A Bigger Toolbox: Strategies Beyond Search


ADOTAS – Are you stuck in a silo? No, we’re not talking corn here. We’re talking about your online marketing. Over the years I’ve seen many clients become comfortable with a particular channel and overlook new possibilities that may bring them even better results.

This is the case with search marketing. Advertisers have become so sophisticated in their use of SEO and PPC tactics that they can anticipate a certain level of clicks and conversions and, most importantly, ROI. These brands have been optimizing their conversion funnels, landing pages, etc., for years. They know what works, and they continue to funnel their dollars to search engine marketing. They tend to gravitate toward search as a lead generation strategy and avoid anything that smacks of branding, such as display or social media, even though they may be missing a huge opportunity.

What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Why not continue to use a proven channel instead of risking a shrinking budget on something that might not work? There are many reasons to diversify your marketing channels. Integrating contextual advertising (a/k/a display) with your search marketing efforts is one great way to do it. Here’s why:

1. Decreasing search volume. As CPC rates continue to rise year over year, the volume of searchers has started to level off. Gone are the days in which every quarter saw a huge leap in the rate of search engine use. Pretty much everyone who’s going to use Google is already doing so. It will become harder to reach and engage new consumers via search in the future. Biddable display media — display ads bought through automated auctions — can be less expensive and more effective than keyword listings and can offer a cost-per-sale hedge for rising keyword costs.

2. New pricing models. Display has come a long way since 2003, moving beyond the CPM pricing model to gain accountability. It has become easier to quantify and predict display ROI. As networks like DoubleClick and Quantcast delve more deeply into audience measurement, advertisers can gain greater insight and anticipate results. And many ad networks are starting to offer display on a PPC or even a CPA performance basis.

3. Mobile and social users. As more consumers leave their desktops behind and go mobile, they’re also looking for new ways to interact with brands beyond search. Smart marketers will begin to shift search budgets to mobile and social networks as users rely more on non-PC devices and non-traditional search engines like YouTube or Facebook. A recent study found that 1.7 percent of all paid search impressions already come from tablets. Over the next five years, Forrester Research predicts search will lose budget share from 55 percent to 44 percent of all interactive spend, as marketers refocus their search marketing strategies on “getting found” by users through any medium — not just search engines.

4. Real-time bidding. Some demand side platforms (DSPs) offer real-time bidding that allows a system to dictate what an impression is worth based on user behavior data, rather than a preset bid. These systems work to analyze conversion potential based on behaviors, demographic profiles, and conversion timestamp data to determine the potential value of each impression. For example, in the past, an advertiser could place its ads based on targets (e.g., females in Los Angeles between the ages of 18 and 35) and pay a CPM based on that targeting. With real-time bidding, a system can dictate one CPM to a user who is a 20-year-old female in L.A. and is viewing the ad at 11 a.m., and a different bid to a 22-year-old female in L.A. who is viewing the ad at 11 p.m. Real-time bidding is a more controllable means of costing for display that is comparable to search pricing.

5. Better online ad management tools. New tools mean that advertisers can now confidently shift offline brand dollars into display as emerging data management platforms (DMPs) improve audience targeting, eliminate overlap across multiple publishers, and measure the contribution of a given impression toward business goals. Forrester Research reports that Dairy Queen’s in-store Blizzard sales rose by 10 percent year-over-year, following a targeted rich media campaign managed through the MediaMath trading platform.

6. Retargeting. Retargeting helps close the loop between search and display, re-engaging users who have been to your site but did not convert with ads that send them back to your domain. Retargeting is a way to capture the lowest-hanging fruit — people who have already demonstrated an interest in your product or brand – and convert them via cost-effective display ads. According to SEMPO (the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization), 51 percent of those who have tried retargeting said it had an impact.

If you haven’t tried display marketing in the past six to twelve months, it’s a great time to add it to your online marketing mix. The landscape now includes a wider range of formats than ever before, from contextual listings, to static image ads and rich media ads,to pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll online video. A recent study from comScore showed that Americans are 49 percent more likely to visit an advertiser’s site if they have previously been exposed to display ads.

“Many clients have been using SEM, SEO and PPC for years. It will reach a point of diminishing returns. Display can provide a wider reach than search can and allow advertisers to get eyeballs that they wouldn’t get through search,” said Liz Serafin, vice president of interactive media for my company, LSF Interactive.

Don’t get stuck in a silo – diversity your marketing investment to integrate search and display. Use what you have learned about your target market’s behavior from your search results and apply these lessons to display as you test the waters of this evolving medium. Tablets, smart phones, Facebook and Twitter mean your customers are more places thanever before. Shouldn’t your brand be, too?



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