May 13, 2013

iCrossing as Aragorn: The Future of Search and Media

client-summitiCrossing Client Summit 2013

If iCrossing were a character from The Lord of the Rings, it would be Aragorn. This was the claim of Chief Strategy Officer Mark Iremonger at the Client Summit 2013.

Iremonger drew comparisons between our agency and “the wise peacemaker who marshals resources” to illustrate the point that search marketing must integrate with a brand’s traditional reach channels to utilise the SEO potential that exists in all online engagement moments.

“Historically an SEO agency may have existed outside of a brand’s circle of trust, acting as either a Saruman – powerful but unethical, Frodo – relentless and resourceful, or Golem – where the ends would be used to justify the means,” he described. “Now SEO has been invited into the circle of trust and for the future we’re looking at an even more aligned partner model.”

Head of Natural Search Adam Skalak expanded on this, explaining that through the introduction of both the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, Google has made clear its agenda: to serve great content and stop gaming users.

“While technological and keyword optimisation are still key to successful SEO programmes, influencer engagement and consumer engagement are increasingly important. This means that search agencies need to work closely with real people – both customers and online influencers – to earn natural links and encourage user and social signals.”

In short, by working with clients’ PR, direct marketing and social teams, search experts can tap into and amplify marketing activities to generate SEO value, keep messaging consistent and – key for any business – make resources work harder for the brand.

“If all the good stuff you’re doing isn’t contributing to your SERPs then you’re effectively throwing money away,” said Iremonger, echoing the sentiment of iCrossing’s Head of Media Sam Fenton Elstone who earlier in the day outlined the importance of data efficiency to counter the cost of increased consumer complexity.
Keeping segmentation real

Alongside iCrossing’s Chief Client Officer Tom Jones, Fenton Elstone argued that the proliferation of devices and channels, combined with the accelerating pace of change, has resulted in an increasingly fragmented digital media market.

But as Google’s Mark Howe asserted through his ‘all screen, all time, all audiences’ approach, within this complexity there lies great opportunity.

“The key to making sense of this increasingly fragmented digital landscape is audience access,” explained Fenton Elstone. “Whereas in the past implied intent through media context and demographic signifiers was central to online advertising, with real insights from active search intent we now know much more about consumer behaviour, which can be tracked across devices.”

Quoting from eConsultancy’s Jordan Elkind, Fenton Elstone urged brands to “keep it real” when working with segmentation: Creating a strategy that is relevant – identifying the variables that best show the differences in your customers’ behaviour, efficient – building segments broad enough to capture the majority of your customers, actionable – sense-checking to ensure you will be able to identify and market to your preferred user, and lasting so you can build on learnings.