Interview Transcript

What would you advise young performance marketers today, in approaching SEM, given what you learnt from Booking and your experience with Google and being a hotelier today?

I’m going to talk about my own experience now. When I was about to join Google, so 2011, I didn’t really know much about SEM. I decided to set up a simple website. I actually called a friend, who owned a restaurant and said, listen, can you give me your credentials for your website. Do you mind if I try and do some AdWords and run campaigns for you? It’s not going to cost you anything. Just let me play around. He said, no problem and I set up a few campaigns, to learn about CPC, what does the console look like, what do you change, how do you choose your concordances for AdWords and so forth. This may sound stupid, but I learnt a lot from that. I burned my fingers, because one weekend, I forget to put a cap on the investment and I burned €600. That was, ouch! You need to be careful that if you are not controlling these things, it can really get out of hand.

You learn a myriad of things by doing and suffering yourself. Go to Wix, or any available platform, where you can create your own website or take your friend’s website and start doing simple things. Something that is extremely important and that many people are still not clear about is the concept of lifetime value and customer acquisition cost. In my current role, I am chief digital officer, because that’s how I joined the company, but then I was also given the CMO, the chief marketing officer function. I still see many marketing officers that do not really master the simple concept of LTV, lifetime value and customer acquisition cost.

It is really surprising that this is still the case, today, in 2020. The minute you understand that you have to have a lifetime value that is higher than your CAC, your customer acquisition cost, and you master the levers that will take you there, in understanding what is CPC that will convert. First of all, impression, followed by click, followed by click through rate, followed by conversion, different levels of engagement, load times of the website. When you understand that, holistically, you’re able to have a discussion that is much more relevant for the market today. Why do I say this? Marketing has always been about creativity and media planning. If you think about the last 60, 70 years when marketing really became a discipline. Mad Men, the series, it was about creativity and drinking and having great ideas and the pictures and the models and all of that. That’s still really important, but there’s a whole new discipline that comes on top of that, which is as important, if not more important, which is the science, the mathematics.

You need to combine the Mad Men with the Math Men. If I was going to start a career in marketing, I would probably complement my studies with statistics or math. Something that will give me knowledge and really power to understand numbers very well, to make me keen on handling numbers and ratios and things like that. Everyone gets allured by the creativity which, again, is really important, don’t get me wrong, or the product design, which is the whole discipline of turning ideas into reality and tangible things. Absolutely great. But the math component and the number crunching and being able to master spreadsheets, is incredibly important. I’m not that great myself, but I’m still amazed to see how many people who are completely ignorant about this concept, on which the industry is now built. There are many other components, but having simple things, like LTV, CAC in your mind, clear and fully understood, will help you a lot, throughout your career. All of this is available on the web. You don’t have to go to expensive universities for this. You just type in ‘LTV formula’ and you’re going to get it. There’s a myriad of places where you can learn about this and you really need to have these concepts extremely well-polished, in your mind, to really succeed.

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