Search Marketing Spotlight: Search is 'Element'-al for Honda

This column will focus a spotlight on particularly innovative search marketing campaigns.  This can be innovation in integrating search into a larger campaign, a creative use of keywords or ad copy, or implementation of new technologies.  I encourage everyone to send me info about campaigns worthy of the spotlight. 

There has been a lot of buzz about RPA's very cute campaign for the Honda Element.  Search was used, along with television and a Web site to encourage viewers to interact with a group of adorable critters that included a possum, a platypus,  a talking crab and a lizard.  From a search perspective, the agency focused on buying inexpensive keywords like "possum" and "lizard".  These words were far cheaper than terms related to automobiles or Hondas.  Of course, the more traditional; words were bought as well.  But with "Honda element" at $1.15 on Google and "possum" at 10 cents, it is easy to see the benefit of expanding keywords beyond the likeliest suspects.



So did the search part of the campaign deliver?

According to RPA, the search portion of the budget accounted for nearly 40 percent of responses, despite having a budget share that barely made it into double digits.  RPA's Mike Margolin ran the search effort and credits Google optimizers and the Yahoo "buzz" tool with helping make the campaign a success.  Overall, search drove traffic that was comparable to what would have been expected from home page takeovers.  Margolin noted that the animal-related keywords did not bring in the lion's share of traffic, but, at an average of 10 to 15 cents per click, were much less expensive than car-related words,. 

Of course, the entire campaign had a high fun quotient.  The micro-site incorporates an online game in which visitors drive a Honda around an island and can have conversations with the critters. But it is not often that search gets to join in the fun.  By buying words outside the car sector (they also bought words like "funny," "freaky" and "hairy"), RPA and Honda extended the sprit of the campaign to search, and those search ads (according to their research) helped lift awareness, brand favorability and purchase intent.  And think about it:  the only competition they had for "possum" keywords were Pest Exterminators and T-shirt merchants. 

Please send candidates for the Search Marketing Spotlight to

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