What is the biggest challenge of search marketing in a multi-platform, multi-device environment?

As part of The Drum's first quarterly search supplement of 2013, search industry experts share their insights on the biggest challenges of search marketing in today's multi-platform, multi-device marketing environment.

The Drum catches up with a cross-section of those working in SEO and PPC to establish the key concerns for search marketing at the moment – from cross device tracking to responsive design. The first in The Drum's search marketing series, published online yesterday, explored the changing role of the search marketer.

Paul Martin, SEO manager, Epiphany The biggest challenge is multi-platform attribution modelling. Digital platforms and devices are progressing all the time and we need to be able to understand users, their actions and activities in order to successfully utilise attribution modelling. As a search marketer it is important to understand the behaviour of different types of users, the buying cycle of different products, and have an understanding of the range of internet enabled devices in order to develop a successful multi-platform multi-device attribution model. Without doing so, accurately reporting on the impact different marketing channels are having will be increasingly hard to achieve.

Andy Gaukrodger, search manager, Freestyle Interactive Ensuring that we have an in-depth understanding and insight into audiences, their changing behaviours, their media consumption patterns, and the way they interact on a daily basis with their devices and networks – these insights are ever more important in search.

Tony Booth, senior PPC lead, Stickyeyes The main challenge is understanding which platforms are best suited to which devices and when. We currently live in a dual screen society where users are on multiple devices throughout the day and in some circumstances at the same time. Therefore, it is key to understand how consumer behaviour differs per device, the most cost effective channel to reach your target consumer, and target your service offering in order to maximise the opportunity window you have to obtain new consumers.

Tina Judic, managing director, Found That’s simple: cross device tracking and insight. Ultimately, the ability to join up data from different user sessions, sites and devices and crunch it with the vast amount of data generated by social platforms is a solution everyone is vying for. The companies investing in buying or building software to provide them with an integrated view of all marketing channels will be handing their analysts with the most useful and actionable insight to gain a competitive advantage.

Rob Weatherhead, digital operations director, MediaCom The single biggest challenge and the easiest to pick up is tracking. How do you know what a user’s path to conversion looks like when they may have used four devices in three different locations and there is no way of joining the dots? Google has tried to combat this by launching cross-device tracking for signed-in users, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. This solves the issue if you always sign in on every device to your Google account (Gmail, Google Play, Youtube etc), but how many people do that? If we take not provided data as a guide (the encrypted search data for signed-in users) then you could only expect this to cover a maximum of 25 per cent of people. So tracking is a big issue.

Mike McDougall, head of search, Blueclaw The proliferation of smartphones and tablets, and the different behavioural patterns associated with them means search marketers are going to have to be responsive to data and trends.

Ensuring that your brand has a responsive site in place and is segmenting and adapting its approach across devices is vital to success – simply lumping devices and platforms together means you will likely miss important opportunities.

Jonathan Oates, research and development analyst, Click Consult In organic search, particularly on mobile devices where the results are biased by location, performing consistently well across a variety of platforms will become more difficult. Marketers will need to consider not only multiple platforms but also devices that are aware of their location and create accessible, quality content available on a multitude of platforms aware of their user’s location.

Getting great content to work on multiple platforms is increasing tricky too; an app designed for the desktop is difficult to use on a mobile or single-serving microsites may work well on smaller, touch devices but perform poorly on desktops with retina displays with track pads and mouse pointers.

It’s challenging to build link worthy creative content that works consistently well regardless of the device or its capabilities.

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