All the News from SMX East

November 8, 2017

SMX East is always packed with great speakers, events, and new ideas, and this year’s conference in NYC was no exception. Marin had an awesome time hosting visitors in booth 426, and got a chance to attend sessions detailing the latest digital marketing trends and big announcements.

Search marketers to rule the martech stack

Scott Brinker, SMX Conference Chair, focused his keynote on why search marketers are uniquely qualified to lead in the new "MarTech Era." Scott’s main argument was that SEO and SEM marketing professionals have the keys to the kingdom—their core skill set includes a blend of marketing operations, content marketing, advertising, conversion optimization, and analytics knowledge.

Looking across the marketing Lumascape, Scott pointed out how many different areas of the martech stack are very familiar to search marketers. Their unique blend of expertise across paid, owned, and earned media—while maintaining a focus on simply getting stuff done—will stand paid search professionals in good stead for the years ahead.

Scott also shared some interesting slides that show how tech giants like Microsoft view their own martech stack, and what solutions are essential to a modern marketing organization. Check out the full version of Scott’s SMX East keynote presentation.

Combining search and social

Marin Software’s Chris Yachouh gave an SMX theater presentation on integrating your search and social campaigns. Many digital advertisers are building their paid campaigns around the customer journey, which jumps across channels, devices, and locations. Given that Facebook and Google make up over 75% of time spent online, it makes sense to run cross-channel campaigns that leverage the synergies across both channels.

For example, users who click your search and social ads are twice as likely to make a purchase. Chris shared how Marin’s platform lets advertisers use search intent signals on Google to create highly targeted custom audiences for social ad campaigns on Facebook.

Bridging the divide between search and social is an idea whose time has come—check out our Search and Social Playbook for more details.

The next big thing in digital advertising?

Voice-based advertising was a recurring theme at SMX East 2017—it cropped up as a topic in sessions, panel discussions, and on the show floor. The argument is that voice-based advertising is causing many advertisers to start exploring beyond keywords and traditional search campaigns.

While most people at the show felt that voice advertising is not yet ready for prime time, there is a strong sense that it’s gaining momentum with both brand and direct-response advertisers. Given the runaway success of visual product ads and the growth of video advertising, it’s clear that paid advertising is leaning into more visual (and spoken) territory that will “rewrite” how users engage with brands.

While keywords still matter and the vast majority of paid search campaigns are built around them, the strategic value of other approaches is growing by the day. I encourage you to read Brian Smith’s article titled The future of paid voice search and monetizing the map for more insight on this topic.

Amazon goes to the store

We’ve seen Amazon move into surprising new markets—recall the $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods that closed in August 2017—but its latest voyage into the paid advertising space is a lot closer to home. In a presentation at SMX by Colleen Aubrey, VP of Performance Advertising at Amazon, we got a better sense of the shopping giant’s expanding vision for retail and paid advertising with Amazon Stores.

Amazon Stores is a self-service offering for retailers already selling their products on Amazon. While the traditional brand experience on Amazon has been product-based and transactional (not to mention lucrative for retailers), it’s hard for companies to deliver cohesive, brand-friendly experiences for their customers. With Amazon Stores, brands can offer a multipage storefront to showcase all their wares, in custom categories and highly personalized shopping experiences.

Amazon is betting that brands will flock to these virtual stores, leveraging the reach and targeting that they’ve always offered alongside a more immersive customer experience. Retailers can take advantage of embedded features like social sharing buttons, in addition to promotional extensions such as Headline Search Ads, to drive store awareness and traffic.

While there are missing pieces in the overall campaign functionality, it certainly looks like Amazon is building out an impressive value proposition for retailers looking to drive customer engagement and loyalty.


As 2017 draws to a close, it’s clear that Amazon continues to be the driving force behind retail innovation. Voice and innovations across the martech stack are really heating up, while integrated search and social campaigns continue to drive substantial gains for advertisers in terms of incremental revenue and customer acquisition. It’ll be fun to see how these themes develop in 2018.

Brian Finnerty

Marin Software
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