What's Driving Search Marketers To Become Full Stack Campaign Managers?

The recent 2015 Online Marketing Industry Survey from Moz confirmed what we already know: search marketers are now working with larger teams and have more diverse responsibilities than ever before. The extent to which their roles have evolved into that of a more generalized digital marketing professional may surprise some, as content creation, programmatic display, social media marketing, and native advertising now fall under the modern search marketer’s purview.

This trend of search marketers morphing into full stack campaign managers (or full stack biddable media engineers, if you prefer) isn’t new, but it’s definitely getting traction today. As most media moves in the direction of biddable and programmatic, search agencies can’t just be search agencies anymore.



The ways in which this is currently playing out vary. The Media Kitchen, for example, is converting its search teams into the “programmatic media buying group.”

The driving forces for this transition -- this expansion of the search marketing role -- vary, but they branch out from the realization that search marketing as a practice now involves so much more than creating and executing search campaigns. As more media becomes biddable and more targetable (like search), those search marketing skills become transferrable to marketing on a new medium.

Search marketing goliath Google is a compelling driving force in itself, as it stares flagging search revenue in the face and looks to display as its greatest immediate opportunity for material revenue growth. More partners are being pushed to sell Google Display, which suits search agencies as they recognize that social and display are at-scale opportunities for them that complement search results. Once considered bottom-of-the-funnel and low value, display is now being credited for more conversions at all stages.

Search marketers are being thrust into the role because of their skills and the market demands, but also due to the realization that search marketing results are being affected by many things outside of search.

In this quest to claim their rightful place as full stack campaign managers, search marketers should also be aware of the stopping forces, the most pressing of which is creative.

Search marketers typically are not accustomed to writing more than a headline and a few lines of description, but display opens the door to all kinds of graphic and brand requirements. Text ads were simple and instantly compliant, with only Google, Bing, or Yahoo guidelines to meet. But with display, stringent branding guidelines must be respected, even when ads need to be rebuilt for all manner of different sizing and compliance requirements.

Social media on its own adds a heavy burden to the content creator’s plate, between formatting that varies from network to network, to differing ad and organic content guidelines, to the changing preferences of audiences across networks. Add to that the constant need for fresh creative to avoid fatigue in the real-time content environment and you have a huge demand for content, whether paid or organic.

A second stopping force is the organizational setup. Those failing to organize teams around programmatic or biddable media end up with silos and require many sub-specialists who aren't necessarily thinking about full-funnel optimization.

That’s not to say search should be leery of this evolving role, or shy away from the additional responsibility. In a lot of ways, search engineered this move toward biddable and programmatic in the first place. Rather, search agencies and professionals must be aware of the industry-level forces driving this evolution of their roles and position themselves to navigate around potential stopping forces to ultimately succeed. 
Search marketers don’t need to run out and sign-up for design courses, but they’ll need to find solutions for the creative and branding demands inherent in their new role. In the same way that technology enabled email marketers to use templates rather than learning HTML, tomorrow’s full stack campaign managers need not reinvent themselves or develop an entirely new skill set to survive. They’ll leverage their existing skills in biddable media alongside new technologies to fill the creative gaps and meet the needs of advertisers who increasingly require cross-platform and programmatic-first campaigns.
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