Marketing Week Live: The round-up

By Elena Vendramin | 09 Mar 2018

This year's Marketing Week Live event saw over 100 exhibitors and more than 70 speakers present across four stages over two days. The event combined a mixture of practical, hands-on advice from some of the most respected experts in the industry. Among them was our Director of Paid Media, Hannah Kimuyu, and our Head of Paid Search, Angela Knibb, who took to the Marketing Transformation Stage to present their topic 'turning challenges into opportunities in uncertain times across paid search, display and audience targeting' to a packed crowd - here are some of the key takeaways from the session.


UK ad spend is predicted to grow just 0.3% this year according to IPA Bellwether's latest report, with more than 10% of advertisers allocating over 50% of their marketing budgets to digital, and mobile accounting for almost 25% of digital spend. However, international advertisers are winning 12% more UK auctions since the Brexit vote, leading to a 7% cost-per-click (CPC) drop.

The UK is also seeing greater domestic competition due to the strengthening of USD vs GBP, which has made UK ad space more affordable to international advertisers. Furthermore, greater competitiveness of the GBP has resulted in increased conversions for UK retailers from international users. As such, Hannah and Angie identified three areas businesses can investigate to create opportunities when operating in challenging times:

  • International expansion: This decision should be made based on customer experience and knowledge within the new market, international expertise, global platforms and eCommerce systems, technology, and data.
  • Audience targeting: This is an essential requirement that will contribute significantly to optimising activity and creating cross-channel efficiencies, especially as audience filtering now allows advertisers to get down to granular detail.
  • Channel mix integration: It's imperative to integrate and align channel strategies to ensure they're working together and not cannibalising one another. Steps to be taken include: evaluating any PPC and SEO trade-offs, improving conversion rate optimisation, using creatives across multiple channels, continuously testing user experience, ensuring that channel goals are aligned, and sharing learnings across teams.


Following Hannah and Angie's session, participants had the chance to ask a few questions related to the presented topic, here are some of the most voted ones and the responses Hannah and Angie gave:

Aggressive competitor brand bidding is driving up CPCs to an unsustainable level, and brand accounts for 75% of traffic - how would you approach the situation?

Without knowledge of the brand and market, it's hard to give the best answer. However, in general, we would recommend monitoring the space to see who is appearing on your brand, and monitor for any trademark infringements to remove them. Outside of this, you can ensure you're running the most compelling messaging, with as many relevant ad extensions as possible to improve Quality Score. I would then look at the data; How valuable is that brand traffic? What is the return, and how is that impacted by appearing in lower positions? We sometimes find in these situations that you don't need 100% impression share in position one, sometimes 95% - or even 90% - yields the same traffic and revenue at significantly lower CPCs. So, we'd look for the sweet spot by shaving CPCs every few days until we see a decline in revenue and ROI metrics to understand how much we really need to invest here.

How does the increased advertising spend compare to the rise of AdBlock and decreased impact of ads?

According to The Drum, 39% of page views are blocking ads. While we're not necessarily seeing a massive impact in our own display campaigns, we're focused on building and targeting the right audiences as a way of remaining relevant to publishers, and getting the most from our clients' media budgets. That being said, there hasn't really been a noticeable impact in paid search when it comes to AdBlock.