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A re-shaped Europe three years on

Wednesday’s European Search Awards Ceremony saw the best in UK search competing against our counterparts from all over Europe across a range of categories.

Having won a European Search Award back in 2012, we were delighted to gain three Finalist nominations this time around (two for pan-European campaigns for AVG.com, the other for Best Small Agency) in what has become a rapidly-changed landscape three years on.  So having packed two of the most important things in life  – toothbrush and iphone charger – I made my way to Berlin, with an appreciative client guest in tow, via good old low cost airline and oh-so-handy Uber taxi.

Looking back to 2012, more straightforward, no frills PPC, SEO and ROI were the order of the day. UK specialist agencies tended to dominate the awards in the entries and nominations.   On Wednesday, looked after by our hosts at the Berlin Hilton, we witnessed just how far the industry has come in such a short space of time.

The game has changed

Now we see the smaller independents like us at Further and the larger UK search and digital agencies have been joined at the table by the much larger, often global, integrated marcomms and PR groups – and a whole host of in-house teams from major client brands such as Money Supermarket, House of Fraser and Confused.com.   The flavour is also gradually becoming more multi-country. Spain, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Poland, Russia all joining the party on this occasion. The competition is becoming fierce, the quality and creativity of work undoubtedly increasing. Surely good news for everyone striving for better.

Wednesday was, for me,  one of the first tangible demonstrations of how the technical has not only shook hands with the more traditional marketing disciplines for the first time, but they’ve actually got into bed together and are starting to enjoy life in a passionate if not sometimes tentative new relationship. Not across the board, I hasten to add – let’s not get carried away – but within the more progressive-thinking agencies and client teams that are striving to lead the way.

There’s a buzz in the air

Clawing our way out of global recession, there’s a buzz of anticipation again, a feeling that we are on the road to something really exciting in this new world of marketing we are now living in – a world in which data intelligence and search intent are now helping to define more effective marketing strategies for brands, resulting in unique and compelling creative campaigns, supported by solid technical foundations. The end product? Activity that is bang on target rather than flight of fancy.

Our consumers have become both king – and king maker – giving their votes to the content they want, need, like and consider the most valuable to them across so many disparate channels, platforms and textures.  And what do the important trusted media hubs want? Hey presto! Free content that they know their audience are seeking.

Suddenly it’s all starting to feel so real and so right

This is evident in the type of campaigns we are now producing day in day out – and in so much of the work recognised on the night.

Sadly on this occasion we didn’t manage to leave the Hilton in a blaze of awards glory, but we were quite happy to applaud our friendly table neighbours from Mediacom Norway who picked one up  – and to feel part of an industry that is so measurably moving on.

As the last award was announced and I raised yet another glass of Riesling to the winners, my client guest tried to console me with the fact that being judged as one of the eight best small agencies in Europe is no mean feat. I suppose not, but as a bit of a competitive beast, there’s nothing like winning. I can’t wait for next year!

Meanwhile, congratulations to all the winners on the night.

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