Speaking on SMX Paris 2015


smxpar15_125_spkrTime flies, SMX Paris is already next week (8-9 June 2015). I will be speaking together with François Houste on the subject of Content Marketing. We will be talking about the importance of Ideas, the mechanics of Distribution, the many ways in which you can Amplify your message through Paid Media.

Ideation, Viralisation, Brand Content, Native Advertising. I think it will be a lot of fun.

Hope to see you there!






The Missing Link in Digital Marketing

Missing link in digitalThe Missing Link in Digital

There is a missing link in Digital Marketing. I am talking about a discontinuation of meaning from one area of marketing excellence called Brand Advertising into another area of marketing excellence called Performance Marketing. The link has been missing forever. It was the same one described in the famous phrase “I know half my advertising budget is wasted but I don’t know which half”. Well, this is 2015 and we know a lot more about what works and what doesn’t. However, in most cases, it is impossible to establish the direct link between the Brand exposure and the final conversion on a website.

When you invest heavily in brand exposure it has an impact on the performance of your conversions. You KNOW it works but you can’t always SHOW it works.

From TV to Digital

In order to illustrate the missing link from TV to digital, I had the chance to monitor a website during TV exposure. The founder of a small company got exposure on National TV in France. No paid media was active at that point in time and as the brand has only existed for 3 years, it does not show up in Google Trends – it is an emerging brand. Needless to say, exposure on National TV generates an immediate traffic peak the very moment the company is mentioned on TV. Boom. Three and half minutes of brand happiness.

This is what a 1000% lift in traffic looks lik

This is what a 1000% lift in traffic looks like

The TV exposure could not in any way be seen in the tracking data. No clicks from the live streaming or the TV channel’s website. So obviously there is a missing link between TV exposure and the traffic on the website. Fair enough, there is a missing link between an offline and the online effect, you would say. On the monitoring side, we can see the peak in Analytics as illustrated above, but we can’t show where the traffic came from. When we dig deeper and analyze the origin of the traffic, the referrals show that 86% of the traffic on the 21st of April comes from organic search. We could draw a fully documented wrong conclusion saying we did a great job in SEO.

From Facebook to Website via Replay

After the TV exposure, we tried to prolong the positive effect of the exposure by posting a link to the video replay URL and boosting its audience on Facebook – it seems to have had an effect the following 4 days where traffic was still significantly higher than normal. This was an entirely digital exposure. There was no physical link from the TV Replay page to the website.

The afterburner effect was most likely generated by this boosted post on Facebook promoting the replay of the TV sequence exposing the post to 12000 people. We KNOW it but we can’t SHOW it. Looking into Analytics we find 4 visits from Social Media and 77% from organic search compared to an average of 66% organic search traffic the month before. Traffic was more than double its normal level. There is thus a missing link between Social Media exposure and website traffic.

From Display to Website

Similar effects happen in Display Advertising although there is a way to start measuring the impact of Display advertising, namely using a post-view and a post-click approach. In short, this would mean a tracking cookie would be placed on the computer viewing a banner ad. If a subsequent conversion happens within a certain time-period, the Display View could possibly have caused or contributed to the conversion. If we there is no tracking of postview or the cooking is not kept or if the user shifts device (shuffling computer, smartphone, tablets), the link goes missing again.

Taking Down Goliath

I had a discussion a while back with a highly respected online marketer, Kevin M Ryan about his new book on Digital marketing. « Taking Down Goliath » is a hands-on, no BS Digital Marketing Manual written from the perspective of small business which I can strongly recommend.

The underlying thesis is sound and compelling: the Internet has levelled the playing field. You don’t have to be a Goliath to succeed in Online Marketing.

In one of the early chapters, I dwelled on a phrase I had to give some thought. The authors say something in the line of:

“There are 2 types of campaigns, Direct Response and Branding. You have to set your objectives in order to succeed what you venture to do. For Direct Response, your objective will be conversions and for Branding it will be exposure”.

I am not usually that categorical about the division as I have always wanted to believe that you can achieve what everyone wants: Branding with Performance. I know from my own agency that we try to carry everything into a performance objective in our yearly plans – but then I also know that we can rarely show the direct relation between branding effects and the performance. We factor them into conversion rates and direct traffic. In the end it comes to this: In a long term view you can see the relation between Branding and Performance but in the short run and at the campaign level, there is a missing link.

Meantime in real life

In the process of documenting a presentation for SMX London, I dug into some client data at the campaign level. I factorized the data so as to show no real figures and only relative proportions and I arranged the communication “channels” on a range from Brand to Performance based on a wonderful tool Google provide on the customer journey to online purchase in that particular sector: Budget and ROI trendsThe red bars show a comparative cost per click and the green bars show an indication of the ROI as measured on the last click (well, ROAS, Return on Ad Spend, really but let’s call it ROI for simplicity). The data includes no postview tracking and no attribution modelling. What we see is massive cost and inexistent ROI of “Display Advertising” and “Facebook Ads” and massive ROI of “Direct traffic” and “Organic traffic” at no media cost. Due to the missing link, what the graph show us is this: If you want Branding, don’t look at channel-wise ROI, if you want short term ROI don’t do Branding.

Remarketing is part of the answer

There has been a lot of talk about remarketing for the past years and the beauty of remarketing in its traditional form is to marry a classical Branding channel, namely Display advertising, with a performance metric. Remarketing allows you to do the trick of doing a targeted Performance campaign to someone who had previously been exposed to your brand. Remarketing often tries to do more than that but also has its limits. Remarketing is not the missing link – it is merely a patch.

DMPs are probably much better

More recently, the digital marketing community talks about Data Management Platforms (DMPs). A DMP plugs into all an advertisers’ audiences and ideally into the advertisers’ CRM also. It concentrates all the different knowledge of the customers into a common view and can be used to design multi-channel campaigns and further add understanding. It can be used to pursue the same goal of identifying an audience which has been sufficiently exposed to a brand in order to run performance campaigns and drive revenue. The promise of an end-to-end solution to compensate for the missing link is there. Will we still be able to take down a “Goliath with a DMP”, I wonder?

And Facebook Ads have it all

Until recently, remarketing and DMPs would be counting on a great Display inventory for their campaigns. It was called the FBX, or Facebook Exchange, and it allowed external advertisers to place ads within the Facebook ecosystem. But recently, it looks like Facebook are looking to turn the tables. Looking closer into the Facebook advertising universe, it has dawned on me that Facebook actually already provide an end-to-end solution of Brand to Performance. Within the Facebook universe, you can run a Branding exercise and subsequently use the exact audience who saw your ads as a “Custom Audience” for which you subsequently run a Performance or Direct Reponse campaign. You will still be looking at 2 different campaigns with different metrics but if you want to establish the link between them that is an easy exercise.

With digital communication continuing to fragment across an ever increasing number of channels and sites it will not be an easy task to keep up with the interrelations in the data. Even with Big Data and DMPs. We are likely to have to continue living with the missing link in its various forms for a while still.

(Comments and feedback welcome on the LinkedIn version of this article which you can find here)

Trends in Digital Marketing Vocabulary

The Internet has always been a mature ground for innovation and new concepts. The challenge of Digital Marketers and Start-uppers alike has consequently been to explain, persuade and sometimes to sell these concepts to potential investors, clients and journalists mostly with words, images and demonstrations.

digitalmarketingvocabularyAt the beginning of each new year and after having read our colleagues’ predictions for what will happen, we –the digital marketers – start looking at what we should call things this year, as well as new words we should add to the Digital Marketers vocabulary temporarily or permanently. Let’s have a look at how you can check up on trends.


If we are a little late on the trend and it has already taken off, there will be enough data in the database of intentions to show us where the market is going. In this case we can go directly to Google Trends and ask for a prediction. Here is an example:

2015-01-15 17-34-38 Screenshot

Google trends plugs into the database of searches in their search engine and provide this insight. It has show to be an excellent tool for understanding and documenting trends such as brand strength, language preferences and rising trends. If we are a little early on the trend, the volume of searches will not be sufficient to show up on Google trends. Furthermore, the predictive part of Google Trends will only predict about 1 month into the Future and what we would like to do is to look a little further.


Moving on from Google’s database of intentions, I thought it useful to plug into LinkedIn’s Collective Mind. I reached out to some of the contacts I have on LinkedIn which I know have their finger on the pulse. Most were interested in participating in what I called a Crystal Ball exercise of guessing what words will be taking a strong share of our voice in this brand new year although only a few actually met the deadline. Thought Leaders are busy people.

VOCABULARY STILL GOING STRONG: content marketing, predictive analytics, programmatic advertising

Content marketing is the Art of driving your online presence with contents, optimizing its distribution in search and social and amplifying the same contents via paid media. The visibility of this term continues to soar but may have reached a peak mid-2014. Not so new anymore and facing structural change in organizations to really be adopted, the concept may have lost a little of its hype.

Some of its energy may have been passed to Influencer marketing and Lee Odden suggested another related term Participation marketing as something to watch in 2015.

Predictive analytics has actually been around for a long time with steady growth and increasing importance. There are no worthy replacements or evolutions for this term in discussions I have had. We use the term analytics for all the data crunching we do with all the big data we are harvesting. We may be using predictive analytics for things that were data-driven in 2014. One step up. With predictive analytics we aim to calculate scenarios for the short-term future. We typically create these scenarios for campaign performance across various channels. Lee Odden of Toprankmarketing included this term in his top list for 2015.

Programmatic advertising is a much more recent term and expected by Kevin M Ryan, author of http://www.takingdowngoliathbook.com/‏ Taking down Goliath to be one of the big hitters of 2015. For the big believers in Biddable Media, a term coined by Will Margiloff back in 2010, we will have to face the fact that the new-comer programmatic will win the game in 2015.  Programmatic advertising is rules- and bidding-based advertising taking inputs from not just a strategy but also from data input, now including not just a visit to your site (that is remarketing) but also the weather, CRM data and other events or inputs.  Will this term will take away some of the focus on remarketing (also still going strong) and might replace the use of words like RTB, DSP and Display advertising.

Native advertising is advertising closely adapted to its media host. In the New Clues from 2 of the Cluetrain Manifesto authors, they are heavily criticizing Native Advertising because of adaptations to the media disguising or removing the notion of advertising in a way that fools the reader. Why don’t we just call them what they are, advertorials?! Well, because advertorials is a restrictive designation and because Native advertising was a buzzword in 2014. With a heated debate, the term might be on many digital marketers’ lips in 2015.

TRENDY PREPOSITIONS FOR 2015: crypto, bio, neuro, connected

Bitcoins fell from grace during 2014 and the currency value in USD progressively fell during the whole year. The currency is almost back to its 2013 pre-boom and pre-crash value and remains a serious challenger to the existing monetary system. Additionally, underlying the currency layer there are several interesting concepts like the blockchain, the cryptography and the decentralized operation of the Bitcoin system. These could very well help generate new interesting buzzwords in 2015 with a lot of crypto- prepositions.

Biosignals is data from your body collected by wearables. They are about to enter Big Data and the cloud and at the same time they represent intimately private data. The bio- preposition will be present in our vocabulary as we try to understand the impact of biosignals on digital marketing and how to get it right. Not far away there will be the neuro- cousins pulling data from our brains and acting on them. Stop smoking with an app, enhance your memory with a game, control pain with the help of neuroscience progress.

Connected streets, connected cars, connected stores (or will they be Digital stores) all want to be part of the Internet of Everything together with Wearables and other Intelligent Objects. They are old concepts but they are still in the process of coming to life and to boom. We will of course see lots of “connected” words in our vocabulary this year and where we have connected items we are likely to also see beacons or small cells more frequently.


OTT and Multi-Channel Networks (Matt McGowan). I had to ask him “what is OTT?” The term designates digital media transported over the internet as opposed to transport via other, more traditional, media channels. The Netflix boom is an OTT trend but there are many others. I also had to look up the Multi-Channel Networks and they are part of the digital video distribution ecosystem. Digital Video being set to continue its progression, it seems likely that these more technical terms could go mainstream.

Hyper-Personalization (Lee Odden): the use of profile, behavioral and third-party data to personalize contents and ads.

Apology marketing (Kevin Ryan): make a social media blunder, make a top-notch apology and harvest all the social signals of restored goodwill.


I probably missed a number of things and would be happy to react on your input. There are also things I didn’t really address in this article. From CRM to PRM, from storytelling to transmedia, from disruption to inception. Feel free to comment here or on the LinkedIn article is published.


Battle for Biosignals

Another war has been declared within digital media, the battle for the biosignal. This is a concept coined in an article on venturebeat by Frédéric Marceau of OM Signal, a French company specialising in intelligent fabrics, which designed the Ralph Lauren connected shirts used by tennis players in the US Open 2014.

(the original article published December 2014 on CMO.com)

Frédéric spoke at the Leweb Conference in Paris in December 2014 together with some of the most advanced “Wearable Tech” specialists in the world: David Rose of MIT, JP Gownder of Forrester Research and Cedric Hutchings, CEO of Withings.

There was a strong focus on Health-related wearables and we have seen numerous companies and solutions emerge in this space over the past years. Nike connected their shoes, Fitbit created their connected wristband, Withings launched the connected weight Scales and OM Signals have built the connected shirts and then of course we have the Apple Watch with its cardio functions.

OK, so where is the war going on? Well, there is of course a commercial battle between competing products but the underlying battle may be more important. The one where the big players are fighting for control of your biosignals – data collected from your body and used in intelligent ways for your own benefit. All the above mentioned applications are fun and useful but we may expect more serious health-improving solutions for all ages to arrive on the market shortly.

At the end of the 90’s we witnessed the Browser wars. Netscape had taken a large share of the web browser market and Microsoft woke up to take a fight back in the market for “access to information” with the launch of Internet Explorer. I believe it was the first time Microsoft invested heavily in a product they were giving away for free. They had been owning the access to computing space with the DOS and later Windows operating system for a long time and were challenged by a new and stronger user need: access to information. Later the same type of battle appeared in Mobile operating systems. The battle announced today is for the control of the access to your biosignals.

But the battle field is wide and mined with privacy issues. In essence, our biosignals are intimate private data points although their value is only expressed once they are processed. Monitoring the vitality of an elderly person for the purpose of coming to aid in case of disturbance is a life-saving application and connecting your scales to monitor the evolution of your body weight can be a health-improving application. But for someone else to be hacking my weight on verifying my vital signals is scary and for someone to use that information for commercial purposes seems even worse. Where credit scoring is a common practice today and reputation scoring is being discussed, perhaps one day our bankers and insurance agents will be checking our health score before doing business with us. The main re will be a battle for this information because it is of high value

Considering to what extent geolocation data has had an impact on marketing, we should expect biosignals to have an even stronger impact on marketing in the future. Not necessarily at the personal level but at the aggregate level.

And the usual suspects are already be positioning themselves for the battle. Google is investing in connected objects, like Nest and has an ambitious project for health-related technologies. They are also seeking to federate developers around a platform, Android Wear. Microsoft are investing in e-health management platforms, Facebook did their first health-related investment with a fitness-tracking company in 2014 and Apple are integrating health-monitoring capabilities into their own products but more importantly, have built the Healthbook, an ambitious app meant to centralize your biosignals acquired from various data points: Heart rate, Bloodwork, Hydration, Blood pressure, Activity, Nutrition, Blood sugar, Sleep, Respiratory rate, Oxygen saturation, Weight. A full view of your health situation in one app.

Still, the biosignals are only just starting to be produced via products and apps from the thousands of health wearable start-ups investing the space. And most of the time, the data remains in closed loops. The market is not monetizable yet but we should expect a lot of investment and many acquisitions in the space in 2015.

Forrester have predicted 10 million sales of Apple watches in 2015 and together with the Withings Activité watch which incorporates biosignals into the equation, this year could be the Year of the Watch and will be the year when our biosignals upload massively into the cloud.

My Day in Cryptoland seeing the Future of Money

Yesterday I opened the door to Cryptoland, the Magical Kingdom of Bitcoins, as a complete cryptocurrency virgin by going to the Inside Bitcoins conference here in Paris. It felt like entering a very exclusive club made up of old friends from all sorts of horizons who shared the same peculiar vocabulary as well as the same glint in the eye. The glint of passion.

Back in 2009 when the World was in deep financial crisis, a founding article was published by someone named Satoshi Nakamoto. It wasn’t known who this Satoshi really was – a genius developer, a government agency, or possibly a group of developers. More of that story on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satoshi_Nakamoto. Despite a lot of speculation, it remains uncertain to this date who or what Satoshi is and perhaps his absence is useful for something meant to be completely decentralized. His spirit is still present although he retired from active participation apparently with a small capital of one million bitcoins. The mystery only adds to the magic of Cryptoland.

Birth of an Orphan

The article Satoshi published can be found here: bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf and is not for the common mortal to read and enjoy. What I understand from the 9-page document is the detailed description of a totally transparent internet-based monetary transaction system by which blocks of data are being validated by nodes in a network in real time. These nodes are computers and for each transaction, the original code of each monetary unit is reprocessed. If anyone tries to attack the network they will have to mobilise more processing power than the network itself.

After Satoshi published the paper, he also launched the network and created the first bitcoins. Later he faded out and transferred both the opensource code, the bitcoin.org domain and other assets to key members of the community.

Bitcoin Mining

An essential part of the network is the computing power of the nodes that verify transactions. The computers that participate in this work are called “miners” – possibly because they work very hard and get paid very little. Every day a limited number of bitcoins are being released into the economy through the miners as payment for the work they do. This helps make the bitcoins a scarce digital commodity, according to Nicolas Carey, blockchain.info, speaker on Inside Bitcoins.

On the Inside Bitcoins conference, I got to see what these miners look like.

… and the words they spoke were fascinating as they discussed hashpower and electricity prices.

They consider their activity as an Industrial activity where you invest in computing power and try to reduce operation cost to generate income over time. It seems computer chip manufacturers have a hard time keeping up with the Miner’s requirements for raw processing power and low heat emissions. Marco Streng from Genesis Mining explained how they had chosen Iceland for their servers because of a steady and cheap source of electricity and easy access to cooling. Perhaps a case for reindustrialization in Western Europe.

And we have take-off

Bitcoins took off massively back in 2009. As an example, the number of transactions on bitcoins for the first 3 years grew exponentially to make the growth rate of Paypal look pale in comparison (Nicolas Cary, blockchain.info on Inside Bitcoins). Perhaps, however, we are not comparing similar things as Paypal is merely a mode of payment whereas transactions of bitcoins can be of speculative nature.

When looking at the growth, there are 2 main things to look at. The number of transactions on one hand and the value of these transactions measured in another currency. With a gradual and continuous growth of transactions and an important level of volatility tied to a currency and furthermore a “new” currency based on a “new” technological approach, it seems logical that growth can be explosive.

The system is designed to progressively increase the circulation of bitcoins and reach an upper limit of 21 million bitcoins some time in 2040. Each bitcoin can be divided into a maximum of 8 decimal points. Today the market value is estimated at some 5 billion dollars – it is starting to become comparable to the GNP of a small nation-state.

The market value continued to increase and virtually exploded in November 2013 as can be seen in the chart from Blockchain:

2014-11-21 13-16-11 ScreenshotSource: Blockchain.info

But we also notice the subsequent decline. Was it a bubble? Is the show over? Most of the experts refer to the peak as having been caused by the Cyprus bank lock down where international account holders would suddenly use massive amounts of bitcoin transactions to circumvent the system. This peak is believed in turn to have been enhanced by automatic trading and possibly insider operations causing a partial collapse as well as a loss of credibility in cryptocurrencies around the world.

Bitcoin with a Capital B

But really, the currency and its fluctuations are very superficial elements of a much deeper concept and a much more powerful underlying motion. Bitcoin is 2 things, or rather Bitcoin with a capital B is the protocol on which money transactions are performed, whereas bitcoin with a lower case b refers to the currency (analogy from Elie Chevignaud on Inside Bitcoins). It is this latter bitcoin, the currency one, which is all the media and the general public care about.

The underlying motion of the Bitcoin (capital B), however, is where I saw the Future today. The protocol and the totally decentralized and independent nature of the Bitcoin approach is disruptive in its nature and possible a fix to a broken financial system. Of many great examples, Nicolas Cary addressed opportunities in relation with developing countries and money transfers. In his words: “Cash is inconvenient, a poor user experience, insecure and limiting” and subsequently “So why is 85% of the world’s money transactions still performed with cash?”

Additionally, fees on cross-border money transfers can surpass 20% commission whereas a cryptocurrency like bitcoin only require covering a cost of around 1%. There is a strong case for disintermediation and if I were in the International cash transfer business, I would probably start looking for another business area like Juan Llanos, Bitreserve.org did a few years ago.

An open and transparent system for financial transactions across the globe where nobody sits on the gold deposit seems like a very compelling solution. A system where nobody is “too big to fail” because they are central node in a dysfunctional system. The “too big to fail” is considered an anomaly in our capitalistic society by Hakim Mamoni of Seedcoin.

Our Future of Decentralization

A decentralized financial system like the one promised by Bitcoin, could be one of the building blocks of our future society. Hakim Mamoni takes us through the various areas of Human activity in which decentralization seems like a promising solution to many of today’s problem. In Water supply, in Food, in Energy and in Communication, decentralizing technologies are providing solutions that only require one last thing to fulfill their promise: Legal and Regulatory adaptions to allow for power to move away from the center.  But as we know, power shifts are the more difficult changes to make in any society.

So how do we make it happen?

In the same way the Internet revolution changed the way we produce, distribute and consume information, it looks to me like the Bitcoin protocol, the cryptocurrencies, the underlying technologies like the blockchain, as well as the amount of innovation in this space are announcing a complete change in the way we store, transact and manage money.

The challenges to address are likely to be 3-fold and interconnected: regulation, investment and compelling applications. Let’s go.


The Dark Side of the Attention Society

I saw this wonderful film on a flight once. Such is the wonder of chance – I was not predestined to watch this film – I zapped through the channels and I had 4 hours to waste on a long haul flight across the Pacific. I would, of course, never have seen it otherwise: the title sounds stupid and superficial and nobody had really marketed that film to me.

The film is about a guy who is miserable and declines everything. He is a no-man. For some reason he decides to change his life and become a Yes-man. All hell breaks loose as he literally says Yes to everthing. Fun film, happy it landed on me and really interesting illustration of the importance of Yes and No.

Unfortunately the last 10 years have seen a one-sided construction of the Attention Society – this new digital economy we live in with is communication channels in hefty mutation – where the No-man has disappeared. Everything is Like, Share, Yes, +1 with almost no room for critique and no room for opposing views.

A good illustration of this was a discussion I saw on LinkedIn. A “specialist” published an article with a provocative title, as it happens so often: “SEO is Dead” or something of the likes. This specialist had some “clout” – a word which has taken its full meaning after the arrival of the service “klout” which became famous by measuring the “influence” of a person’s social media profile. He had enough clout to bring his article to the visibility of some other influencers and when enough influencers had given their “social signals” to the article, it also came to my attention.

The promise in the title is not kept

I remember reading the article and thinking once again “The promise is in the title is not kept”. It was a poorly argumented article with a flashy title and it had made it way to my attention. So I started looking at the reasons why this article had made it to my attention – the main one was that a real specialist – someone who has worked on SEO for the past 15 years or more, criticized the article in the comments. For every point of critique, the author gave a vague answer and so the list of comments prolonged and occasionally more people would chip in also.

And that is where Truth was killed by the Edge rank. This was not on Facebook who created Edge rank: the algorithm which decides what become visible and what not. This piece of content had very strong Social Signals – negative ones. This made the article soar and come all the way up to my attention. I decided NOT to comment on the article in order not to contribute to it’s increased attention.

This kind of thing happens more and more often. There is a multiplication of catchy titles and an over-emphasis on getting the necessary “clout” for your message to even be heard. I get really frustrated when I read a crap article, badly written or not documented, because if I argue or comment “this is not worth reading”, it is as if I was saying “Yes – this article deserves attention”. Additionally, the overemphasis on shortness and catchyness reduces the reader’s attention span even further and makes it impossible to have people read all the way to the end.

Ok, so this is where I need to insert a catchy image or something to make sure you read all the way to the end.

The statement in the tweet above is made on the basis of this frustration. A catchy title – Top lists are always good. I even decided to make the title a lie :-) A beautiful image to illustrate the concept of silence, important to the message. And there was the resizing and adaptation to the right publication sizes.

Don’t talk if you can’t improve the silence

It is a hard sell. How can you promote silence when you need noise to be heard? How can you suggest the No when only Yes counts?

The Attention Society has revealed its Dark Side.

Smile on the photo, say Yes and remember to ‘Like’ this :-)

Content Marketing: is it SEO or SMO? (SMX Paris)

It is not a simple “either… or…” question we decided to deal with on SMX Paris this year together with Erick Hostacy from Yourastar. My background is Search Marketing whereas Ericks background is Social Media.


We decided to deal with the subject in a provocative way. I would be the SEO-man and Erick would be the SMO-man. Each of us introduced the subject explaining how “Content Marketing is SEO” and “Content Marketing is SMO” to then alternately present our Proof Case Studies illustrating our case and making nasty allbeit almost politically correct comments on each other’s cases.

I have extracted my part of the presentation below and will embed Erick’s presentation if he decides to publish it also.

Thanks to our moderator Annie Lichtner and thanks to Erick for a session people seemed to enjoy.
We had a lot of fun :-)

That animal-named update of the biggest search engine which deals with entities

smxlondonJust home from SMX London, I have realised just how important some of the take-aways were. The biggest one for me was the session about Entity Search. A session moderated by Danny Sullivan with David Amerland and Justin Briggs speaking.

Before reading any further, do this :

  1. copy the title of this article
  2. use the title as a search query in Google*

Your result page will show the answer to the natural language query I used as a title for this article.

* since the article was published and the title was republished on inbound.org, the search results page has changed. Before indexation, Google would show an article by Danny Sullivan about Hummingbird and Entity Search. Now it is this article which comes out top, at least if the author is in your circles on G+

From Recovery to Discovery

For those in search marketing, you will realise that this is new. It seems like search engines have always been based on keywords and served a purpose of navigational recovery: the search result will show me results corresponding to what is known but hidden somewhere (for example in my mind, in my bookmarks)

With a search results page adding something not outspoken to my query, I no longer need to use the concept of keywords, I can move on to a natural language querying and the function of the Search engine will allow for a function of Discovery. Finding something I didn’t know of.

The Art of Not using Keywords

I find this inspiring and started playing around with some queries. Justin Briggs gave me the first couple:

These queries are all about films because this semantic territory is very structured with entities and properties easy to define but I will come with examples from an other territory further ahead.

From Keywords to Entities

Where the Search paradigm used to be based on Keywords, their pro-eminence in the pages and in the backlinks, we seem to have passed beyond this in. The queries do not name the answer we are looking for whereas the search results page does. We are perhaps seeing the result for the « Entity » that has been identified as the answer to the query.

So what is Entity Search?

On the SMX, David Amerland made a reference to the US Patent number 8538984, which supposedly is the foundation for this Google update. The Patent can be found here as well: http://www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/8538984

As opposed to other recent animal-named Google algorithm updates, Panda and Penguin which are considered as add-ons, the Hummingbird is a complete rewrite.

What the Hummingbird update does is to move away from the concept of keywords and into the underlying entities. A search query is analysed in order to understand the meaning behind the keywords within and the search results are based on the presence of entities.

We see this effect more clearly on natural language searches using more words in the query. It also likely works more effectively in structured semantic territories. Justin Briggs pointed to Freebase (a Google acquisition) as a likely source of structure to the entities.

Exploring Entities

Let’s have a look into Freebase and the structure of Entities. It is almost noon so I was starting to think about food. Here is a view of the Entity « Dish » in Freebase :

2014-05-19 11-23-35 ScreenshotType of dish: starter, dessert, …

Cuisine: French, Indian, …

Ingredients: Eggs, Ham, …



So, Dish is an Entity under Food and it has the properties: Type, Cuisine, Ingredients and Recipes.

This inspired me to test this query :

« how to prepare that mexican starter with fish, shrimps and lime juice »

2014-05-19 11-37-59 Screenshot

The result on top comes out as a Mexican Recipe for Ceviche. Out of the 12 word query only one of the words appear in the title and I see entity attributes highlighted in the snippet : shrimp, fish, lime, dessert but also, disappointingly, the word « make » which is by no means neither a keyword, nor an entity property.

The Future of Search?

With a number of changes having occured within Search Marketing and especially SEO during the past couple of years, I hadn’t really noticed this under-the-hood change. And I don’t think this will change Search Marketing instantly as I believe the shift to Entity-driven results will be gradual. Most users have now been “keyword search” educated and it will take some time to unlearn. SEOs, however, should start shifting tracks now. Keyword research has become obsolete – we need to look for Entities, Properties and Attributes.

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So Anders will be speaking on RIMC 2014


The Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference takes place on 28 March and has a great line-up of speakers from Big brands like Heineken, Geox, Nokia, Dell, Lenovo and more. I have been invited to the Wrap-up session at 16.00 about Big Brands online from the marketers perspective.

HearMeSpeak RIMC14Details here: Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference 2014

This will be my first time to Iceland and I am really looking forward to this. I will combine a great looking RIMC conference with the European Search Awards and additionally I will take an extra day to discover this amazing country I have been wanting to visit for many years.

Iceland, here we come!

European Search Awards 2014 – in Iceland

EuropeanSearchAwards2014The European Search Awards aim to identify and promote the best in SEO, PPC, Digital and Content Marketing in Europe as presented by technology providers, agencies and in-house teams alike.

The more entries, the better the quality and the higher the visibility and value of the prize so this is an invitation to submit your best piece of work from 2013 to enter the competition. Entries must be submitted by 17 January 2014 here: European Search Awards.

I think it is important for the Search and Digital community to embrace this type of event in order to continue to learn, improve and share what we do on a daily basis. This is a way to help us to continuously deliver better and more value to our bosses, clients and end-users alike.

I am looking forward to being part of the judging panel and hopefully be both impressed and inspired by what friends, professional contacts, former colleagues and complete strangers alike will be submitting in each of the fields.

The Awards will be presented at a prestigious award dinner at the Grand Hotel Reykjavik on Friday 28 March 2014

As a judge, I promise to be impartial, really hard but also very just :-)