Search Adds Impact To Marketing Campaigns In Weak Economy

by , Nov 17, 2008, 7:17 AM
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Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld in Microsoft ad spotBroader marketing budgets are being slashed, but there are ways to take advantage of search campaigns to amplify messages running in television, radio, billboards and print, and accomplish much more than racking up clicks.

comScore's Eli Goodman and Reprise Media's Joshua Stylman provided insight to adding search muscle to marketing campaigns in a weak economy during a Webinar last week.

Goodman, comScore search evangelist, and Stylman--managing partner at Reprise Media, a search marketing firm owned by advertising giant Interpublic Group--highlight trends that will have a significant impact on campaigns next year.

Companies spent more than $5 billion in search advertising between January and June 2008, Goodman said. "The projected number of searches that took place in the United States in August 2007 was 13.7 billion," he said. "In August 2008, that number rose to 17.2 billion."

Consider this. The number of searches across non-search engines will continue to grow, too. Fox Interactive Media sites, including MySpace, led in non-search engine clicks, with 593 million searches and 51 million unique searchers in August 2008. For Craigslist, comScore registered 16.1 searches per searcher. About 2.4 billion searches were conducted within YouTube, surpassing Yahoo in the total numbers of searches in the United States for the first time. More than 2.4 billion searches.

Organic clicks led growth in August, up 20% from the year-ago month to reach about 9 billion. That same month, Google had 600 million paid clickthroughs. Ask.com, however, had the widest coverage of advertisements, with 65% of the searches containing a paid ad.

Four out of five online sessions begin at a search engine. In fact, 41% of people use search to navigate toward Web sites. About 37% of people claim that content in a TV ad led them to search for more information on the Internet. Thirty percent used search to make purchases generated by magazine content. And based on a Yahoo and comScore study, consumers who saw both display and search ads for the same products spent 83% more than those who saw neither.

Keywords and integrating a consistent marketing message across channels becomes critical for the campaign's success because it speaks directly to consumers driven by search to products and services. For example, take the latest Microsoft ad featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. Reprise Media, responsible for online efforts, bought traditional keywords such as "Microsoft," but also obscure words "show circus," "warm churro," and "conquistador," which only speak to those who watched the commercials. "We actually saw a lift, which is a wonderful thing for a company like Microsoft to say, okay our offline ads are working because it's driving interest online," Stylman said.

Sequential search query volume in the fourth quarter slowed slightly, but search ad campaigns still give marketers the most for their money. Benefits range from the ability to change direction in midstream if campaigns don't go as planned to launching a paid-search campaign with $50 or less.

Brands typically allocate more than 95% of marketing budgets toward planned campaigns, but the remainder supports those that react to an event, such as when Microsoft needs to defuse a software virus outbreak. The ability to quickly launch a campaign allows marketers to capitalize on positive and negative events occurring across the world, such as Circuit City filing for Chapter 11 or the government deciding whether to support the bailout of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

Stylman said during the tomato scare in the U.S., the ketchup maker Hunt's bought paid search ads related to tomatoes, pumping out messages that reassured customers their products were safe. They also bought keywords on Google AdSense that appeared on news sites alongside reported articles. Consumers clicked through on ads to messages that reassured them.

So what's the point? Know the events in the market and leverage your competitors' energy. Hunt's didn't spend a lot of money creating interest, but invested a little through search campaigns to capitalize on it. Hunt's took a scare in the market to make people feel good about their brand.

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