in Business & Marketing, Digital & Tech, News

Savage Marketing 2017 in Amsterdam

Savage Marketing took place this year on the 13/14th of June in the Meervaart theater. I got in early before anyone else and managed to sneak in a photo from the back of the theater completely empty while enjoying the peace and quite and the surreal atmosphere, which was a special moment now that I look back at the busy conference with 500+ people attending the conference.

[PS. This post is a work in progress and the first version of a post that will be published on the Savage Marketing blog and the Traffic4u blog (in Dutch) – so some links are not working yet as I am waiting for them to be published.]

Meervaart Theater, Red Hall, Amsterdam

It was an action packed event full of amazing content and very smart people. I was fortunate to be invited to speak as well as lead the SEM/CRO track, which was packed full of search marketers enjoying speakers from all over the world. The origin of our speaker lineup was: Fili from Germany, Me from NL/FR/AU, Karen from Belgium/NL, Srikant from India, Esther from Spain, Evan from USA/NL, Alexandra from Russia.

The event got off to a great start with Evan Waters (Director Growth & Performance Marketing, Naspers) kicking off with a welcoming message, followed by keynotes from Sarah Papamichalis (Global Digital Strategy Director, Philips) and Ben Williams (COO, AdBlock Plus, Eyeo). This slide really stuck in my head from Ben, which for me really sums up the state of our online advertising industry today.

Ben Williams, COO, AdBlock Plus, Eyeo.

We then split up into our separate tracks to deep-dive into the different themes.

In this article I will highlight the topics covered in the SEM/CRO track. This track was all about search engines marketing, optimizing user experience, communities, relationships, analytics, data and machine learning.

Fili Wiese (right) from and myself

First up we had Fili Wiese from based in Berlin, Germany, who presented on the importance and latest developments of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Fili is a rebound SEO expert, keynote speaker and former member of Google’s quality team having worked with the legendary Matt Cutts. Fili spoke about the importance of speed when it comes to search engines, especially on mobile. He went into great detail on AMP and you can view his slides here.

Key Take: Speed matters (A LOT!). Its one of the most important ranking factors (top 3) and every millisecond counts when it comes to rankings and converting users.

Next up was my turn to present on the role of technology in society and how the best technology companies of our era are using data to build relationships through it. I spoke about how to build a sustainable digital future. As the Internet-of-Things penetrates into our lives, the devices and software we adopt are unique opportunities for brands to get closer to their consumers and build relationships with them. The value unlocked from this data is key to this process and advertisers/marketers, right now, are at the center of this revolutionary digital storm. I actually recorded the presentation and added it to my slide deck and uploaded to youtube….hope you like it!

Karen Carbonez, Search Specialist at Google

We then welcomed Karen Carbonez, Search Specialist at Google who currently lead’s Google’s search automation activities in the Netherlands. Karen stressed the importance that machine learning, voice and image search and how the marketers need to be aware of this incredible opportunity in their search marketing campaigns. Google is constantly evolving their search engine to meet consumer needs. With Google’s enormous focus on mobile the past 5 years, we are now seeing the rise of voice and image search which marketers need to be aware of. These new trends have an impact on the way people are searching and the way search campaigns should be set up. To provide relevant messages (I call these meaningful connections) to your consumers at scale in the future, automating your SEA activities will be key. This will have an impact on the roles of search marketers. It will be key to have the people with the right skills in place in your teams. You can view Karen’s presentation here.

Key take: Voice and Image search are is on the rise and marketers can use these as signals to improve their marketing activities. Use automation to efficiently run your search campaigns and find people with the right skills in your team.

The stage then turned to Srikant Kotapalli, from India, who is Head of Products at VWO (Visual Website Optimizer) a Wingify company product. Srikant talked about how to building an effective optimization strategy, and how this needs an in-depth understanding of user behavior, adopting a structured framework and a validated learning approach. This session was all about how to take your AB testing to the next level. There were some very nice slides which you can find here. He also managed to muster up a full house!

Key takes: Test, Test, Test and fail fast. Every test is a learning into user behavior. A successful optimization engine involves having the right people, processes and techniques.

SEM/CRO Track at Savage Marketing 2017

After a refreshing lunch break, we re-grouped for the second breakout session of the day which was kicked off by Esther Alonso, from Spain, who is the Marketing and Development Director and (The Newspaper translated to English). Esther is a seasoned advocate of social causes such as child poverty, education and public health. She spoke to us about social marketing for social good, and how eldiario, which launched in the middle of the financial crisis with minimal funding, managed to grow and service a journalistic community of now greater than 20,000 members, through an innovative membership program. A fantastic success case on how to build community while also building business and growing sustainably with no external investment. You can find Esther’s slides here.

Key take: The power of community is more relevant than ever before is a world where trust is at an all time low. By servicing a community through investing in their success, you can build a sustainable business model that is a win-win for everyone.

Esther Alonso, Marketing and Development Director and

We then welcomed Evan Waters who is Director of Growth & Performance Marketing at Naspers – one of the world’s largest global internet and entertainment technology investor. Evan (aka: THE MAN BEHIND THE CLICK) – is a highly experienced full-stack marketer who travels the world helping the Naspers portfolio of companies grow by embedding best-in-class marketing practices. Interesting fact about Naspers is they are over 100 year old, launched the first Dutch newspaper in SA, are now the largest provider of TV in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2001, invested 32M in Tencent (owners of WeChat) for 35% of shares, which is now worth over 100B. Forget 10x. These guys are 1000x! You can find Evan’s slides here.

Key takes: Build strong people relationships with your growth team. SEM is ideal for powering a global PR program, testing SEO title tags with DSA, finding affiliates through GDN, testing product page conversions. PWA (Progressive Web Apps) is a huge advantage over traditional Apps where storage and bandwidth are still an issue.

Evan Waters (right), Director of Growth & Performance Marketing at Naspers and myself.

Alexandra Kulachikova, Head of Yandex.Metrica

The last speaker of the day in the SEM/CRO track was Alexandra Kulachikova who heads up Yandex.Metrica as product evangelist and actually comes from the Google Analytics team. She lectures and speaks all over the world and enjoys solving really difficult customer cases. She spoke about Yandex.Metrica and how this platform can help in attributing search related conversions using the power of predictive machine learning in real-time. Her slides can be found here.


Key take: Machine learning is at a level now where real time attribution is a reality.

I will be writing a second version of this blog with key take home items from each presentation in the SEO/CRO track soon on the Savage Marketing and Traffic4u blog.

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