In a little over 2 months (17th October) we’ll be returning to Bath’s Apex Hotel for our biggest digital advertising conference yet. You’ll be pleased to know the lineup of speakers is shaping up nicely, with more names to be unveiled very soon. Stay tuned!

Those set to attend the event will know that Google is confirmed as our keynote for the day. With that in mind, we tracked down speaker and Agency Development Manager, Roxanne Brownlee, to ask her about upper funnel activity on Google, whether you should focus more on the upper funnel and what’s next for Google and the upper funnel.

If the below whets your appetite for finding out more about what Google has in store in the near future and upcoming growth opportunities on the platform, Roxanne will be speaking at our full-day advertising conference on October 17th in Bath.

1. In not too many words, please tell us what you do…

I work as an Agency Development Manager for Google UK. This means that I work with a handful of our most ambitious and fastest growing independent agencies in the UK. My job is to keep them abreast of the digital advertising industry, enabling them to navigate this as effectively as possible to help their clients achieve their business objectives.

I’ve worked in digital advertising since 2013, but have a background in psychology and statistics. As such, I believe the most effective media solutions are those that are based on both rich data, and an understanding of consumer decision making processes.

2. Why should brands be more focused on improving their upper funnel activity?

Whether or not a brand should be focused on upper funnel activity comes down to what their goals are. If a brand aspires towards growth, whether increasing the number of new customers, or taking their turnover from 5 million to 15 million in 3 years, then it’s essential to think about how to design an effective upper funnel strategy to reach and influence new and future customers.

The reason being is not all consumer decisions are realised in a short-term, rational, direct response fashion; the iceberg goes much deeper. Upper funnel advertising is key to creating the demand that your direct response campaigns can then later capture, and continue to harvest in the long term.

Without creating future demand, you’ll find there’s less fruit available to harvest. Ultimately, businesses that invest proportionately in upper funnel see superior gains in the long term.

3. Given the importance of the upper funnel, why do you think it’s sometimes a secondary consideration?

Digital advertising makes tracking performance in the short term very simple. But just because brands can track things in the short term, doesn’t mean they always and unconditionally should.

Expecting short term results from strategies that deliver in the long term would have the average marketer question the value of upper funnel. One may know they need to increase brand awareness, but wonder why the campaign isn’t showing direct click-based sales after seven days, for instance.

Over-focus on clicks, and over-focus on the short term, winds us down to an oversimplification of human behaviour. Humans can take months to make a decision. For instance, a recent Think With Google article demonstrated a car buying journey that was over 900 touchpoints long.

Ultimately, not every influential piece of media in the decision making process will have an immediate effect or necessarily involve a click. Think about the last time a piece of media affected you - did you act immediately? Did you click it?

You neither have to act immediately or click a link to have your thought process influenced, or your behaviour changed. The IAB launched a very interesting effort this year to help eradicate the digital industry of ‘clickheads’ with National Anti-Click-Through-Rate Day - the message being think long term and focus on the ultimate business goals.

Upper funnel is sometimes a secondary consideration where a marketer struggles to plan for the entire customer journey and long term growth, in favour of fewer and quicker wins.

4. In the past, the success of upper funnel activity has been difficult to pin down - what has Google done to help make that data more accessible?

In recent years, we’ve launched some incredible new features which help shed more light on upper funnel movement metrics.

For instance, in Google Ads you can select to analyse performance based on conversion assists across the customer journey; you can see the impact your YouTube campaign is having on driving incremental new searches for your brand; you can optimise campaigns for customer lifetime value rather than just single transaction ROI; and even track impression based conversions in Google Analytics.

5. What can you tell us about what Google has in store for the upper funnel?

We are constantly iterating and innovating in this space. I’d advise you to keep on top of key product announcement events such as Google Marketing Live to ensure you’re early to hear about new features, and check in with your partner agency (SearchStar, in this case) for product beta opportunities.

If that has whet your appetite for finding out more about what Google has in store in the near future and upcoming growth opportunities on the platform, Roxanne will be speaking at our full-day advertising conference on October 17th in Bath.