What Major TV Events Can Teach Marketers About SEM

There is a lot to be learned about search engine marketing (SEM) from live TV viewing. More than 31 million people tuned in to NBC to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games. A few weeks earlier, 112 million people watched the Seahawks face the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVII; they also saw the most recent lineup of Super Bowl ads, which are a hallmark of the game.

As high-profile events like these have shown us in recent years, people might be tuning in to their televisions, but they are also engaged with their smartphone or computer. And savvy advertisers are integrating their TV efforts with matching paid-search campaigns.  Here are five SEM lessons from these recent live events, and what they mean for advertisers running TV ads during other major prime-time events.

1.   YouTube Is A Must For Extending The Visibility And Engagement Of TV Ads

Major TV and/or radio spots should be supplemented by YouTube campaigns.  A sample of advertisers during the Super Bowl saw a 10 times lift in YouTube impressions and views compared to the week leading up to the event. These consumers are either searching for a replay of the TV ad or more content from the brand. In either case, they are an engaged audience.  One hundred percent video completion rates increased almost 2.5 times for Super Bowl focused campaigns. 



Despite the ever-increasing focus on YouTube as a staple of any media plan, competition is still low enough to produce cost-efficient cost per views.            

2.   Real-Time Bid Optimizations Are Not Only Encouraged, But Required

With competition changing by the second in Google and Bing’s real-time auction models, teams must be able to react quickly and accordingly. Search volume for your brand will peak at a very specific time. On Super Bowl Sunday, approximately 70% of search and YouTube traffic was driven during the game. Similar to strong retail days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, cost per click rose by more than 50% over the course of the day, peaking shortly after the event. With an awareness of these trends, advertisers should plan their daily budgets accordingly to ensure that enough funding is available at the end of the day. 

3.   Ensure That Your Strategy Is Reflected In Your Keyword Set

Some advertisers will shoot for the moon with general keywords like “Super Bowl Commercial” -- or even worse  --“commercials.” This may work for those with unlimited marketing budgets, but usually the volume and quality from such terms does not warrant the investment. Instead, keep the focus on your target audience. Just as a niche advertiser should not spend superfluously on a TV ad, they also should not spend an entire quarterly budget on general broad-match keywords. 

When complementing a TV campaign during a live event such as the Academy Awards, avoid bidding on keywords such as “Oscar predictions.” Advertisers are better served bidding on high-volume generic keywords within their vertical or brand-modified terms. This would pre-qualify the audience as being interested in your product category or brand. 

4.   Customize Your Copy To The Event And Your Specific Promotions

Take advantage of multiple Google and Bing ad extensions. Google recently announced that the quality and presence of ad extensions will factor into the calculation of Quality Score. Increasing the quality and quantity of ad extensions will not only make your ad more compelling, but also pay off in cost savings and relevancy. For example,using stills from a TV ad as Image Extensions in Google can help to successfully bridge the gap between traditional and digital media.

5.   Monitor Your Competitors’ Activity Leading Up To The Big Event

The more you know about what your competitors are doing, the better you can react and differentiate. Monitoring your competitors’ activity leading up to an event can help with bid optimizations, budgeting decisions, creative changes and more. 

Use competitive monitoring tools to track competitors’ copy, coverage, positioning, and even trademark infringement.  In some cases, it could be a great opportunity to bid on keywords typically associated with a competitive brand. 

For any marketers running SEM campaigns in support of a prime-time TV push, these lessons can ensure that your TV efforts do not go unnoticed in Google, Bing, YouTube and the rest of the SEM world. Consumers no longer operate in silos, and neither should your message.

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