The warmup day to the venerable Pubcon event is establishing itself as highly focused mini conference of its own. While Pubcon draws thousands of people, 300-400 marketers from around the world jumpstart their Pubcon experience through the one-day Masters Group Training Sessions.
Masters Group sessions are limited attendance learning opportunities that dig deep into hot marketing topics. The intensive day-long event allowed participants to remain in one topic for the entire day or pick up specific insights from multiple tracks throughout the day. Sessions featured top speakers and experts, with topics including SEO, PPC & conversion, neuromarketing, advanced Facebook and social advertising and local search.
While impossible to get to every session to absorb the full scope of on-site intellect, the prequel day to Pubcon proves one undisputable fact: No matter how cool the technology or how advanced the machine learning and AI becomes, marketers still need to nail the human side of what we do. From identifying and targeting the right audience to finding them in channels to understanding their search behaviors to serving up exceptional content, the human side of marketing stands as a huge challenge for practitioners at all levels.
Some quick highlights of the Masters Group Training Day:
Machine Learning & AI
Machine learning, not surprisingly, is a top priority at Google. Morning keynote speaker Erin Sagin, global SMB go-to-market lead for Google, talked about the latest developments in Adwords, but she also shed some light on the search giant’s growing emphasis on machine learning to drive more automation in a mobile-first world.
Erin challenged marketers to realize brand loyalty is eroding. People now tend to search based on a need, desire or a specific problem they need to solve – rather than searching for a brand. Through machine learning and AI, Google is moving into new pattern-based development to get machines to analyze behaviors and teach themselves. The output is leading to new smart bidding tools and deeper, automated analysis of the overwhelming number of signals people give out based on how, what, where, when and why they search (along with countless other variables).
Advanced Psychographic Targeting
Aimclear Founder Marty Weintraub and Associate Creative Director Merry Morud led a day-long deep dive session on psychographic targeting. The marketing duo have canvassed the world in recent months presenting to marketers on three continents this Fall alone. Their session helped attendees understand how to maximize targeting tools in key social channels and even Oracle’s Little Blue Book (a tasty tool that allows unique targeting options that can do wonders for your targeting trials and tribulations).
Merry and Marty dug into the elements behind human personas, including demographics and layer upon layer of interests, behaviors and proclivities that give marketers a window into the audience’s soul. Marketers who opted for the psychographics session wrapped up the day with a real-time shredding session during which Marty and Merry knocked out uber-focused targeting that attendees could immediately incorporate into their marketing. That alone was probably worth the price of admission for the extra day at Pubcon.
PPC & Conversion
Brad Geddes, co-founder of PPC ad testing platform AdAlysis, led part of the day-long session devoted solely to pro-level PPC and conversion. During his morning session, Brad was quick to remind attendees of the myriad challenges to conversion. Depending on product or service, he hammered home the reality that, with rare exceptions, conversion requires multiple touches – in many instances 6, 8 or even more touches before a customer takes the desired action.
Brad spoke in depth about remarketing strategies to continue to reach audiences based on where they are in the funnel and how to tailor the marketing messages to relative propensity to purchase. He also addressed the emergence of Dynamic Search Apps that use machine learning organic crawling tech to automatically create keywords and semi-automate ad creation.
Social Media for Business
Not long ago, attendees at marketing conferences scoffed at sessions about Facebook for business purposes. Today, the topic is a mainstay at marketing conferences because everyone and their sister are somewhere on the Facebook marketing train. Melissa Fach, search & social dynamo for Pubcon, and Lisa Buyer, social evangelist/journalist/publicist, led the day-long track on social media for business.
Key topics during the afternoon included a beginner’s guide to using live video to build brand and/or sell stuff via live social video. The key to success is a strategy that sets a clear strategy (brand? sell? build community?) and useful metrics aligned against the goals (views? duration for retargeting? click to purchase?). The two also provided simple tips to get started, taking advantage of the simplicity of the platforms and the relative ease of connecting with customers via live video in social.
Lisa and Melissa also presented extensively about content and the need to create exceptional content to connect with audiences. A less-is-more approach, they warned against “content vomiting,” challenging marketers to focus on richness of substance, ease of consumption, accessibility via mobile and quality of production.
While impossible to take in every Masters Group session, those who started Pubcon a day early clearly heard recurrent themes around understanding audiences, targeting the right people, finding them in channel and serving up what THEY need when THEY need it. It’s the age-old challenge in marketing. The cool thing is we can do so much more compared to a few years ago. And with machine learning and AI looming large, marketers need to keep learning as much as they can, as fast as they can.