SMX London 2015 – Search Marketing Expo: Our takeaways from the 2-day event. Jason Denny & Holly Martin will be live blogging and tweeting from the #SMX conference in London. To make things easier we have organised the sessions by speaker so that you can click on the internal anchor below.

Notes are added live throughout the 2 day event and will be filled out further, so be sure to check back for more in-depth content and examples.

Day 1 – Wednesday , May 20, 2015

  • Maile Ohye – Developer Programs Tech Lead – Google Inc. (@maileohye) – The State Of Search (Keynote)
  • Vivien Tombs – Associate Head of PPC – Periscopix (@vivtombs) – Tools to cut-down our admin time.
  • Daniel Gilbert – MD – Brainlabs (@danielgilbert44) – Automation is not optional, learn to code.
  • Brad Geddes – Founder – Certified Knowledge (@bgTheory)
  • Russell O’Sullivan – Senior Digital Marketing Manager – Legal & General (@russosullivan) – Creating persona’s for increased conversion metrics.

Maile Ohye – Developer Programs Tech Lead – Google Inc. (@maileohye) – Keynote

“Data comes from down up, not dictated from up down.” – Maile Ohye

Maile kicked off today’s #smx expo with a history of Google search:

  • Back in ’98, Google SERP displayed 10 blue links, which were all derived from indexing search strings.
  • Leaping forward to 2006 Google launched the Sitemap protocol. Google believed that site owners should be able to submit details of content on their site as they were best-placed to understand the content presented on each page – such as news updates.
  • In 2007 Google unveiled Universal Search, blending images, news and web content onto one screen for mobile.
  • Search ‘Prince Charles’ on Google and you receive an increased amount of information relating to the Prince.
  • 2011 saw the launch of taking unstructured content and allowing the site owner to provide ‘entities’ of data for a particular subject, rather than Google reading it as a bunch of random data strings. Schema defines relationships.

Ask Google, ‘OK Google – What are the names of Prince Charles’s sons?’ and what you will receive is a bunch of linked entities to your query. Similarly, asking Google ‘OK Google – When is flight BA3024 due from New York?’ it will provide you with your answer on-screen without the need to load and navigate the British Airways site – perfect for people on-the-go. Alongside your answer you now see ‘actions’, such as ‘Book Flight’ buttons etc.

Another example of this is searching for ‘comedy films’, and the results provide more than just a list of films… clicking ‘Anchorman’ from the results provides the user with a plethora of data and actions that can be taken…

  • Mobile Friendly algorithm update April 21st – Is your site optimised for mobile?
  • Top 100 Multichannel Retailers’ Mobile Sites: 16 Load in Less Than 1 Second – com

“We used to dial; now we speed dial. We used to read; now we speed read. We used to walk; now we speed walk. And of course, we used to date, and now we speed date. And even things that are by their very nature slow – we try and speed them up, too.” – Carl Honore

Vivien Tombs – Associate Head of PPC – Periscopix (@vivtombs)

“Nothing is a secret.” – Vivien Tombs on Google Adwords

Today’s talk from Vivien took us through a couple of tools with AdWords that she likes and could help cut down the admin time that we spend within our Google AdWords accounts.


When reviewing accounts, few account managers appear to make good use of labels. These are a godsend when it comes to helping with account management. Manage large scale changeovers in accounts, such as sales and promotions – sale for weekend, allows for scheduling creatives by labels. Use labels to make notes of problem areas or particular success areas, labels allow you to come back at a later date to review easily rather than trawl though the whole account to locate those areas. Consider labeling based on CPA areas, or based on internal teams for easy reporting for last minute meetings etc. Label based on bid strategy, or analysis based on match types.

  • Assign labels to team members – accountability.
  • Keep them short and snappy.
  • Labels cannot be automatically created by set parameters. Not currently supported in Adwords.
  • Labels are now available in the latest version of AdWords Editor making it easier to label in bulk.

Ad Customisers

Standard text ads that are customisable elements that can be dynamically updated based on custom elements. Ad customisers are parameters that go within curly brackets {like this}. The parameter gets replaced by dynamic text when your ad is triggered by a user’s search. You can include ad customisers within any text ad on the search or display network, anywhere except for the URL fields. The benefit of Ad customisers are that unlink standard ads, when the customiser updates it does not erase/overwrite your historic ad data, instead it keeps history allowing you to later analyse for other upcoming events etc. Ad customisers can be used to create a sense of urgency for sales and keep users up-to-date based on latest product availability, in comes ‘Coundown Ads’.

Countdown ads  for retailers has proven to deliver up-to and over 50% increase in CTR when ads counted down within last hour of a sale.Customisers fill in your ad text using ad customiser data that you upload, the COUNTDOWN function or both.


  • The COUNTDOWN function: Customisers with a COUNTDOWN function include arguments, or directions, for that function within parentheses (like this). The customiser {=COUNTDOWN(Discounts.CountdownDate,’en’)}, for example, includes a COUNTDOWN function with 2 arguments.
  • The first argument (Discounts.CountdownDate) tells the customiser what date and time to count down to, which is specified in a file named “Discounts”.
  • The second argument (“en”) tells the customiser to display that time in a particular language (English).

Key Takeaways

  • Label Everything, always have a standard ad set-up in case customised ads are not running.
  • Be careful of your character limits!
  • Be creative!
  • Remember, customisers are a short-term pain, but long-term gain.

Daniel Gilbert – MD – Brainlabs (@danielgilbert44)

“1,000+ changes in AdWords interface last year alone – Automation is not optional, but necessary.” – Daniel Gilbert

AdWords scripts are a game changer. Managine accounts manually takes time… and on larger account, a significant amount of time. Daniel lead us through some AdWords scripts which help alleviate some of the time required to manage your account, with the bi-product being increasing account performance. The main script discussed was Ad Scheduling.

Optimising your keyword and ad group bids in order to maximise performance can be a tricky affair and very time consuming. Setting up a schedule to manage your bids is a great way to make sure that you’re not spending too much at the wrong times and more importantly that valuable traffic is getting to you at the right times.

AdWords built-in tool for modifying bids based on the time of day — ad scheduling — but the limitation of this tool is that it only allows you up to six bidding windows per day, and as we know, our traffic trends can vary significantly from one hour to the next. So we need greater ability to optimise bids for more than six windows throughout the day currently available within AdWords.

For large-scale accounts that demand a more granular approach, with bids that need to be changed every hour, the above limitations just won’t do. As an example, conversion rates for Domino’s vary dramatically during different hourly slots on different days; the company doesn’t want to bid at the same levels at 7:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m., and 11:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.Here’s Daniel’s step-by-step guide on how to implement the AdWords Script That Lets You Optimize Bids Every Hour Of The Day.

Daniel then went on to discuss the benefits of the Google Anomoly Detector Script. The Account Anomaly Detector alerts the advertiser whenever an AdWords account is suddenly behaving too differently from what’s historically observed. When an issue is encountered, the script will send the user an alerting email. Only a single email for an alert is sent per day.

The script by default is comparing stats observed so far today with historical stats for the same day of week. For instance, stats for a Tuesday, 13:00 are compared with stats for 26 previous Tuesdays. Adjust the number of weeks to look back depending on the age and stability of your account.Schedule the script to run hourly in order to get the most out of alerting. If the alert is too noisy, scheduling it Daily around mid-day might also make sense.Suppose the script runs at 7pm on a Tuesday. Since AdWords statistics may be up to 3 hours delayed, the script will only consider stats up to 4pm.The script will then fetch stats for 26 preceding Tuesdays, average them, and compare with today’s stats.subsequent alerts of the same type will be triggered for the day. If you’d like to reset the alert, delete the Alerting cell value.

Here’s a link on how to set up the AdWords Acount Anomoly Detector script.

 Key Takeaways

  • PPC Managers, learn to code! Tool-sets are available online to help you get over your ‘codephobia’.
  • Automation not optional but a essential.
  • Scripting is easy to learn, don’t dive in at the deep end.
  • A little customisation of already available scripts can provide powerhouse tools for optimising your account.

Day 2 – Thursday, May 21, 2015

  • Bas Van Den Beld – Chief Editor – State Of Digital (@basvandenbeld) – ‘Better Together: Search and Social’
  • Mark Mitchell – Senior Director of Client Services EMEA – Brightedge (@searchmitch) – ‘Better Together: Search and Social’
  • Kelvin Newman – Founder and Managing Director – Rough Agenda (@kelvinnewman) – ‘Building Your Search Marketing Technology Stack’
  • Alistair Dent – Head of Product Strategy – iProspect (@alistairdent) – ‘What You Should Be Doing In Search & Mobile’

Bas Van Den Beld – Chief Editor – State Of Digital (@basvandenbeld) – ‘Better Together: Search and Social’

“And to think our attention span is less than that of a goldfish.” – Bas Van Den Beld

If you watch this video:
Can you now tell yourself what the name of this talk is that was given in the intro?Bas kicked of day 2’s agenda with an in-depth talk about how we are always looking to try and create fan bases… when actually we are the only fan. We are the fan of our own ideas. We as a race crave for information, be it at home, at work, on the tube, at the pub… we are always digesting data. But how do we get our ideas, our content over to users to digest… knowing that they have the memory span as a goldfish? It needs to be engaging and shareable.

But why in general does our content not get the attention we feel it should? Because we are not looking at ‘why’ people are buying, only when.

This ad from Reebok is a fantastic example of engaging and shareable content… it addresses the ‘why’ and it was first published in-line with the ‘when’…

Great huh? We need to understand and be ‘where’ the customer is in the buying cycle, not where we think that they should be or want them to be. Don’t try to get too fancy, aim to get the right attention at the right time for the right people. Answer their needs. If you want success in marketing you have to understand what they want and what they need, talk in the consumers language. Be passionate and engaging with topics that interest your target audience and gain their attention.

There are 4 types of audiences:

  1. Seekers –Researchers, looking for information that answers their needs.
  2. Amplifiers –This is the audience that can share your content which answer their needs.
  3. Joiners –These are the ‘I like it, I’ll subscribe’ consumers. Activing looking for more content from you.
  4. Buyers –These are the consumers that actively purchased(d) your products.

We focus mainly on the buyers when it comes to marketing, which yes can and dos work, but we need to understand that actually it is the other 3 audiences that create they buyers audience. We need to tap into these audiences as they all work hand-in-hand. truly research your audiences, what they ‘do’, what they ‘say’ and what they ‘read’.

You may be asking yourself.. OK well that all a good read but how do I know ‘what’ my consumers are asking and ‘what’ can I answer? Well, we all have keywords in our accounts, and we know which works well for buyers. So, two examples on how to identify questions from our keywords are below:Quora – This is a great place to find such questions. In-short, sign-up, and start searching for your keywords. What Quora then does is locate and present questions to you (that have/have not been answered within the Quora community). It is these questions that you can then create your answers… answering your consumers needs. With some great content that is engaging and shareable, you’re tapping into the Seekers and Amplifiers audience lists mentioned above.

Google – We all use Google and you know when you start typing into the search bar you get this:Well, amend this with some insight from Quora and you can do this…finding questions that are commonly asked with Google that you have the opportunity to create engaging and shareable content to reach the Seekers and Amplifiers.

Key Takeaways

  • Create something people will recognise, engage with and share.
  • Remember, not every piece of content needs to sell.

Mark Mitchell – Senior Director of Client Services EMEA – Brightedge (@searchmitch) – ‘Better Together: Search and Social’

“Start small, prove the concept, then drive larger scale” – Mark Mitchell

Mark guided us through his take on shareable content and the value of creating engaging content. A real head-turner was the run-through of this site below:

5 Top Tips:

  1. Integrate your teams around your content. Focus all your teams, internal and external, on content campaigns. Bring all of your assets together to create and share a great piece of content.
  2. Social signs can help you drive up content rank. Can your content be shared?
  3. Benchmark against your competitors and ask yourself, ‘OK, so what does success look like?’
  4. Understand your social media assets overall ability. Create content that drives social engagement.
  5. Use your social assets to dominate your brand space. If a user searches for your brand, can they locate your social assets too? Searching ‘John Lewis’ on Google provides a great example of brand space ownership:

Key Takeaways

  • Create engaging and shareable content.
  • Start small, create a piece of content and prove the concept. Then drive larger-scale content campaigns.
  • Own your brand space.

Kelvin Newman – Founder and Managing Director – Rough Agenda (@kelvinnewman) – ‘Building Your Search Marketing Technology Stack’

“By 2017 the CMO will spend more on technology than the CIO” – Gartner

Kelvin’s talk today was around tools, platforms and suites, outlining the pros and cons to all.

Before jumping in and buying what you think is best for you, establish your criteria, what does the solution need to solve? Then evaluate against the above pros and cons.

“Somany of our marketing decisions are derived from data, purchases are often not.” – Kelvin Newman

I guess reviewing the quote above, it demonstrates the need to ensure all users are involved during the purchase decision.Who will be using the tool? The CMO or marketing manager?

  • Silver bullets do not exist. They can all help but the best tool is actually the one that gets used the most, not the most ‘fancy’.
  • Time saved is often more important than % account performance increase.
  • The benefits and savings of changing a solution are often lost by the cost of changing.
  • More campaigns fail from poor execution rather than poor strategy.

Two great tools that Kelvin discussed were IFTTT and Zapier. Both tools designed to help save you time, well worth a look.

Key Takeaways

  • More campaigns fail from poor execution rather than poor strategy.
  • There is no ‘best tool’, only the best tool for you and your needs.
  • Invest in yourself, automate some tasks to save you time.

Alistair Dent – Head of Product Strategy – iProspect (@alistairdent) – ‘What You Should Be Doing In Search & Mobile’

Alistair’s talk later in the afternoon was all around mobile, and what we should be doing, oh, and what we shouldn’t be.

What’s Different About Mobile?

  • Bid Modifiers
  • Mobile Preferred Ads

It gives you a signal to talk to the user differently as they are not at their desktop. CTAs should be tailored to the ‘on-the-go’ user in effect.

What To Look Out For

  • Web vs. App – They perform differently, but work together. Look at the conversion relationship.
  • Ad formats – Mobile formats need to be carefully designed for screen size.
  • Campaign structure – Think carefully about structure, separate keywords to allow for modifiers.
  • Enhanced CPC (ECPC) can help edge you above your competitors on the SERP.
  • Cross-device conversions – Be careful here, Google ‘thinks’ about cross-device conversions, but cannot formerly back these up with data.
  • Ad positions – Look to bid to position. Big gap in CTR between positions 1-2 and 3+.

What not To Do

  • Do not apply negative bid modifiers from the start. Obtain data and experience, then make an informed decision. Do not assume mobile will not perform.
  • Do no fear greatness, instead of applying a +5% bid modifier for mobile, why not try at +25% or +50%? With data you can always decided to increase or decrease rather than take little steps.
  • Don’t rush – Use data to make sound judgements. Do not accommodate knee-jerk reactions.


  • Bids affect modifiers. Here is a great article around how multiple modifiers can work.
  • Modifiers over-lap, keep track of them or spend could leap out of control quickly.
  • The lifetime value of a consumer is important to mobile bids.

Key Takeaways

  • Mobile is often the upper funnel in a process.
  • Track everything and watch closely.
  • Sometimes it just doesn’t work, don’t force it.


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