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Three key MarTech solutions to help your brand stay ahead

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28 November 2022

In an ever-changing world, creating meaningful interactions makes all the difference for brands. Whether it’s removing friction from the customer journey, increasing the value proposition, or improving the ROI on marketing spend, a key ingredient in all these activities is the activation of quality customer data. By creating a real-time, 360°customer view, a 1-on-1 marketing approach at scale becomes possible. 

However, getting there is a multifaceted challenge. To succeed, brands and businesses need the best technology for media, marketplaces, search, storytelling, and creatives, all while respecting data and privacy.  But building an ideal MarTech stack that suits the current and future needs of your business can be challenging, especially during financial uncertainty when every dollar you spend is under a microscope.

At DEPT®, we believe technology is the key to successful, data-led marketing. At the same time, we know this is challenging to get right. With an average organisation using over ninety Martech tools, it’s unsurprising that 83% of organisations do not connect consumer touch points and 68% of organisations lack automation.

Here are three MarTech solutions that can help you bridge that gap, maximise your technology investments, improve your marketing ROI and create a more frictionless customer experience.

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Customer Data Platform

A customer data platform brings together all of the information you’ve gathered about your customers into one database. This means all first, second and third party data, including things like age, historic behaviour and browsing activity. A CDP makes data that was only accessible to one department (like your Customer Service representatives), accessible to all (like your Digital Marketing team). 

It’s a treasure trove of information that only grows more complex and useful as you utilise it in your daily business dealings. It provides you with customer profiles that are invaluable to perform well in the digital world.
Your CDP should provide a user-friendly interface helping your company to use your data. No matter if you’re looking to analyse customer behaviour, increase conversion or generate reports to inform business decisions, a well-structured and mature CDP will assist you in all of these endeavours and more. 

And it’s not just your organisation that’ll benefit from your CDP. Your clients will too, with better-targeted marketing campaigns that listen to and meet their needs, quicker processing, or even just not having to repeat their address to three different departments when dealing with your company.
For example, a luxury gifting company wanted to be able to predict the behaviour of its customers and turned to DEPT® to build its customer data platform. We used machine learning to predict conversion intent by matching real-time browsing behaviour to historical conversion patterns, resulting in much more efficient retargeting by honing in on audiences based on their expected probability to convert. This approach saved 40% of the brand’s remarketing ad spend without reducing conversions.

Google Marketing Platform

Google Marketing Platform (GMP) is an integrated ad-technology platform that enables advertisers to more effectively manage, measure and grow high-impact digital marketing campaigns. GMP integrates world-class solutions to help buyers run holistic campaigns across all media channels. The products within Google Marketing Platform all seamlessly integrate so that you can plan, buy, measure, and optimise digital media and customer experiences in one place.

The GMP suite of solutions can handle everything from automated campaign management, to intelligent non-last click attribution models, video, display and mobile campaigns management to in one place to data visualisation. It can help you work smarter and your budget work harder.

For example, we implemented Salesforce and Google Marketing Platform for a luxury body care brand. By doing so, we centralised all their first-party data and built an in-house machine-learning platform, giving them insight into the data needed to increase their international reach efficiently. By switching to more audience-based communications, the retailer’s CPA was reduced by 15%, while sales increased by 85%.

Ada by DEPT®

Ada by DEPT® is our proprietary marketing technology platform, designed for brands to build and accelerate their digital businesses. With 50+ point solutions available for every key marketing activity, Ada helps clients automate digital marketing at scale, and mitigates the loss of data in a more privacy-driven digital world. 

Ada is a central platform that functions as a hub for DEPT® tooling, solutions and trusted third party partners. Through managed services, Ada works like a multitool, providing the right solution for the job. Media & Advertising, SEO & Content, Marketplaces, Data & Insights, Creative Automation, Financials & Admin and access to third party martech partners can all be managed via this single platform. 

The British marketplace Dayrize wanted to create awareness at scale for sustainable alternatives. To do this successfully, Dayrize needs web traffic that is affordable, qualitative and also scalable. Using Ada, DEPT® realised a flexible, data-driven website structure in just a few days through the creative use of data and machine learning. At the heart of the solution was automated keyword research at scale. We retrieved 38 million data points (keywords and search volumes) and processed these with Google’s BERT algorithm, supplemented with our own algorithm. This saved Dayrize about 90% of the manual work (about €180,000 in hourly compensation on this scale), in just a few days.

Review, react, refine

Now is the perfect time to look at your MarTech investments more carefully, scrutinise what you already have, and find out what you’ll need in the future. With our agnostic approach and pragmatic view of the global market, we have supported brands in developing the ideal MarTech stack to help them thrive.

Contact us today to learn more about our third-party partnerships and our proprietary technology.

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Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data

Willem Blom

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Unboxing Amazon ideas, technology & innovation

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Sebastian Gilles
Sebastian Gilles
Head of Consulting & Strategy, FACTOR-A/DEPT®
25 November 2022

At the Amazon unBoxed 2022 event, Amazon shared new tools, insights and endless possibilities for the very near future. A team from FACTOR-A/DEPT® flew to New York to  participate in this innovative, informative and in-person (finally!) event and returned with a wealth of knowledge on what’s happening and what’s to come.

From October 25-27, Amazon Ads leadership and customers shared firsthand insights with vendors, sellers, agencies, sponsors and technology partners from around the globe, to help inform their advertising strategy. The event was a hotspot for networking, revealing new products and features, inspiring talks and the latest insights on all things Amazon.

During the event

Leaders of major companies around the globe, like Paramount+ and Samsung Italy, shared how they are using inventive marketing strategies to grab and keep audience attention. Through telling their brand stories and sharing insights, they exemplified the possibilities of using Amazon Ads to increase reach and drive brand and product awareness. 
Amazon also debuted many exciting new ad solutions and features as well as the latest updates and trends in ad tech.  Inclusive marketing and new product tours and explanations were plentiful with a strong focus on creative services.  Some highlights include:

Amazon Marketing Cloud features to help advertisers plan, measure and optimise campaigns

New opportunities with streaming media, like the Quick Draw Sponsorship in What to Watch App (beta)

New DSP digital signage ads in physical stores

Sponsored Brands video builder customisable templates

Sponsored Display for brands that aren’t selling on Amazon

Performance recommendations for Sponsored Product campaign optimisation

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Our Major Takeaways

Amazon Ads is growing – in a MAJOR way

Amazon Ads is a very strongly and quickly developing environment with a major focus on the upper funnel. Amazon ads increased 25% in Q3 to $9.5 billion – a growth rate that dwarfs the two biggest players, Google and Facebook. While Amazon is still smaller than the latter, this incredible advertising growth (more than 10x that of Google, including YouTube) shows that it may catch them sooner than we think.
If you haven’t yet integrated things like DSP and streaming TV ads into your advertising strategy, now is the time.

It’s time to get on board with Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC)

AMC undoubtedly served as the unofficial star of unBoxed 2022 event, proving its integral role in any Amazon Ads strategy. AMC is a platform for analysing Amazon data & combining it with other data sources in order to provide new insights and ultimately prove the effectiveness of your campaign. So what exactly is this cloud-based analytics tool?
Launched in 2021, the Amazon Marketing Cloud is the first of its kind in terms of transparency and flexibility and it provides the analytics advertisers need from across all media channels. It uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) for data services and is privacy-safe.
AMC provides advertisers with an overview of their marketing campaigns and audience behaviours, not only from Amazon, but also combined with the option to upload pseudonymous data sets into the AMC clean-room environment. 

From impressions and engagement to conversion and revenue, AMC provides a variety of valuable data. In addition, you have the ability to structure customised reports and evaluate how different media channels affect your audience discovery, engagement and purchasing with the Custom Attribution Analysis.
When used correctly, AMC can help you discover the true impact of your cross-media investments by breaking down your exact customer journey. It is helping brands reach audiences by offering aggregated data that help them understand their shoppers. Customise your measurements and analyses to help you reach your specific goals. 

unBoxed 2022 helped inform attendees about the AMC and how it could fit into their strategy. In addition, Amazon unveiled new features and improvements that make AMC an even more valuable tool.

Valuable additions to AMC

Signal Coverage

Deeper understanding of the impact of different formats and cross-media attribution thanks to Sponsored Display and digital subscription events and integration with Sizmek Ad Suite (beta). This also means a much more comprehensive understanding of the customer journey.

Ease of use

The library grew from 10 to 50+ pre-built search queries, in order to help advertisers get started with AMC. Queries can be personalised and allow advertisers to use AMC with just one simple click.

DSP Audience Management

Advertisers will be able to create custom audiences to meet campaign goals using an SQL statement. Amazon will be rolling out the ability to manage DSP audience within AMC during the next year.

Partner programmes

Agencies, tool providers, system integrators and software vendors will soon be able to earn Partner certifications. This will make it easy for advertisers to find potential partners based on their business needs.

What’s to come?

The most valuable insight we took from unBoxed 2022 is that it’s time to reframe how we look at Amazon.

Brands are transitioning from transactions into developing relationships with consumers by meeting them where they are and offering the ability for them to shop in any way they want. Accordingly, Amazon is making a definite shift from a sales and retail channel with an advertising component into a marketing channel with a sales and retail component. 

Amazon Ads’ current growth rate has brought it to a nearly $40 billion annual run rate – a 10-fold increase over the past 5 years. Amazon Ads is showing the company’s ability to reach beyond the bounds of the retail site – ads appear outside of the site and are now available for businesses that don’t sell on Amazon, like restaurants and hotels.

Amazon’s advertising ambition is in the same league as the biggest players and could eventually mean surpassing them, it is time to acknowledge this shift, to remain informed about all Amazon has to offer and to get it involved in your business strategy.


Head of Consulting & Strategy, FACTOR-A/DEPT®

Sebastian Gilles

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How to reap the rewards of loyalty & retention

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Willem Blom
Willem Blom
Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data
23 November 2022

In times of economic instability, battening down the hatches and tightening the purse strings is the natural response to keep your bottom line healthy. And while making considered decisions around media budgets is wise, a switch in focus from new customer acquisition to loyalty and retention is even wiser.

According to Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is “anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one”. For some organisations, this is a budget-breaker, especially those with long sales cycles or expensive products. But while acquisition can multiply your spend five-fold, an HBS study shows just a 5% increase in retention rate can increase profits by 25% to an astonishing 95%.

But it takes more than just a switch in mindset to harvest the fruits of retention. And while some organisations may have laid the foundations back in the dark days of the pandemic, many marketing teams are underprepared from a technical, talent and strategy perspective to compensate for the loss of media exposure and traffic when switching to a retention and loyalty strategy.

Developments in martech, data modelling and personalisation capabilities mean that loyalty and retention strategies have come a long way from simply firing off a discount code to all previous buyers; it’s about getting to know your customers, understanding their needs, and providing the service they need, when they need it. But we understand that knowing where to start when budgets are shrinking and timelines are tight can be tough, so we’ve broken down some key focus areas to support you with your loyalty and retention strategy.

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The goal

The main goal when launching any loyalty and retention strategy is to increase the customer lifetime value of your existing customers by maximising loyalty and retention, and driving cross-sell and upsell.

1. Customer insights

In order to target your existing customers, you need to ensure that you can isolate that data. The first step is to get the basics right with your customer journey and CRM setup. This will enable you to build out the customer journeys from first conversion, to repeat purchase, to loyalty.

Through data, insights and a ‘test and learn’ approach, you can grow and engage your customer base in both size and value, while identifying the customers who have the highest likelihood to churn so you can act accordingly. Data modelling can help you to 
create buckets of different types of customers and approach them with the right message at the right moment.

DEPT® supported a luxury retailer with this challenge. By garnering a deeper understanding of its existing customer base through data insights and utilising the Google Marketing Platform (GMP), the brand was able to maximise owned/paid retention campaigns, identify lookalike audiences, set budget caps, and prioritise customer service cases. The data informed a customer contact strategy that ensured the right messages were sent to the right people, at the right time. The result? An 85% increase in sales.

In all positive stories, technology is the enabler. In this instance, Google Marketing Platform supported the retailer in its success. GMP is an integrated ad-technology platform that enables advertisers to more effectively manage, measure and grow high-impact digital marketing campaigns, and its suite of solutions has the ability to power all key elements of your campaigns, from automated campaign management to optimisation, analytics and real-time data visualisation. If you’re not utilising GMP already, it is well worth exploring.

2. Cross-sell & up-sell

Developing a strategy to support cross-sell and up-sell can move you from purely acquisition-driven revenue to adding revenue share from existing customers. Having the ability to identify cross and up-sell services that your customers enjoy will grow their loyal behaviour (and customer lifetime value) with your brand over time. Personalisation plays a large part in this journey. If you get your customer insights set-up right, then preference personalisation becomes much easier. 

By teaming data-driven insights with Creative Automation tools, you are able to create multiple cross-channel communications for various audiences. At the click of a button, you can generate thousands of creative variations from just a few inputs. Automated asset production allows tailored messaging to each individual customer segment, and iterates on the messaging quickly based on performance data. The tools make it easy to adjust copy and design, so that you are always producing hyper-personalised content that truly resonates with customers across CRM marketing, onsite, social, and digital advertising. Creative Automation is a key solution in Ada by DEPT®, our proprietary martech platform, which offers best-in-class technology for performance marketing, creative, data and media optimisation.

For example, eBay was looking for a new way to engage existing customers with a particular product category, while at the same time wanting to test whether a personalised CRM strategy would boost customer lifetime value. DEPT® helped them to define three unique, enthusiast segments and develop a hyper-specific, highly personalised approach to communicate with these customers, which drove significant engagement and amplified conversion, with a 68% increase in click-to-open-rate.

3. One-to-one communication

Tailored, one-to-one customer communication across all digital touchpoints is a key tenet of loyalty and retention. All content touchpoints, whether push notifications, e-mail, website or chatbots, can have automated processes that ensure personalised messaging at any given moment. 

Beiersdorf is a glowing example of how to get it right. The personal care manufacturer focused on its existing Nivea customers across Europe, and developed a strategy that placed a strong focus on known customers in the ‘care’ phase of the funnel. This has a dual benefit; not only helping to increase loyalty, but also mitigating the impact of the death of the cookie as, by dealing with existing customers, you are still able to personalise customer journeys.

Utilising Salesforce technology, DEPT® implemented automated journeys to engage the database and prevent churn, optimised the content strategy, contact frequency, and email design, and improved the acquisition campaigns for growing the database with high quality profiles. The result was a 200% increase in open rates, and 357% increase in click-through rate.

The Salesforce suite of solutions, such as Marketing Cloud, Tableau Analytics and Experience Cloud, can play a vital role in developing a truly 360 view of your customers to enable success. From consolidating all customer data to create rich customer profiles to automating complex processes to increase efficiency and productivity, creating cutting edge tools to support end-to-end communication to optimising workflows with machine learning, Salesforce is a solid base for any brand’s tech stack.

Chatbots are well worth considering as part of your loyalty strategy, helping customers to self-serve and providing personalised recommendations. Ralph Lauren approached one-to-one communication with the development of a gifting chatbot for the festive season. The luxury retailer wanted to create an immersive and personalised method of picking the perfect gift, matching the users’ interests with compatible products available on the Ralph Lauren website. By combining data-driven insights from previous gifting chatbots with innovative Instagram platform features, BYTE/DEPT® built one of the first branded Instagram chatbots available in the industry and worldwide. In the first few months of launch, the chatbot attracted over 12,000 average monthly users with 3% showing strong purchase intent.

Act now to reap the rewards

Investing in building a good relationship with your existing customers really pays off in the short and long term. Whether you’re already refocusing your marketing efforts on loyalty and retention, or need some help in getting started, our team of experts can help. From tech implementation to strategy, data, creative and beyond, we can support you every step of the way.

Reach out to our experts today

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Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data

Willem Blom

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Advertising during a recession? Start with an Audit.

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Willem Blom
Willem Blom
Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data
10 November 2022

Recessions bring with them a slew of problems that the global economy must contend with. The usual byproducts of recession – job loss and inflation – severely impact demand and the purchasing power of large swaths of people all over the world. In turn, this almost always results in significant revenue declines for many consumer brands.

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First start with an Advertising Audit

With recent economic uncertainties putting a damper on financial expectations for the foreseeable future, businesses need to adapt various aspects of their organisation to ensure their survival. This is especially relevant when it comes to marketing. Brands must be careful when promoting their brand during times like these and simultaneously ensure…

  • They aren’t tone deaf to the hardships facing consumers.
  • They are demonstrating the need and value for their products or services.
  • They are building long-term brand equity.

Moving forward during a tenuous situation like this can be accomplished by starting with an in-depth advertising audit. This audit takes a close look at a number of factors, including your target audience, your product category, and your current messaging and creative assets to determine not only what needs to change for a successful pivot, but how that can be done. This is also all done within the context of lessons learned from previous economic downturns.

Stay Positive, Stay Focused

One key lesson we’ve learned when marketing during a recession is that brands should focus on the positives where they can find them. Yes, it’s important to still be empathetic to challenges facing many consumers, but you also don’t want to paint a “doomsday scenario” or be too pushy to try and make a sale. Don’t lead with depressing messaging; remain optimistic and demonstrate the full value your brand can provide.

Also, if you start to see your sales decline, don’t panic. Don’t pull your marketing budget from top- and middle-funnel marketing activities to solely focus on short-term conversion campaigns. You need to continue building brand equity and increasing awareness with new audiences. Brands that maintain their investments during recessions report higher sales, market share, and earnings afterward than those that don’t. They stay top of mind with consumers while the competition lags behind. Not only that, but if other brands pull back on their advertising, you end up getting even more value for your advertising spend. It’s no secret, but brands can sometimes forget, taking a full-funnel, long-term approach is the best way to foster sustainable growth well into the future.

An exceptional example of this is Samsung. During The Great Recession of 2009 – and even in the midst of reporting their first quarterly loss in company history – Samsung kept their investment stable and even brought in senior marketing executives to reshape their approach. And the long-term results? Well, those speak for themselves. In 2009, Samsung was number 21 on Interbrand’s global brand value list. In 2021, they ranked number 5. Similarly, the Harvard Business Review noted that when CPG brand Reckitt Benckiser increased advertising spend by 25%, they also increased profits by 14% when their competitors were seeing profit reductions.

Brands should allow for 4-6 weeks when pivoting their campaigns and messaging in these situations. You want to ensure you take adequate time to research and craft the most effective messaging and creative, but you also can’t wait too long and miss the boat. It’s important to stay vigilant and understand the current situation at hand, stay updated on the latest developments, and also consider how the position of your consumer and brand might evolve over the coming months.

Understanding your audience and value

During an economic downturn, there are four distinct consumer segments. The Harvard Business Review examined these during The Great Recession in 2009. These segments include:

  • Slam-on-the-breaks: those who need to immediately economize.
  • Pained-but-patient: those who will have to think twice about their spendings (the majority of consumers).
  • Comfortable well-off: those who don’t really have to worry about their finances.
  • Live-for-today: those who live for the moment and spend without regrets.

Harvard Business Review also identified four unique product segments, which are:

  • Essentials: products that someone needs to survive or make a living, such as groceries, medicine, and transportation.
  • Treats: products that are not essential, but are justifiable: lipstick, a birthday cake, and dining out. 
  • Postponables: products that have function, but could be postponed: a new refrigerator, a new sofa, or a laptop.
  • Expendables: products that you don’t necessarily need and are a luxury: a jacuzzi, jewellery, and art.

The audit will uncover how these different consumer segments interact with the different product segments in the light of economic uncertainty. It uses this information to develop a strategy to react to those changes in behavior and drive growth, or prevent sales and revenue retractions.

By identifying which product segments will be important to each consumer segment, the advertising audit will help a brand develop a higher-level strategic concept around the sensitivities of each consumer group and the value of the different products. This concept will then serve as a guiding light to ensure messaging and creative assets are persuasive and influential. The audit will also capture what competitors are doing in regard to recession marketing and how that might impact your strategy.

DEPT® has experience helping brands within numerous industries succeed in all types of market conditions. Our expertise and outside perspective enables us to keep brands grounded through challenging times and always act with the end consumer in mind. Interested in conducting an advertising audit for your brand to ensure you’re hitting the right note with consumers? Reach out today and get started.

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Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data

Willem Blom

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Salesforce Health Check and Discovery

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Nick Broekema
Nick Broekema
Global Salesforce Partnership Lead
1 November 2022

It’s wise to make sure you use your technology to its full potential and optimise your tools to meet your objectives, whether you’re preparing budgets for next year or are considering a strategy change. Here’s where our Health Check and Discovery comes in.

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As Salesforce’s European Strategic Growth partner with 300+ implementations under our belt, we know all the best practices to help you achieve your business goals. Our Health Check and Discovery entails Salesforce Clouds: Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and the Core platform (Sales/Service/OMS), depending on your needs and stage in the technology integration journey. Are you, for instance…

…exploring Salesforce solutions?

We’ll unravel the possibilities and challenges of implementing Salesforce in your organisation so you can make a well-informed decision on how to take your business to the next level.

…already using the Salesforce platform?

We’ll check if your Salesforce set-up is used to its full potential and if there are gaps that can be filled to match your business objectives.

In all cases, we’ll work together with your team to ensure we can provide you with recommendations suited for your organisation. Depending on your requests, the Health Check and Discovery will take 2 days up to 1 week. We’ll conduct interviews with key stakeholders, review your current architecture and analyse the provided data. After that, we present an action plan and road map to help you get the best ROI from the Salesforce platform for your specific business.

Check which Health Check and Discovery options we offer.

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Ready to do the check? Get in touch with us!

Global Salesforce Partnership Lead

Nick Broekema

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Google to promote sites with human-centred content

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Arthur Lescarret
Arthur Lescarret
SEO Director
24 October 2022
Google helpful content update scaled

With the rollout of Google’s new helpful content update, many are asking themselves what it is, what it means for their businesses, and how great an effect it will have. The update, which was released in August 2022, was expected to have major ramifications however, while the purpose of the update is clear, the impact is still uncertain.

Google’s Helpful Content Update

Where quantity and quality used to be even parameters for Google to decide how to rank pages, recent industry changes, such as the rise of TikTok, have affected users’ behaviour and thus require content of better quality. With more people on TikTok absorbing content that is easy to digest, Google is faced with greater competition to prioritise content that is made for humans – and thus introduced the helpful content update.

This new search algorithm update is intended to target websites that have a high amount of unsatisfying or unhelpful content. The main purpose arose from searchers becoming frustrated when landing on websites that are highly ranked but are unhelpful, due to the fact that the content has been designed purely for SEO. The new algorithm will instead promote content that is of higher quality, feels more authentic, and is relevant for users. 

While the new update does not invalidate the importance of SEO, it aims to downgrade websites that place a greater focus on SEO, and instead promote websites that are designed for humans, rather than for search engines. Google’s helpful content update pushes businesses to move away from robotic, AI-created content, and to reconsider what is currently on their web pages. Moreover, this update, unlike others, affects entire websites as opposed to individual pages, meaning that the recovery time could be quite significant.

What does it mean for your business?

The new update is first being rolled out in the English markets, and upon launching was predicted to take a couple of weeks. It still remains to be seen how powerful this ranking signal is, and only a small percentage of SEOs are currently experiencing any ranking changes due to the update. However, Google’s ultimate goal is to maintain a competitive position for its search engine and to prevent users from moving over to high-content platforms like TikTok.

The impact on businesses will likely be significant, but we do not know how long it will take to be fully implemented. Google probably opted for a slow rollout to give people time to update their content, especially given the difficulty of bouncing back if hit by the algorithm.

Ultimately, the new update indicates a key focus point for Google, and whether your site is going to be impacted today or in the near future, cleaning up content to focus on user behaviour is definitely recommended.

What to do now?

Adapting your content,where necessary, should follow a people-first approach in a way that does not invalidate SEO best practices. Companies should ensure content is helpful, user-friendly and authentic (see Google’s guidelines for creators). Essentially, you should evaluate your website content to determine where it needs to be reworked. Ask yourself: does something need to be removed? Does something need rewriting? If you have a plethora of content, what should be prioritised?

The transition to people-first content

The update to Google’s ranking algorithm should by no means cause panic, but it is important to bear in mind the impacts on your site, along with user behaviour. You can still have content of length, but ensure that the most important and relevant highlights are stated first, and that the balance between human-focused content and SEO best practices is upheld. 

Want to know more? For guidance and advice on how best to optimise SEO and content on your website, reach out to us at DEPT®.

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SEO Director

Arthur Lescarret

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How data analysts help brands break down silos

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David Grover
David Grover
Data Architect
24 August 2022

In most companies, there are people whose job is to combine data from different sources to answer business questions.

These people aren’t usually considered technical by software engineers, but they still exercise creative, business, and logical judgment. The people who do this work are usually called “data analysts.”

Data analysts are expected to figure out how to make new data (specifically new records) out of a company’s raw data.

Data analysts don’t “analyse” or “break down data” so much as they remix source data into something new – something that makes sense to stakeholders. 

Organisations hire data analysts to break their data out of artificial silos. Your ERP, CRM, e-commerce, PLM, marketing, web analytics, inventory and fulfillment, sales, and privacy systems have their own picture of the relationship with the customer – but they don’t all talk to each other.

Data analysts exist because:

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Data analysts play a foundational role in creating the semantic layer in every business.

What data analysts do for organisations

Data analysts glue your organisation’s data into a coherent whole, building more-or-less a “semantic layer” out of the data collected by your company’s applications.

They may need to do this by merging two spreadsheets, ten databases, five dashboards, or a mix. A data analyst won’t know until they take a look.

The people who do this job thus end up with a mix of skills, from data quality analysis and pipeline prototyping to data modeling, visualisation, and business analytics. Hiring good data analysts requires not losing sight of the forest for the trees. 

“Data work” for most companies is in the vast space between narrow snapshots collected by software applications and all the business processes that depend on that data for insight. Very few data analysts learn all the skill-sets required to navigate the entire space. Most learn a couple of components well and consistently.

It’s also important to note that this kind of work is something your software engineers shouldn’t be doing.

Because of this, data analysts are critical to the way organisations work. 

What doesn’t a data analyst do?

Data analysts are critical to building an organisation’s semantic layer. We expect them to develop repeatable, consistent, and precise logical formulas for combining records from different systems, as quickly as possible. 

Oftentimes, the automation of those formulas is then handed off to engineers. Engineers are tasked with building tools and platforms to make that semantic layer construction process easy and transparent. Data analysts are then free to build the semantic layer as fast as they can, with as little friction as possible.

This division of labour lowers the daily stress on data analysts, and they get the best use of their skills.

What should brands look for in data analysts?

At DEPT®, we believe anyone who has one or more of these skills is a “data analyst”:

  • Visualisation and report development
  • Business, statistical, or other quantitative analytics and storytelling
  • Data Science
  • Data modeling
  • SQL integration script development
  • Data quality analysis
  • Database discovery
  • Data Architecture

Experience & opportunities

An experienced data analyst has more than one of those skills, and has in-depth experience and perhaps a preference for at least one. Very few people end up with decent skills across the board, but the more experienced have at least tried and failed.

That willingness to try and fail is crucial for data analysts.

None of us are born with the ability to merge datasets just the right way or explain results so someone can use them. Good data analysts are confident they can make seemingly disparate datasets come together sensibly. They may eventually be wrong, but a data analyst is willing to try to find a join.

The ability to optimise business impact, reusability, and feasibility is important. Semantic layers are made up of lots of individual decisions about business logic, reconciled into a consistent whole. An ability to keep an eye on the big picture while also meeting short-term needs is invaluable. Success inevitably requires a combination of both good luck and insight, and not always experience.

Data analysts play a foundational role in creating the semantic layer in every business. They provide an invisible but critical service – gluing together data sources for business users. They do all sorts of creative, logical, technical, and business analysis work to meet their user’s expectations.

A data analyst’s integrations hold companies together and are critical to an organisation’s success.

More insights?

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Interested in a career in data? Browse current openings at Raybeam/DEPT®.

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The E-Commerce Drop Webinar: What is happening, what it means and how to cope

E commerce drop webinar follow up roundtable FACTOR ADEPT
Nils Zündorf
Nils Zündorf
Managing Director
4 August 2022

Check out this interactive webinar from July 20, 2022 during which Managing Director at FACTOR-A/DEPT® Nils Zündorf and Head of Marketplaces at DEPT® Kevin Veenman answered your questions live. These experts explain the current downward trend in e-commerce and why it may not actually be what it seems.


  • E-commerce has grown 2-5x during the pandemic. However, the growth came to a halt in Q1 2022 and began to fall off in Q2
  • The biggest concerns for consumers right now are the rapidly rising prices and inflation and the vast majority have already changed their behavior towards money saving
  • Marketplaces seem to be more resilient and actually are still trending up or sideways in most categories. The flywheel effect that helps stand out: stock, price, selection, life-time-value
  • Audience questions including: should we diversify our target markets to expand our customer base? Navigating decreasing Amazon prices as a retailer? Media driving panic and influencing our choices? …and more, answered live by our hosts.

Want the slides for yourself? Download them here.

Want more on this topic? Read our recent article where we reveal the reasons of the e-commerce drop and the possible ways out. Also, join us at our follow-up roundtable on August 10th to discuss your questions, concerns and experiences with experts and fellow vendors and sellers.

Want to know more about FACTOR-A/DEPT®? Follow us on LinkedIn and download our one-pager.

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Managing Director

Nils Zündorf

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How the DMA & DSA laws will impact your business

arial view of man on phone

21 July 2022

The European Parliament has approved two new laws that will place tough constraints on how big tech brands such as Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Meta tackle competition and handle user data. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) aim to create a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of users are protected, and to establish a level playing field for businesses in the European Single Market and globally.

arial view of two people on phones

This is the first official legislation around the globe that aims to regulate big tech in such a big way. The new rules are an important step in defending European values in the online space. They respect international human rights norms, and help better protect democracy, equality and the rule of law.

The new laws apply in the EU single market, without discrimination, including to those online intermediaries established outside of the European Union that offer their services in the EU.

Digital Services Act

The Digital Services Act (DSA) tackles concerns of values and safety in the online space. It focuses on content moderation enforcement and transparency, and will likely go into effect around mid-2023.

The rule is built under the overarching principle: “what is illegal offline must also be illegal online.” The goal is to create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected. It will give better protection to users and to fundamental rights online, establish a powerful transparency and accountability framework for online platforms, and provide a single, uniform framework across the EU.

The rules specified in the DSA concern online intermediaries and platforms such as online marketplaces, social networks, app stores, online travel platforms, and cloud services. It will mainly impact ‘very large’ online platforms, which have a significant societal and economic impact, reaching at least 45 million users in the EU (representing 10% of the population), and online search engines with more than 10% of the 450 million consumers in the EU.

Included in the new regulations, the DSA bans targeted advertising of minors based on profiling, and targeted advertising based on profiling using special categories of personal data such as sexual orientation or religious beliefs. 

Digital Markets Act

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) focuses more on the so-called ‘gatekeepers’ in digital markets such as search engines, social networking sites, web browsers, cloud computing services and virtual assistants. The criteria is even stricter than with DSA; similarly, most businesses will not be impacted directly, but will indirectly have to work with the consequences.

The DMA establishes a set of narrow defined criteria for qualifying large online platforms as ‘gatekeepers’. You are considered to be a gatekeeper when:

  • You have a yearly revenue of €7,5 billion, a market value of €75 billion, or you have over 45 billion unique monthly visitors on your platform. (Note that the European Commission can also appoint gatekeepers themselves, so companies like Booking, Zalando or Just Eat Takeaway may not meet these criteria just yet, but could be added to the list in the future). 
  • Furthermore, you need to have an impact on the market, be an important gatekeeper for business users to reach end users and have a firm position in the market

The DMA places far greater restrictions on tech giants in regards to how they utilise their gatekeeper platforms, in a bid to even the playing field for competition. For example, it introduces a ban on: sharing data between services without expressed consumer consent; on ranking the gatekeeper’s own products or services in a more favourable manner compared to those of third parties, and tracking end users outside of the gatekeepers’ core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising, without effective consent having been granted. The DMA’s competition rules could impact services such as iMessage, Amazon’s ability to self-preference on ecommerce, and Google and Meta’s advertisement data gathering practices.

These competition rules will likely go into effect in 2024, and those found to be non-compliant could face fines of up to 10% of the company’s worldwide annual turnover, rising to 20% for repeated infringements and penalty payments of up to 5% of the company’s worldwide daily turnover.

What does it mean for your business?

While the new laws are targeted mainly at ‘very large’ platforms and tech giants, there will be repercussions for those businesses that utilise the platforms for advertising purposes. 

DSA: Ban on targeted advertising to minors and via special category profiling

The DSA bans on targeted advertising on online platforms by profiling children, or based on special categories of personal data such as ethnicity, political views or sexual orientation

As of 2021, advertisers on Meta, Messenger, and Instagram were no longer able to target teens based on their interests. But businesses could still target ad campaigns to people 18 years and under based on age, gender, and location. On TikTok, you cannot target those under the age of digital consent, which differs per country (e.g. 16 in the Netherlands, 13 in the UK). According to the platform, it was never possible to target specifically based on profiling such as the sexual orientation listed in a profile or political preference. However, advertisers could target you based on your interests, for example “LGBTQ+ rights”.  Also as of 2021, advertisers on Meta were no longer able to target these sensitive interest categories.

The new law will limit the possibilities of targeting children, or based on special categories of personal data. Depending on the type of organisation you are, this may have a big impact on your advertising possibilities. When your target audience are minors (ecommerce focussed on younger people, theme parks, or even recruiting focussed on student jobs), it will no longer be possible to target specifically for your target audience. This will most likely have a big impact on the effectiveness of your online campaigns. 

For political parties and their online advertising, it will become harder to specifically target based on political views. This is a topic which is hotly debated leading up to many elections already. Important to note that in this specific case, the EU bans profiling users based on their political views but we know that in the US, Meta’s user interests were indirectly used as a proxy for politically or racially targeted advertising.

DSA: Ban of ‘dark patterns’ design

The DSA also bans the use of so-called ‘dark patterns’ on the interface of online platforms, referring to misleading tricks that manipulate users into choices they do not intend to make.

The law means that it cannot be harder to refuse than to accept tracking and personalised ads. Changes in UX and visual design, for example changing the ‘accept all’ button to green, are also called ‘dark patterns’ and are no longer allowed. 

Note that this legislation focuses on ‘very large platforms’; those that reach over 10% of the total 450 million consumers in Europe. For most organisations, that doesn’t directly create the obligation to change their own consent. However, once platforms such as Meta, TikTok and Google are forced to ask for consent to be tracked, you’ll see that the number of users accepting these terms will decrease. (FYI, platforms cannot refuse their services to those who do not consent). Although this won’t have a direct impact on most businesses, they will have to accept that there will be a larger group of people that can not be targeted based on user data.  In the long run, this may even change their business model.

guy on phone in portugal

What changes for gatekeepers?

The DMA stipulates that gatekeepers must not:

  • Treat services and products offered by the gatekeeper itself more favourably in ranking than similar services or products offered by third parties on the gatekeeper’s platform.
  • Prevent consumers from linking up to businesses outside their platforms.
  • Prevent users from uninstalling any pre-installed software or app if they wish to do so.
  • Track end users outside of the gatekeepers’ core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising, without effective consent having been granted.

More specifically, the DMA states that different messenger services are to be connected to each other, meaning that you can send a message from Facebook Messenger to Signal, or from iMessage to Telegram. This part of the DMA is heavily criticised, as the technical feasibility of connecting these services together is low; there is no protocol like there is for email (smtp) or phone (ss7). However, legislation isn’t meant to be a technical requirement, and this type of legislation will keep everyone on their toes.

Lastly, the DMA mentions that users outside of the gatekeeper’s platform can no longer be tracked without effective consent. The interesting twist here is ‘consent’. Under GDPR, consent was already necessary to track users online. You can therefore argue that nothing will really change. For many of these platforms, it’s already practically impossible to continue using their services without giving the right levels of consent. However, we need to see this in the context of the DSA as well. The combination of DSA and DMA could potentially mean that online platforms like Meta’s Facebook and Google, will no longer be able to create these enormous datasets based on personal and interaction data that can be used for targeting ads. 

The DMA also requires gatekeepers to be more transparent towards their business users. For example, this means that Meta and Google will need to provide more information on the ads and campaigns their business users run. So, your business won’t have to rely on inaccurate or intransparent reports, but instead have access to in-depth data that is created via your campaigns. 

Additionally, gatekeepers are no longer allowed to self-preference their products on their platforms (e.g. if you’re searching for a voice assistant on google search, Google isn’t allowed to place their Google Home in the first ranking). An obvious bonus for any smaller companies offering similar solutions. 

What to do now?

If you’re considered a gatekeeper (DMA), intermediary service, hosting service, online platform or very large online platform (DSA), changes will come your way. What exactly will change, depends on the kind of service you offer or the kind of platform you run. As a web hosting service you’ll have different obligations than a internet network provider or a marketplace. There won’t be a one size fits all solution, so do seek advice.

All other businesses will not be directly impacted by this new legislation, but will most certainly face indirect consequences. The most obvious impact is the restrictions of these platforms to target advertisements in a personalised way. Mitigating the implications of DSA and DMA are somewhat similar to the strategies we advise our clients to take to tackle the loss of cookies. Relying on these platforms to help you find your target audience isn’t a smart way to move forward. Instead, build your own robust first party database, invest in relationships with publishers directly and start investing in contextual advertising.

The first single digital market

There’s no doubt that this is an historic moment in digital regulation; the introduction of these new laws has set Europe as the first, single digital market in the free-world. While, in practice, GDPR and Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) have already limited the possibilities to target users specifically based on their data, the introduction of DMA and DSA brings clear regulatory monitoring and punishments for non-compliance.

While the implications of the new legislation will be most intensely felt by the tech giants, the ripple effects will undoubtedly be felt across all organisations utilising their platforms. Plus, it’s only a matter of time before smaller parties will also have to follow these regulations, so be advised to start following the same ‘consent rules’ that the tech giants are being given now.

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Global SVP of Performance, Media & Data

Willem Blom

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The future of Google Ads: Performance Max

DEPT 1304 100 scaled
Robert Jan Bolder
Robert Jan Bolder
SEA Consultant, Digital Marketing NL
13 July 2022

Google Ads has come a long way in machine learning over the past few years. From manually creating the right search ad for the right person and at the right time, automation has revolutionized Search campaigns more and more. Recently, Google released the newest version to this; Performance Max campaigns, which might be the biggest leap Google has taken in automation so far. Performance Max will not only rapidly change the SEA landscape, but will impact digital businesses organisation-wide. Is it time for your business to step up to Performance Max? Let’s take a look.

Performance Max is the latest Google Ads campaign type that allows advertisers to almost fully automate online campaigns for all channels within the Google ecosystem. From Display and Search, to YouTube and Maps; ads can be shown on all channels from one single campaign. Performance Max can deliver higher value using Smart Bidding to optimize performance across all Google platforms. It can be used as an addition to your current keyword-based Search campaigns, to realize more conversions from Google ads. With real-time data on consumer intent and preferences, Performance Max can find new audience segments and serve on new channels that were not discovered by your business yet. 

Why use Performance Max?

The biggest gain with Performance Max is that it’s the first campaign type that actually is able to make upper-funnel campaigns profitable for many advertisers. Google made it possible to create omnichannel focussed campaigns that come from one single ad. As advertisers in the past might have centered on conversion-driven campaigns in the lower funnel for better visible results, Google has now created the opportunity to spend that same budget on campaigns in the full funnel. Performance Max can run a whole campaign from brand awareness to conversions by one single ad. 

This is not the only advantage. With Performance Max it becomes easier to run a Google Ads campaign. Performance Max is based on Smart Bidding algorithms. To set up a campaign you will no longer need to manually add all the components that create an online campaign. Google will simply do this for you. The only input required as an advertiser is to provide a target goal (Target ROAS or Target CPA) and a budget. Targeting audiences can be steered into the right direction with Audience signals. Less experience with SEA is needed to run a Performance Max campaign, as Google performs all bidding and targeting with machine learning. 

The black box of data insights

So why are many companies still hesitant to try Performance Max? Similar to every new technology, it takes time for people and businesses to adapt. The biggest withhold currently, is the fact that advertisers will have fewer control over their campaigns. This is a deal-breaker for many brands. They don’t want to risk overexposing their ads or showing them on the wrong channels which could damage their brand image. 

Furthermore, Performance Max increases the difficulty to analyze how your campaigns are performing. It can be seen as a black box regarding data insights. The campaign type is limited to where your ads are served, and what settings are used for asset group level and audience targeting. Instead, Performance Max will only show you the outcome of your campaigns. It simplifies setting up the campaign, but you’ll have to trust Google’s machine learning to do the work. If you wish to analyze campaign performance better, you will need input from other sources. We’ve seen Performance Max campaigns taking over a few regular Search campaigns, and also pushing down organic results. Take into account that Performance Max optimizes for conversions and therefore could take away converting organic traffic. Thus, to measure incremental value, it is wise to take into account the full Search channel, instead of the Google Ads account only. In addition, you could consider excluding high-performing organic queries and/or landing pages from your Performance Max campaigns, but only when organic rankings are high and competition is low.

A shift in the SEA landscape

So what does this mean for the role of SEA as we know it? Some of the work for SEA specialists will change. SEA specialists have always adjusted to the automation steps Google has taken in the past and will have to do so now. As Google takes away more of the manual work, it also leads the way for measurement and the technical aspect of the job to become even more crucial. Conversion tracking, offline data imports and taking (offline) business insights into account will become increasingly valuable. SEA specialists must invest in connecting and automating these platforms to optimize campaigns. This is where your online marketing platforms will make the most of. 

Ads become more creative

Performance Max is not only changing SEA, but also requires more creativity. Less time is spent on optimisations, but ad creatives become even more important. Making sure the right images, texts and videos are shown to shoppers. This is where creative assets come into place. Advertisers must focus more on the creation of assets that trigger their audience. Brands that are winning are those who can bring SEA and content in symbiosis. Creatives and performance marketers must work even more closely together. 

When is the right moment to start?

Google is rapidly changing online campaigns with Performance Max. With every transformation Google Ads has taken over the years, this is the newest automation update businesses can explore. As many brands are still hesitant to try the new campaign type out, a first-mover advantage remains in Google’s ecosystem. Start debating how your business can test Performance Max, and how it can contribute to optimizing your account performance. Here it is important to bear in mind the full Search channel, as Performance Max can impact your SEO results too. The most effective brands in SEA will be the ones that can deliver value to their customers from A to Z as well as continue to adapt to the ever changing digital market. 

Are you ready to take Google Ads to the next level? Our SEA team is ready to help integrate Performance Max to your Search campaigns. 


SEA Consultant, Digital Marketing NL

Robert Jan Bolder

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