Could Marketers Take Google Off The Ad Media Plan?

Chris Copeland

What if Google disappeared? While it's not likely that it will abandon the search engine as its main advertising network, Chris Copeland, CEO at GroupM Search in the Americas, reminded Search Insider Summit attendees in Captiva, Fla. Friday that they have other options to reach consumers.

Marketers need to think about integrating various strategies into each campaign. So Copeland makes a case for media buys to include several media, such as contextual and mobile as well as search and display ads on Bing and Yahoo.

Yahoo, which supports search and display, offers high interaction on the site, according to Copeland. "But it's not enough to buy just display or search," he says. "You need to look at behavioral and retargeting options, too."

Marketers will begin to buy more retargeting services in the next two years because they focus more on interaction. Both Google and Yahoo offer retargeting. Brands often underestimate Yahoo Search, but Copeland says not to underestimate their ad services, technologies, overall audience and ability to connect with consumers.

Companies that want to reach 40-year-old affluent consumers that visit Captiva Island, Fla. might want to add Bing paid search to their media buy. "They're trendy and visual, looking at Bing's home page," Copeland says. "As Bing and Yahoo come together, the combined search strategy will gain market share."

The competition that a combined Yahoo and Microsoft will bring to the market could help keep the prices of keywords and ad space in check. Copeland also believes marketers should not disregard social sites such as Facebook.

Americans conducted 15.4 billion searches in March, with Google Sites accounting for 65.1% search market share, followed by Yahoo Sites at 16.9%, and Microsoft Sites at 11.7%. The Ask Network captured 3.8% of the search market, followed by AOL with 2.5%.

Copeland points to an interesting scenario that occurred between eBay and Google. Google had decided to throw a party in Boston to talk about its online retail pay system, Google Checkout. At the time, eBay had a gathering for its online payment system, PayPal, and decided to pull its advertising from Google's search engine and ad network. During that time, the top 10% of eBay sellers reported a 20% drop during the two weeks, according to Copeland.

Social sites can also help marketers find consumers that purchase wine, clothing and cars. "People who have expressed intent are accessible here," he says.

Video also presents another opportunity. More than 174 million U.S. Internet users watched online video in February, according to comScore Video Metrix. Video viewers on Hulu watched content on average 2.4 hours per viewer.

Copeland refers to a study from Atlas done around attribution modeling to get marketers to spend more on display. It suggests that 70% of the paid search is navigational, and about 50% of the costs go toward putting up "yard signs to get people in the front door." On the other hand, Yahoo says that for brand owners who don't bid on branded terms, the click-through rate of an average search page is about 89%, but injecting a brand name on a page makes the CTR rise about 7%.

There are benefits from moving into the navigational space, but marketing just can't buy their way in because it's too easy," Copeland says. "It's about being a checkpoint, not a finish line."

Marketers like to think of search as a down-the-funnel direct-response end-goal measurement. What happens on the site and interplay between channels drives consumers to make purchases. Copeland reminds marketers that the "end goal" isn't about having consumers click on Google paid-search ads. It's about conversions.

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