News | 30/10/2019

Digital Digest – October

Posted by Christian Ryan

October was a funny month. Japan gave the world a lesson in grace and respect whilst hosting a fantastic world cup, an announcement of a general election in December, biblical proportions of rain for what felt like ever, and Brexit actually lasting forever (at least until 2020).

There’s been a lot going on from a marketing perspective as well. This is the first in a series of monthly blogs which will summarise and comment on some of the most important updates, movements or stories within the digital marketing industry and here at Cobb Digital HQ.

Persona development

An exciting development from Cobb Digital in October was the roll out of our new and improved persona workshop. Understanding the core target audience of a brand or product is fundamental to any successful marketing campaign, basic levels of information such as gender and age are obviously important, but drilling down into what makes customers tick through interests, values, demographics and psychographics help create more complete personas and ultimately humanises the intended audience. When we humanise an audience it’s much easier to determine or assume the media they consume, the wording which will resonate and how they might spend their time, so these persona workshops are a great way of us improving conversion rates and ultimately generating more for our clients. With the Cobb Digital ethos of meaningful stories powered by data, these persona workshops will help us incorporate this within campaigns even further. More information on these persona sessions we’ll be on the site soon, so stay tuned.

Google Automation Summit

The paid media team went on an outing to Google HQ in London to learn more about the latest automation features from Google. There’s an imminent blog on this subject so I wont to delve into the updates and features too much, but the most noteworthy thing I took was that some of the more traditional metrics of CPCs, avg position and CTR are no longer indications of success from a Google best practice point of view. This seems timely as average position was retired from the Google interface in October (which we actually found quite handy). With more reliance on Google’s ever evolving machine learning algorithms, the key metrics should be conversions, transactions and CPLs. Whilst success should always be based on the latter, the more data the better from our perspective. We have seen some fantastic results for our clients using different automated features over the last year, but for now, we’re recommending a combination of manual bidding and automation is the way to go. Good to hear there’s still a role for us mortals.

Leads, leads, leads

Another PPC related feature which was announced in October was the beta release of lead generation extensions for search ads. This seems like another step from Google to ensure users don’t have to leave the Google search results page to find the answers they’re looking for. My personal feeling on this is that users would surely want to learn more about the business before enquiring, however, we’ve seen strong results for our clients from Facebook lead gen ads over the last quarter so perhaps I’m wrong. Admittedly, Google results and a Facebook feed are very different, but we’re certainly excited to be testing this feature in the coming months.

Attribution for all

On a client experience day, back in 2017, I spoke about Google Attribution. Google was introducing it as a free standalone tool to help users compare data through different attribution methods other than last click conversions (still the most popular). It was an exciting development as historically this software was incredibly expensive.  An announcement from Google about releasing this didn’t follow, some comparison tools were added to the conversions section of Google Analytics but it all felt a bit disappointing given the early promise. This could all be set to change though as we’re seeing “Google Attribution beta” in some of our clients Google Analytics accounts (as per the below). We haven’t been able to use the tool yet, but will certainly do so when able to and will feedback our thoughts.

All about the video

Another key update which caught my attention in October was from another online giant, Facebook. Whilst Zuckerberg endured another grilling in court over data misuse, the platform released tools to help marketers maximise results over the fast-approaching festive season. Facebook and Instagram stories have gone from strength to strength over the last two years so it’s no surprise that the platform has released customisable templates to help bring a professional touch to a brand’s creative, this is really useful and ensures brands don’t have to spend significant sums on designers in order to deliver on-brand video’s in a polished way. We’ll be testing these over the coming months so will report back on resulting engagement rates.


In yet more Google news, many SEOs are speculating that the latest organic algorithmic updates from the search giant is potentially the biggest update to search in decades; BERT. With BERT, Google is expanding its AI influence on the SERPS and attempts to understand search queries and their meanings similarly to how humans do. Google have constantly tried to ensure search results are as accurate and useful as possible for their users, and this is continuing their mission. But what does this mean for the SEO industry and how will SEOs ensure that sites they are managing are taking advantage of this? Well, by carrying on with current best practice for the user in mind. As this development is focussed on being more relevant, as long as copy on websites is informative, relevant and helpful then Google will continue to favour this content.

October has been a busy month across the digital marketing landscape, but with Black Friday and holiday season up next, we’re set to be even busier over the next couple of months.