Hero Conference 2017


I attended Hero Conference for the first time which was held at the JWMarriott in Downtown LA right next to the Staples Center. I enjoyed the talks and that it was a PPC only conference. It was nice to have a singular topic focus on one topic and have a crowd with very similar interests and experiences.

This is a wrap-up of some of the interesting things I heard at the conference.

The Customer Disconnect: How Inside-Out Copy Makes You Invisible

The premise of this talk was around ad copy and that just because advertisers say prospects need them, it doesn't necessarily mean the prospects will listen. The Speaker, Amy Harrison, said we often have a story problem, not a copy problem. An interesting approach to this challenge was to use symptoms as the hook instead. For example, using copy that communicates: "If you notice this in your life then you need to listen to me". Then communicating, "here is what you may have recognized and this is what is causing it". The advertiser needs to understand if the prospect is using a workaround. If so, they can call out that the workaround is not the best way to go about curing the symptom but there is a cure/transformation awaiting them. The advertiser then needs to call out the results in a form of "you had a symptom, you received a cure and now you can...." as well as call out the impact on the person's life.


  •  Commuter hours are best performing in terms of response for B2B advertisers in the morning and B2C advertisers in the evening
  • Target ads by device as a proxy for customer types
  • Mobile use skews female and younger
  • For app install ads you need to include “Search Partner” traffic in order to appear in Google Play
  • Speed issues can punish mobile Quality Score
  • When using the texting extension, CTR can go up by 40%

Interesting Mobile Data:

  • “How” appears 2X on mobile queries
  • “Near Me” - 1.7X
  • “Find” - 3X
  • “Schedule” - .9X
  • Call - 5X
  • “Can I” - 3.2X


  • Store convinced pre-Black Friday promotion would work because it was beating the other retailers with the deal but it attracted a lot of lookie loos:
    • Revenue +15%
    • Cost +33%
    • ROI -15%
  • Dollar off beats percentage off most of the time as people do not like doing the math
  • Shipping often more important than promos (Amazon Prime Influence)
  • Target the opposite sex for purchase during gift periods to increase AOV and customize copy for men and women
  • Millennials 52% more likely to be impulse purchasers
  • 45% Millennials spend 1 hour plus looking at retail sites per day

Check your assumptions on your target customers by listing their:

  1. Wants
  2. What they are looking for
  3. Uses for access
  4. Is (demographics)

AdWords Bidding:

When you bid up broad match keywords in AdWords and Shopping campaigns the matching will get looser and sometimes conversion rates will fall as a result.

Facebook Talk:

Mobile is becoming video first (by 2020 75% of mobile traffic will be video)

Content consumption:

  • 65% of users access mobile while shopping
  • 62% of users check phones 30 times per day
  • Users typically unlock phones 80 times per day


  • Scrolling speed- younger users are much faster scrollers
  • Users can identify image in 13ms - we must work to make the images break the scrolling and gain attention
  • Sound is usually off so video needs to be adapted with subtitles

Quality of consumption:

  • Ads that move have 6X more interaction
  • Moving logo also helps interaction and CTR
  • Price and promo messaging overlaid on image

Facebook ads Impact on Search Ads

  • Facebook ads have been shown to drive search volume up 6.3% on average
  • Facebook ads Increase in Search ROAS 30-78%

Google Talk: 

  • It will be tough to compete with Google’s machine learning doing optimization of ad choice etc. Many high performing advertisers have 3+ ads in each ad group.
  • The use of Audiences is a big deal to to target, bid and personalize ads – using custom audiences, behavioral audiences as well as demographics.
  • Ad extensions are another area where better performing advertisers excel

Best Presentation of the Conference:

Brad Geddes presented on Audience Targeting and was awarded the best conference presentation. I had watched the video before and it has inspired me to use audiences in a much more significant way across accounts with both bid adjustments as well as bid and target campaigns.

Voice Search and at Home Devices the Next Inflection Point for Search

Site owners have long been seeing their mobile traffic volume eclipse that of their desktop traffic. The primary change many site owners have made in reaction to this shift has been to make their sites mobile friendly with either a responsive site design (a site that adapts to screen size and device) or a separate mobile site. Google encouraged this change with the threat and implementation of “Mobilegeddon” which gave less visibility to sites that were not deemed mobile friendly by their test tool.

Google’s search results have long been evolving from the ten blue links to a “universal” search type framework which blends different forms of content such as image, video, maps etc onto a single search page along with the traditional textual html pages. The search engine results page also gave more prominence to direct answers and one box type results aiming to provide the answer to the user's query at the top of the search results, oftentimes, without requiring a click from users. Google recently went a step further by moving from a desktop index that was served to mobile users to a mobile first index which used the content that was returned to mobile devices in its ranking as well as increasing the importance of content hidden behind expandos and tabs which are more common in mobile. (Previously, this content had been reduced in importance by Google in the desktop index.) The increased velocity of change in search on both the user interface (search results pages) as well as the underlying search index is a wake up call for us all to think about the next change that will occur. Many site owners no doubt have been struggling to adapt to the changes that have recently taken place, but as all good SEOs know, in order to win you need to be proactive with change not reactive.

In Mary Meeker’s recent “Internet Trends 2016”, she reported that 1 in 5 searches on the Android app are voice searches and 25% of Bing task bar searches are voice (May 2016). Andrew Ng, Chief Scientist of Baidu, estimates 50% of searches will come from voice or image by 2020. The percentage of smartphone users using voice assistants has increased from 30% in 2013 to 65% in 2015. With the launch of Google Home and Alexa, we now see voice search used not only for mobile and "in the car" searches but also inside the home. These trends, along with future estimates, show a dramatic change in the interaction model of search in the near term as well as in the future. Users are, and will continue to be, submitting queries in a different manner of input, which will require some changes to how search results are ranked as well as how they are served to the user.

There are two fundamental changes that will occur due to voice search:

1.     The search query will more often be described in colloquial language in the form of a question "How do I tie a bow tie” versus “bowtie tying” on the desktop.

2.     The return result will likely be in the form of an answer from one authoritative site rather than a list of links. This could be a textual answer that will be read out loud or a video that will be played.

Site owners need to react to these changes by:

1)    Creating a page (and potentially a video) dedicated to each questions users may ask as well as creating the BEST (this is winner take all) answer on the web for this question. This should be researched from search query logs, customer service emails etc.) Some good research on templating these answers can be found on Bill Slawski’s site “SEO by the Sea

2)    Building the authority of your site via natural links from authoritative and related sites as well as positive user metrics on site

For an eCommerce provider that largely has a site made up of home page, category pages, product pages and potentially a blog this will require a substantial investment in content. For example, if you are selling shoes you might need to create pages for:

·      “What are the best value marathon shoes?”

·      “What are the most fashionable and popular casual athletic shoes?”

·      “What are the warmest snow boots?”

·      “What are the top selling mens casual boots?”

As with much of modern SEO there is a convergence of technical SEO and content required to win. Creating a mobile friendly site is the ante and creating multi-form Q&A content is the required strategy in the new “winner take all” environment of voice search.