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Search Laboratory: growing international brands

Chris Attewell, CEO of Search Laboratory, discusses with Business Chief industry trends within digital marketing and his predictions for 2020.

Brittany Hill
|Dec 16|magazine15 min read

Chris Attewell, CEO of Search Laboratory, discusses with Business Chief industry trends within digital marketing and his predictions for 2020.

Could you tell me a little bit about your company and your role at the company?

Search Laboratory is a global digital marketing agency with offices in New York, Leeds and London. Originating as a specialist PPC agency, we have grown our service offering to offer ethical search engine optimization, PPC, digital strategy, programmatic display, content marketing, CRO, online PR and social media, in more than 25 different languages.

Earlier this year, I was appointed CEO of Search Laboratory, but I have been working at Search Laboratory since 2012, where I started as a Business Development Manager. In 2014, I moved to New York to launch our US offering as Global Sales Director, growing the team from just me to 16 people in the space of five years. 

What are the current trends within your industry?

Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving industry and trends are constantly changing as new technology emerges. That said, there are some key players right now that we believe will continue to be important for brands and marketers:

  • Attribution and understanding the customer journey. The customer journey involves multiple touchpoints and it is important brands look at how each channel plays a role in conversions. Rather than looking at results in silos, marketers are looking at the bigger picture and using data to build an integrated digital strategy which pushes users along the funnel

  • Transparency is a huge topic right now for brands, media agencies and publishers alike, and today we see this as a real issue for our clients. While we have always strived to be transparent, for example with our media fees, some of the industry still needs to catch up. Ensuring openness and transparency is crucial for those who want to continue to grow in both B2C and B2B moving forward

Artificial intelligence is a buzzword we have seen thrown around a lot this year, but the reality is that most people are talking machine learning which is a subset of AI, not AI itself. Still, we expect this topic to grow as it has huge potential to improve digital marketing.

What makes your company competitive?

Search Laboratory is an incredible agency and one we are all proud to be a part of, and ultimately it is down to the people that make us stand out. We recruit and retain the best in the industry and our company culture is next to none. 

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In terms of USPs, we have an in-house international team of native speaking digital marketers, which means we are uniquely placed to help grow brands internationally. Having employees who can create culturally and linguistically localized content allows us to give our clients the best content and data to help their strategy succeed in all global markets. 

What innovations has your company been developing during 2019?

We pride ourselves in being an innovative company and even have a monthly internal innovation award. One of our biggest innovative achievements over the past year has been the development of several machine learning tools which help us build bespoke marketing solutions for our clients more quickly and more efficiently than ever before – for example, building a machine learning model to predict the value of an online lead for a lead gen client, or developing a new ML tool which uses Google’s Universal Sentence Encoder to measure how relevant webpage content is to any key search terms being targeted much in the same way Google does. While there are many content checking tools out there, none take into consideration the visual cues used by humans and search engines to understand web content. We trained a TensorFlow deep learning model to predict the likelihood of a given text-block forming part of the main page content, factoring in multiple features about the text block (such as size, page location, text size and text density) and the webpage layout itself, much in the same way Google does. This 

What are your predictions for the industry in 2020?

As AI technologies continue to become more accessible and we get more data scientists who are able to work with data engineers to create powerful machine learning models, we will start to see marketers use AI and ML to unlock the power of their data and create truly data-driven strategies.

 Performing deep dive data analysis through automated systems will see more time consuming and repetitive tasks become streamlined by AI - from the basics, such as setting up impactful PPC or social media advertising campaigns, to the complex such as building new websites and content to feed the algorithms. This will see the role of the marketeer shift completely away from set up and administration, to focus more on higher level strategy and creative thinking: how to engage with consumers, clients and customers in a way that is truly personalized and authentic. 

Is there any exciting news you’d like to share with our readers at Business Chief USA?

We are currently growing our New York office and are looking to move to a bigger office in the next few years. Having already grown from one to 16 in the space of five years, we plan to double our base to 30 by 2022. We always want to hear from talented individuals who are committed to delivering outstanding performance to their clients. 

For more information on business topics in the United States, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief USA.

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