Feedonomics Expert Interview: Michael Durey of Samsung Electronics

Michael heads up Performance Marketing for Samsung Electronics in the UK, leading their Paid Search, SEO, Affiliates, Paid Social and Programmatic Display efforts. Within just 9 months, he has overseen the highest revenue driving Black Friday ever for Samsung.com and also the most successful flagship phone launch with the Galaxy S10. He now has his sights sets on making Samsung the market leading smartphone manufacturer in the UK, and understands the role that Samsung’s direct to consumer proposition – and therefore product data feeds – will have in achieving this goal.

What major changes have you seen across the eCommerce digital marketing landscape in the last few years?

It’s an exciting time to be working in our industry, as highlighted by the fact that there are many possible ways to answers this question. I think it makes sense to start by looking at the two major eCommerce players.

Amazon’s retail dominance continues to grow and, whether you think it’s for better or worse, their very existence has had a phenomenal impact on eCommerce globally. They have changed the way that consumers shop online and have set a level of expectations that shoppers now expect in all retail environments – whether it is a plethora of product reviews or the promise of same day delivery.

Amidst a loss of ‘search’ traffic to Amazon, Google has needed to look at different ways to deliver a profitable return to their advertisers and future-proof their revenue streams. Shopping ads are now eligible to show in more auctions and in certain verticals the traffic from these ad formats has overtaken standard text ads. In the US and more recently in some European countries, they have also partnered with major retailers to allow customers to checkout directly within the Google ecosystem. This is a great way to streamline the path to purchase but ultimately raises questions about how brands can own the experience with their customers and retain a first party data relationship with them.

Outside of Google and Amazon, the main change in the last few years has been with regards to data – and in particular the ownership of data. Post-GDPR in Europe, the addressable audience for CRM or Email marketing has reduced and thus brands have needed to become smarter with less. Personalisation feels like it’s been around forever but only recently have advertisers started to get it right, which is no doubt due to the increased sophistication of targeting and the growing capabilities of digital marketers to run Data Management Platforms (DMPs). Within many verticals, brands are also focusing on growing their direct to consumer proposition as not only does this allow for stronger profit margins and less reliance on retailers, but it also allows them to own that relationship with customers and therefore own that relationship with their data too.

What advice would you have for brands advertising on Google Shopping or Amazon?

This may surprise you but the most important piece of advice that I would give to advertisers is to first ensure that their website is good enough. And by ‘good enough’ I actually mean ‘great’. Why spend advertising dollars getting consumers to your site if they are going to have a poor brand experience once they are there, and either bounce straight off your page or struggle to find and purchase your products?

Assuming all is well on that front, then here are the 3 key things I recommend focussing on in order to maximise traffic on Google Shopping or Amazon:

  • Find a point of differentiation – showcase your USP against your competitors and ensure that it is immediately visible in both environments; have you ever tried searching for a washing machine or a TV and been met with hundreds of thumbnail images that all look identical?
  • Test, test, test – always keep testing the images, titles, descriptions and other product information in your feeds. And never assume that the same things will work across both platforms, as they – and the consumers who use them – are very different!
  • Set the right KPIs for each platform – treating all platforms equally and setting your budgets based entirely on last touch attributed metrics will stunt long-term growth. For instance, a sale on Amazon will not be as profitable as a sale on your website that originated on Google, but if your main objective is growing market share then can you afford to not be as visible on Amazon?

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Where do you see the digital marketing landscape for eCommerce in the next few years?

Voice Search, Home Assistants and Augmented Reality will certainly all have an impact on digital marketing in the next few years, however the biggest changes will undoubtedly arrive with the introduction of 5G. Granted none of us really know yet exactly what impact this will have on our day-to-day lives, but could you have imagined wearable ‘smart glasses’ technology or an app called ‘Uber’ before 4G?

On a basic level, the arrival of 5G will finally bring millions of rural consumers into the high-speed data lanes that urban consumers have become accustomed to and open up advertisers’ potential customer base to a much wider audience. On a more futuristic level, connected homes and smart cities will open the door to a world of possibilities that could mean buying advertising space or targeting data signals that come from a supermarket trolley or even traffic lights.

It might even disrupt the dominance of Amazon, Google and Facebook by arming telecom companies with unprecedented levels of data for advertising services – though the impact of this would likely be very different in Europe compared to the rest of the world given the strong legislative stance on data protection that the EU has taken recently.

One thing is for sure; the impact will be much greater than simply facilitating the download of a HD movie in less than a second. 5G will again revolutionise consumer behaviour and I for one am incredibly excited to see what opportunities it brings.

In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

I know it’s very clichéd but becoming a father to a beautiful little boy just over 2 years ago has improved my life in so many ways. It has taught me the importance of a good work-life balance; I no longer live to work but now work to live, and late evenings in the office are a thing of the past. It has also taught me the importance of a good coffee, which certainly cannot be underestimated after a sleepless night!

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter digital marketing? What advice should they ignore?

I’ve noticed a lot of people on this Expert Series have said to start working at an agency, and I cannot disagree – I did it and would recommend the same for anyone else. It is where you learn your trade from the bottom up, and is the only way to truly understand the intricacies of what we do.

The thing to bear in mind with agencies is that staff turnover can be quite high and I understand why, but if you do find yourself at an agency then I would recommend being very picky with your career path. Don’t get suckered into leaving one agency role for another because it promises slightly higher pay and a shiny new client – often it’s ‘same sh*t, different office.’ When you do decide to move roles, move for the new challenge and the opportunities that it presents to you for furthering your career in the direction that you want.