Search Automation in the Netherlands

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This paper is the result of a collaboration between four search agencies in the Netherlands (iProspect, Searchresult, Storm Digital and Traffic4U), two big trade associations (DDMA and IAB Netherlands) and Google.

When search engine advertising (SEA) started, the way people searched for information was very different. Consumers were searching from stationary desktop computers at set moments in time during the day. To set up an SEA campaign, you chose keywords and ad texts and specified a bid based on the likelihood of that keyword to convert on a last-click, desktop/same session basis. However, due to the emergence of mobile phones, changing consumer behavior and the evolution of search engines, we are now inundated with different signals. This creates complexity in the management of SEA activities.

In order to help search marketers deal with this complexity, search engines and search management tools started to develop solutions aiming to automate the basics of SEA activities (e.g. feed-based advertising, rule-based bidding). And over the years, the use of these automated solutions has grown.

Although the automation of SEA activities has been around for some time, it has received increased focus over the past year. This is due to several reasons: an increased need for automation among users of SEA platforms, more vendors offering automated solutions1 and a step change in the technology behind it, machine learning. The incorporation of machine learning into SEA management tools promises to make automated solutions even more effective in the future.

As the use of automation grows, the more the role of a search marketer shifts from setting up and optimizing the fundamentals of an SEA campaign (e.g. identifying keywords, setting bids) to more strategic activities that will ensure the future growth of the business (e.g. customer lifetime value management). In order to make the successful transition towards automation, it is therefore important to make sure to have the right skill mix in your marketing team.

After reading this paper, you’ll have more insights into which SEA activities can be automated, to what extent they can be automated and what the impact of automation is on the job of a search marketer.

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