Search marketing is moving back toward more human interaction


August 9, 2019 10:18 am

At SMX London in May, I attended two presentations with PPC expert Mark Irvine. He was recently crowned the number one PPC Expert by PPCHero in their annual list.

Irvine works as a data scientist for Wordstream, a Google Ads and Microsoft Ads management and optimization platform. Examining data and explaining what it means is his expertise and I interviewed him for my 2019 Search Trends report.

Social trends predict search trends

Some of the data from his analyses goes beyond search to the trends his data is showing across multiple platforms. 

This slide from Irvine’s presentation at SMX examines how an hour of trending on Twitter affects searches. In this case it doubled on Google and within six hours, the searches increased fivefold. There is a good case for real-time marketing and this view of the data is something we rarely see in digital marketing because of the channel specialization and the difficulty with access to cross-channel data. 

Irvine consequently made a case for differentiating the roles of digital marketing channels. We discover on social and then we search on Google. I am tempted to continue that phrase in line with my current research on Amazon Marketing to say… and then we buy on Amazon. This is all about how humans behave on social media and this differentiated view shows that there may still be some life in the funnel concept as well as a strong case for jumping from one walled garden to the next with our marketing initiatives. 

I certainly wouldn’t try to build a brand using Amazon and I really wouldn’t try to sell products via Instagram at this stage – good luck with that, brave pioneers! Those things will require massive changes in services offerings (that the platforms are currently undertaking) but also in user behavior and habits. 

So, what are the big trends in digital marketing?

Irvine notes that we are not talking about keywords much in 2019 – and he is thrilled he does not have a thesaurus on his desk anymore. We are now talking about how audiences find brands. After years of polished ad copy and perfect images on social media, he suggests that human-to-human conversations are better. Could it be that more authentic communications are on the rise?

In terms of the work itself, PPCers are not just Google-focused anymore. Everybody is forced to learn a lot of advertising platforms. The skill set requirements are also changing. We have more tools doing the repetitive work and therefore need to concentrate on our added value in terms of creativity and insights.

On the platform side, Irvine is quite optimistic about the future for platforms like Pinterest, Quora and Reddit, although they may have a bit of a brand-safety challenge. He is less optimistic about native advertising and platforms like Taboola, Outbrain and Criteo. 

Irvine offered these words to wrap up our interview:

“Data isn’t going away. But increasingly I have to think more about the human dimension. Data-focus is moving to a human-to-human perspective. We need to put our advertising in that context.”


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Anders Hjorth is the author of the Search Strategies Report and the founder of Innovell, a digital marketing insights consultancy researching trends in digital marketing. As a pioneer in SEO, one of the first Google Advertising professionals and the co-founder of several agencies: Relevant Traffic (search marketing), BDBL MEDIA (biddable media) and AZNOS (content marketing), he has a broad and long-running experience across SEO, paid search, social media, content marketing and programmatic. Anders was also COO for GroupM Search across EMEA. Anders is also active as a member of various awards juries and advisory boards.

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