MarTech Interview with Ashley Fletcher, VP of Marketing at Adthena

MarTech Interview with Ashley Fletcher, VP of Marketing at Adthena

“AI will continue to be a massive driver for adopting and executing effectively within search.”

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Tell us why you decided to harvest insights from CMOs about Search Engine Marketing.

We wanted to better understand CMOs’ perceptions around the value of SEM and the strategic role it plays in driving growth for the enterprise. We know that SEM makes up the largest Digital Marketing budget line for CMOs, but globally ROI metrics have dipped – indicating evolving needs for both CMOs and consumers when it comes to this function. If we can understand where their gaps exist, as applied to SEM, we can help the CMO build a stronger Marketing portfolio.

Google recently changed its Search Console tools. Do you think it will impact Search Engine Marketing tactics and strategies for CMOs?

As advertisers become more demanding, the cadence with which their data refreshes need to be met is picking up, hence the Search Console updates. However, even with fresher data, this update still doesn’t address why something may be happening and how to fix it. It also seems this update leans more SEO heavy, rather than guiding both Paid and Organic.

What is still missing here is the true SEM insight, the ‘what’ is impacting a particular advertiser’s strategy and the ‘why’ it’s happening. Google still doesn’t provide advertisers with the depth of segmentation capabilities that an advertiser would need to make insightful decisions about their SEM strategy and how competition is playing their part.

Are CMOs seated too far away from actual SEM processes? How can CMO-specific SEM training help to boost the overall growth of Content Marketing campaigns? 

Today, we know that 45% of global digital ad revenue is influenced by paid search advertising, so in my opinion, CMOs shouldn’t be that far from the process as it’s a huge part of their Marketing investment. We also know that CMOs face increasing pressure to generate growth and prove the value of their marketing programs. And SEM is an excellent value driving asset in their Marketing mix.

We don’t expect CMOs to be involved in the nitty-gritty details of the search, but we do want them to understand the implications it has on their Marketing strategy and the broader business. If CMOs fall into the trap of thinking about SEM as a solely tactical tool they miss out on opportunity. Not only does search intelligence serve as an early warning signal of industry shifts – challengers entering a market or a change in customer intent – but it can help CMOs monitor competitor strategies and evaluate new markets before entry.

Search also maps nicely to the user journey and the content displayed at each phase of the funnel. Through a well-devised customer-centric content strategy you should be able to tailor engagement to reflect where visitors are in the buying cycle (e.g. research, consideration, purchase, and post-purchase support).

How do Email Marketing, Social Media Advertising, and Video content come together to positively impact SEM outcomes? 

Brands today are focused on a cross-channel strategy, but they must own the narrative. And as the customer journey is more important now than ever before, SEM is a key touchpoint in that journey.

Search is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to brand marketing. Ensuring an advertiser’s message is on brand and consistent through all the touchpoints is essential. Search can also be your test-and-learn environment, rolling out a successful search strategy to other mediums. CMOs can use SEM as an opportunity to nail the most engaging ad copy that can then be used via the other channels.

Replacement question: Tell us about the Market Research and Business Intelligence involved in deciding the survey format and the results specific to CMO titles.

Now more than ever, CMOs are being tasked with driving growth for the enterprise. In order to get an idea of how search engine marketing is contributing to this overall business growth and other priorities for CMOs, we surveyed 151 Marketing decision-makers in the U.S. and UK across a variety of industries. The survey gauged the current knowledge and awareness of SEM and its value as a Digital Marketing function.

Job Title Percentage Count
Director 43.05% 65
Vice President Level 34.44% 52
C-Suite 15.23% 23
Manager 2.65% 4
Contractor 2.65% 4
Senior Manager 1.99% 3
Other 0.00% 0


Industry Percentage Count
Business to business technology 26.49% 40
Retail 25.83% 39
*Other 24.50% 37
Financial Services 12.58% 19
Consumer technology 6.62% 10
Automotive 2.65% 4
Travel 1.32% 2

What are your predictions on the role of Google and other search engines in making SEM easy to adopt and execute? Can SEM be replaced by other technologies in the next 4-5 years?

AI will continue to be a massive driver for adopting and executing effectively within Search. AI will be the only way for brands to both simultaneously scale and compete within their landscape.

But search itself will not be a static tool; search is evolving as consumers evolve how they themselves search and buy across different platforms and mediums.

Thank you, Ashley! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Ashley is a strategic, results-driven marketer with over 12 years of experience in Search and the VP of Marketing at search intelligence leader Adthena. Prior to Adthena, he held senior roles at Criteo and Google. At the latter, Ashley launched the first of their kind finance and insurance comparison products for UK and US markets.

At Criteo, he led the marketing division for an automated search performance product, specifically for brands targeting Google Shopping. He has also held positions at price comparison website Beat That Quote (bought by Google in 2011) and digital agency Coast Digital, giving me a detailed knowledge of brand and agency-side challenges.

He is a regular speaker at events and conferences, including HeroConf, UK Biddable Masterclasses, Econsultancy Digital Therapy, and Google Agency events.

Ashley holds an MSC in Marketing from The London School of Business and Finance and completed a mini MBA with Google and top-ranked MBA institution, The Wharton School.

adthena logo

Adthena is the market leader in Competitive Intelligence for AdTech Search. We’re a growing 80 person, 6 year old startup tech company headquartered in London with offices in Sydney and Texas too.

Founded in 2012, Adthena is the world’s most advanced competitive intelligence platform for paid search advertising, processing over 10 terabytes of new data, while indexing 500 million advertisements and 200 million keywords in 15 different languages every day. Powered by its AI-driven Whole Market View data set, Adthena’s carefully designed solutions of Market Entry, Campaign Optimization, Strategic Advantage and Brand Protection help marketers target and reach consumers that matter the most to their business according to their business objectives. Globally, Adthena works with more than 250 clients across 18 different business sectors, including finance, education, gaming, automotive and technology.

Brand customers include Autotrader, Air New Zealand, Atlassian, Citibank, Burberry, Toyota, and Volvo. Agency customers include media specialists like GroupM and channel-specific paid search experts like iProspect. In addition, Adthena is the winner of several leading industry awards — including the Search Engine Land Awards, Stevie® Award for Customer Service, and European Search Awards, among others.

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.