Insights from the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference 2013


On Friday I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Figaro Digital Marketing Conference at The Royal College of Physicians, Regent’s Park, London.

The agenda was jam packed full of presentations from a variety of prestigious brands and digital marketing leaders including Pizza Hut UK, Twitter, Transport for London, Absolute Radio, Oxfam, Argos, More Th>n, British Gas, Channel 4 and more, providing an insight into their digital marketing strategies.

Needless to say there was a mindboggling amount of information provided throughout the day and incredible insight into the digital marketing initiatives from some of the UK’s leading marketers, far too much to document in a single article; however, it quickly became apparent that many of the presentations were focused upon similar approaches to digital marketing.

Mobile Marketing

As expected the mobile revolution was a core focus of many of the presentations throughout the day.

80% of listening is performed via a digital device.

Adrian Hieatt, Video Manager at Absolute Radio

Mobile is undoubtedly a growing marketing platform which cannot be ignored so it was very interesting to find out more about how many of the UK’s leading organisations approached mobile marketing.

Steve Ash discussed Pizza Hut’s evolution from in-store POS through to the use of collaborative software for in-store, web and mobile, and outlined how they’re moving towards responsive design to standardise their platforms.

30% of Pizza Hut orders are placed via a mobile channel.

Steve Ash, IT Director at Pizza Hut UK

However, one of the best examples came from Michael Campbell, UX Lead from Transport for London (TFL) and Tim Hurles, Creative Director at We Are Experience. They discussed the mobile movement and how mobile is at the forefront of their latest digital platform,

Michael and Tim went on to highlight the importance of “on the go” information for their customers, ensuring the mobile experience met the ever growing need for up to date travel information when mobile, without just providing a ‘cut-down’ version of the desktop site. The TFL website has been re-built from the ground up with a clear mobile objective to fulfil the customer experience via mobile.

The mobile movement is a revolution which is increasingly important within digital marketing. We’ve seen from our own research that mobile is growing at a phenomenal rate, with desktop searches dropping by ~38%, therefore it is massively important to ensure mobile is an integral factor in any digital marketing strategy.

If you’re not sure where to start or still unsure if/how mobile impacts your business, start by reviewing mobile statistics for your domain(s) looking at the ratio of mobile/desktop visits to see if you could benefit from responsive design.

Social Media

Seemingly hand-in-hand with the mobile discussions followed the growing impact of social media. UK Director of Twitter, Bruce Daisley spoke primarily about the use of the second screen approach discussing how second screening is helping to drive conversion from TV ad spend.

Second screen, also known as companion screen, is a process whereby customers use their mobile device to interact with television programmes, allowing a second level (or second screen) of interaction. Channel 4 have recently released the widely anticipated 4Now app embracing this usage, allowing user to participate in a range of activities from play-along games to real-time polls.

Bruce spoke a lot about how word spreads via Twitter through nodes of influence / circles of impact which grow into what Bruce described as constellations of re-tweets. He cited examples from the popular hashtag #RyanGoslingWontEatHisCereal which had the room in fits of laughter. I must admit I hadn’t seen this phenomena before!

Warning: Contains mild use of inappropriate language

Tess Tucker from Just-Eat also spoke about the importance of social media for Just-Eat’s brand personality elevating the humorous side to the brand through the “Don’t Cook, Just Eat” image campaigns, like this one advising people to not wash up and order a take away instead…

Tess explained that this approach combined with a diverse approach to social media marketing has lead them to a massive 1 million Facebook followers in a relatively short period of time.

We know from experience that many businesses still misunderstand the use of social and fail see how a social media strategy can plan a key role in business market. Many still believe that social is nothing more than yet another channel for people to communicate - but like it or not social media is here to stay. Word-of-mouth hasn’t died with digital media, it has in fact become more crucial to online marketing; therefore if social media is not a part of your marketing initiative you may want to start rethinking your strategy.

Content is Still King

Tying both mobile and social together is of course content. Most speakers refrained from talking about “quality content” in the way search engine marketers tend to reference content following the infamous Panda algorithm updates. Instead they spoke about content engagement factors and how content is at the heart of solid marketing campaign.

Gill Whitehead from Channel 4 spoke about how they have managed to increase viewer engagement through a diverse range of content, with 1 in 3 16-24 year olds now registered with the Channel 4 website and also how The Million Pound Drop has helped to improve mobile engagement through the aforementioned use of “second screening”.

Dan Patmore, Search Marketing Manager at Argos discussed what makes quality content stating that problem solving or otherwise being able to address the users query makes valuable content.

Andy from Atom outlined how one of their clients,, have utilised content technique to provide value to their users through initiatives such as dating tips and restaurant reviews; adding content with value to a visitor whether they are a direct customer or not.

Adrian Hieatt from Absolute Radio went into some depth how they have utilised video content to improve engagement, filming tracks/gigs in the studio as well as unlikely venues such as the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral in London to capture audience engagement. Adrian stated that their approach to video marketing is having a massive impact on content marketing for the brand, ultimately driving users towards listening to the live radio station.

Justin Khaksar of Brightcove also discussed video marketing stating that use of the word video in the email subject line increased opens from 7% to 13%. On the surface that statement sounds incredible, however, we’d always recommend a level of caution so not to abuse it. This potential 6% gain could inevitably have a huge impact on the success of your email marketing campaign.

So as you can see there is a massive focus on content marketing, not merely text-based content, but content in a variety of forms to spark user interest and user engagement. One of the best content related presentation in my opinion came from Spilverpop’s John Watton through a talk aimed to get us thinking about how to make our customers to love us through behavioural marketing.

John spoke heavily about the need for a personalised approach to marketing offering a personalised customer experience via all digital properties. He referred to the personal service which he receives from his local convenience store, through Bob the manager, and approaches to mirror that level of personal service online. He encourages us to learn by customer behaviour through tracking and analysis of basic demographics, email behaviour, relational data, web behaviour as well as offline behaviour, all of which are approaches we can adopt in our marketing initiatives.

Marketing is un-Bobular


Whilst the talk clearly had a humorous element to it, it demonstrated the potential impact of behavioural marketing techniques to improve the customer experience. I hope the slides for Johns talk will be available soon, but in the meantime you can see more about becoming more Bobular.

At the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference I saw various organisations demonstrating various approaches to content production/syndication but one thing is clear, content is always at the heart of any successful digital marketing campaign; whether it’s text-based web content, imagery, video or anything in-between the messages which we provide through our content ultimately define our business to our target audience.

The Future of SEO

Throughout the day there were many indirect nods towards search marketing but little in terms of direct reference to SEO. The conference focused on adopting a collaborative approach to marketing pulling on initiatives from all digital verticals to plan a coherent digital marketing strategy and improve the overall marketing success.

However, Joe Friedlein, Director of Browser Media, gave a fantastic presentation on the “death of SEO”. He ran through some of all too familiar SEO death signs from Panda and Penguin, to “(Not Provided)” data in Google Analytics and general lack of trust in SEO. The prevailing feeling being that

SEO has evolved, [the] ‘old school’ is dead

With many of the speakers at the conference stating that Google accounted for the vast majority of traffic, severely outweighing other channels such as social media, Joe used this to reinforce the fact that you cannot ignore search.

Dan Patmore from Argos also alluded to the fact that search marketing is the dominant digital marketing initiative adopted by Argos and whilst other areas such as Bing/Yahoo, social, external content etc are important, Google remains the primary point of budget.

SEO has evolved considerably over the past couple of years, and whilst it is not “dead” the traditional approach to SEO has changed dramatically, evolving into an integrated approach to digital marketing. SEO is, and I believe will remain for the foreseeable future, an important part of any digital marketing campaign but if you simply stand still and watch, you’ll get left behind. You must be able to adapt your thinking towards digital marketing and adapt your processes in order to facilitate the changes to search marketing.

Digital Marketing Conference Key Takeaways

The theme of the conference was clear:

  1. Adapt your business for the growing mobile market
  2. Get social
  3. Ensure you devise a content strategy based on the needs of your audience
  4. You cannot ignore SEO even if it has changed!

As we always say, it’s not rocket science!

Most of the videos from the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference 2013 along with the presentations can be found on the Figaro Digital website via

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About Chris Ainsworth

Chris Ainsworth is Senior SEO Consultant and Head of the Technical Team at High Position boasting 9 years experience within digital marketing. As technical team leader Chris has a wealth of technical SEO knowledge in a search verticals, and has helped business of all sizes and all industries achieve digital marketing success! Get involved with Chris on Twitter @chrisains or via Google+. Alternatively Chris's professional profile on LinkedIn or visit his website at

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