Web Summit 2017 Recap Part 2 of 2: Emerging trends in marketing

[WP Import] Web Summit 2017 Recap  Part 2 of 2: Emerging trends in marketing

While part one of our Web Summit 2017 recap covers four key advancements in technology, part two takes a closer look at marketing trends, communication strategies, and how to keep up with the evolving industry.

[caption id="attachment_15045" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Web Summit 2017_Paddy Congrave Paddy Congrave welcoming the tech industry to day 3 of Web Summit 2017[/caption]

Here is what we learned about the current and future state of marketing:

Current state of marketing

Brian Halligan, the Founder & CEO of Hubspot and PJ Pereira the Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer at Pereira & O’Dell, took to the stage to discuss how today’s marketers can stay relevant in the evolving industry. In the talk titled Defining advertising & marketing for the future, they brought to light three key issues faced by today's marketers:

  • Revenue in 2016 from digital advertising was $73 billion. However, Google & Facebook are capturing 90 cents per ad dollar, therefore capturing 99% of all growth.
  • Brand safety: marketers can’t control where their ads appear.
  • Ad agencies are under attack from consultancies, as a result, clients are shifting towards consultancies.

The solution? As human behavior changes, marketing should too. Halligan argues that these challenges can be overcome by shifting the marketing budget. The customer needs to be put back at the center.

Here are a few examples of where changes are taking place:

  • Text is out, video is in
  • Contact forms are out, chats are in
  • Emailing is out, messenger is in
  • Organic ads are out, paid ads are in (although SEO expert Rand Fishkin tends to disagree)
  • PR is out, social is in

The future of marketing

In Michael Kassan's (MediaLink) talk The Evolution of Advertising & Marketing, he added that when it comes to message delivery, size matters. Also, as you adapt your message to your audience, you need to be agile and speak at least two languages, figuratively. If they don't react to A, try B. Marketers need to know when it's okay to use long-form content and when short form is preferred, as well as when one medium is better than the other. Fjord Founder & CCO, Mark Curtis also shed light on this topic during his talk The past, present, and future of conversation. In a nutshell, Curtis brought to light the differences in etiquettes for each different method of communication, stating that companies need to be aware of them in order to sound native to the platform and genuine to their audience. At the end of the day though, Kassan insisted that if you have the option of using feet or phone, always use your feet. Social media allows you to get right in front of your customer.


As for the future, Kassan predicts a convergence between traditional ad holding companies (Facebook, Twitter, Google) and traditional consulting firms (e.g. PWC, Deloitte). Before they become "frienemies," however, he expects a collision first. This is due to a fear of disintermediation. A convergence doesn't imply the demise of traditional ad agencies though. They will still play an important role, only with different skill sets and offerings. His advice is simple: insecurity can be a powerful tool, either a “sword or a shield." Use it to keep you on your feet and look for new ways to improve.

Make space for customer care

Founder of Sprinklr, Ragy Thomas introduced the idea and need for customer care in the talk How brands can build customer trust with social. Here are the jaw-dropping figures that substantiate why he says so:

  • $568 billion is spent each year on new customer acquisition
  • And only $9 billion is spent on customer care
  • However, 80% of revenue comes from 20% of your customers
  • 90% of shoppers are influenced by negative customer reviews on social media

What does this mean? Stop ignoring your customers! No matter how good your marketing is, if you can't keep your customers happy, not only will your efforts render useless but your revenue will take a hit. Marketers need to include customer care in their strategy. A brand advocate is a possibly the most powerful form of marketing. Your customers know better than anybody else what makes your product stand out, but also where it can be improved. So, marketing and customer service departments need to communicate with one each other more, to ensure customer satisfaction and continued revenue. 

“Care is the new marketing” - Ragy Thomas

Increasing diversity

We can expect to see more diversity represented in marketing (e.g. models shown in ads). During the panel discussion Marketing in 2018: What to expect, there was a strong agreement that diversity is fundamentally important for creativity and should be embraced. If you need any evidence of this, simply take a look at jazz music. Nevertheless, creativity is not enough - marketers today need a good understanding of technology too.

The topic of diversity was also touched on by Lars Silberbauer, the Global Director of Social Media at Lego, who advised that a global team requires diversity in order to gain all perspectives and to stay agile.

Long live SEO

[caption id="attachment_14986" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Rand Fishkin, The SEO world in 2018 Rand Fishkin, The SEO world in 2018[/caption]

The "Wizard of Moz" himself, Rand Fishkin, spoke about where SEO is headed in his talk The SEO World in 2018. What did we learn? If you think search is dying, think again. People are still very biased to organic search results. Think mobile owns the show? Wrong, again. As you can see in the graphs below, desktop continues to refer more clicks than mobile. 

seo-desktop vs mobile CTR-fishkin-web summit

An interesting take away was his suggestion that, in the past, query search terms were the main determinant of results, whereas now, Google knows what the searcher wants better than they do and is, therefore, able to offer highly intelligent suggestions. Fishkin believes that Google’s “predictive intent” is based on things like Gmail behavior, search, app, browser history, and device attributes (e.g. type and which apps the user has installed). So what happens if Google becomes a full-on suggestion engine? Fishkin explained that perhaps the only way to capture attention during the customer journey would be during the first product discovery stage when consumers are not yet aware of what they’re looking for, i.e. before evaluation. This means marketers need to try, test and adopt new advertising forms quickly, in order to capture attention first.

"If there is one thing you should be doing for SEO," claims Fishkin, "it's featured snippets!"

Another trend rapidly gaining relevance is the use of Google's featured snippets. As Fishkin explains: "We're moving from results to answers." You may have already noticed how Google is increasingly solving queries before you even need to click, by means of featured snippets. For example, when you search for the weather today in your city, enough information is provided in the search results, so you don't even need to click through to a web page. Why might they be sacrificing a click for an answer? Fishkin's theory is to get people "addicted to Search." Think about it: if Google can answer your query quickly, accurately and reliably, you'll keep coming back for more.

While SERP features are impacting SEO's opportunity on results pages, today there are many other SEO opportunities for you to feature on the web. Below are just some ideas of where you can land with a bit of SEO:

[caption id="attachment_15046" align="aligncenter" width="600"]seo feature opportunities_rand fishkin_web-summit SEO feature opportunities by Rand Fishkin, Moz[/caption]

Key influencing factors of SEO that are still relevant today:

  • __Content__: Don’t sell, educate. Be able to match the user’s intent
  • __Links__: Editorial-given, anchor-text-rich
  • __Query Satisfaction__: Google still ranks on how well your content solves search queries
  • __Keywords__: While keyword stuffing is out, intelligent keyword placement still matters for ranking and CTR
  • __Quality of Host Domain__: Ranking also lies in the power of your domain (quality & value)
  • __User Experience__: Your site should be easy-to-use and intuitive on any device at any speed
  • __Technical__: Accessibility to crawlers is key - don't hamper bots
  • __Personalization__: Keep in mind the underlying factors (e.g. geography, device, search history, etc.) that can change Google’s results

We've covered a lot here, but Fishkin had much more to say about the current trends and what to expect for the future of SEO. For more information and insights into his talk, check out his power(ful)point presentation here.

With all this talk of the rising power of Google, as well as talks about Facebook, you might be wondering what impact it is currently having, or could have, on the digital ad industry. Luckily, there was a debate on exactly this topic, highlighting both the pros and the cons.

What will come of Google & Facebook’s influence on the digital ad industry?

[caption id="attachment_14987" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Nick Law & Alicia Navaro, Google & Facebook's influence over the digital ad industry Debate: Nick Law & Alicia Navaro, Google & Facebook's influence over the digital ad industry[/caption]

Nick Law from R/GA and Alicia Navaro from Skimlinks had a head to head discussion on whether or not Google and Facebook’s influence over the digital ad industry was beneficial for media companies or not. Here is a sum up of their arguments:

Contra (Navaro)

  • Facebook and Google are a major source of traffic for publishers, with 80% of referrals traffic coming from social
  • Publishers start focussing more on getting ranked, rather than on quality content creation
  • Fake news is driven by the “more clicks” mindset

Pro (Law)

  • Facebook and Google rely on publishers for content, so, naturally, content would become worse if they weren’t finding ways to compensate the creators
  • The platforms are not invincible and the users are not afraid to walk away if the content decreases in quality
  • Fake news will lose legitimacy as literacy continues to grow in terms of learning how to digest news and content

Conclusion: Quality content always wins.

Marketing techsperts

"There is a big window opening for marketers, and it will be here for a while... build a bot!" - Halligan, @Hubspot 

It is clear that technology has made a place for itself in the world of marketing, and is here to stay. In part 1 of our recap, we discussed four emerging technologies relevant to marketing that were the buzzwords at Web Summit 2017.

  • artificial intelligence (AI)
  • immersive technology and computing
  • online video
  • voice technology

These, and marketing technology as a whole, are crucial to understand and to acquaint yourself with in order to stay relevant in the marketing playing field.

On this topic, Mark Curtis (Fjord) spoke about chatbots being paired with AI. This combination could soon make it possible for bots to carry authentic human conversations with customers on an individual basis. Also on the topic of bots, Halligan (Hubspot), made clear that one thing is for certain: "There is a big window opening for marketers, and it will be here for a while: Build a bot!" He said bots are key to putting the customer in the spotlight and ensuring the right messages are being sent at the right time to the right consumer. Try building a bot for your website, in order to reach potential customers. How about a customer service bot?

It is essential for today's marketers to start using, understanding, and becoming comfortable with technology, in order to build and maintain agility and to understand their customer's needs.  It is time to embrace markeTECH!

"You can have a bigger impact than practically any other group in the world."- Al Gore

[caption id="attachment_15040" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Al gore Web Summit 2017 Al Gore at Web Summit 2017[/caption]

After three days at Web Summit 2017, there is no doubt that the conferences succeeded in unifying the global tech community. The conference closed with a talk by climate change pioneer, Al Gore, who left us all with the idea that tech has the power to change the world. Above all else, think about what your technology or business is capable of and how it could help do good for humanity.

We hope you enjoyed the read.

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