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Alistair Dent 

SMX East: event report

SMX East: event report

Brad Bender, VP of product management for GDN, giving the keynote speech.

From Google launching its new Audience Insight Reports, to Intel talking Pinterest, iProspect's Alistair Dent shares his key take-outs from Search Marketing Expo New York.

Search Marketing Expo New York (SMX East) has just wrapped up after three days of PPC and SEO content from of the best and brightest in our industry.

We can always learn by hearing how companies across the world are using new search tactics and technologies to deliver more for brands from online advertising's most mature channel, so here are my most inspiring moments.

Brad Bender, vice president of product management for the Google Display Network (GDN), was the keynote speaker. Bender used the stage to announce a new feature in AdWords: Audience Insight Reports.

Audience Insight Reports is a new GDN feature that shows advertisers more information about the users on their re-marketing lists. Brands will now be able to see demographics like age, gender and parental status, specific to their own visitors.

This is set to include location and device, who is in-market for specific products and services, Google's own "affinity audiences", and even interest-based segmentation. All of these can be benchmarked against the market to see if your brand over or under indexes.

Some of this was already available in Google Analytics, but there is a lot that is new. What's really interesting is the ability to see the breakdown of converters vs. non-converters per remarketing list that is set up, as well as high value purchasers vs low value purchasers. It's also possible to see who came from differently tagged traffic sources.

Ultimately, anything you can imagine creating a list for, you can use in this way. This makes it all the more important that you use a full suite of different lists on your site, whether you intend to buy against them or not.

Bender's other major announcement was the Google Display Network's move towards only charging for 100% viewable impressions. This is an interesting step that plants the GDN's flag firmly in the branding display space.

GDN management has been taking place through the AdWords platform for many years, and these advertisers are typically used to paid search. The result is that a lot of GDN inventory is bought on a CPC basis, where viewability is less important - if an advertiser only pays for (and optimises towards) clicks, it's implicit that the ad was viewable enough.

By stepping ahead of most of the other ad networks to move CPM bidding to a 100% viewable model, Google has said loudly that brand budgets are safe there. It can put a floor quality on any engagement that advertisers are paying for, and eliminate one of the worries about the GDN: that the AdSense-derived inventory tends to cover poorer placements on sites that put higher revenue inventory at the top.

This move ensures that CPM-bidding advertisers won't be paying for lower quality placements, ever.

The rest of the show contained some great discussions about the zeitgeist topics: consumer movement to mobiles, handling search when more is hidden in apps, and the impact of ad blockers.

For me, however, the most interesting session wasn't necessarily the most topical, but it was the most unexpected platform use.

Scott Jaworski and Laura Ann Mitchell from Intel discussed how a brand with a core product that is rarely bought by consumers, and just as rarely even noticed, was able to effectively drive brand engagement by optimising to keywords on Pinterest search.

Taking a B2B company and generating consumer demand for products with Intel components is a core part of the company's strategy, and by doing huge amounts of research and testing, Intel generated a hundred-fold improvement in the volume of engagements on Pinterest, which is a very consumer-oriented platform.

This to me feels like a real signal of the continued power of search across all campaigns and channels, as it evolves and moves with consumer behaviour, ensuring it can fulfil a wide variety of digital marketing briefs.

All the presentations from SMX are available online, and I'd recommend scanning through to see how search marketers are finding new and innovative ways to harness consumer intent online.

Alistair Dent is head of product strategy at iProspect.

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