Hewlett-Packard Becomes Quick-Change Paid Search Artist For President's Day

HP/Presidents Day

Topic: Hewlett-Packard Becomes Quick-Change Paid Search Artist For President's Day

Art: Attached

Hewlett-Packard typically runs President's Day paid search and display ad campaigns, but this year Catherine Paschkewitz, director of marketing for HP Direct, tried something a bit different: She bought broader keyword terms, with the ability to change the message frequently.

And lo and behold, the latest tweaks to the strategy seems to have produced better results. The campaign, which began Thursday, will run for 10 days.

Evidently, large companies like HP tend to shy away from purchasing broad-keyword terms. Instead they focus on tightly targeted words, such as product names and codes. Specific product terms tend to convert quicker. Marketers believe someone typing in "HP laptop" into a search box is more likely ready to make the purchase.

While the theory remains plausible, several months ago Google began to spot brands that historically focused on transactional or direct response advertising instead buying broad keywords, such as "President's Day Sale," to capture consumers that hadn't quite made up their mind. These were people who typically search on product categories and holiday names.

This year that included HP, which bought broader terms like "President's Day Sale." Multiple versions of search and display ads run simultaneously to determine the message that works. The ones that work best serve up most frequently. Google AdWords automatically optimizes search campaigns by determining the message that converts the best.

With data that comes from automatically optimizing the ads on Google, Paschkewitz can help determine if messages work, no matter if the ad provide $100 rebates on HP laptop or 50% off printers.

This year's HP campaigns run across Google, Microsoft and Yahoo properties, but Paschkewitz declines to confirm that Google gets the majority of the budget. "We go where consumers spend most of their time," she says, which seems as close as I could get to an answer.

Similar to HP, most major advertisers run ongoing search campaigns on Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, but Google continues to notice that these brands have put more effort into "deal day" campaigns that run on specific days, such as Cyber Monday or Black Friday. Such campaigns take just as much planning to get right -- don't expect to plan less just because the campaign runs for a week, instead of two months. It

Besides using more broad search terms, marketers are also learning how to use day-parting tools, which targets ads during a specific part of the day, and allows campaigns to quickly turn on and off based on pushes for specific inventory and promotions.

Advertisers also have begun to capitalize on analytics for shorter paid search campaigns. Within a couple of hours, marketers can start getting data on the campaign to determine if their strategy works.

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