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Year in Search | Interview with Dan Peden

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PPC hubbub asked the leading search industry experts 3 questions about what they thought about 2018 and what 2019 might bring for Search. 

Today, Dan Peden answered our questions. Dan is Strategy Director at Journey Further, a performance marketing agency based in Leeds and London that was launched in January 2017. The fast-growing agency is designed to deliver clarity at speed for the UK’s leading brands. 

Q: What have you loved about Search this year?

“This year has been great for transparency.

There’s been open conversations about how user data is being stored, who’s using it and how it’s being used. This affects not only search but every form of marketing. Yes, some of it has been a pain and there’s a lot of over-reaction to certain common sense practices, but it’s placed a renewed focus on what’s important – the user.

And that’s both the users of the marketing tools, where a renewed effort for openness is leading to useful new reports such as mobile site speed, cross-device attribution and many more.

But also for end users, who now have more control of their data and are ultimately getting a better experience with more personalised and tailored advertising. Sites are now geared to a user’s situation, whether that’s just by being quick on mobile or leveraging additional data such as location, interests or previous search history to create a much better experience.”

Q: What have you hated about Search this year?

“The shifting trend towards black-box, machine learning technology.

You’re expected to place faith in an algorithm getting it right without it telling you what it’s doing or why. This removes the countless years of user and business understanding that analysts hold.

That isn’t to say I’m against machines. Machines can do certain things better and faster than we ever could. Google’s bidding methodology can analyse hundreds of signals in real-time and calculate the correct bid for a user – that’s something a human can never do.

But they aren’t perfect and there’s a lot they can’t do. There needs to be some form of feedback loop so we can interrogate the decision tree and then educate the algorithm for better future performance.”

Q: What do you think 2019 will bring?

“A focus back on intent.

The last few years have seen a lot of data and new marketing mediums spring up and a lot of wasted spend on ‘branding’ style content. With economic uncertainty there’s going to be a resurgence on delivering guaranteed returns.

This is where intent will come in – focusing advertising on users who are becoming active in your market and hitting them with higher impact media such as video or audio to drive them to purchase.

This has already started with the improvements to in-market audiences but I’m expecting a much bigger focus on these in 2019.”

Dan Peden
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