SES Amsterdam - The Google view

Wed 18 March 2009 11:35, Mark Farragher

SES Amsterdam - The Google view

Mark Berendsen of Google NL starts off his presentation by telling us that Google has been with us for 10 years now. The online search market has experienced a significant growth over the years, but even now a lot of industries are not using or barely scratching the surface of online marketing. There's a lot of work to be done yet! He praises the work of the search engine agencies who have brought more and more clients to online marketing. All this serves as a nice intro to Mark's role in Google: he is an "Agency Partner" - the linking pin between search agencies and Google.

Mark shows us a slide with the text "Speeding up in a slowdown". This is the main theme of his presentation. We're in a financial crisis so all of us are confronted with shrinking marketing budgets, but the market still provides a lot of opportunities to achive growth. Mark's presentation focusses on two trends: the separation of conversion and brand campaigns, and how to latch onto emerging trends to speed up your business in a slowing market.

To get the best possible conversion you need to explicitly optimize your campaign for conversion. Mark tells us to focus on effectivity, usability and matching product offering with market demand. All these steps feed into Google Analytics which gives you the reports you need to feed your improvement cycle. As an example of usability improvement Mark shows us the intro page to Adwords. After running a multivariate test-run in Google Website Optimizer we see a slightly different page (roughly the same layout, but different images and texts). Mark tells us the new page has a 56% better conversion rate!

For a brand awareness campaign we are told that you can get an enormous improvement by using multiple channels simultaneously. Mark tells us that radio, tv and print ads mentioning a brand will improve search volume by 67%. Also, people seem to associate a high SERP position with authority: 71% of all Internet users state that they expect big brands to appear at the top of the search result listings.

The number 67 will appear in other presentations too, and this quickly turns this into a running gag on Twitter: we are encouraged to answer "67" to any SES-related question.

Mark wraps up his presentation by talking about speeding up in a slowdown. He shows us a couple of opportunities in Google Trends. Right from the start of the financial crisis the search volume for "car sales" plummets, but overall car-related searches are rising slightly. Searching for designer clothes is down, but searches for "safe" and "lipstick" are up. Ergo: we need to identify emerging trends in a shrinking market and latch on to them.

The fun starts during the Q&A round at the end. Someone in the audience says that Google has been contacting clients directly, bypassing agencies. Are they going to keep doing that? Mark tells us that Google wil always prefer to work together with agencies, but he has trouble defining exactly when Google will yield to us and when they will do the project themselves.

All in all a good presentation. Mark did not give us any new information but he gave us a lot of pointers and best practices that should help us get through the slowdown. But for me the really interesting part was at the end. Google basically admitted that they will keep contacting clients directly, and I'm sure we will see small agencies lose an account to Google from time to time. So we need to stay sharp.


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