With the build up to next year’s Performance Marketing Awards well underway,  the judging panel is starting to take real shape. 

Jon Myers, VP & managing director EMEA at Marin Software, will be one of the experts in charge of identifying excellence and innovation before the Awards roll into London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on April 28, 2015. Following a day one appearance at Performance Marketing Insights: London, Jon was on hand to share his thoughts on the future of performance, the merging of digital channels and what he’ll be looking for in this year’s entries.  

Your talk at PMI: London centered around the biggest trends in performance marketing. Can you tell us a little bit about those?

The first thing I talked about is search – huge industry, biggest ROI model for the last ten years, massive growth – and how it’s starting to very much learn from display from around audience data and demographics and how you can actually look at the consumer behind the keyword search, because it will all vary massively by age, demographic and location. 

On the spinside, display is still a massive performance metric and is starting to learn from search. Marketers are now thinking about how you don’t just go out and buy branded display oppositions as the display of old, but more like auction-based with the advent of RTB [real-time bidding] and programmatic buying. Again, you can start to think and see how you can fit the audience model that’s been so successful in search into display, with the demographic overlay. 

But I think the most interesting point for me going forward is breaking down the channels and silos to get everything in the performance marketing suite operating with each other. So not just running search in the search team; not just running display on its own, or affiliate or social in their own scope. It’s about bringing those together and we as marketers now have the technology available to stitch this data together, and audience data is the glue of that. Because it’s not just channel marketing anymore – for me it’s very much consumer marketing, and not thinking about it in its silos and using that consumer and audience data to merge our channels.

Is there a common theme you can derive from the way the industry’s going?

For me, I think the common theme truly is integration and the breaking down of boundaries. 

Search will always exist and generate huge amounts of spend on a global level. You can look at Google’s revenue from this year when they launched their annualised figures – it was around $58 billion. Google is the big player in this space, but then display is still a $45 billion – $50 billion revenue model; it’s not going anywhere. Facebook is growing more and more in their advertising space, and we haven’t even talked about Twitter or Pinterest and all these different things that, effectively, complicate the path to purchase.

As marketers we need to embrace technology and break down the silos between these different disciplines and then, based against the consumer and based against the ROI, say ‘Hey, we have our one part’, and let ROI and the consumer drive where the conversion occurs. 

It takes technology to do this. But ultimately, if you get good technology in place and you’re able to track in the right manner, you can understand the performance of all of these digital channels rather than just looking at them individually.

And how do the trends you’ve observed impact the offering of a company like Marin?

We continue to grow our core business of search but we recognised we can’t just be great in that, so our CEO’s (Chris Lien) vision was to continue to lead in search but also to build in other performance mechanisms, like display. 

Around six months ago we acquired a retargeting desk called Perfect Audience, which we’re integrating into the platform now. And what that allows us to do is effectively what we’ve been talking about. We can take all the huge amounts of search intent data that we have and we can place that into retargeting mechanisms via standard display DSPs, we can push it into Facebook, we can push it into Twitter – we can push it into many different channels and build a unified message across these areas to, in theory, help our customers gain a seamless and transparent vision across all performance display and digital mechanisms.

True to Marin’s form, we’re also looking to bring the data from TV and radio into there to understand how offline converts as well. So our vision is to create a performance marketing suite – a one-stop shop – with full transparency for our customers.    

Our industry appears to be in rude health but you talked recently about how digital marketing managers are being affected by a rise in spend for the channels they oversee. Can you expand on why?

Digital marketing managers are dealing with the fact that a consumer’s path to conversion is becoming fragmented across more channels and devices in the digital world, and that creates more complexity as they deal with targeting consumers across more channels. 

Also, we’re seeing more traditional channels move to digital and programmatic, which again increases the number of channels for digital marketing managers. As the number of channels available to a digital marketing manager increase, it’s important to put the consumer at the heart of their online advertising targeting and not consider channels in silos. Using audience data to better target individual consumers across channels is the key first step here.

As companies continued to migrate spend from offline to online, can you see the manager’s situation improving any time soon?

I think by using audience data to improve targeting and automate cross-channel online advertising, digital marketing managers can remove a lot of manual work and lighten their load. It’s not only about data and technology, though. CMOs and marketing directors need to consider how to structure their teams effectively to deal with their world becoming more digital and integrated across digital and offline channels. 

The focus needs to be on breaking down barriers between teams to drive cross-channel innovation.

Onto the PMAs, then. Given your awareness of their work, what are you expecting to see from our agency entries this year?

I think agencies increasingly need to focus on being the innovative and strategic layer which sits between the technology platforms such as Marin Software and their clients. The entries that will stand out for me are where an agency has demonstrated innovation in using technology and data to drive better targeting and efficiency for their clients. 

Where I see a lot of innovation from agencies is in the mobile space, so I’ll be keen to see entries in this area too.

And on a more general front, have you witnessed any trends over the last year which are likely to ring through the winning entries?

I think the use of audience data from DMPs to drive effective targeting has been one of the biggest trends in 2014, yet we only see a handful genuinely successful case studies in this area. I’m really hopeful that we’ll surface a number of new use cases of audience data to drive effective online advertising. 

Secondly, the rise and rise of programmatic display has been unstoppable this year. However, many examples I’ve seen have been the use of programmatic display in an isolated way. What I’ll be looking for is how programmatic display has been used effectively in tandem with other online channels such as search and social.