Julie Warburton_profile_pic Last month, Julie War­bur­ton, for­merly the Euro­pean regional direc­tor for search and search oper­a­tions at Microsoft, joined Effi­cient Fron­tier as client ser­vices direc­tor, EMEA. Her career in search and adver­tis­ing  has included senior posi­tions within Microsoft and Yahoo!, where she spe­cialised in search, dis­play adver­tis­ing and media. Julie started her online career as adver­tis­ing oper­a­tions direc­tor at Yahoo! Europe in 1998 and moved to Over­ture as head of imple­men­ta­tion, ahead of the acqui­si­tion of Over­ture by Yahoo! in 2002. In 2004, she joined Microsoft to launch the adCen­ter busi­ness across Europe, and went on to take a vari­ety of roles across Microsoft Adver­tis­ing, man­ag­ing clients ser­vice for search, dis­play, the media net­work and ad operations.

We caught up with Julie to find out a bit about her new role.

Julie, you’re respon­si­ble for Effi­cient Frontier’s client rela­tion­ships in Europe. Can you tell us what you see as the dri­vers in per­for­mance mar­ket­ing in Europe?

In the last three to four years there’s been a marked trend towards brands want­ing to drive real value and demon­strate ROI from their online activ­i­ties. They’re invest­ing in tech­nolo­gies and online adver­tis­ing that is mea­sur­able in finan­cial terms — per­for­mance mar­ket­ing — to the detri­ment of some brand­ing and aware­ness adver­tis­ing. They’ve got to be able to demon­strate a return for their bud­get. We’re still see­ing the very high-end brand adver­tis­ing going ahead, but per­for­mance mar­ket­ing seems to be steal­ing bud­get from the more ‘mid­dle ground’ brand advertising.

The econ­omy has played a big part in this shift, but also com­pa­nies like Effi­cient Fron­tier are able to make adver­tis­ing com­pletely account­able. That’s good news for the brands, of course, but also for the mar­ket­ing direc­tors, who can report back to their boards on the effec­tive­ness of their online spend.

As the econ­omy improves, I can’t see brands want­ing to give up that account­abil­ity and going back to the way things were before. The days of the late 90s – buy­ing impres­sions or views, rather than action – have gone for good.

What are the biggest changes that you’ve seen in search and adver­tis­ing in the last few years?

Two to three years ago, adver­tis­ers moved away from spe­cial­ists to con­sol­i­date all their work (and fees) through their brand agen­cies, or even took depart­ments in house. But what’s inter­est­ing now is that those same adver­tis­ers are real­is­ing that they just can’t get the kind of spe­cial­ist exper­tise that way. The tech­nol­ogy invest­ment alone now for per­for­mance mar­ket­ing cam­paigns is enor­mous, and it makes no sense for each agency – or brand – to build it them­selves, and then train up employ­ees to use it, when they can use spe­cial­ist teams.

How dif­fer­ent is the mar­ket now from when you started at Yahoo!?

Incred­i­bly dif­fer­ent. We used to have a ‘Wall of Shame’ at Yahoo! where we used to stick ridicu­lous emails and pho­tos. Eleven or 12 years ago we had an email up there from an adver­tiser promis­ing to fax us a ban­ner ad!

There’s been a huge increase in automa­tion of processes. Report­ing and analy­sis was done man­u­ally using Excel spread­sheets, and ads were all cre­ated man­u­ally, too. We sim­ply couldn’t have dealt with the vol­umes that you can man­age now, using technology.

What are the biggest lessons you learned dur­ing your time at Yahoo! and Microsoft?

The most impor­tant les­son I learnt was to think like the client. Always con­sider what mat­ters to them, what do they need to know about their cus­tomers’ jour­neys. They need us to help them to cre­ate smart cam­paigns that get results. They also need us to help them report to their man­age­ment teams, by analysing data to give them real insights into cus­tomer behaviour.

What’s impor­tant to clients at the moment, and what will they want to see in the next year?

The thing that is excit­ing clients more than any­thing at the moment is how to opti­mise cam­paigns across dif­fer­ent chan­nels. A lot of our clients are think­ing ‘by device’ at the moment – track­ing, for exam­ple, by tablet. Under­stand­ing your customer’s jour­ney across dif­fer­ent chan­nels and then opti­mis­ing your cam­paign accord­ingly is a key goal for many customers.

Brands  are work­ing hard to inte­grate their search cam­paigns with their social media cam­paigns, par­tic­u­larly Face­book. The acqui­si­tion of Con­text Optional is a response to this need and will really change the way brands man­age their social pres­ence along­side search and display.

ROI is, of course, extremely impor­tant. Clients want value – they want to use their bud­get effec­tively and effi­ciently. They don’t want to main­tain the sta­tus quo – they’ll try new tools and ini­tia­tives that will improve ROI.

How do you see the Google / Face­book rivalry pan­ning out in social media?

It’s really too soon to tell what the impact of Google+ will be and how con­sumers will use it. It could be very inter­est­ing if it man­ages to pull in other aspects of Google.

The US roll­out of Google Offers is inter­est­ing  – it could hit Groupon hard.

What are your ambi­tions for Effi­cient Frontier?

I’d like Effi­cient Fron­tier to develop its rep­u­ta­tion as achiev­ing the best per­for­mance through the best tech­nol­ogy and the best peo­ple. We’re con­tin­u­ing to grow the team, invest­ing in the best tal­ent both by hir­ing well and by devel­op­ing long-term careers for employ­ees. We’re win­ning fan­tas­tic new busi­ness and are attract­ing the best peo­ple to run it.

Social is see­ing phe­nom­e­nal growth at the moment. What’s dri­ving this growth and can it be sustained?

Social has a long way to go before it peaks. It’s being dri­ven by where con­sumers are going, not just by the tech­nol­ogy – brands need to under­stand where the audi­ence is, tar­get effec­tively and work out how best to engage with that audi­ence. Con­sumers will always be social, and will always use dif­fer­ent chan­nels to sup­port their net­works of friends, online and offline. For social media to work for brands, brands must be super-relevant to consumers.

How would you sum up Effi­cient Frontier?

We enable our clients to under­stand the return and inter­ac­tion from each online chan­nel, then deliver the best per­for­mance with our plat­form and great ser­vices team.