Digital Marketing, Growth Interviews, Machine Learning, Web Personalization

Miroslav Varga Podcast: We are on the brink of a revolution and its name is machine learning

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In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our podcast conversation with Miroslav Varga, search engine advertising expert, professor and MENSA member, experienced and specialized in Google Ads account optimization and statistical analysis (data mining). 

Welcome to Growth Interviews!

Our mission is to provide insights and ideas from world-class professionals on the topic of growth and to cut through the noise of so-called marketing tips and tricks, revealing the money-making strategies behind e-commerce.

Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth.

Each episode is an intriguing challenge involving an insightful expert who reveals some of their best-kept secrets, which you can use right away to boost your business. 

Miroslav is a Google AdWords Certified Trainer – GCT and online marketing lecturer at several schools and institutions and probably the only Google Ads certified Trainer and GAIQ triple grandfather in the world.

Miroslav is a storyteller, a lateral thinker, a data whisperer who is always reading the message behind the data and always providing the context and the bigger picture.

Our Interview it’s an exciting road in the world of machine learning, Google ads and advertising automation with surprising predictions on the future of the digital marketing industry and human behavior changes that will follow.

The Edge of Tomorrow

The fascination for machine learning is creating a lot of debates and predictions for the future. We are on the brink of a revolution like never before as its speed is surpassing all expectations and its applications are definitely disrupting old social systems as we know them. ‘What will happen to us?’ It is a question on everybody’s mind, no matter how high on the social ladder that someone is, no matter if it’s a CEO or a regular blue-collar. As Miroslav Varga told us in our last Growth Interviews podcastI’m sure that we will change the landscape of our jobs in the next 5 to 10 years completely.’

The impact of machine learning and AI in digital marketing with the wave of new tools and applications is changing its landscape with a higher speed than ever and the only constant is that every digital marketer should expect the unexpected at any moment. The industry is changing in unpredictable ways and the focus on data is pushing the adoption of machine learning for everything that implies better targeting, from Google ads to media buying. “The machine learning algorithm will know better where the audience is and to whom to serve the ad from advertiser, as the machine learning signals would have calculated the most efficient person to show the ad to sell. People cannot run this race.” is the prediction launched by our guest.

The direction is pretty clear. Everything regarding data will be managed by machines and we should make them as good as possible as the focus of humans should not be on the data but on how creative we can be with that data. Who are the people behind those numbers, what do they really want, what do they like and what is driving their actions?, are the real questions for the digital marketers. People should be more in the part of the industry that is creative, strategic and the understanding of the necessities, of the problems the advertiser consults the market on. But the keyword research, bidding, location, device and all the other stuff that is today the preoccupation of account managers will be done by algorithms much better than we are doing it today.” Miroslav Varga

History Repeating 

The history of emerging new technology shows us that the one thing which is constantly repeating is our fear of it and of its results, even if it is based on scars proof. Machine learning is foreseen to replace humans in doing some jobs but is also expected to increase the possibility of expanding the industry with new needs that require new skills and thus new functionalities.

Things have already changed in the digital marketing industry and Miroslav Varga underlines the direction, the future evolution and the most important direction for digital marketers to focus on.for example, you do marketing as a campaign strategist. That is the new name of the account manager: account strategist or campaign strategist and you will check which databases are important to find the best suitable audience. You have to check data and analytics to understand how to become a storyteller, not a data analyst. Data analysts are mathematicians. So, you will have to check the numbers, become a storyteller, try to understand strategically who the audience is and try to connect different databases to be as efficient as possible in serving personalized ads to your audience. Personalized messages strategically shown to people, emphasize that you, as the account strategist, are thinking at the best possible audience. That will be the job. You will have to carry completely different tasks.”

The change in digital marketing is fast-paced, it’s the mother of all martech. Every day a new tool, based on new technologies, new algorithms and offering a new perspective is coming to the market. Living in a global market has its perks and although the dimension of the new digital landscape feels overwhelming, our direction is getting clearer and Miroslav Varga points it out very clear:I think this is the direction that people will go. They will use much more databases to connect all the traces we are leaving and use this data, these traces, to make your profiling and send you the best possible ad, and this ad is going to be more efficient than text ads that you write down trying to understand the mental state of your potential customer. So, that’s three to five years, and is not far away.”

Thriving in the Online Game

What we have now is unique, both in opportunity and in the speed of business development. On one side we have the global market opportunity like never before. Everything which is being created, every new tool, every new algorithm, is here to help businesses grow in the global market. Also, like never before, technology created so many communication channels that, no matter how small the marketing budgets are, we still have can draw attention and make our voices heard and our products seen.

On the other side, we see how fast everything is and almost every digital marketer is developing a form of FOMO. As long as old frameworks will still be in place and old thinking is setting the pace most of the marketing efforts will be doomed. It’s time to pack the mind with knowledge, unleash the creative human spirit, test everything, optimize on the way and deeply understand the customers. This is the new big picture.

“The game didn’t change. The methods are much more diverse. The game is the same as it was always; test and test and test indefinitely. What is today different are these new options based on machine learning, based on so much data that you couldn’t use it before.” explained very surely Miroslav Varga and then continued.

“I think the opportunity, the basic point didn’t change. You should keep optimizing things all day in and out. But what do you have now? You have several machine learning options that have never been here before and I think that people that would like to scale their business should try them all. There is no one size fits all recipe and there is not one fits all solution or whatever but what we have shown sometimes, for example, sometimes, the maximized conversions bidding strategy is much better than target CPI, and in another account, it’s vice versa. So,  it would be a lie what to tell people which is the best possible solution because every campaign, every strategy has its own pitfalls, but what is important for people to find out what works best for them.” 

The diversity of tactics and strategies that any digital marketer could adopt is attracting and opening new streams of business success but at the same time, we lack the experience of working with all the tools and channels together. The only way to discover what works for any business is to forget the old frameworks, the old ways of setting up campaigns and test any new creative idea, strategy and tactics with the courage of a four-year-old in a Batman suit.

“People are very often victims of company policy, life circumstances, previous experience, however you name it, it’s there. And you should always try to challenge these borders, these frames that you have and stop you from flourishing. Because usually, it’s based on fear. What will my boss tell me? What will my neighbor tell me? What will my wife?

Fear of the reaction of your environment is something that is very often putting people down. So many things are different than the things our parents have done. But we’re still afraid, constraining ourselves, not brave enough to think outside the box, to think outside frameworks. So, I think this is something that should be embraced. The sooner, the better because our industry is changing. It is revolutionizing from inside.

We are not aware of this but it is really changing at a fast pace from the inside. Nobody has imposed this change. This change is generated by the industry itself. We as people from digital, we have the data and we want to use it even more, even better, even more efficient, even faster. And we have been the main generator of our, let’s call it Armageddon.” “As long as people are buying more and more, your services will be more in demand because testing and optimizing and iterations to improve will be the main part of the strategic change in the industry.” – Miroslav Varga

The Pressure, the Changes and the Digital Marketing Talent Scarcity

The digital environment is ever-changing and growing with thousands of new businesses entering this environment every day. Newcomers bring the biggest changes and in their attempt to adapt they are adapting the entire system to their needs and one of the most effervescent areas of change is digital advertising. Old mindsets are clashing with new mindsets and we are witnessing how digital marketing is taking the scene as the most important to focus on, as the playground where everyone is welcome where the impossible is becoming possible. Data, most importantly lack of proper data, is still the most important barrier to overcome for any small-medium sized business and it’s key lays in the creativity of communication, new vision and a new way of building interest. With the explosion of digital business, skills in digital marketing are in higher demand than ever with a new wave of tools and technologies imposing the rise of 2.0 digital marketing.

“Small and medium-sized companies that could not afford to have a national TV campaign can afford the national digital campaign. So, as the industry is changing and we should change our mindset at the same time as more small and medium-sized businesses are entering the digital marketing area. And the demand is increasing not because the existing customers are growing but because a lot of new ones are entering the digital market. 

 And this will be the greatest challenge because machine learning is based on data and newcomers have no data. You have to do some manual things to collect the proper volume of data to feed them again in a way.

 I don’t know how things develop but with new people entering digital, digital will be their first point of marketing activity. It will not be radio or television or newspapers as it was before. That is one reason why this industry will grow very fast as a very great volume of new presence will change the industry.

 Our mindset is still based on old CPC models and these models are not bad, but I would suggest strongly to switch as fast as possible.

When digital appeared, it was very nice, very interesting and it was a fight between the traditional marketing experts and the digital marketing experts. And now, we in the digital industry, we are now the traditional ones. We don’t want to change. It’s hard for us to change because finally, we understand how it works, and now, somebody is now ‘This is not working anymore. This is not the way you should go.’ That’s in a way the proof of the maturity of the industry, now we are mature and we don’t want to change. And it’s not because Google is changing or people are changing or we’re not willing to change. It’s just the guys that will use these new methods and techniques and strategies to be more efficient, and that’s the reason you have to run this race. Without it, long term, you’ll lose.” – Miroslav Varga

Conclusion

Machine learning. The hottest technology is on everyone’s lips and is changing the world we know, as we speak. New digital tools are having machine learning at their core and they are hitting the market every day, changing the entire digital marketing landscape. We are witnessing the digital revolution of the marketing industry and we are at the heart of it.

We hope you enjoyed our podcast interview with Miroslav Varga!

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