Last week, our brand new Kreuzberg office was once again a bustling hive of activity as over 200 SEO and marketing experts flocked to our epic SMX Advanced x Peak Ace Meetup. Amidst the nibbles, networking and music, the highlights were undoubtedly the 3 first-class presentations from Purna Virja (Microsoft), Martin Röttgerding (Bloofusions) and Jono Alderson (Yoast) and of course, our thrilling Online Marketing Battle!
This unique contest saw SEO specialists going head-to-head after presenting their views on a topical industry issue to the crowd. In true gladiatorial style, after their 8 minutes were up, the audience was left to decide who was the most worthy victor. Make sure to read more about their compelling pitches below.
Before the battle, we were treated to two outstanding presentations
Before the battle commenced, we were presented with two thoroughly engaging speeches from Purna Virji, the Senior Manager of Global Engagement at Microsoft, and Martin Röttgerding, Head of SEA at Bloofusions. Read on to discover their invaluable insights concerning how to better approach ad copy testing and how to better utilise conditional ads.
Purna Virja – how to turn ad copy brainstorms into a science
Purna Virja opened the evening with her presentation about paid search/ad copy. She set out to give us an insight into the way big brands become true megastars. Using the example of Dr. Pepper’s sauce, Purna showed us, step by step, how they created the best possible product.
After vigorously testing forty five different sauces, in all imaginable combinations, the result was clear: an “extra chunky” sauce was missing from the market. Thus, with Dr. Pepper’s new product, a $600 million star was born.
What we learned: often, what people want is something that we are simply not aware of!
Purna then shared a new approach to ad copy testing that can be followed in just three simple steps.
- Build the foundation: what is essential = the voice of the customer/competitive intelligence.
→ As per Purna’s insights, we learned that a comprehensive understanding of both the audience and competitors is key. Listening carefully to customers makes it easier to discover new ideas!
- Go crazy: step away from Excel!
→ In the second step, she suggested giving yourself some creative freedom. This includes writing down your ideas on mass, and then gradually cutting them down and refining them.
- Create final ads
→ Finally, conclude your ad copy brainstorm and develop one or two ads that you can apply to your campaigns!
Martin Röttgerding – conditional ads made easy
The second speaker of the evening was Martin Röttgerding. He presented a new approach to conditional ads.
- What is a conditional ad? – It’s a dedicated ad that can only be displayed if a condition is met!
Martin showed us how a conditional ad could be created:
- Time-based conditional ads
→ E.g. a small pizza place wants to promote two offers and place ads accordingly.
→ A datasheet is created with two conditions: a lunch and an evening offer.
→ One is only shown during lunchtime and the other, during the evening.
→ When adding the period from the data feed, a separation of the content and the condition is created.
→ Benefit: you may set up different conditions in up to 100 columns.
- Setting up ads
What’s new? It’s conditional! According to Martin, the solution is pretty simple: anyone can do it. It’s a powerful tool which means that conditional ads are no longer exclusively a technical issue.
The advantages are that with a small amount of effort, significant amounts of freedom can be created:
- Ad level reporting
- Ad testing and optimisation
- All content is in one place
- Totally flexible
Online Marketing Battle round 1: is AI stealing our jobs?
Concluding the two speeches, our first Online Marketing Battle commenced. Our inaugural contenders were Jes Scholz (SEO expert) and Anders Hjorth (Digital Marketing Strategist). Their topic: AI.
Jes kicked things off with the controversial statement: AI – not stealing jobs since 1956. She explained how, while struggling with all kinds of different tasks, AI helped her with regards to sourcing out simple, repetitive undertakings. Her core arguments:
- Our current marketing approach lacks the ability to scale.
- While there’s a lot of hype surrounding AI, the core essence of its utility is getting lost.
- It’s not that complicated: you can train AI (supervised learning) and gain more room for creativity.
- Machines excel at data processing.
- Humans excel at strategic thinking.
She concluded that our jobs will change – and consequently, we’ll have more time available to us.
Anders opened his counterargument by discussing the post-truth era. He asked: as AI steals your job; will you fall into a depression, or go on vacation? His main statements were:
- Things are changing, especially in macroeconomics.
- The question is, how do people use their new freedom?
- AI is going to change the way we work:
Loss of competitiveness
→ Adapt or die!
We asked our audience the same question both before and after the battle: “who thinks that AI is stealing our jobs and who doesn’t?”. In the end, Jes was the victor. Her arguments convinced 25% of the crowd to switch to her point of view!
Online Marketing Battle round 2: did Google take a swing at the publishing industry?
In round 2, we saw Philipp Klöckner (Strategy Consultant) battle it out with Malte Landwehr (VP of Product, Searchmetrics). It turned out to be an exhilarating exchange of blows! They lead us deep into the depths of subdomain and coupon sites post August 24th – the date when Google demoted commercial content across several publishing assets worldwide.
Philipp opened the fight referring to his article: “searching for harm – did Google take another swing at the publishing industry?” Consequently, he argued:
- Google might have missed its objective to create better results for the user as now search results are in fact worse.
- Publishing and coupons have always been friends.
- Google might have deprived many publishing houses of revenues that were crucial to their survival as publishers seek to diversify revenue streams.
- Fairness and domain trust are crucial.
Malte, on the other hand, supported the intervention by Google. Referring to the “voucher code mafia”, he asked, how is it possible that one company is running 40+ voucher pages? His argument was as follows:
- The pages exist for Google.
- They don’t rank because of content, but because of the trust of the domain.
- News publishers were not involved at all.
When the vote went to the public, Malte was ultimately crowned the victor of the round!
Jono Alderson – Schema, Google & the future of the web
Later on in the evening, Jono Alderson gave the final speech of the day. He presented the benefits of Schema.org in a nutshell. He argued that Schema.org is a modern format and a solid solution to engendering a rich search experience. However, the “official” documentation, as well as the way on how Google is treating schema.org annotations, seems often somewhat broken. Further, the implementation is way too complicated and far too complex for the average website owner to get done right. We encourage you to check out Jonos approach to structured data over here. A big thank you for this engaging look into the future of the web!
Reflecting on a truly memorable evening
We are simply delighted to have hosted such a thrilling and engaging meetup. The room was buzzing with innovative ideas and we are really looking forward to the next event!
We would like to thank all of our guests who attended the evening, and of course, many special thanks to our inspiring speakers who provided a great deal of insight into their respective fields. Until next time!