Our Competitive Intelligence consultant, Tom Larkin, recently caught up with Matt Boland, Head of Paid Search – EMEA, at global brand performance agency ForwardPMX. Read on for the full interview and Matt’s insights on collaborating with clients, managing high-performing teams and harnessing automation.
Tom: Tell us a bit about your role Matt?
Matt: As Head of Paid Search, I lead the EMEA PPC team of 100 across operations, training, new business and strategy.
Collaborating with clients
Tom: What are your biggest challenges at the moment?
Matt: Aside from the current situation, one major challenge for us is collaborating with clients that work in siloed teams across digital marketing. Often in a client business, separate teams are working on different channels such as paid search, organic search, display and others, and may not have coordinated tracking or attribution models connecting the various outputs and results.
Each in-house team can have their own targets and KPIs, which means they can end up competing with each other rather than collaborating to achieve the best results for the business. We’re continuingly addressing this challenge and guiding our clients towards a unified approach that looks at the bigger picture.
Adthena gives us data that’s easy to access and analyze so we’re able to give our clients an accurate picture of what’s happening in the market: Are they running the right offers? Is the ad copy good enough to cut through? It’s important for us to have a relationship at senior director level on the client side, who has the wider perspective on everything that’s going on – and that’s the person we present the data to. That way they can understand what’s important for the business as a whole and make the case internally to move in the right direction.
Tom: How do you ensure your own teams don’t become siloed?
Matt: We hire smart people and train them up in programming language when they arrive. No matter what their strength is, they’re exposed to different facets of the operation and to problem-solving challenges. This approach means that within all of our paid search teams, everyone is able to automate reports, automate data gathering, and automate our alert system – giving us more capability and speeding up the process.
We’re working towards a more consultative approach, where our people will be able to have a broader range of discussions with clients and bring a wider suite of solutions to the table. This helps in avoiding being siloed ourselves and thereby allowing our clients to become un-siloed and enjoy a broader view.
Tom: How do you ensure your teams don’t become bogged down in data?
Matt: Using competitive intelligence tools, such as Adthena, helps our team to understand the market in more detail than they would be able to with Google’s tools alone. Rather than spending a lot of time gathering, preparing and cleaning data – we’re able to take advantage of automation to gather and analyse large amounts of data at a fast pace. This gives our team a great advantage, as they can focus on top-level analysis of the insights to find opportunities for optimization, performance issues that need to be fixed, and adjustments on keyword bids to maximise results.
Tom: What do you think the future holds for paid search?
Matt: I believe the future will be all about people. Having strategic thinkers on your team to get the best out of paid search will be key.
The future will be more and more automated. Many more ‘smart’ products are coming out now which remove a lot of our control over manual levers and options for optimization that we traditionally had. We currently have the option to optimize as we wish, but over time there will be fewer options especially around the match types on keywords.
We’re moving towards a world where there’s less need to run complicated, technically challenging accounts, and it will be more about having the right people to run search as efficiently and as effectively as possible.
ForwardPMX is a global brand performance agency providing brands with a unified global vision, and the local depth and expertise to engage fast-moving people, everywhere. forwardpmx.com
More in this digital agency series:
- In conversation with: Lauren Ogundeko at PHD
- In conversation with: Erika Mendes at ROAST
- In conversation with: Jennifer Miller at Neo Media World
- In conversation with: Emily van Lierop, VW – PHD Global
Read more agency insights and download the guide ‘Brand Crashers: how to get rid of them and what to do next’ on our hub: Paid Search Insights for Agencies.