30. 11. 2018

Digital M&A – Deals That Shaped 2018

This year saw some landmark acquisitions in the digital commerce and communications industry – we review the highlights (so far). With the month of December still left to play out, 2018 has witnessed some big moves in the merger and acquisition arena across the digital marketing and ecommerce sectors.Despite competition for investment dollars from emerging peripheral markets (notably AI and blockchain), e-retail platforms, digital marketing services and payment solutions all attracted major attention from both trade and strategic buyers.With 7 acquisitions at $1bn+ closed in H1 2018 alone, several of the alliances struck throughout the year are set to alter the commercial landscape for some time to come.Here’s our pick of the standout deals of the year so far:Walmart buys FlipkartUS retail giant Walmart splashed out $16bn to acquire a 77 percent stake in Flipkart, India’s largest online retailer.Seen by analysts as a strategic move to keep pace with other e-retail heavyweights (chiefly Amazon, who moved onto Walmart’s home turf of in-store grocery shopping with their purchase of Whole Foods), the deal included $2bn of new equity funding for growth and left the door open for Flipkart to go public at a later date.Adobe buys MarketoAfter being delisted from the NASDAQ in 2016 by Vista Equity Partners for $1.8bn, Marketo found a new home for a hefty $4.75bn as Adobe looked to fortify their digital marketing offering (Experience Cloud) to keep pace with competitors Salesforce, HubSpot, Oracle and SAP. Beginning life as recently as 2006, Marketo added marketing automation to the Adobe product suite as part of a rapidly-expanding digital experience portfolio.Twilio buys SendGrid  Variously described as an ‘engagement’ or ‘communications’ platform, Twilio offered developer-focused capabilities in channels covering voice, video, chat, SMS, social media and connected devices – with the addition of email marketing specialist SendGrid for $2bn in stock, a key gap was plugged (albeit for a price that stunned many onlookers). With the acquisition slated to close in the first half of 2019, combined revenues could be north of $700m by that point. Silver Lake buys ZooplaCarrying property listings for nearly 15,000 estate agency branches, Zoopla has been a dominant force in the UK residential property market and the ‘PropTech’ sector. US PE heavyweight Silver Lake, impressed by the growth of the online platform and its 50 million monthly visits, forked out £2.2bn for the ZPG group of companies – a nice deal for founder Alex Chesterman, who was also behind the LoveFilm movie subscription service acquired by Amazon.WPP & Dentsu splurgeLeading marketing conglomerates WPP and Dentsu Aegis both added to their sprawling portfolios throughout the year. While no single deal made the big news, the two giants got their checkbooks out on a number of occasions.WPP added Hirshron-Zukerman Design Group, Gorilla Group, 2Sale and Emark, creating additional capabilities in fields covering design, marketing technology, Amazon retail services and more, before announcing the merger of JWT and Wunderman to create a new advertising superpower.Dentsu hoovered up Whitespace, Amicus Digital and Global Mind, diversifying service offering whilst also adding headcount in Scotland, Australia and Argentina.PayPal buys iZettleIn May payment superpower PayPal spent $2.2bn to purchase Swedish fintech firm iZettle, adding point-of-sale hardware to its suite of commerce solutions. Timing was tight on the deal, as iZettle had filed for IPO only days before PayPal announced the news.Targeting the small business sector, iZettle uses a mobile-based card reader to allow digital payments, similar to rival Square.The purchase is part of a series of diversification moves by PayPal, who also own P2P payment platform Venmo and business loan provider Swift Financial.Adobe buys MagentoThe only acquiror to appear twice on our list, Adobe showed their ambition with a double-headline year, not only buying Marketo but also scooping up e-commerce platform provider Magento from European PE firm Permira for $2.68bn, a revenue multiple of over 11x.Once again up against Salesforce and Oracle (among others), Adobe saw Magento as a key gap in its ability to provide e-retailers with a comprehensive infrastructure and marketing solution, adding the capability to build, run and market web stores through a single platform provider.***Adaptive Digital recruits across Europe and the USA for digital marketing and ecommerce professionals, filling roles with brands & agencies in more than 20 countries.  To view Adaptive Digital’s full range of open jobs, click here.
15. 11. 2018

Specialist or Generalist? Where to Invest in your Digital Career

Which path adds greater value to your CV, specialist expertise or broad-ranging skills?It’s one of the most important questions digital marketers face when looking to build durable, high-paying careers in a fast-paced and competitive industry:Specialist or generalist?It’s not an issue encountered exclusively by entry-level job seekers, either.Marketers of all experience tiers navigate an ongoing series of career decisions, each of which can impact not only short-term job satisfaction but long-term employee worth.Mile wide or mile deep?On the surface, choosing between specialist and generalist can seem a fairly easy exercise when weighing the two options in a basic pros and cons analysis.Specialists can, in some cases, command higher salaries because of in-depth knowledge that relatively few candidates in the market offer to employers.         They can also enjoy better job security (all other factors being equal), for the simple reason that they're harder to replace.On top of that, they can have an ‘easier’ career path in some senses, since their skill set is suited to very specific jobs. Unlike marketers with a range of abilities, they never face the agony of choice in the same way, and instead can clearly identify roles which directly match their expertise.The flip side, however, is that specialists can limit their career options to a smaller set of available jobs in general.This can reduce the frequency with which they can change jobs (if they wish to), as well as restricting the types of companies they can work for.  Most significantly, specialists are also at risk of becoming obsolete or redundant in a way that generalists are not. In the age of AI, this can be a very real concern if your specialism is something that's under threat from automation and advances in machine learning.***Generalists, on the other hand, can find job-seeking to be a more complex (and potentially more time-consuming) process as there are fewer roles for which they are a ‘perfect’ hard skills match.Additionally, employers looking for all-rounders may not have a precise idea of exactly who they're trying to hire, which can draw out interview and assessment processes even further.Naturally, the reverse is true – generalists typically have more options to choose between, and can move more freely.When it comes to pay, generalists do risk being pegged into lower salary brackets, but this is usually dependent on the depth of knowledge of each area that they master, and the overall impact they can have as a result.A ‘generalist’ who is no more than the sum of their parts (knows a little a lot) has very different worth to an employer when compared with someone who leverages their broad understanding to add strategic value and make big-impact contributions.This latter type of generalist can command premium pay packages as they offer the potential to accelerate business performance and not merely impact one component.Different flavors of specialismA key to making a more informed decision about digital marketing career development is understanding the different forms that ‘specialism’ can take.For instance, default thinking is often for marketers to view specialism principally in terms of channel – building expertise in areas such as SEO, programmatic, analytics or paid search.It’s worth keeping in mind that specialism, and the benefits it can bring, can be built in many different ways.B2B vs B2C is a great example - although many of the core tools and principals involved are the same in both kinds of marketing, the strategies, metrics and methodologies used in attempting to reach a broad consumer market are extremely different from those used to target business customers.Experts in B2C marketing can create value in their experience and skill set in much the same way a market channel specialist can.Other ways to develop specialism include aspects like business maturity – early-phase companies face different challenges from established businesses, and marketers who have proven track records of success in those respective environments have a specialism that is valuable to a prospective employer.Vertical market is another important factor – expertise in digital marketing within sports brands, iGaming, luxury retail and real estate all require unique knowledge and exposure that builds specialism in a different way.All of these (and many more) are forms of specialism that create employee value without being limited to technical channel expertise.Adapting to the environmentThe business setting in which digital marketers are building their careers also has a big part to play in answering the specialist vs generalist conundrum.For professionals in an agency environment, looking to develop a career path within the services community of digital marketing, specialism can be of high value due to the silo-ed structure of agency teams and the need for highly skilled professionals to focus on key channels for client campaigns. There is a clear career path for domain experts to climb an established career framework.In an e-commerce environment, however, a broader skill set can often be valued as an asset, given the need for teams to evolve with shifting business priorities and the high degree of interaction among online marketing colleagues. A marketer who limits their skill set to a single area can quickly find themselves overlooked for promotion due to the rigidity of what they offer.Specialization without isolationWhether marketers invest in their future worth by developing deep roots or broad abilities, a crucial part of successful career development in digital is building a robust awareness of peripheral marketing channels and comprehension of the co-dependence of elements of the overall marketing mix.In Adaptive’s article earlier this year, there was a clear consensus among agency owners and e-commerce marketing teams that candidates who fail to demonstrate a holistic understanding of the marketing process put themselves at a major career disadvantage – both at interview time and in promotion scenarios – even if their hard skills are excellent.Whether specialist or generalist, a strong fundamental appreciation of how different channels interact with each other and a curiosity to fully understand the mechanics of an integrated digital marketing strategy are the keys to laying solid career foundations.***To view Adaptive Digital’s full range of SEO jobs across Europe and North America, click here.
08. 11. 2018

Digital Myth-busting: “SEO Is Dead”

The digital marketing community is filled with warnings lamenting the demise of organic search – but is SEO dead, dying… or even sick?Over the past few years, digital marketing prophets heralding the end of SEO have come and gone with seemingly every new trend or development in the industry.The first perceived SEO-killer was the threat posed by the huge captive audiences of social media platforms, led by Facebook.The fear then resurfaced in reaction to social media’s ever-more-accurate ad targeting capabilities and surging user numbers.A fresh panic was triggered by Google’s Panda and Penguin updates - once more, eulogies were composed in memory of the bygone era of search engine marketing…Yet SEO persists. It’s not dead – far from it. Adaptive Digital’s recruitment team receives new inbound hiring requests from clients on a weekly basis for top SEO professionals – jobs with some of the most prestigious companies in Europe.So what’s the deal - if SEO’s not dead, why the fuss?The reality is that while organic search as a profession is alive and kicking, it is in a state of significant change.SEO itself isn’t dead (or dying), but outdated tactics are – and obsolete methods will now not only fail to make a positive impact on search rankings, they can actively harm results.Spearheading the change in SEO are several powerful drivers, and marketers who are up-to-date on the latest trends find themselves with the pick of places to work and commanding premium pay packages.Here’s a rundown of what’s topping the list in today’s evolving SEO landscape:Keywords don’t stand aloneIf SEO itself isn’t dead, then mindless keyword-stuffing of aimless content to attract search engine rankings certainly is.Google’s smarter algorithms are no longer fooled by clunkily-written blog posts and filler pages which have target keywords appearing 100 times in the headline, sub-heading and opening paragraphs.Readability, user engagement and an effective solution to the original search query will win out over keyword-dense articles every time, and rankings will belong to the pages that most effectively answer the user’s original enquiry.  Link quality mattersOld-school SEO was all about building as many links as possible to your site and watching it rise through the SERPs.While link-building is still an important component of a rounded SEO strategy, links are now far more contextualized. The authority and relevance of the sites you link to matters substantially and impacts rankings, and a crazed free-for-all driven purely by link volume won’t get the job done.Evolving SEO tactics include building relationships and demonstrating value to high-authority partners and developing a link profile which supports the overall user experience.Quality beats quantityMore pages, more content, more keywords… right?Not exactly.Though it used to be the case that more online ‘real estate’ meant more space for keyword-dense content (and therefore more exposure to search engines), bloating your site with unnecessary pages is no longer an effective way to dominate rankings.Given that Google focuses on individual pages and not whole sites, building a sprawling mass of content doesn’t necessarily help if each individual piece fails to rank highly.It’s often more effective to zone in on a few key areas and go deep in creating really standout content, rather than spread low-quality content jammed with keywords all over your online presence.User experience is the goalAlong with effectively answering queries, site content is ranked by Google based on overall user experience.This means time spent on pages, number of other site pages visited, read completion rates (how far users scroll down pages) etc.What does this mean?Site design, engaging layouts, use of imagery, a browsing experience free from cluttered ads or distracting popups, and – crucially – device-optimised performance are no longer ‘nice-to-haves’ but will show a demonstrable impact on organic rankings.From a skills perspective, modern SEO professionals need a broader ability to cater to the overall user experience instead of simply concentrating on ‘back-end’ topics and leaving the rest to someone else.There are no shortcutsPutting this all together, the net result is that SEO has shifted from a series of silo-ed tactics designed to ‘game’ search engine algorithms into a holistic effort to provide quality responses to search queries in an engaging way.To succeed online, search marketers need to outperform their competitors in all areas – it’s no longer enough to be keyword-savvy and build a busy link profile.SEO experts need to be consistently providing value and collaborating effectively with other marketing teams to ensure brand, content, design and site usability all support SEO goals.***Where does all this leave today’s SEO job-seeker? Without a doubt, there’s a renewed emphasis on staying on top of industry trends and developments, deploying the latest tactics and keeping informed of upcoming disruptions to established methodologies. With so many new factors already impacting the way online users search for and consume information – from voice search to advancing AI capabilities – SEO will continue to evolve, and the role of those who are truly masters of their craft will only increase in value. ***To view Adaptive Digital’s full range of SEO jobs across Europe and North America, click here.
07. 11. 2018

Top 12 European Digital Marketing Conference Picks for 2019

Working out which digital events to attend next year? Here’s our top twelve.As we head into the last 2 months of the year, many of us who haven’t yet bolted down our conference calendars for 2019 are beginning to scramble to ensure we get approval for must-attend events before budget gets signed away.Picking the right events is always a challenge – the European digital marketing community swells to new proportions every year and new workshops, exhibitions and speaker-led events pop up alongside tried-and-tested favourites.The best events are informative, future-facing, offer valuable networking opportunities and – if you’re lucky – are a lot of fun.From our own experience and based on hours of networking with Europe’s top digital marketing professionals, here’s our top-twelve recommendation for European digital marketing conferences coming up next year.DMEXCOCologne, September 11-12Centred around a main stage with seating for over 1,600 people, DMEXCO offers more than 500 expert speakers across a wide array of digital marketing and e-retail subjects.Previous conferences have featured presentations from marketing leaders representing companies including Expedia, Contently, Sony Music and Microsoft and the event’s gold sponsor is Salesforce.2019 topics include blockchain, deep learning, voice and image search as well as a host of sessions tackling various facets of the impending AI revolution.BrightonSEOBrighton, April 11-12One of the largest and most respected natural search conferences in Europe, BrightonSEO has grown from humble origins into a staple event attracting over 3,000 attendees annually.“This isn’t an event that just tells you ‘content is king’ or ‘don’t translate your site, localise it’ and all those other conference cliches. It’s hands on. It’s detailed and it’s practical.”On the agenda for 2019 are forecasting potential ROI for organic search, Black Friday SEO, optimising search for Amazon, Walmart, eBay and non-Google native search engines and tools, tactics and algorithms for ‘game changing content.’eTailLondon, June 18-19 / Berlin, March 7-8Attended by brands including Amazon, Coca Cola, Adidas, Disney, IKEA, Virgin and BMW, eTail is one of Europe’s premier and longest-running events focused on omni-channel e-commerce. With topics on the agenda including personalization, delivery models and emerging disruptive technology, the conference examines the current and future state of online retail from the brand, distributor and tech angle.In their own words, “no commercials or egos: just hundreds of strategic takeaways on how to cut through the noise and deliver a seamless and personalised online shopping experience.”Marketing Technology ExpoLondon, March 27-28Also known as MTEX, the event brings together over 700 exhibitors and offers 500+ seminars centred on the deployment of technology to improve marketing effectiveness and improve the customer experience.Featuring keynote speakers from Microsoft, G2 Crowd, Google, LinkedIn, Salesforce, Amazon and IBM, the agenda is packed with deep-dive workshops and seminars covering marketing automation, inbound marketing, real-time personalisation, and cloud-based customer contact centres.SMXMunich, April 2-3 / London, May 21-22With the Munich event opened by keynote speaker Rand Fishkin of Moz fame, SMX focuses exclusively on search marketing and the place search occupies within the marketing mix. Workshops include advanced AdWords, user research for SEO, PPC and conversion optimisation, and building a chatbot. The event closes with a showdown on the main stage to decide the awards for SEO and SEA campaigns of the year from among nominated brands and agencies.London Affiliate ConferenceLondon, February 6-9 (Stockholm, March 27-28 / Amsterdam, 17-20 July / Lisbon, October 16-19)With an anticipated 5,000 attendees participating in the 4-day event, the London Affiliate Conference is a leading event focused on affiliate marketing strategies, tactics and technologies. With a concentration on the iGaming sector, the conference is a who’s-who of experts from the casino, poker, sports betting, fantasy sports and lottery niches, with sponsorship let by bet365.VidCon LondonLondon, February 14-17“For people who love and make online video” – VidCon is billed as the world’s largest event for fans, creators, executives and brands who are passionate about online video. The conference has three ‘tracks’ (with three pricing levels), separated into ‘community’ (fans), ‘creator’ (content creators) and ‘industry’ (corporations, brands and technology companies).Attendees feature representatives of BBC Studios, MTV, Paramount Networks and Nickelodeon.Voice Search LondonLondon, March 7With speakers from Google, Yandex and Vodafone, Voice Search focuses on the challenges and opportunities created by the shift in the way people interact with web-connected devices to look for information. The event takes a detailed look at the current state of voice search as well as offering sessions on digital assistants, optimising for voice search and how to build voice into business and marketing strategy.UnGaggedLondon, April 1-3“Honest discussion. Actionable tactics. No Cameras. No BS. If you’re done with the tired cliches told over and over again at SEO Conferences, then you’re ready to experience UnGagged – an UnConventional SEO and Digital Marketing conference that delivers real-world results.”UnGagged is an SEO and digital marketing event with a different vibe, built around a ‘No fluff and no sales pitches policy’ and promising to get down to business with ‘methods that can be implemented the next day’.Taking the format of a 2-day conference and a 1-day intensive masterclass to close, the event covers topics including technical SEO, local SEO, link building, reputation management and content marketing,SocialDayLondon, May 1-3SocialDay – as the name suggests – is all about social media marketing. Along with plenty of socialising and networking, themes include marketing to generation Z, social media and virtual reality, artificial intelligence and emerging technologies.Aimed at both agency employees and brands, SocialDay emerged from frustration with the surface-level workshops on social included at generic digital marketing conferences, and promises to provide a social-focused deep dive solution.Brands in attendance at past events have included McDonalds, Coca Cola and McVities.CMA LiveEdinburgh, June 5-6With a focus on content marketing and social media, CMA Live covers a broad range of topics including video-first marketing, copywriting and content creation, Facebook ads and viral campaigns.The emphasis is on harnessing content and technology to accelerate business growth and the event is popular not only with agency marketers and content creators but with entrepreneurs and business owners, collaborating on ideas and tactics to tell their stories to a broader, more engaged audience.E-commerce Berlin ExpoBerlin, February 20E-commerce Berlin Expo is a B2B trade fair for e-commerce service providers, making it a more targeted event than other wider-reaching e-comm conference options. Entering its fourth year and with 20 hours of content spread across 4 stages, the expo deals with products and services which enhance online retail performance.2018’s speaker line-up included representatives from Hewlett Packard, Zalando, Google, Capgemini, L’Oreal and Facebook.***(Got any US travel booked in for 2019? Check out our US-focused conference guide from Adaptive Digital’s New York office).***Click HERE to see Adaptive’s full range of job postings across Europe in SEO, Paid Search, Paid Social, AdTech, Analytics, Mobile and more.