PPC: Commercial Real-Time Search (Almost) Realized

For all of the focus on crawler and social layers, paid search has largely been ignored in the ongoing discussion of real-time search. This is a bit ironic in that it represents one of the most direct opportunities for marketers in a "right now" or "near right-now" scenario.  Considering how one might engage in real-time paid search provides many answers about how it might also be approached in other real-time instances (many of which are TBD because real-time search is still developing). 

I covered some of the dilemmas of advertising in a real-time news cycle more than two and half years ago for Search Insider ("Should Online Newspapers Buy Keywords Related To Tragic News Events?"). Back then, and even now, very few content advertisers had the preparation, the fluidity in planning, or even the budget to capitalize on real-time paid search.  Because of the current event/breaking news aspects of real-time, the immediate ad-buying opportunity is for search marketers focused in the content and publishing business.  In other words, the advertisers who can most afford (and also benefit from)  a spiking "right now" query set in the major search engines are those in the news and publishing business with relevant content, or businesses that monetize based on their content and number of users.

It ‘s interesting to read that column again, considering how much is happening with "right now" real-time search in natural results,  begging the question about how much of paid search real-time benefits are going to be lost to the natural results as the engines get closer to real-time in that area.  The quick answer is "not too much," because most paid marketers aren't currently managing full real-time potential.  In the end, the real-time relationship between paid and natural will most likely be the same relationship it is now: one is quicker to market in terms of planning (paid), the other takes some time to build, and the benefits may be longer-lasting, though it would still require real-time attention (natural).  But either way, the real-time factor of both paid and natural search is going to represent a radical shift for some marketers. 

One other challenge with planning a real-time campaign in paid search is the lack of real-time keyword research coming from the engines.  The keyword data provided by Google in the Keyword Tool, for example, is shown through in an incredibly large window of time, compared to real-time. Perhaps the best keyword tool for new spiking trends is Google Hot Trends, but little to no context is provided, and the scope is too broad, while the number of advertisers catering only to spiking queries for the sake of buzz is narrow at best.  It seems that this info might also be better suited to being pushed out via alerts, rather than searched over all historical popularity.

One last aspect of paid real-time search may be the biggest of them all, and it's a topic that I have been discussing with some of my friends and colleagues who work on the display side of online media.  I have mentioned many times in this column that search is the platform for future ad delivery, and it seems that real-time and social have added a new dimension to the potential for contextual delivery.  As with many other aspects of the real-time and social story that is unfolding, paid search represents a huge potential area of change for media planning, one that will affect not only traditional search marketers, but also online media planners as well.







1 comment about "PPC: Commercial Real-Time Search (Almost) Realized ".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, November 11, 2009 at 4:55 p.m.

    First i wish to state I am not attacking the author who lives and is paid to write about advances and the evolution of the search industry. And Rob you do write very detailed, informative, and thorough articles thank you. But I can discuss the search industry and some of it's ridiculousness. And trust me I value search!

    Aside from a major tragedy in which EVERYONE will be having content and updates, every site, every news outlet etc, but maybe not people inside (like 9/11, the Iran or Tibet uprisings), I still can not grasp the value of real time search. I want better more relevant results and willing to wait for them. If I am looking for a product what does real time help me with? Wouldn't a normal search return me any current special offers and updates? Even news searches when they come back out of time sequence you have the choice to organize them. And we already have news updates that can be pushed to phones and browsers. Why does the Advertising Industry feel they have an inherent right to invade EVERYTHING (this comment comes from someone who is launching an Agency and not just aimed at Search). We already have advertising everywhere, everyplace (except no billboards in Vermont!) . The problem is half of the money spent is wasted not that we don't have enough.

    A great example of real time search is putting a word into Twitter. When I search for Coke do you know how many responses just say...."had a coke with my burger." All of them. And half aren't in English. We already have really fast. Why do we need instant? trust me instant anything is never better than the real thing. Instant coffee. Instant Soup. Powdered milk. Man made snow. Instant Pudding.

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