Q&A: Chris Liversidge, CEO and Founder, QueryClick
QueryClick are an independent performance marketing agency focused on driving client ROI through a combination of industry award-nominated services including SEO, Paid Media and Attribution.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Although I have an unusual degree for a technical leader (I have a Fine Art degree – a 2:1 no less!), I started out with computers with a tape-loading Amstrad CPC 464, which required you to pop a cassette tape in to load programmes then come back 20 or so minutes later to see if it had worked or not! Inauspicious beginnings I suppose, but I was hooked.
I ended up building websites in my spare time in the very early days of the internet, and from there
I joined a very high growth digital marketing agency when I moved back to the UK after a few years living and working abroad, and experienced performance marketing and hyper growth at the same time, ultimately becoming the technical leader for the search marketing function of what became the world’s largest independent search marketing agency before its acquisition by, ultimately, Publicis around 2008.
I founded QueryClick that same year to service enterprise customers with what I felt was the best optimisation product in the world, and have been flying the flag for high performance, independent marketing & technology ever since.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
We offer digital performance marketing optimisation, specialising in Paid and Organic Search, Social & Display optimisation. We have always worked to drive underlying business so, we have supporting services that enable that: conversion optimisation, and an extensive analytics and content function for example.
We have always sought to have unique data that enables us to outperform any competitor we go up against in a pitch. Over the years, we have evolved and added new types of data as the market has caught up with things that were once unique.
In 2012, we began a journey that ultimately led to our biggest bet in this space – tackling attribution. We had been asked by clients, including Tesco and B&Q, to look at how our digital marketing performance was affecting store footfall. It was while trying to find solutions in the market and coming up blank for anything that worked that we realised we might need to investigate this with our own R&D function. That grew arms and legs over the years and now many years of development down the line we have a completely unique, globally patented approach to attribution that addressed the fundamental flaw undermining attribution for marketers: web analytics data is fundamentally broken.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
We learned by looking at the web analytics clickstream – the raw flow of data generated by a 1st party pixel and cookie on a web property – that the ‘joining’ or ‘stitching’ of multiple pixel impressions using a cookie was a very limited, and ultimately broken technology.
Around 80% of the data you see in your web analytics today is not a ‘visit’, it’s, at best, a partial visit, and frequently a duplicated or otherwise incorrect measure of the human behind the application on a device going through a complex interaction with an array of digital – and real world – interactions with marketing collateral.
We realised that solving for this underlying data problem was the key to unlocking attribution. We started investigating Machine Learning as a replacement for the cookie back in 2012, and today we use advanced AI to establish a unique individual beginning their interaction, then ‘stitch’ sessions across multiple different data sources – 1st party analytics cookies, walled garden APIs, even traditional TV spot data and ERP systems – and can successfully deliver accurate attribution scoring for every interaction for every individual in the data.
What advantage does it add?
It finally allows marketers to eliminate wasted spend – down to individual ad level – and spend on increasing reach at the lowest cost wherever it is, regardless of channel or if that is online or off, behind walled garden or not. Actual, genuinely accurate, unified attribution basically. Finally!
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
We deploy a 1st party pixel, handling all data collection and processing within Azure – we are Gold Certified – for any scale deployment. 30 days after go-live, you have all reporting live and updated daily.
We have found that typically somewhere between half and ¾ of all revenue comes from different digital channels than reported by GA or Adobe. So, there is also significant value from reallocating budget at channel level also to minimise cost per acquisition overall, or simply for reach maximisation.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
In our early deployments for retail customers we found that reallocating campaign and Adset spend brings the biggest results in the shortest time: in Google Ads, reallocating spend based on attributed revenue gave £1.4 million and £1.6 million more revenue for the same media spend with, respectively, Google Ads and Facebook for retail brands in each case.
We have a case study deployment also for an early customer that returned 40:1 ROI on their Corvidae deployment across digital and traditional channel optimisation.
Are there other companies you partner with?
Yes, frequently we collaborate with other agency partners and technology – for example recently we used the Unified Search report – a report looking at cannibalisation across Paid and Organic search – to find £1 million of savings for brand activity with Tesco Mobile working with Merkle who run the Paid activity and google themselves to prove the lack of incrementality in the spend with a robust segmentation of geographic regions for ON/OFF testing.
We use Guerillascope for TV spot data with a retail partner, and increasingly work with other data suppliers in the ecosystem to ease onboarding – for example we can simply use the existing 1st party pixels used by Google Analytics of Adobe and rebuild them in our system rather than use our own pixel if that’s preferred by the customer.
We also have a great case study with Taboola showing the value Native has in the mix for a retail customer – apparently it’s the best result they’ve ever had! And have various custom integrations for affiliate partners and so on.
Our experience is that each deployment ecosystem is custom, and we have built the system to cater for that.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2021?
It is clear that the loss of 3rd party data for customer targeting strategies is proving to be a profound challenge for many. Facebooks’ loss of data after the iOS 14.5 update is also an existential threat to targeting that audience effectively.
We know, however, that 3rd party data has only ever been truly incremental when high cost 3rd party data is used – averaging 2.5X the cost of the ad itself for display, and 1.5X the cost of a video ad. Attribution shines a light on these misconceptions that 3rd party data is somehow always beneficial.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
Weaning retailers off wasteful strategies with a clear, clean and unified view of what is actually working allows marketers to make better decisions. Those that embrace these changes being forced upon the industry will find they can dramatically improve growth efficiently and repeatably.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We are focussed on supporting our customers to drive performance. That’s been our goal since 2008 and is part of our DNA. I am hopeful that what we have learned about the poor quality of the web analytics data which has been the foundation of the past two decades of digital marketing can be a catalyst for change for marketers ready to embrace a unified view of performance to power growth and ROI.
Any final thoughts?
The future is bright, after the very tough year we have all had, it is good to be able to look forward with optimism. I hope we can help put smiles on faces this year!
To find out how QueryClick can help your retail operation click here.
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