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…Why PPC marketers are pretty clueless about the future of digital marketing.

Data-driven, AI, automation, store visits, privacy, and user experience were the very topics on everyone’s mind and the same questions remain after these 2 very interesting days. Marketers have no clear idea of what to do or how to position themselves in the future of digital marketing. Let’s navigate the main takeaways.

Is AI/Automation going to push marketers out of their jobs?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning were obviously amongst the most followed topics during these 2 days and conferences about these subjects easily filled up the conference room. Let’s temper the expectations right away, there is no groundbreaking AI that’ll replace marketing teams nor awesome hacks to crack the code and master algorithms.

Like Frederick Valleys from Optimyzr had explained very well, AI is a tool and we need experts to add the final touch. This final touch is « context » that any algorithm will never be able to fully understand.

These automation solutions allow us the work « smarter » and more efficiently and we should totally look into it to streamline our processes, but we need experts to master them. Machine-to-machine marketing is not likely to be the answer. As mentioned by several speakers, algorithms have increased in quality and capabilities exponentially for the past 10 years, but this curve is plateauing and computers won’t get any much better.

The conclusion would be to find a soft spot between man and machine, keeping the final user in mind.

You can have the smartest bidding algorithm and the better attribution algorithm, if you provide a bad user experience, you’ll fail.

Fun fact, a speaker asked, « Do you think chatbots are interesting, and would you add them to your marketing mix ». 98% of the audience hands up. This was followed by a second question « As a customer, do you like and use chatbots? ».

2 hands up. It summarizes quite well the situation, technical tools are available but we need marketers to create a great experience.

Data and audiences in a cookie-free world and why Data-driven models suck.

« You have to leverage your 1st and 3rd party data to the moon. »

« You have to make the best out of audiences and uber complex customer journey. »

You could hear that in a lot of talks and see nice examples of how the data was mastered showing awesome results.

But very few dare to speak openly about the core issue and dodge the main question in the Q&As.

How to tackle GDPR, ITP, e-privacy, walled gardens challenges, and overcome hurdles in an ecosystem where cookies are dying?

We know it’s happening, we know we should think about it, we know it’s not going any better anytime soon but no one is really taking the bull by the horns.

Blindly trusting data and data-driven model’s in a world where that very data is not going to get any better is not « smart ». Thinking that we can map complex customer journeys and provide a tailor-made solution at every touch-point based on biased data to skyrocket performances is a fantasy.

These questions remain big question marks and marketeers are clueless.

Few solutions were discussed, but are either very complicated/costly or not applicable in most cases. Also, everyone agreed these workarounds won’t probably work anymore in a few times. It’s a cat and mouse game.

UX Designers should be the best-paid guys in the building.

The opening talk featured Rory Sutherland, and we can say it, he rocked the party!

He gave a very smart (and fun) talk on why we should focus on user experience « in a world where we have to pretend that everything makes sense ».

He showed that video where they put Ed Sheran in a 2$ peep show with a creepy sales guy on the driveway trying to get people in. Even though these people would very likely pay 100$ tickets to live the experience of an Ed Sheran’s show, they won’t enter for 2$ dollars private show since the user experience was terrible.

This analogy was very easy to understand in our digital marketing jobs. We have to make « people marketing » not « spreadsheet marketing ». We usually spend more time analyzing data and tweaking algorithms/automation rather than writing new ad copies or creating new banners right?

Very often, the most effective way to increase conversions is to increase conversion rates by providing a better user experience, not just throwing more budget into the machine.

Forget shiny objects. A « store-visit » story.

Agencies used to jump on last marketing shiny objects but tend to forget the incremental value. Don’t get us wrong, research and testing is a very important part of the process. As Rory Sutherland mentioned in his presentation, luck and irrationality matter too.

Store-visit is one of these stories. After a speech about bridging the gap between online marketing and offline behavior, the Q&A has been very interesting but the conclusions stayed the same :

• Revenue could be bad on a PPC or shopping campaign be could have a positive impact on store visits

• A very good ROI campaign won’t necessarily impact in-store traffic.

• In-store results are extrapolation.

• We can’t split organic and paid “go-to store”.

• Incrementality is very hard to measure.

« Trust the tech and let it be » was the final word.

We can’t really agree with that…

Conclusion: Where are PPC managers going in 2020?

As Fred Valleys mentioned, as digital marketers today, we are PPC doctors. Taking context into consideration to provide the best treatment. We are also PPC pilots, managing auto-pilot for 95% of the flight and putting our hands on the bar for the most important moments or if something is going wrong.

The PPC manager role is evolving. We used to crunch numbers in spreadsheets and make manual changes with slow tools. The role is evolving toward settings goals/KPIs, picking automation and monitoring them, teaching the machines, and troubleshooting as well as leveraging insights across platforms.

• We have to challenge tech and ad tech. Not blindly follow it to avoid self-fulfilling prophecies.

• We have to challenge ourselves as marketers. Cut the bullshit, place user experience in a central position, look at the big picture and think “incrementality”.

• We have to challenge our organizations. Stop working in silos, think about integrated marketing and open communication and reporting.

But most importantly, we have to use our common sense more than ever. As things are evolving so fast, there is no time for the status quo.

Thanks again to all the speakers and a special shout-out to the staff for making this event possible. The app to interact with the speaker was great. Following these events allow us at Clicktrust to be on top of what’s going on and try to find answers to help our clients and partners to overcome the hurdles in their digital marketing journey in a world in constant evolution.

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