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And this brings me nicely onto my next point. Every year,. Google releases new and innovative ad extensions, with the in
The greenlight

D E C E M B E R 2016 The Predictions Edition


CO N T E N T S 18

22 Conversational UX has been the UX buzzword of 2016, and is expected to grow massively in 2017- with some even calling it ‘The Future of the Web’.



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Greenlight is a multiple award-winning digital marketing agency that designs, builds, deploys and measures marketing solutions and campaigns across Search, Content and Engagement, Display, Mobile and more, with the unwavering objective of achieving dramatic growth for its clients. Greenlight promotes brands and products in 32 languages and 42 territories on behalf of such clients as Hiscox, ghd, Dixons Carphone, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Laura Ashley and many more. Ready to grow? Call us on +44(0)20 7253 7000 or go to

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The era of the VIP

by Andreas Pouros, COO & Co-founder


Targeting will be more advanced than ever

by Hannah Kimuyu, Director of Paid Media


Audience is firmly at the heart of innovation

by Angela Knibb, Head of Paid Search


Programmatic TV: The new frontier of automated ad buying

by Ina Arens, Head of Display


Data will drive every decision brands make

by Wojciech Bednarz, Data & Insights Senior Strategy Manager


The consumer becoming the affiliate

by Matt Brown, Head of Affiliates


Four user experience and conversion rate optimisation trends for 2017

by Sarah Petersen, UX & CRO Manager


2016 Predictions: How did we do?

by Adam Bunn, Director of SEO & Social Media


Machine learning, AMP and UX: SEO predictions for 2017

by Bea Patman, Head of SEO


Content as a driver for purpose-driven marketing

by Andy Way, Head of Content & Engagement


Businesses will wake up to the merits of having a content marketing strategy (and here’s how to get started)

by Joe Shervell, Content Marketing Strategist


Technology and personalisation at the centre of commerce for 2017

by Kevin Murray, Managing Director, Greenlight Commerce |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000




“Whilst 2016 will certainly go down as politically seismic, unpredictably so, it won’t go down as seismic in the world of digital and technology at all.” 4 |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000

If you had placed a £1 bet on Brexit, President Trump, and Leicester City winning the Premiership this year, you would have made an incredible £4.5 million, so it’s


with some trepidation that I introduce our Predictions Magazine during a time where predictions don’t seem to

We should see the beginning of programmatically

be getting many things right.

bought TV, meaning that advertising will be increasingly

Whilst 2016 will certainly go down as politically seismic, unpredictably so, it won’t go down as seismic in the world of digital and technology at all. The new iPhone is water resistant but it isn’t a technological leap. The big players remain the big players. The growing advertising channels and social networks are still growing at roughly the same rate they have been. Search is still top of the heap in terms of delivering sales. No new channels or technologies have broken through. Not everyone is wearing a smartwatch. I think 2017 will be different. The big trend over the last few years has been a growing ethos that the individual is central to digital. You’re not marketing to a group of people who can be spoken to and served in the same way. Now more than ever, individuals want to feel they’re getting a more direct and personal approach from brands, websites, apps, and content, on their own terms. They want things now, they want extreme relevance, they expect you not to bore them, and they each expect to be treated like VIPs. They’re unique and expect to be treated as such. You see this with the selfie phenomenon and now the rise of the mannequin challenge– people are increasingly becoming content creators where they as individuals are the star – they consider themselves part of the Internet and on equal footing with corporations in that regard. 2017 may be the year that we really see this ethos being embraced by everyone, including technology firms, brands, agencies and marketers.

traded using broader and deeper data sets so that the individual is served ads that are genuinely relevant to them (see p. 14 for more). Affiliate marketing will progress and mature to the point that brands will begin to provide mechanisms for individuals to share branded content and be directly rewarded for it (see p. 20 for more). Google will make good use of machine learning to read user signals to help order its search results, essentially resulting in individuals having a more direct impact on the SERPs (see p. 26 for more). The phrase ‘omnichannel’ will not be uttered ever again; it’ll cease to be about trying to tie online to offline in a generalised way, and be more about the need to be wherever the individual is (see p. 36 for more). Technology in the form of Data Management Platforms (DMPs) will make the abovementioned prediction possible via a simple customer view, and the power to begin truly personalising experiences (see p. 18 for more). The passive consumer travelling around the Internet along a path you have predetermined is over. Your consumer feels liberated and free, they live online and offline with blurred lines, and they have complex interactions with everyone. They’re now part human, part machine – and every single one of them believes they are a VIP, and we need to consider each of them as such, by default. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000


Paid Media


Once again, we’ve seen some incredible innovations in the biddable space in 2016. Search has once again consistently led the way from a spend and growth perspective, and is now entering uncharted territory by venturing into the ‘audience’ space. We first saw Google enter the audience space when it introduced remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs), allowing advertisers to adjust PPC ads, bids and keywords based on the audience and keywords they were targeting. Towards the end of last year, Google got really smart by introducing Customer Match, showing ads to your customers based on their first-party data. And then Google mirrored the look-a-like model by introducing Similar Audiences which allowed advertisers to seek out new audiences based on shared characteristics with your site visitors.

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As 2016 comes to a close, Google is taking its

of the audience behind the keywords, which

audience mission across its entire ecosystem,

gives advertisers the opportunity to be more

with two areas particularly sparking my interest.

reactive – or, rather, proactive – and personal in

The first is its new initiative called ‘micro-

their response.

moments’ , initially launched at this years’ 1

Performance Summit in San Francisco. The idea behind this move was to create new products designed to help advertisers reach and convert more customers in a fast-moving, mobile-first world. The reality is that as mobile devices create greater accessibility, we expect more as consumers. As such, ‘mobile-moments’ are literally a reflection of the ‘now’; depicted in those ‘I want to know, I want to buy, I want to do’ searches we conduct every day. These moments

The second area of interest for me (note that this hasn’t been fully confirmed at this stage!) is the news that Google should finally be tying up its ecosystem, aligning the new Analytics 360 Suite (data and insights) with DoubleClick (trading and media buying). Glancing into the future, could the Google ecosystem look something like the below image for Premium Partners such as ourselves, whereby all data will be managed and bought under one platform?

tell us a lot more about the consumer in the form |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000


Paid Media

“For me, most of what we’ll see in 2017 will come down to one thing: audience data.”

Exciting as it seems, the missing and most

The point here is that it’s finally coming to

important bit here is the inclusion of a data

light that audiences are firmly at the heart of

management platform, which Google has

innovation, again discussed in detail by Angela

confirmed its Audience Center will eventually

Knibb, Head of Paid Search, in her prediction.

deliver on. But it has a long way to go, with

Ironically, other biddable channels such as

veterans Lotame, Oracle (formally BlueKai) and

display or paid social, which have traditionally

Krux (now owned by Salesforce) already starting

been one step ahead as they’ve always had and

to grab the attention of brands.

used audience data to target, measure and buy


media, have also had their own wake-up call in Wojciech Bednarz, Data & Insights Senior

2016. This has resulted in those services finding

Strategy Manager, notes in his prediction that

new ways to innovate, leading to the emergence

as the number of new mobile devices and

of programmatic television buying – as predicted

technologies grow, marketers will struggle to

by our Head of Display, Ina Arens.

connect the dots and make sense of fragmented customer journeys. However, the light at the

Ultimately, if audience insights aren’t at the crux

end of the tunnel comes in the form of the data

of your strategy or how you plan to innovate

management platform, which will help overcome

your brand digitally in 2017, then you’re not just

fragmentation, manage the ever-growing data

missing a trick, but missing out completely. We

pool and use its machine learning capabilities to

have so much data available, surely it’s time to

inform digital marketers on where and when to

start using it – and properly. For me, most of

invest. This will eventually reduce wastage, help

what we’ll see in 2017 will come down to one

marketers seek out missed opportunities and

thing: audience data.

allow them to deliver a unified, personal brand experience. 1. 2.

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Paid Search


As 2016 unfolded, we saw a lot of innovation from Google anchored around users; including audience targeting strategies, ad extensions and ad formats. As we move into 2017, I expect the consumer to stay firmly at the heart of Google’s innovation, highlighting the need for marketers to focus their attention towards them more than ever and put them first when strategising. GETTING TARGETING RIGHT

Having the consumer at the nucleus of advertising

Data can no longer be ignored – we need it to target the

strategies starts with our ability to target specific

right people, in the right place, at the right time – and as

audiences appropriately. Google has already made waves

audience targeting innovations develop, advertisers need

here, first with Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs)

to become better at grouping and segmenting their own

which allow advertisers to target users who’ve already

data. The results should speak for themselves as to why

been to our websites, and then, secondly, with Customer

it’s worth going to the effort of better segmentation, which

Match which enables specific email addresses to be

should see advertisers investing more time and effort in

targeted in search. This has allowed us as advertisers to be

building better segmented lists and, ultimately, targeting

much more focused with our investment and messaging

those audiences more effectively in 2017.

against specific audiences. Google has since released the functionality to target ‘lookalikes’ of both previous website visitors and our specific list of email addresses.

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“I imagine 2017 won’t just bring with it more innovation in terms who we can target and how they’re targeted, but it should also, in theory, see advertisers improving their own methods.”


Alongside thinking about how we can target our chosen

to see more innovation in terms of actions taken within

audiences better, we also need to think about what we’re

the search results; as with text ads, the ability to control

targeting them with. Shopping is hands down a key weapon

which audiences you’re targeting with your Shopping Ads

in any retailer’s arsenal, and the PPC world is rife with talk

is likely to improve, as will the ability to include more ad

of what we can expect to see in this arena in 2017. Long

extensions to gain credibility and trust.

story short, I think we’re all expecting to see Shopping expand to take up more space in the search results

And this brings me nicely onto my next point. Every year,

pages, complete with better imagery, multiple images

Google releases new and innovative ad extensions, with

on mobile to allow for scrolling and a more user-friendly

the intention of giving users the information they need in

experience. The knock-on effect for advertisers here is

that moment to win the click. I highly doubt 2017 will be

that feed optimisation and maintenance becomes even

any exception, and fully expect to see new ad extensions

more crucial in order to win those all-important clicks,

creeping into play.

especially against your key audiences. As such, I expect |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000


Paid Search

PAID RESULTS WILL GAIN MORE IMPORTANCE All this adds up to the paid results taking more space

we really do need to be able to understand who our

on the page and pushing the organic results down even

consumers are, where they’re coming from, and what their

further. As a PPC-er, to me this makes your paid ads even

journey looks like.

more important, as they can truly dominate the space should others be bidding on your keywords (whether

The ability to track and report cross-channel helps with

they be brand or generic terms). Of course, this can

understanding when you should be pushing your PPC

get expensive – and that’s why I would expect to see

and when you can rely on your organic to win the sale.

cross-channel reporting and attribution becoming more

This time last year, I wrote that 2016 would be all about

important in 2017.

integration and looking at cross-channel to understand our consumer’s behaviour, and to tailor our campaigns

Attribution has been something of a buzzword for years

accordingly . As we continue to see targeting options and

in search, but with all the innovations we see year-on

ad formats develop, this holds as true now as it did last

year, I think we as advertisers are getting to a point where


MOBILE NEEDS TO BE A PART OF YOUR MIX And finally, I couldn’t write a predictions article without

desktop – and ensure that our mobile sites, responsive

using the dreaded sentence “it’s the year of mobile”! I

sites and apps service those needs accordingly.

hate it break it to you, but the year of mobile happened


several years ago. Now, mobile is the only device which

So, what’s my key message for 2017? It’s all about your

has reliable traffic growth year-on-year , while smartphone

audience. From your Shopping results expanding, to your

penetration only continues to grow . The observation is

ad formats, to your ad extensions, to who you’re targeting,

clear: whatever business you’re in, your customers want

to device; I think we’ll see a lot more innovation around

to be able to find you on mobile. It’s true, conversion rates

targeting the right people, in the right place, at the right

for mobile are not as high as those for desktop, but if you

time. This means ensuring that you’re reporting cross-

consider cross-device reporting and attribution, we can

channel and cross-device to better service those user

build a picture as to what it is that consumers are looking

needs, as well as prioritising the right channels to grow

for on mobile – which may not be the same need as on

your revenue efficiently. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX ALL OUR MAGAZINES ARE LOVINGLY MADE BY OUR DESIGN & BUILD TEAM The Design & Build team are our resident creatives; the dreamers, the rainmakers. From big ideas to creation to ongoing maintenance, their expertise spans the board – making what seems like the impossible, possible. What’s more, they always keep user experience, interactive design and ongoing maintenance in mind so that you end up with something that’s not just fit for purpose, but built to last.

Check out our showreel to learn more about our branding and creative, responsive design and web development capabilities. Watch it here: |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000




Worldwide, the TV advertising market is estimated to be $200 billion strong, making up about 40% of all advertising spend1. While TV spend is still higher than digital ad spend, it’s predicted that by 2018, digital will overtake TV for the first time2. By 2019, the IDC expects Programmatic TV ad spend to be around $17.3 billion worldwide – only a fraction of the current $200 billion pie3. However, the arrival of technology and the vast data opportunities will open up endless opportunities for advertisers.

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THE CURRENT STATE OF TV BUYING TV advertising today is based on reaching a target

where planners would identify publications suited

audience using TV panel data collected from

to their target audience and buy inventory months

thousands of households. The current ad currency

before the actual campaigns went live.

is called ‘gross rating point’ (GRP), which Nielsen Media defines as “a unit of measurement of audience size. It is used to measure the exposure to one or more programs or commercials, without regards to multiple exposures of the same advertising to individuals. One GRP = 1% of TV households” 4. As such, TV planners will seek out TV shows with the highest GRP within their target group and book slots associated with the best cost benefit while maximising their campaign’s gross rating points. This is reminiscent of digital advertising before the arrival of programmatic,

The actual TV buying process is divided into upfront and scatter buying. Premium slots are sold when TV networks announce their new fall schedules – upfront. Any unsold slots are sold closer to the programme’s air time, known as the scatter market. Again, this is akin to display advertising when premium inventory was sold far in advance of a campaign’s actual flight, and any unsold inventory was sold to networks who would resell it onto the big media buying agencies in the form of packages.


To answer what programmatic TV is, we need to

Secondly, the introduction of set-top box data

briefly detour and define the term programmatic

expands the data universe far beyond Nielsen’s

in a more general way. At its core, programmatic

40,000 households. All of a sudden, advertisers

stands for the buying and/or selling of advertising

have access to millions of households. The data

space using automation tools and utilising data

gained from the set-top boxes can be overlaid with

during the buying decision process. That being said,

advertisers’ first-party data (such as purchase

Google defines Programmatic TV “as a technology-

and CRM data), which can then be supplemented

automated and data-driven method of buying and

with Nielsen panel data to allow advertisers to

delivering ads against TV content. This includes digital

target beyond age and gender. Think of that luxury

TV ads served across the web, mobile devices, and

car manufacturer that wants to push out its new

connected TVs, as well as linear TV ads served across

high-end car model to high disposable income

set-top boxes” 5. So, how can programmatic enter

households with no children – Programmatic TV will

and alter TV ad buying? Booking and trafficking

facilitate this level of targeting. They can even go a

systems, for one, will decrease the manual aspect of

step further and overlay this with purchase intent

TV buying and bring a higher level of automation to

data, enabling the advertiser to focus on their target

the process. This will have a positive knock-on effect

audience rather than aiming for scale.

on booking costs. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000



THE PROGRAMMATIC TV ECOSYSTEM The programmatic TV ecosystem shows a similar build to programmatic display advertising:

Data Management Platforms (DMPs) sit like an umbrella


above the ecosystem and allow for precise audience targeting.

There are the specialist media agencies that focus on TV buying. These agencies (or trading desks) use demandside-platforms (DSPs) to automate their buying process.

DSPs The sell-side-platforms (SSPs) integrate with the TV systems of the various TV networks, allowing them to automate the


selling of their inventory (TVC slots).

Consequently, the TV network or publishers supply the inventory that’s being sold and bought via the SSPs and DSPs.

TV network or publishers

Overall, it’s fair to say that programmatic will change the face of TV as we know it and open many new opportunities for advertisers and brands alike. I’m looking forward to watching how 2017 unfolds in terms of Programmatic TV and to see how this seismic shift redefines advertising – watch this space!

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

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“Just as digital advertising had to adapt to new market trends and changing revenue models, TV must do the same.” | | +44 +44(0)20 (0)20 7253 7253 7000 7000

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Data Science & Audience Insights


We’ve seen a growing amount of complexity within the digital space in recent years; new mobile devices, new technologies such as virtual reality, the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), major breakthroughs in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and an increasing adaptation of machine learning across industries. With all that in mind, it’s clear that 2017 will be even more challenging for marketers than years prior. While marketers already struggle to connect the dots and make sense of fragmented customer journeys, it’ll become paramount to embrace innovation and adapt accordingly. Although there are many uncertainties regarding the latest digital technology, one thing is certain: the by-product of ongoing changes will result in millions of petabytes of data, further complicating the already siloed world of digital marketing.

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As such, here’s some of the key trends that I believe will become more prominent in 2017:

OVERCOMING FRAGMENTATION One of the major hurdles in digital marketing is an ongoing identity crisis; data and technology platforms which live in multidimensional silos are contributing to fragmentation and disconnected customer journeys. The only way to tackle this is to unify various technologies and data sources under one roof and use a universal user ID that’ll deliver a true single customer view (SCV). Only by breaking those silos will there be room for innovation and growth.

GROWTH OF THE INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) WILL CONTRIBUTE TO GROWING AMOUNTS OF DATA The adaptation of IoT – from tiny motion sensors and beacons to smartwatches, smart jewellery and smart homes (such as Google Home or Amazon Echo) – will continue to grow, so we’re likely to see more and more products flood the market. This won’t just challenge consumer markets, brands will need to start adopting this technology more widely to try to close the offline-online loop (for example using in-store beacons to track

“Having a full command of data will become more critical than ever, and mastering it will become a key differentiator in a more competitive landscape.”

customer behaviour). This trend will not only result in more data, but will further result in needing to adjust to accommodate new trends around customer behaviours, such as the wider usage of voiced-controlled devices – which is only set to grow, as ComScore estimates that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be initiated by voice1.

MACHINE LEARNING IN DIGITAL MARKETING As the amount of data grows, help is needed to understand its meaning; while humans are capable of finding patterns, only machine learning algorithms can cope and deliver insights from millions of rows of data and analyse correlations between hundreds of variable points within an instant. While this technology has been in use for some time across search engines, social media giants, the financial industry and the automotive industry, it’ll become more prominent in data-driven marketing in 2017. Running machine learning algorithms on first-party collected data will help identify newly identified segments, which otherwise could have gone unnoticed. This technology will also fuel the ongoing trend for personalisation, bringing the most relevant content to the right audience at exactly the right time.

BIG DATA WILL BE EVEN BIGGER Knowing what customers think, what they want and how they perceive brands will be the cornerstone of how businesses operate in the years ahead. We can measure everything now, but this is hindered if brands aren’t data-driven and undergoing constant analysis of the information they hold. In order to succeed, brands will need to adopt new technologies that allow them to take control of their data, and for those insights to fuel all their marketing efforts. To do that, data management platforms (DMPs) can help make sense of vast quantities of data, unify it, segment it and activate it – and I believe we’ll see more and more of them enter the marketplace to meet this growing need. 2017 will be an exciting year, where innovation will accelerate drastically to transform brands and how they measure, analyse and use data. While the world of technology is changing rapidly, it’s up to brands to stay at the fore of the latest innovations and utilise data-driven insights to deliver what matters to their customers in a way that’s more personalised than ever. 1. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000




“The incentive has become the prospect of sharing your buying behaviour in exchange for rewards, rather than rewards being a part of the purchase itself – marking a seismic change for affiliate marketing.” 20 |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000

As we at Greenlight HQ can attest to, affiliate marketing has been around for a long time now – and it’s rare that a new affiliate will emerge that breaks into the circle with great significance. The sector is dominated by cashback sites, voucher code providers and price comparison websites, who all generate the majority of affiliate channel sales. All the top performing affiliates share one common thread: they’re there to encourage the consumer to convert through incentives, whether that be cashback, money off, or offering the best price available – this underlying similarity has been the case for many years.

THE RISE OF THE INFLUENCER The emergence and rise of social media is significant within the affiliate timeline, as the power and reach of the influencer became increasingly prominent. Within any one person’s social network, there’ll be individuals whose styles and choices are considered emulative. The desire to eat at a restaurant a colleague ate at, or visit a city your family just posted from on Instagram, or buy something from the shop your friend just bought from is sparked when that content is shared in real-time through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, amongst other social networks.

AN EVOLVING AFFILIATE MODEL With the emergence and understanding of the power of the influencer model has come a variety of new technology providers which are enabling brands to share their product lines through buyer’s social media networks and then rewarding them for sharing what they’ve bought. Companies such as, MentionMe and Soreto provide simple tech integrations on the brand side to encourage and enable customers to share what they’ve bought post-purchase. The attraction to the brand is obvious: increased reach and awareness, improved conversion rates, increased number of followers and social buzz. According to Soreto, there are 2.3 billion active social media users in the world, and 50% of all social media interactions are shares1. Furthermore, there are 830 million photos posted daily across Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and according to the New York Times, 65% of new business comes from referrals2.

SOCIAL AS A KEY PLAYER The technology behind companies such as Soreto allows brands to devise social sharing strategies on the fly with dynamic creative optimisation, A/B testing, and reporting access which shows what kind of shares work best and which don’t in real time, thus allowing them to adapt and optimise immediately. For customers, the situation is still poised. Millennials increasingly use social media in private groups and share more than the public eye realises. Instead of going to a friend’s house to get dressed before a night out, social media enables the virtual “what shall we wear?”, which plays into the social sharing player’s hands. The jury is still out on whether consumers are comfortable sharing their buying patterns and purchasing behaviour. It’s fair to say that some will and some won’t be happy to do so, but as this sector develops in 2017, I predict that this kind of activity will become more common, and consumers will become private affiliates to their friends’ networks. This will be the start of a powerful and new revenue stream for brands who embrace the opportunity and make the dialogue seamless, normalising the concept of sharing for rewards. 1. 2. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000






The importance of optimising your website for

While we’re on the topic of mobile, let’s take a

mobile will (hopefully) not be a new concept to

look at a newer addition to the art of optimising

most. Yet, there are a surprising amount of sites out

performance for conversions: haptic feedback.

there which still aren’t optimised for mobile. Haptic feedback has been around for a few A small version of a complex three column desktop

years, and refers to the tactile feedback given

site won’t just scare away users – chances are, most

when pressing areas of the site or app on your

of them won’t even make it there in the first place

smartphone’s screen. UX designers and conversion

following Google’s update in April last year that

optimisers are beginning to incorporate this feature

favours usability (and punishes sites that aren’t

where possible to enhance user experience and


site performance by using a series of tactile cues to guide users to a desired action (such as a ‘buy

For some brands, a responsive site will do, but if

now’ button) – a technique referred to by some as

most of your users are now accessing your site via

hapnotic feedback (as, arguably, it’s a form of subtle

their mobile devices, you should definitely consider


going mobile-first: designing your mobile site and


then adjusting it for desktop. The reality is that

The practice is still relatively new, but as more UX

leaving your mobile site as an afterthought could

designers and conversion optimisers begin to see

have a significant, and negative, impact on your

the potential, we may very well see this trend grow

bottom line.

in the New Year. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000

Conversational UX has been the UX buzzword of 2016, and is expected to grow massively in 2017- with some even calling it ‘The Future of the Web’.



Good UX and CRO is impossible unless you’re

Conversational UX takes personalisation a step

anticipating and meeting users’ needs and

further by reinventing the way you communicate

expectations. Personalising your site or app for

with your audience by removing navigation

individual users ensures that they’re always met

and adapting the interaction to the user’s prior

with the content most relevant to them at the right

behaviour. This is done via a chatbot which will


anticipate what the user is likely to be interested in and which then guides them to the end conversion

Users already expect personalised content, yet

through a series of questions. While most of

many brands still aren’t fully embracing the concept.

us humans still don’t quite trust AI (artificial

A growing number of tools and technologies will

intelligence), we’re still likely to see the rise of bots

become available to help make personalisation

in 2017 – whether they’ll ever completely replace

easier, which will hopefully encourage more brands

website interactions as we know them is yet to be

to join the personalisation movement and start


offering users the content they so desperately want.

IT’S TIME TO EMBRACE CHANGE So, there you have it: my humble contribution to the pool of UX and CRO predictions for the year to come. While there’s nothing much new under the sun, there are certainly some exciting advances taking place across the board. As mobile continues to gain momentum, so does the need for responsive sites and a mobile-first approach to UX design as users are becoming increasingly critical and expect personalised content whenever possible1. The time has come for brands to catch up and really embrace this personalised approach to how they communicate with their users – perhaps by enlisting chatbots to support that effort! And if bots aren’t quite for you and your brand, the use of haptic feedback for an enhanced user experience and improved conversion rate is certainly one to explore further in 2017.

1. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000




What’s interesting about SEO predictions is that it’s so difficult to discredit them as being wrong due to the complex nature of SEO – although this also holds true when trying to prove that predictions were actually right! Nevertheless, it’s something of an annual pastime of mine to look back and see how we did. The core predictions last year1 from a pure SEO perspective were about updates to Google’s indexing and algorithms to cater to mobile devices and more tools to allow webmasters to manage their mobile optimisation.

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With many marketers now wrestling with the

time would equip businesses with the data to

news that Google will be moving to mobile-first

provide a much better experience for users.

indexing and ranking, our prediction last year looks particularly prescient1. As mobile-related updates go, you couldn’t really imagine any bigger an announcement by Google. In short, mobile websites will be the primary determinant of rankings for mobile and desktop devices – a complete reversal of the situation we were in prior to 2015’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ update that first introduced mobile-specific ranking factors. I can’t help noticing that this will put many businesses directly at odds with Google in the sense that most sites are still developed as desktop first and then adapted for mobile, so it’ll be interesting to see how things play out and what effect this will have on the way sites are built. On the other hand, the toolset we imagined to help optimise for mobile SEO looks more like a wish list than an accurate prediction. Deviceand location-specific page speed, more detail on mobile usability, and actually quantifying the impact of particular factors like server response time on rendering time were all included in last year’s predictions and are sadly yet to come true. Google still provides automated analysis of

The polar opposite end of the spectrum of last year’s predictions was regarding the death of ‘clickbait’ articles. As anyone with a passing interest in reading content online will know, it self-evidently hasn’t died – but as I write this there is a fascinating furore developing around the role that fake news stories, often clickbait or sharebait, may or may not have played in the results of the recent presidential election. Part of the argument is also being played around to what extent Facebook (and by extension any other place that the public can consume content) should have a role in policing the factual accuracy of content online. It means the book is still definitely open on whether the sort of cynically produced content that prompted the prediction will continue to flourish. You’d think by now that we would have exhausted mobile related predictions, but as I see Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) headlining the SEO predictions articles this year, it appears not! Enjoy the 2017 predictions, and join me next year when I’ll once again be assessing how we did.

the same seven mobile usability factors it was reporting on this time last year, and the ability to test different devices or locations for response

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“You’d think by now that we would have exhausted mobile related predictions, but as I see Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) headlining the SEO predictions articles this year, it appears not!” |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000




Forecasting is a risky business at the best of times, but

This time around I’ve decided to hedge my bets and

there’s something about 2016 in particular that seems to

present a round-up of predictions from Greenlight’s SEO

have defied just about every expectation. For me, at least,

Consultancy team, instead of just my own speculation.

the unpredictable nature of this year hasn’t been entirely

Garnering their thoughts has turned out to be a brilliant

unwelcome, which has helped soften the disappointment

idea, because their proximity to day-to-day optimisation

of my last prediction for this magazine failing to amount

means their senses are far more keenly attuned than

to much1. That’s because this time last year I predicted a

mine to shifts in trends and behaviours. Seven key themes

big rise in native advertising, stimulated by advertisers

emerged from my poll of the team, with some more widely

attempting to circumvent the increase in consumers using

supported than others, so here I’m going to focus on the

ad blockers to suppress more traditional digital ad formats.

two most popular suggestions.

And while it hasn’t necessarily proved untrue – well, it’s hardly been the year’s marketing phenomenon either!

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This is the topic that was most unanimously supported among the team – not least because our eagle-eyed consultants clocked that six out of the last seven articles published on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog had been AMP-focused at the time I polled their thoughts. AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is an initiative designed to improve the experience of content consumption on mobile devices by stripping out weighty assets and delivering just the bare minimum of lean, efficient code. AMP itself is an open-source framework that utilises existing technologies in new ways, and we’ve already found ourselves employing if for clients in 2016. Nevertheless, the team believes that there’s more to come, with Senior SEO Consultant

mobile index and their trajectory towards Progressive Web Apps, I reckon we could start to see something similar on desktop as it’s fast, efficient and keeps the content somewhat within Google’s control. That said, I don’t see this working for everyone, especially on desktop, so it would also be interesting to see how Google frames it in order to convince sites to adopt.” Fellow Senior SEO Consultant, Dan Lee, agrees that we’ll see uptake of AMP continue to surge next year. Dan believes that genuinely optimising for mobile performance with dedicated solutions such as this will become

Damian Burke noting:

more important in the eyes of search engines.

“I think AMP will gather a lot of momentum in the next year. A lot of big sites are rolling out AMP, including Reddit2 and eBay, and I look forward to seeing where this goes in 2017. As consumers, we could be spending less time on traditional sites and viewing more third-party content without leaving Google’s ecosystem. We’ve already seen this on mobile results for things like movies, where you can see cast information, reviews, and so on. With Google’s impending switch from desktop index to the upcoming

one, however. Google itself has been candid

Damian’s point about adoption is an interesting about AMP not being a perfect fit for all web pages, given that dynamic content such as interactive maps, for example, simply can’t be served effectively within the code restrictions of the framework. In my experience, though, Google tends to work towards solutions to such obstacles at about the same pace that webmasters take up new technologies (the nowdefunct AJAX crawling scheme being one fairly recent example), so I can’t see there being too many remaining barriers to adoption by the end of the year. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000




DAN CODY, SENIOR SEO EXECUTIVE Remember all the buzz about RankBrain back in 2015? It was October, and Google announced that for much of the year “a large fraction”

user’s experiences on a website, and the history of experiences on a website, in a meaningful way.”

of queries received by the search engine had been handled by a machine learning algorithm.

What I particularly like about this prediction

RankBrain uses “deep learning” to help it

is that it’s angled towards user experience,

guess the intent of queries based on a wealth

which is making up a bigger chunk of our SEO

of historic data about ambiguous searches

approach than ever as we reach the end of

and what they really meant, meaning that it

the year. It’s interesting, too, because we’ve

can understand queries that Google has never

talked for some time now about how Google

seen before and respond to them using AI-like

is gradually reducing its reliance on links as a

behaviour. The use of AI sounds like a pretty

quality signal and increasing the value placed

huge deal, but it’s important to remember that

on factors such as site speed, user interaction

RankBrain is just one component of Google’s

and heuristic usability evaluation measured

overall (Hummingbird) algorithm – one of about

directly by the algorithm. A heuristic evaluation

200, according to Google’s Gary Illyes. So, AI is

is one where a site’s UI is judged against a

certainly a factor in search these days, but it still

list of recognised usability principles or rules,

isn’t running the ship.

which are exactly the sort of thing that can

The team believes that this will change over the

be algorithmically defined as long as a page

course of 2017, however, Senior SEO Executive

can be rendered by a search engine exactly as

Dan Cody suggests:

users tend to see it. Where AI might fit into this measurement suite is in learning from other

“I think the use of artificial intelligence by Google is going to grow, taking the focus away from traditional keyword optimisation towards the searcher’s intent and (somehow) starting to incorporate that

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user signals to inform ‘blind’ heuristic evaluation when a page can’t be fully rendered by the search engine. This is highly speculative, of course – but such is the nature of predictions!

SEO PREDICTION: EVERYTHING ELSE In the spirit of fairness (and optimum hedging of bets!), here are the other trends the Consultancy team anticipate in 2017:







Search results on desktop and mobile will look

Direct traffic will continue to ‘steal’ organic

more and more similar, even though different

traffic, especially on mobile, because of the way

indexes are in the pipeline.

in which mobile browsers are finishing some queries and sending users directly to websites.

SEMANTIC SEARCH Google Tools signals will move further away from keywords and closer to semantic SEO (such as topics and semantic variations). LOCAL SEO Hyperlocal SEO strategies will become more


commonplace as Google compresses local map pack results.

VOICE SEARCH More than ever, we’ll be hearing much more on voice search next year – not least because “digital assistants” (the likes of Siri and Cortana) are now popping up in smart tech as well as on mobile devices.

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Content & Engagement


HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED BULLSHIT BINGO? You know, the meeting game in which you cross off marketing buzz phrases when one of them is used. The wonderful thing about marketing is that new additions arrive regularly to keep the game fresh. ‘Integrated’ has been on the

Mobile was eternally “next year’s big thing”. Content’s crown was never questioned, but the definition of what ‘content’ precisely is has been ever-shifting. Over the last few years, there have been fundamental changes in web platforms and standards (I’m looking at you, Facebook Newsfeed and Google algorithms!), greater cross-discipline understanding and increasingly complex

list for a little while now, alongside variants

revenue streams and attribution models – all of which

such as ‘360°’, or the shudderingly awful

meant that evolution was inevitable. But if you throw

‘holistic’. Well, that’s what this article is about:

in the trend of using ‘big data’ (Bullshit Bingo top term,

the integration of digital disciplines in 2017. Or ‘a holistic integration of the full 360° digital

2013!) in addition to this, then you find organisations realising that they can now see the ripples caused when they drop stones into the pool.

marketing suite in the year ahead’, if you want to go for a maximum score in the game. The shift towards integration reflects the growing realisation that digital disciplines that were once managed independently of one another are intrinsically linked. SEO, for instance, was considered an arcane discipline ruled by technocrats but that lacked glamour.

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“2017 will see content marketing have a much wider-ranging set of objectives which will require content that covers more than one base.”

Content needs to be relevant for search algorithms, which

As the Internet, that grand disruptor, continues to

are themselves looking at content and user behaviour

re-shape and re-model agencies, it’ll have the same

in ever more sophisticated ways. But it also needs to be

effect on media owners too. It’s significant that the

tailored for its PR potential around brand awareness and

grey areas haven’t just been creeping into the gaps

sentiment and how shareable it is on social media, not

between agencies, but also between agencies, brand and

to mention the considerable points about what kind of


traffic it generates and how it moves customers down the consideration and purchase funnels. As this drives through we’re going to see a much greater investment in the concept of “purpose-driven marketing”. This is where there’s a much greater understanding of the ‘why?’ when creating content, in addition to the ‘what?’. As the potential to address multiple issues expands, so do the investment levels alongside them, which will lead to the lines between agency disciplines continuing the tendency to blur. When you want to engage with your audience across multiple platforms and enable them to share your messages and values in a positive way, to have influencers and publishers talk about your brand and search engines to surface your webpages effectively across mobile as well as desktop – to whom will you turn? Your branding agency? Social agency? PR agency? Media agency? It’ll result in the most agile and inventive providers becoming able to adapt their offering to the

It’s been a cliché that brands are the new publishers for a few years now (Bullshit Bingo, 2010!), but we’re now seeing publishers become the new agencies as they attempt to shore up the loss of advertisement revenue by offering content solutions to brands (and in some cases, to agencies too). This trend is certainly going to continue, with an eventual stabilisation of the roles and remits between brands, agencies and publishers as originators of content. Once one is looking at this broader sweep of factors, then our final prediction is the use of more extensive KPIs and reliable attribution models. This is a good thing for brands and agencies alike, of course. Broader measurement is a fairer reflection of reality and allows good content to get recognised for its impact across the board. And instead of watering down targets, it holds agencies to account across multiple disciplines.

individual requirements of each brief. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000


Content & Engagement


Content marketing is increasingly being recognised as one of the most cost-efficient and effective online marketing activities in the industry1 and, done properly, it’ll allow you to grow your business online by creating assets for branding, social media, email marketing and (perhaps most importantly) SEO.

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Last year our Head of SEO, Bea Patman, heralded the year that content remained king2 in her predictions article, so now feels like an appropriate time to reiterate that if you’re not already producing content to promote your business online, this is an avenue that cannot afford to be ignored. Over the last ten years, more than 550,000 articles have been penned on the topic “content is king”, however, in recent years the benefits of taking a content marketing-led approach to digital have really come to light (and not just from an SEO standpoint).

That being said, there are plenty of marketers who appreciate the value of content marketing but who are still unsure of how to create a winning strategy for their brand. A recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute found that 72% of content marketers attribute their successes to the strength of their strategy3, so taking time to get yours right will pay dividends in the long run.

“The only factor that’s more important than your strategy in content marketing is that you’re actively producing content in the first place.” WHY CONTENT FAILS Attitude and approach to content marketing is key – those who create content because they think it’s something they should be doing need to be awakened to the true potential on offer. “We need to be blogging more” or “we should make an infographic” are common phrases in marketing meetings, and perfectly fair claims. However, the backbone of all content comes down to what you truly want to achieve overall. Before approaching any content marketing, be sure to ask yourself the following questions for each piece to ensure it offers true value to your brand: Why are we doing this? Who is this aimed at? Will anyone link to or share this? How will we know this was successful?

Ultimately, asking yourself such questions will avoid content being created for content’s sake and help drive a strong, meaningful strategy that drives traffic and interest. Marketers should produce thoughtprovoking and informative content, but often fall into the trap of not questioning the rationale behind why content is being created, leading to very bland articles along the lines of “my key takeaways from Carpet Cleaning Expo 2016” and “we’ve hired a new PR intern!”. Asides from the fact that such content doesn’t serve a great purpose for any brand, it tends to come across as content marketing box-ticking at its most insipid, wasting time and not delivering the results that many would expect from their posts. However, by asking the four key questions I mentioned, you’re enabling yourself to carve out a strategy that’s driven by objectives and an audience-driven focus.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A STRATEGY? Your content marketing strategy is your only route to sustained and consistent success. It’ll allow you to evaluate your content goals and how best to achieve them, as well as who you want to attract through your content, what’ll make it enticing enough to share and what content suits your target audience best. Through this exercise, you’ll also understand your limitations and bottlenecks (financial and time restrictions are the most common) and how to work around them, which will help with efficiency. In short, it’s about getting to grips with and appreciating the importance of planning, managing and measuring each content campaign. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000


Content & Engagement

HOW CAN I MAKE A STRATEGY? Your strategy should be formed with the following in mind:



BE REALISTIC It doesn’t make sense to try and build an interactive map of London if you only have £50 or half a day to create it. You need to work within your limits and be smart about how you produce content that’s valuable, achievable and that will drive results.


BE CONSISTENT Think about your marketing schedule and commitments and ensure you create content at as consistent a rate as possible – even if that means smaller-scale content, ensure you’re producing it regularly.


SET TARGETS Do you want this content to achieve links or tweets? How many do you want? From which people? What do you expect the effect to be? Setting KPIs for your content will not only help to determine the type of content you create, but also influence tone and the channels you use to promote it.


MEASURE EVERYTHING This can only come after you’ve set your targets. If, say, you were aiming for ten high quality backlinks to improve your rankings for a search term, you have two key things to measure: the number of links and the rankings. This phase will hone in on how measurable your targets are and make you consider how to quantify your successes so you understand the recipe to success for your content. |  +44 (0)20 7253 7000

THEN WHAT HAPPENS? Once your strategy is up and running, you need to ensure you monitor it every step of the way. As I mentioned, one part of being successful is being consistent, so once your first campaign is in process, make sure you’re loading more content into the pipeline and making the most of everything you produce. Don’t be afraid to try new things to address problem areas, and above all, let 2017 be the year that your content marketing is defined by a sound, data-driven strategy.

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Greenlight Commerce


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It’s that time of year again when I dust off my crystal ball and gaze into the future. This time, my predictions for the next 12 months fall into four themes, but first I’d like to start by reviewing the predictions I made a few years ago for 2015. The title of that article was ‘The Machines Are Taking Over’ , and I confidently stated that “over the next twelve months we are not going to have home automation systems that we can have conversations with or humanoid butlers doing our online shopping for us”.1 Given that we’ve seen Apple’s Siri give rise to Google Home and Amazon Echo – where you can talk to a virtual butler and add items to your shopping basket – some may see that as a fail as far as predictions go, however, I prefer to view this as being simply ahead of my time… the joys of hindsight! Fast forward to today, and Amazon has just announced the launch of its new cloud music streaming service which can be controlled by voice. Using Echo, users can find and play music by voice command, find songs by quoting lyrics, ask for a favourite artist’s “most recent” single or even ask for music based on mood or decade. Over with Apple, it’s recently granted access to Siri APIs for developers to make use of, and I’m sure Google and Amazon won’t be far behind, which I believe is an interesting opportunity for retailers as they start to harness the power of voice-controlled technology.



Greenlight Commerce

This leads me on nicely to my first prediction.

THE INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) – NEXT STEPS IN EXPANSION In 2016, we witnessed the rise in innovation around the Internet of Things (IoT) within the home, as well as the practical use of things that have been spoken about in subsequent years: Amazon launched AmazonDash, a shopping device with a barcode scanner and microphone that allows consumers to add items directly to their basket, and Samsung recently launched its Family Hub fridge with a touchscreen and cameras built into the fridge to allow consumers to see what’s inside their fridge, build shopping lists and then order their groceries online. Mechanisms for easy or automated replenishment will evolve and we’ll see retailers start to partner with manufacturers to offer connected devices that can order consumables based on usage.

THE EVOLUTION OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) AND BIG DATA Automated curation will become more sophisticated and we’ll see more businesses incorporating AI-based decisions as part of their day-to-day trading activities to help them understand what they should be putting in front of their customers. Companies will be better placed to curate for individuals based on numerous data points such as behaviour, location, the weather and how they’ve interacted previously amongst other things; rather than just targeting based on traditional group segmentation. This becomes interesting when you consider companies that have hundreds of thousands of SKUs, as the technology would mean they wouldn’t have to rely on a handful of people writing complex business rules to decide what appears on their homepage - they’ll be able to add a couple of small rules that informs an AI-enabled engine to be able to make those decisions for them – which stands to benefit businesses and consumers alike.

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DELIVERY WILL BECOME THE DIFFERENTIATOR The top commerce platforms are pretty much on par with what they can physically do with their features and functionality, hence, from a commerce perspective, retailers see them as a commodity. What this means is engaging with the online digital store is less of a differentiator, and so delivery and any other potential follow-up actions that occur from that delivery will have to become the differentiator. Retailers will need to provide more tailored and more complex delivery options, collection choices and ‘white glove’ services that deliver products to you exactly when you want them. This could, for example, be in the form of a courier delivering an item of clothing in a number of sizes and waiting while you try them on, which would enable you to hand back any items that aren’t right for you immediately, thus avoiding any headaches around returns. Large stores such as John Lewis and Amazon are starting to move away from some of their free delivery options and charging for them instead, which I believe we’ll see more of – as improved services and options increase, stores won’t be able to cover those costs for the consumer.

OMNICHANNEL WILL BE KILLED (WELL, AT LEAST THE PHRASE WILL BE!) That’s right, we’re not going to hear the term omnichannel anymore. Let me stress that I’m referring to the phrase itself being killed, not the actual concept. Simplified, omnichannel is just commerce for a consumer that wants to shop when they want and how they want in a consistent manner. Given how the industry is evolving in the run up to 2017, I believe in the next few months this standard will become the norm and we won’t need a term to refer to it. So, this time next year, I expect we’ll no longer be uttering the term at all!

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