A conversation Monday with Mike Barbeau, SVP of sales, North America at SocialVibe, a digital advertising company, sparked an interesting discussion. With display ads increasingly becoming more social, could search queries on engines link directly to ads rather than landing pages where the ad may reside? Social continues to change the definition of the word "ad."
If ads continue to become more social, and social content gets pulled into search engine results, would it be possible for a search engine to index a display ad and return and rank it in search engine query pages? What if people could find a display ad by conducting a search similar to the way a Web site or page is found?
Search engine marketing campaigns would drive traffic to these social ads. Marketers are following consumers to social sites -- not only Facebook, but Twitter and LinkedIn. eMarketer points to a study by social marketing software firm Awareness, which suggests that this year, companies will increase their marketing presence on social by 70%.
So, what if search queries could drive searchers to social ads? Display ads are becoming more informative and entertaining, similar to a piece of social content. Think of the queries linking to information rather than an advertisement. When I asked that question, Barbeau said it's possible. In fact, SocialVibe continues to explore that topic and "similar engagements."
The idea came after speaking with Kelly Colbert, Anthem Blue Cross director of strategic advertising, about the company's recent display ad that relies on augmented reality to pull in a live video feed of the person viewing the ad unit.
Companies like General Electric (GE) have built functionality into their Web site so consumers can find the ads elsewhere, enabling ad units to serve up beyond SocialVibes network.
Search marketers like Kenshoo CMO Aaron Goldman said the idea just won't fly because the ad wouldn't "pass muster through Google's quality score. The landing pages would get dinged." He said Google recently made a change penalizing pages with lots of ads above the fold, and can't imagine that they would encourage links that go straight to ads.
I guess that would determine how someone defined an ad. Definitions continue to blur. People using the Internet are strapped with the responsibility of securing information they post to the Web. More press releases make it into Google News search engine page results, and social signals are being used to determine the ads that serve up.
No consumers would actively search out ads, but they would search out information -- information embedded in social ads.