Advise Other Media Buys
First, traditional agencies should love search marketing because it can actually help them advise their other forms of media buys. That's right, search is not only an effective and efficient medium for their clients in its own right, but it is also an important tool for agencies because it provides insight about their clients' customers. Specifically, search behavior reveals how a client's customer thinks and how he/she uses language in his/her thought process.
Depending on where customers are in their buying decision cycle, their language and how they search can change dramatically. By analyzing this data, agencies can identify, then use, the language that resonates with their clients' customers in various stages of the buying cycle and use intent-specific language in other forms of media--mapping the language to the goal of the campaign.
For example: if a company sold computers, would you want to use the term "laptop" or "notebook" in your messaging via banners or e-mail? Search can help you answer that question very easily. By using search language in other forms of media, an agency can make sure all online campaigns are fully integrated, reinforcing the key messaging in a way the consumer understands and having campaigns support one another.
Capture Intent Created by Other Media
Second, agencies should love search marketing because, if done effectively, it can be used to capture the intent created by other forms of media. At its roots, search is all about capturing intent. And traditional advertisers have been looking for a way to measure the intent generated by channels such as TV, radio, print and outdoor for a long time. Search gives them a way to capture that intent--even when there isn't a call to action within those traditional marketing messages.
When Victoria's Secret launched its iPex® line, it did so with a multi-month, many-million-dollar, print, TV and outdoor campaign. This campaign generated hundreds of thousands of searches for the brand new search term "iPex"--resulting in actual orders, catalog requests, brochures, etc. This is because Victoria's Secret was prepared and had bought up that keyword across the paid search properties the day the campaign launched.
Finally, agencies should love search marketing because it serves as an excellent barometer on how other forms of media are performing. For example, once an individual is exposed to some other medium--say they see a billboard or TV commercial--search is an effective and efficient means for them to begin their consideration journey. Monitoring the number of searches taking place in relation to a campaign that is conducted can be an excellent indicator of how well the campaign is performing. Remember, it is not only the numbers of searchers that matter, but the keyword queries they used to arrive. Smart agencies should consider this metric in assessing campaign performance.
Search offers a lot--even to agencies. And the more that agencies begin to take advantage of search as a tool as it relates to other media, the more this love-hate relationship will lean toward romance.