Thinking Performance With Google

On May 24th I attended Google Canada‘s Think Performance conference at the Toronto Congress Center .

Overall, the morning sessions were interesting, entertaining and enlightening. Speaking from a Search Engine Marketing perspective, I was happy to see Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Digital marketing evangelist, pushing Canadian advertisers into measuring not only macro, but also micro, conversions. This is something we at Media Experts have been encouraging all our customers to embrace.  The conference was well organized, the food was great and the Cocktail Carnival at the end of the day was a big hit with attendees.

One of the biggest topics during the conference was the concept of Search as the world’s biggest focus group. Understanding the user through search can help us anticipate his/her needs to serve him/her better through our campaigns and websites. A strong focus on the user’s experience and data-driven marketing should be the norm.

The conversation also turned to the fact that consumers are ahead of most digital marketers in what they demand and expect.

Here are some key points that resonated with me from some of conference speakers.

Chris O’Neil, Managing Director of Google Canada, commented that Web =Life. We live our lives online so advertisers need to stop thinking about digital as a channel. This is where Canadians live. They are hyper-informed consumers in a 4 screen world (TV, Laptop, Smartphone, iPad_. He proved this by saying that 84% of Canadian consumers do research online before making a purchase, online or offline. He asked advertisers to demand more data, test and fail, but fail faster to stay ahead of the competition.

Avinash Kaushik, Google Analytics Evangelist, had a very simple message: provide users with an easy, delightful (orgasmic) experience online and measure everything and assign economic value to micro conversions.

Avinash could not understand why so many brands in Canada were not selling online, and those that are, were doing a really bad job by constantly interrupting customers to fill out surveys that require taking 400 choices before even entering the site. He also warned that too many sites are taking ages to load. He said that for every 1 second delay on your website, your conversion rate drops by 7%. He said that one of the biggest obstacles for Canadian brands to enter the ecommerce world was that they do not make it easy for consumers to buy online from them. They are asking a great deal of them and not providing enough in return.

Customer centricity is key to succeeding in online sales and touted the Bell Canada website as an example of doing it right. He urged advertisers to stop measuring idiotic metrics like impressions, clicks, visits, video views, engagement, likes, etc. as these mean nothing. He urged them instead to measure more meaningful metrics like bounce rates, abandonment rates on ecommerce sites, visitor loyalty, days and visits to conversion, share of voice, task completion rates, conversation rates, amplification rates, re-tweets, and to assign economic values to all those conversions for a real holistic performance picture.

Avinash then gave numerous examples of landing page “irrelevance” from several SEM campaigns and said Canadian advertisers were wasting their money and not delivering “Love” to their users. In concluding he suggested that Search Marketing should instead be called Intent Marketing. He posited that in order to succeed advertisers must use hyper-relevance to target hyper-informed consumers.

Mitch Joel, President of Twist Image said that instead of brands continuing to ask consumers to “like” them, why don’t brands start “liking” consumers? One of his most interested phrases was “have sex with data.” He asked us to view data differently, not in a linear manner, but more of a circular, self- reflexive activity. He also stated that there is a difference between privacy and personalization and suggested that it is ok to use consumer data to personalize advertising to consumers.

Matt Ackley, Google’s Director of Media and Platforms talked about the “Searchification” of Advertising and asked the audience to use the “Database of Intentions” (Search) to help us make data-driven decisions. Personalization can be used to create ads that suit page content and deliver a richer user experience. A solid collaboration between publisher, advertiser and searchers will give consumers what they need in the online world.

Simon Rodrigue, GM of Walmart Canada suggested that talent is much more important than technology. You need to fail to succeed, but stressed the importance of failing faster than your competitors.

Adopting a strategy of Consumer Centricity is key and the Internet is the world’s best engagement tool. Advertisers and publishers need to use it efficiently without ignoring the voice of the customer.

He identified 3 key touch points for ecommerce success: Acquire, Engage and Convert. He identified this as the core search methodology for Use site search to garner insights, learn how their customers shop, find out what they are looking for and help them find it. Focus on developing content to help you engage and acquire new customers. Once they are yours, make them convert to whatever it is you are selling.

Social Commerce means leveraging social data to drive sales and this, he stressed, is how social media should be used.

Thanks for reading. What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below.