Adam Singer embodies the drive, focus and data-driven mindset inherent among today’s digital marketing pros. As Analytics Advocate at Google, Adam lives at the epicenter of search analytics. He sees trends and shapes how analytics can benefit marketers and brands around the world.
Adam’s stated personal mission is to “be a catalyst for all industries and company types to transform how they work using data.” As one of the #Zenith2018 keynote speakers, Adam will impart his wisdom and vision to help marketers break new ground in their search marketing programs.
We caught up with Adam in advance of Zenith to get a better sense of who he is and the type of insights he’ll share with Zenith attendees. The following Q&A unveils interesting aspects of an individual truly shaping the digital landscape.
Aimclear (AC): Your professional bio describes you as the Analytics Advocate at Google, startup advisor, investor and blogger. That’s a lot of hats. How would you describe your occupation?
Adam Singer (AS): I think it’s actually quite common in Silicon Valley (or in the tech sector in general) to be interested in many sectors and skillsets. During my previous life as a consultant, I decided to accept a role with a big company six years ago, but personally still wanted a view into more areas of the world. I had already been a trends blogger on my own site and for industry trade publications since the early 2000s. Investing and advisement was actually a natural extension of that. But really, the common theme through my work is using data to make decisions, whether that’s predicting where I think markets are headed or helping a company develop the right digital strategy.
AC: At Google, you are in the catbird seat to watch the evolution of data in the digital marketing universe. What do you see as the big opportunities for marketers today?
AS: Building the right attribution model for your company or clients is really what everyone should be doing to effectively credit all their channels. The best part is this used to require a lot of work, but now the tools are totally free for everyone and you can easily see and understand how channels work together. It’s an area of huge opportunity, because while practitioners at the vanguard appreciate marketing attribution and thinking across channels, I think many are so ingrained in a last-click world still, which can hinder performance greatly. Additionally – and this has always been true – knowing which metrics matter and focusing on measuring/improving those while tuning out the noise has always been the secret to success for performance marketers (which now also include brand marketers, not just direct).
AC: Let’s flip the notion – what do you see as the big challenges for marketers today as they live in a data-frenzied environment?
AS: It’s all about both having efficient processes and knowing where to spend time. Marketers have always suffered to some extent from shiny object syndrome which is fine for five percent of your time to test new things. Ultimately, why aren’t marketers heads-down focusing on making the channels and tactics that work for them really shine? I think you see the difference among practitioners who have been at this for a decade+ or those who ran their own business moreso than those who have never left their ivory towers of large brands.
AC: There is a lot of chatter about machine learning, AI, voice search, etc., which can overwhelm marketers. How should marketers of various skill levels forge new paths? Is there a risk of going in the wrong direction and becoming the 8-track tape of marketing?
AS: If I were a practitioner, I wouldn’t spend time “worrying” about machine learning. Actually, it’s really the opposite notion. All these new technologies will get integrated into tools to make all our lives easier. There’s no “easy button” in Google Analytics, for example. You need a human to interpret the data. Even with improvements to things like Analytics Intelligence, someone needs to actually ensure that any recommendations get put into place. We’re a long way from having marketing or analyst work be fully automated by robots (likely never will happen fully in our lifetimes, because good creative is timeless). I would focus on making excellent campaigns and delighting users. Marketers who can do that will thrive no matter the tools or tactics.
AC: You will keynote at Zenith 2018 in Duluth. Can you give us a preview of what you’ll cover with the audience?
AS: In a world increasingly saturated with data and information, visualizations are a potent way to break through the clutter, tell your story and persuade people to action. Raw statistics by themselves are fine. But showing data in context, whether with a simple chart or more creatively in an interactive form, is the future of sharing information. Such an approach needs to be embedded in the thinking of all communications professionals. I think this is really a “last mile” effort for marketers. You create a great campaign, drive sales and revenue, and then move on to the next one. But if you spend just a little more time at the end articulating results, whether internally or to other stakeholders, you can be seen as more strategic, increase next year’s budget or ultimately show you are the leader in a given sector.
AC: If the audience can really internalize one or two key highlights, what do you hope they leave with?
AS: First, make your visualization as simple as possible (but not simpler) and have a call to action for what people should take away. Just like in a blog post you wouldn’t “bury the lead” as they say, make a call out when you are doing any reporting or data storytelling and tell the stakeholder what they should take away. Do this while considering how busy a CEO or CMO is and you’ll win every time.
Second, it’s okay if your numbers aren’t great! Rome was not built in a day and many of my most successful clients or programs started off with a whole bunch of zeros. As long as you start somewhere and show progress, no one is going to be upset with that and the transparency it creates forms the right long-term trust with your teams. Where you get into trouble is if you fail to be transparent and report results. Typically, that never ends well.
AC: We’ll have marketers of all experience levels in the room at Zenith, including some people just starting out – as well as some college students hoping to launch marketing careers. What advice do you have for people just getting into the game?
AS: Keeping your analysis skills sharp is probably the single most important thing you can do. Good marketers know not just how to record metrics and what KPIs matter, but how to use that data to influence decisions at the strategy table and get buy in for new projects. This involves both left and right brain thinking, as you can get pretty creative with how you use numbers to tell a story. Becoming proficient with data-driven storytelling requires lots of practice, so working on it daily is helpful. Moreso, there’s big demand for analytics-savvy professionals, which means this skill will provide a competitive advantage.
AC: Fun stuff: Tell us a little about yourself. What is your personal story, hidden talent, conversation starter or something that gives you great pride?
AS: For the last two decades, I’ve used my free time to write electronic and jazz music. I’ve actually written seven original albums and am working on post-production for my 8th right now. I’m not sure if I am actually talented, but it’s just something I enjoy doing.
AC: Freebie: Anything else you’d like to share with the Aimclearblog audience?
AS: Take our Google Analytics Academy courses. They are free, open to all and one of the best ways to learn analytics from our team at Google.
Be sure to catch Adam’s keynote during the Zenith Conference in Duluth. He takes the Zenith stage Thursday, April 26 at 3:45 pm in Duluth’s famed Greysolon Ballroom.
Whatever you do, don’t miss his keynote during #Zenith 2018.