Interest-based Keyword Targeting Becomes Future Search Strategy

Bulls-Eye-ArrowSeveral months ago, while interviewing a few search executives, I began asking whether marketers could bid on keywords that might relate to similar interests or traits. I came up with this idea from my study of ways to build characters for nonfiction books, through a Master's in Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. Little did I know at the time that the strategy known as interest- and trait-based keywords would become a hot topic for marketers. It didn't seem possible after the executives couldn't quite grasp my description of this proposed strategy.

Before my discussion about the topic, I had not read The Search Monitor CEO Lori Weiman's March 2011 article. It describes how advertisers pretty much ignore interest- and trait-based keywords. Interests include hobbies, events, and activities, and traits cover details about products -- such as "stain resistant carpet," where "stain resistant" provides the trait.

Weiman said marketers can miss big opportunities to become more competitive based on these types of keywords -- a topic she plans to talk about at the Search Insider Summit this December in Deer Valley, Park City, Utah. She also plans to discuss obvious dynamic implications of these types of keywords on mobile, because people on their way to or from specific activities tend to run searches while in transit. "These types of keywords move search from a transaction-focused media to a tool used for branding at a low cost," she said.

Adchemy Senior Manager of SEM Ben Russo points to eMarketer stats, which estimate that by 2015, display advertising will surpass growth in search advertising. In 2011, U.S. advertisers will spend more than $14 billion on search ads and more than $12 billion on online display -- up 19.8% and 24.5%, respectively, compared with 2010. By 2015, display will contribute $21.99 billion, compared with $21.53 for search.

Russo suggests marketers are being "held hostage by keywords" that have created an industry-wide complacency in search advertising, and now SEMs must accept the status quo because of constraints on time and resources.

Microsoft also has begun to focus on connecting intent with actions, but not all take that approach -- not yet, anyway. Coconut Headphone's Ted Ives says the supply of available keywords is fixed. He writes that research keywords comprise much of what SEO professionals usually do, using the Google AdWords Keyword Research tool. They select keywords that are high- or medium-volume with less competition, and then work on creating content with links to it that can rank well.

But Ives compares a keyword to a tiny oil well that "will always give up some oil, but only with increasing effort over time. Eventually the keyword becomes too expensive to bother with, so you must move on.  But what happens when there are no more keywords to move on to?" -- which brings me back to the point of intent- and interest-based targeting.

Find out more about intent- and interest-based keywords in Deer Valley, Park City, Utah, Dec. 8, 9 and 10. See you there.

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4 comments about "Interest-based Keyword Targeting Becomes Future Search Strategy".
  1. Kevin Lee from Didit , October 24, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.
    As advertisers move beyond harvesting existing demand and start to focus on the combination of early and late-stage influence, lots of additional data point will assist in not only identifying audiences but also in crafting the best message to that audience. It's something we've been doing at Didit.com for a while. However it requires that the client understand that last-click attribution alone can't quantify the results, but results can be quantified.
  2. Andrew Boer from MovableMedia , October 24, 2011 at 3:22 p.m.
    Maybe I am not getting your point Laurie, but the content created by the "content farms" was based in in no small part on trying to attract an audience based (almost entirely) on intent driven keywords. Really no point for marketers to pursue an SEO based intent driven strategy...it is way too late for that. As for SEM: ie bidding on Intent driven keywords-- well intent searchers are generally are looking for a solution ie. "where are the best spots to fish in Martha's Vineyard" rather than a product or service: ie. "best Fishing charters". But if you drive people to a "fishing charter" landing page from a "where should i fish query" you aren't going to convert, and you will irritate your searcher. So what you really need at the other end of that query for intent/interest keywords is content. To sum up, I think you are really arguing for is content marketing, and using some SEM behind it to make it perform.
  3. Anita Chau from Thoora , October 26, 2011 at 12:05 p.m.
    Agree that more and more search marketers will be spending their time on interest targeting campaigns. I've had a lot of success with interest targeting on Facebook, where I've been able to get significantly more reach than search, and at better or comparable CPAs. And as Andrew points out above, you do need to have different content and messaging to successfully convert an interest-based target audience.
  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , November 12, 2011 at 7 p.m.
    I am devoid of any kind of search expertise. That saying, upteen years ago as a media buyer with little to no metrics and having to buy media for e.g., auto dealers, we had to choose the programs which we believed to be in the interests of potential, particular car buyers (GRP and CPM did account too). Outside the obvious alignment, why wouldn't you want to see an ad for a mother earth type vehicle next to gardening or petunias ?