SMX Advanced 2016: What We Learned and What We Loved

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From June 21-23, I had the privilege of attending SMX Advanced 2016 in Seattle with seven other members of the Red Ventures Paid Search team and five members of the SEO team. As a team, we learned more, met more industry experts, and ate more than I could legitimately fit into a blogpost (or, for that matter, my stomach).

Here are the top 4 things we learned and the top 3 things we loved from our Emerald City Expo and Excursions:

What We Learned

1. Voice Search is Coming. Be Prepared.

Despite being torn between using this meme or this meme to accurately describe my feelings about voice search, one fact remains: Voice search is the biggest paradigm shift since Mobile, and we need to get ready now. As pointed out by the Bing gurus Lynne Kjolso and Purna Virji, over 40% of voice searchers have only started using the feature in the past 6 month, there have been over 6 billion Cortana queries, and a +60% lift to question-based search queries this year alone. Challenges will be abound in cracking the voice search question, but starting now will be critical to RV’s success going forward.

2. Shopping Campaigns Stock Soars

As part of the Mad Scientists of Search Marketing presentation, Andreas Reiffen dropped some serious Shopping stats on us, namely that shopping campaign spend has been consistently outgrowing search spend every quarter since the beginning of 2014, and there is no sign of slowing.  Utilizing shopping campaigns as a means to intelligently manage inventory, negotiate pricing in a competitive landscape, and drive branded traffic to your site where users can continue to browse, are all ways to leverage your shopping campaigns in innovative ways.

3. Expanded Text Ads (XTAs) as the New Frontier

By now, we all know about Google and Bing’s new ad format, Expanded Text Ads, taking us from the 25-35-35 character counts we all know and love, into the scary new world of actually having space to write better creative. As James Svoboda pointed out, the Google Desktop SERP is now 17% wider without right-rail ads and expanded text ads will help fill that space with not only longer ads, but better, more descriptive ads, blurring the line between paid and natural search links.  The focus will now be on creating messaging that highlights the benefits of our products, and not the features, per Rob Lenderman’s suggestion.

4. Audience-Based Search is Taking Segmentation to the Next Level

As Google gives us more opportunities to create audiences through RLSA, Customer Match, Similar Audiences, and the upcoming In-Market Audiences in Search feature, continuing to integrate audience targeting into our search strategy will be critical for RV. Susan Waldes led a great session on Audience-Based Search and provided a long list of actionable audience ideas for those looking to get started, including lists to exclude low quality volume, business-intent audiences to target B2B customers on B2C keywords, and using RLSA to go after competitor terms. Susan put it best when she said that as search marketers, we’re great at cutting out unprofitable keywords and now we have the opportunity to begin cutting out unprofitable searchers.

What We Loved

1. These Quotes:

  • “It’s about getting the correct clicks, not all the clicks” – Brad Geddes
  • “Nobody cheers the hockey stick. It’s the player, not the tool that wins the game” – Steve Hammer
  • This Tweet – Ryan Fowler

2. Pike Place Market

As any good tourist in Seattle will tell you, it’s an absolute must-go. Get some piroshky, grilled cheese, hit up the original Starbucks, or just walk into any shop that smells good like Josh Leibner and I did. You will leave stuffed and satisfied.

3. This Picture Now Existing

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 11.27.28 AM

David Gordon joined RV in July 2015 from Vanderbilt University as a paid search analyst for the DIRECTV partnership. David’s interests include puns, Pittsburgh sports, and PPC. You may know him from such hits as the Bing Spring Fling blog post  or describing his job as a “word broker”.

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