How Search Becomes Foundation For Online Leads

Gropper KaufmanIs the value of an online lead greater than a traditional offline media lead? That question, debated during the Vertical Ad Network Revisited panel last week at the BIA/Kelsey conference in San Diego, Calif., appears to put search at the center of supporting online advertising campaigns.

There's less of a barrier to expressing curiosity about products when consumers search and find information about products online, said Joelle Gropper Kaufman, senior vice president of marketing at Adify. It takes much more effort for someone to pick up a phone or drive to the store. Citing comScore numbers, Gropper Kaufman noted that "less than 10% of the Internet population clicks." Those consumers click a lot, but "no one else does," she said.

Online leads are "very effective" when you consider the entire marketing funnel. Beginning with paid search advertising, Gropper Kaufman said she can see an increase in leads that turn into conversions as consumers become more comfortable with buying online-driven products.

The problem is, curiosity has led to higher clicks and less conversions on mobile, compared with those searching and finding ads on PCs or offline ads, panelists agreed.

More small businesses use online compared with traditional media for mobile advertising, which could present a problem in terms of the cost per click that can generate leads. Small businesses spend about 22% of their total ad budget for a variety of online media, but the percentage varies depending on the age of the business, according to BIA/Kelsey.

Warren Kay, vice president at Fox Audience Network, said search leads are different than a click on a display ad. "I'm not saying that a click on display ad is as valuable as a search ad, because I think there's pretty dramatic difference between the value of the two," he said. "Hopefully we can get the return on ad spend to be the same or greater, but the value certainly isn't there."

More specifically, Kay said, if you compare the value of a search listing through traditional media, it's more valuable. If you compare it to someone who has clicked on a display ad, it's less valuable.

The problem with relying on leads from mobile devices comes from consumers clicking on display or search ads by mistake. Panelists agreed companies will see lower conversion rates on mobile ads, but barriers to entry are much lower than on the PC. "You have to use return on ad spend, but that opens a larger debate around the value of brand names," Kay said, pointing to mobile campaigns.

Search and display are online media creating "tremendous efficiencies and insight in real time," said Jaan Janes, chief executive officer at Pulse 360.

It all comes down to the amount of leads the CPM generates. So marketers concerned about making numbers for the month want search leads because those are the ones most likely to convert, Gropper Kaufman added. But if you don't do the "up stream marketing" those disappear, too.

Tags: display, search
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