for some and turn them off.

15.30 Back from the break

Sweet… insights from John of Thorntons. (Sorry.)

Creating a data-driven customer journey with personas and smarter investment
John Rowley
Digital Marketing Manager, Thorntons

John Alexander Rowley has been passionate about helping businesses of all shapes and sizes improve their digital performance for almost 15 years. During this time he has helped shape the digital marketing strategies for multiple organisations across various sectors, most recently focusing on ecommerce growth at Thorntons as part of a €13b global organisation (Ferrero). John is accountable for over £1m in digital marketing overheads and manages an in-house team with expertise across Paid and organic search as well as Email/CRM, Affiliates, Social and Direct Mail.

15.11 OK, Google

Anu had Google help with a location-specific control of campaigns in the UK, resulting in better conversions.

Can you see a pattern emerging? Scripts are helpful.

Anu finishes, saying that scripts don’t mean you have to know code. It’s automation made easy with copy and paste. It gives you additional insights too. And it can give custom solutions to very particular problems.

Of course, if something goes wrong, it might be difficult to find out how to fix it – especially if you don’t understand code. Even so, there are loads of resources to help you. Google search the error you’re seeing, suggests Anu. Often others have solved the problme.

15.00 Make your life easier

Bill knows a thing or two. He’d probably be an advocate for automation scripts.

AdWords scripts allow programs to do something more quickly than it would take you. It can help with things like campaign management and ad copy management.

Quality score management? There’s a script for that. It’ll keep a track of if your percentage drops and allow you to keep track in a quick and easy way. Same goes for error avoidance.

Competitor analysis. Find it a bit tricky? There’s a script for that: Auction Insight Script from Brainlabs. Lets you easily see which competitors have affected your performance. All in a spreadsheet too. No code to faff with.

14.50 Learning your lines

Time for Script Automation fun with Anu.

Adwords Script Automation and the pitfalls to avoid
Anu Adegbola
Founder & Director, MindSwan

Anu has taken her 10 years-plus experience in paid search (on both agency and client side, profitably managing huge multiple multi lingual/global accounts) and founded MindSwan with the aim to drive the importance of unlocking consumer insights with an ultimate vision to create a target audience of one (know who your customer is). This has been fuelled by her passion for Microsoft Excel and the highly untapped resources it provides. This, alongside her love of Paid Search automation, has been the focus of several conferences that she has spoken at including Hero Conference, 3XE Digital, SES London, and Brighton SEO, just to name a few.

14.45 Think about naming conventions

A quarterback has all the plays written effective in code on his wrist. Looks confusing, but there are conventions that make it simpler. Think about conventions on your campaigns that can help attribution between you and analytics teams, as well as the client understand what’s what, and anyone who picks up the account after you. In-house or agency.

Matt notes:

“In american football you want to make mismatches that help you win the game.”

Make adjustments. Just because something didn’t work in one country doesn’t mean it couldn’t work in another. Try and create that mismatch. And experiment. Doing international paid search should be fun, play around with it, says Matt. Like ‘if’ functions in ad text and location modifiers.

“Not every play is a touchdown.”

As long as you’re grinding forward, that’s the main thing even if you’re not getting that big pay-off.

14.37 Matt calling an audible on the delegates

Matt talks about doing the ordinary things well. First, make sure you’re accurate – are the people on the other end of your ads having their needs met? It gives them a great experience. Each of your countries should have a different account so you can properly cater to different tendencies and preferences.

“Aim for 70% exact match split.”

Think about awareness too. “There are so many variables” in international paid search, says Matt. Currency issues, for example. Foreign exchange rates can sometimes leave you with an overspend or underspend.

And review your search terms regularly in international, even if you don’t speak the language. Google Translate is your friend. Think about public holidays as well. Seeing spikes or drops, was there a bank holiday in Sweden (or somewhere)?

Think about self-awareness in your team, as well. What do you want to do? Make sure everyone is aligned.

Last of the three As? Analysis. American Football coaches are looking and their performance, rival teams, how prospects are doing. You may have launched a campaign in a new territory, but maybe one of your competitors changed their playbook. Put your results into context.

14.25 Over to Matt

Huddle up. (You’ll get that reference in a second…)

The international paid search playbook
Matt Holmes
Head of Search & Performance Media , Distrelec

Matt is Head of Search & Performance Media at Distrelec – a European distributor of electronic components for engineers in the world of robotics, electronics design and automation. Formerly Head of Paid Search at Emirates, he specialises in guiding international, multi-lingual brands through times of digital transformation. Matt is passionate about pushing what’s possible in digital marketing through making the best use of tech, people, and processes.

14.24 In summary…

As well as encouraging everyone to adopt the new AdWords interface (“Google’s going to force us to”) to take advantage of exclusive elements, she reminds about the importance of thinking about voice search – how should you adjust?

“If you can’t be arsed to do this yourself, come and find me at the nearest bar.”

14.19 Fast audience tips

YouTube audiences is a super-quick win.

Link your YouTube audience with your AdWords and you can retarget people who engage with your videos, says Holly. Simple, but good.

Think about life events too. What months might people be more likely to have kids, be going to university, buying a car. Could you capitalise?

14.13 Upgrade your ad copy

“Ad copy is the bane of my life. It’s insane the amount of people who are doing it wrong.”

30% of you have one ad in an ad group, says Holly. Noting the sweet spot it about three. ‘Google will reward you.’

And don’t forget about dynamic keyword insertion. It’s basic, says Holly, but underused and see increased response rates from it. Same goes for countdown functionality for sales starting or ending, for example.

14.05 Brace yourselves. Shocking numbers coming up.

Holly Ellwood (two Ls) dropping some info bombs. Want to hazard a guess at how much has been spent on paid in the past few minutes?

That’s the total global digital ad spend since today’s delegates walked into Stage Three up top, and total paid search ad spend over the same period. Some serious cash.

13.45 Back in action

We’re back from lunch and getting ready for our last six talks of the afternoon. The room’s already filling. First up:

What’s new in PPC?
Holly Ellwood
Paid Search Consultant, Receptional

Holly has over 7 years’ experience in the field of digital marketing, 5 of which have involved a solid focus on paid search. Holly has worked in several areas – from third sector to ecommerce – as a Paid Search Consultant and has demonstrable success in paid search along with the PPC team at Receptional, whom have won several awards throughout 2017 and 2018 for their PPC client work.

12.32 Let’s do lunch

And a break for lunch. Stage Three has emptied for the delegates to pursue the promise of SearchLeeds food deals. Get ready for all the check shirts, Leeds.

Anyone who was here for Jill’s talk and struggled to read them through the technical issues, you should be able to see them here:

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter
Jill Quick@jillquick

@SearchLeeds here you go guys link for the slides and links to templates to help you smash your tracking ?

12.26 Attribution has arrived

Angus finishes by saying before you get into attribution you need to sort out your analytics and METs, and check you’ve got all your offline conversions in your analytics platform.

“Data-driven attribution is finally here.”

12.19 PPC or Display? It’s not always that simple

Angus discusses the differences between PPC and display. The higher cost of display and lower conversions might mean it’s less profitable, even if it’s more appealing to some sites. Or that’s how things may appear. Display ads might be having an effect on PPC. You see a display ad and it increases your awareness of that brand so you might be more likely to click when you see the PPC listing.

Running them bother together? It can drive better results overall. But how do you prove that? The Display campaign is still looking like it’s losing money.

“Attribution is about allocating the profit to the correct campaign.”

If you do that you can really work out what’s giving you ROI. You might even choose to put more into Display to help drive more through your PPC campaigns.

12.09 Here comes the science

It just used to be paid and organic, but now there’s paid social, Google Shopping and more. Assigned credit, therefore, is key. But you have to attach science to that.

Why is attribution going to make it into the mainstream?

But also the tools “got good”, says Angus. And the maths too. Algorithms have improved so the data is telling you what the attribution is, rather than the other way around.

12.03 Swift switch over

Is attribution coming of age this year?
Angus Hamilton
CTO, Search Laboratory

Angus is responsible for managing the team that develops Search Laboratory’s proprietary software. He also sets the strategic technical direction of the company; planning and delivering future developments required to support Search Laboratory’s global client portfolio. Angus has over 20 years’ experience in IT development and management. Before joining Search Laboratory Angus headed up a team developing legal software in Leeds, where he merged his law degree and passion for developing to build case management software and workflow systems for lawyers.

12.03 Aye, AI

Because Google does the matching, if you look at your search query reports, you’ll find your products appearing for terms you don’t want. By combining some ad group magic and some selective keyword engineering by adding negatives, you can more directly appear for the types of queries you want.

But it’s difficult to do. And Chris reckons this is where AI might help the most.

Chris did all of that wearing board shorts over his jeans, btw.

11.58 Product titles are key

Chris, like Hannah, touching on product titles and the importance of having your important keywords at the start of the title.

But your campaigns can also help you identify new keywords, if you dig into the data. Don’t forget about that.

“It’s no good you just making it clear what your product is. How do you sell your product?”

Get across things that can’t be seen in the product image. Such as thread count on bedding, suggests Chris. And “get nerdy with the numbers”, delve into the performance and don’t be afraid to remove or enhance underperforming products.

11.49 Shopping is where it’s at

Google Shopping has become huge for Google because people can see the products, says Chris.

“On mobile, Shopping has taken off more than anywhere else.”

Not least because it takes up so much of the screen compared to desktop. Over the last year, Google Shopping. Some of Journey Further’s clients are spending 60% of their budget and more on Google shopping, says Chris.

Chris thinks deep learning is really going to start showing through Google Shopping.

11.43 And onto the next one

Supercharging Google Shopping
Chris Rowett
Performance Director, Journey Further

Chris Rowett is Performance Director at Journey Further, overseeing the agency’s team of PPC, Programmatic and Paid Social analysts. He has worked in digital his whole career, managing seven-figure media budgets for the likes of Matches Fashion, Virgin Holidays, Safestyle and Allianz. Chris is a regular speaker at industry events including BrightonSEO and Prolific North Live, with a focus on paid search and attribution.


11.42 Which basket do you put your paid eggs into?

When thinking about what to push, don’t always go for the bestsellers, like you think might be the most obvious. Go for the highest margin. The bestsellers are going to sell anyway, says Hannah.

“If your bestsellers sell out you need a back-up plan.”

As well as touching on the impact of the Google vs. EU scrap, Hannah finishes by saying, ‘Try, test, learn, repeat.’ Trying is better than doing nothing. Everything is forever changing so try and keep it fresh. And there’s no right or wrong approach. If it’s working, it’s working.

11.32 ‘You can do keywords in Google Shopping’

Put keywords in your ‘product type’. Even if it’s not in the product titles, Google will see it in your ‘product type’ and know it’s relevant for a search. Google also doesn’t break down ‘midi’ and ‘maxi’ dress, for example. Which is why you should put it in your product type.

“Put the most important keyword first. You just need to think what your most important keyword is.”

Don’t worry about the branding so much, says Hannah. Missguided had female names at the start of product names, but they’re not the priority in the product name.

11.25 Google Shopping is everywhere

Revisit things that have and haven’t worked, says Hannah.

“You can’t force people to buy.”

There are three areas of shopping but there’s so much more you can do to optimise your campaigns. Google gives you marks ‘out of ‘, but you don’t have to hit the top mark every time. Treat it like a benchmark.

‘If I can see a load of green then happy days,’ says Hannah of her mornings checking on performance.

“Missguided change their promos probably quicker than they change their knickers.”

11.15 And you’re back in the room

After a short break we’re back with Hannah McKie.

PLAs: Small company or large, everyone has to start somewhere
Hannah McKie
PPC Manager, Missguided

Hannah started out building PLA data feeds in excel for clients agency side, where she realised her interest in Google Shopping. Hannah has spent the last 3 years at Missguided where she’s enjoyed auditing, restructuring and continually optimising Missguided’s various data feeds across all their territories. While she loves Digital Marketing, Hannah equally loves the out-doors and at the weekends you’ll find her out of signal up a mountain.

10.52 Ignore the few

Andraz says he encourages everyone to properly report across all channels so they know what’s valuable.

Ignore converters. Focus on the ones who didn’t convert.

This could be as many as 98% of users. Only focusing on the people who bought isn’t considering the whole picture. It’s just as important to assess why people didn’t buy.

10.35 Bad assumptions are bad

We all assume users don’t lie. And they don’t, but sometimes they change their mind. Andraz points out that even though people might search for a specific brand, they might change their mind and actually buy another one.

Assuming user behaviour doesn’t change is a mistake.

10.30 Speaker three is up

5 false assumptions about your traffic
Andraz Stalec
Founder, Red Orbit

Andraž Štalec is the CEO and Co-founder of Red Orbit, the leading digital performance agency in Adriatic region. Data, analytics and performance run through his veins. He is also a European search awards judge, Google certified trainer and a regular speaker at major international digital marketing events.

10.25 World Cup reference incoming

If Ronaldo scores all the goals, you’re not going to sack off the rest of the team are you?

People making contact with you through multiple channels are at risk of being attributed to the last touch point. But that’s not the whole picture.

Paid social is rarely the guy who scores the goal, says Jill. But he was probably the guy who threw the ball in at the beginning. He needs some credit too.

10.25 Naming conventions = good

If you do paid social and don’t tag it, it’s going to go in with all your organic social. Tag with a UTM parameter and you’ll get your own bucket.

Agree on naming conventions for your campaigns, as well. If you don’t, you’ll fragment your data and the client could go in and look and draw completely wrong conclusions.

Don’t assume the client knows how to do all this.

10.15 Tag it. Tag it all!

Everything needs a tag, otherwise GA’s ‘bouncer’ isn’t going to know whether to let that information in, says Jill. If you don’t tag, your paid stuff will get mixed up with your referral stuff. Not good when you’re trying to prove what channels are worthwhile.

There are a lot of cases where you have traffic and you need to know where it’s going.

Go to Channels and add a secondary dimension. Type in the words ‘source’ and ‘medium’. You’ll start to find all sorts of things in there – picking out paid social and email campaigns people probably should have tagged but didn’t.

10.05 ‘Google Analytics is a ballache’

Jill promises some easy fixes for tracking campaigns in Google Analytics.

Without data you are just another person with an opinion.

You can’t go to the board without numbers, which is why tracking is so important. Problem is, GA is like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory – not so much with the emotion.

10.00 Back in line with the expected running order

Track campaigns like a bloodhound: How to make your marketing work harder
Jill Quick, Founder
The Coloring in Department

Jill has been working in digital marketing since 2003 and is the Co Founder of The Coloring in Department. A professional digital marketing trainer who has taught thousands of people, across hundreds of companies, ranging from startup founders, SMEs to Fortune 500 Brands. Unfiltered, down to earth, with a goal to explain analytics and digital marketing concepts in a clear and digestible format. She has a knack in creating guided, practical, step-by-step, paint-by-numbers style templates to get you where you need to be, faster.

09.56 You don’t always need access to your client’s site

If you haven’t worked it out, GTM is helpful. It can help you track hyper-specific actions on a site and let you report on them. You’re not limited to landing pages and basic traffic.

You want all these things, but… You can inject HTML/JavaScript even if you don’t have access to your client’s website. Schema Markup is your friend here.

09.47 How much traffic are your blog authors driving?

You guessed it, GTM can help. Create a custom author dimension by creating a data layer variable in GTM. Warning, you might need to ask a dev nicely to help you with some bits on this.

09.44 Some cool things you can do with GTM…

If people can download files or click a phone number, you can track those through Google Tag Manager. You create a trigger that says to send certain information to Google Analytics.

There you go. You can report on something interesting.

09.38 ‘Raise your hand’

‘Who’s been at the back of a developer queue before?’ asks Emma. Getting more familiar with Google Tag Manager can help you jump the line.

09.35 Up first…

A small change to the running order. Branded3’s fantastic Emma Barnes is up first.

Analytics Tracking: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love Google Tag Manager
Emma Barnes
Senior Insights and Analytics Analyst, Branded3

Emma Barnes graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the University of Leeds in 2010 and has been working to make websites better for other people ever since. An expert in analytical thinking and processes, Emma brings core quantitative analysis to Branded3’s Insights and CRO team.

09.18 Don’t forget

We have live blogs running on the other two stages as well. Find them on the Branded3 blog.

09.15 Ready?

Getting set up here on Stage 3 at SearchLeeds 2018! Not long until we start. You can catch the highlights from the speakers on Stage Three here throughout the day.

If you’re following the conference online, check out tweets from:


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