TV Commercial Optimization in A World of Universal Search

As a regular reader of Search Insider (or even as a regular search engine user), you already know that both Google and Ask have recently reinvented their search results pages to become integration points for all things text, image and video.  In my review of selected brand-related keyword SERPs for video over this time, I'm finding that the biggest changes affecting big ad spenders in the brand keyword space have come in the form of algorithmically placed TV commercials.  In accepting that commercials are becoming a common video placement across a certain area of organic brand SERPs, it's worthwhile to stop and look at how big brands can begin to embrace video optimization for a captivating brand search results page, just as video results begin to shift into the prime time of the major engines.

For companies with significant offline spend, it may seem like a no-brainer that commercials are the most logical video assets to appear on brand terms in the SERPs. But the current results are still spotty at best, for reasons ranging from lack of basic video optimization, to not securing the proper rights to distribute their commercials online.

With inline viewing in the search results, Google has in effect become a direct distribution point for viewing television commercials online.  Considering that many commercials have the potential to become visible in primary brand keyword space, and recognizing that many major brands are queried millions of time per year, these videos will be seen on the searches that matter the most,making this a very important placement in the grand scheme of commercial video delivery. In this sense, traditional offline advertising is now meeting search marketing head-on, and we are witnessing the beginning of a bridge between the role of agency, and of the search marketer. 

Here are a few major advertisers with new video neighbors in their primary brand keyword spaces:

Brand: Budweiser
Commercial: "Wave"



Google Term and ranking: No.9 for "budweiser" 
Commercial present in Ask: Yes

Video host: Google Video
Posted by
: Anheuser-Busch

Inline viewing available: Yes


Brand: Doritos

Commercial: "Live the Flavor"

Google Term and ranking: No.6 for "doritos"

Views: 1,424,920
Inline viewing available: Yes
Video host: YouTube

Posted by: crashthesuperbowl07

Brand: GEICO

Commercial: Caveman / News

Google Term and ranking: No.6 for "geico"

Views: 605, 877

Inline viewing available: Yes
Posted by: bradc2755

Video host: YouTube

Parodies and other videos showing up in the brand keyword space:


Brand: Apple/iPhone

Commercial parody: Conan O'Brien / NBC Late Night's "It's much more than just a phone!"
Google Term and ranking:
No.8 for "iphone"

Stats: 4,713,990 views

Inline viewing available: Yes

Posted by: NBC

Video host: YouTube
Note: Apple's own iPhone commercials do not appear in the top 10 at this writing

Query URL:


I also found other parody videos in primary brand SERPs for a major car manufacturer and a financial services firm that were independently produced, but they were a bit too risqué to pass along in this column. (Reputation management issues, anyone?)

My survey of Google results for a number of advertisers mentioned in Adweek's "Best Of" column, revealed that many (if not most) did not have any video results at all in their respective brand keyword space.  Among the list with no commercial video presence for primary brand terms:  Nike, Ford, Reebok, BMW, Gatorade and Adidas.  Also, a search for "chicks with swords" did not return the commercial video result in Ask, though it did show up at no.5 in Google

Here are a few reasons why some of these brands might lack a TV commercial/video ranking in the primary brand keyword space:


- They did not place the commercial online in a syndicated format.

- They did not secure the proper online/digital distribution rights to put the commercial online at all.
- They did not optimize the video asset when placing it online.

- A parody or other video source may have pushed down primary brand video content out of the top of the results.

- The commercial did not create enough online buzz for search engine algorithms to notice.

So here's what you can do to start getting search TV commercials ready for brand keyword space in the search engines:

Secure the online rights for commercials prior to campaign launch. Several of my clients who have achieved "greatest commercial of all time" critical status were unable to reap the rewards of extended online buzz for two reasons: they did not secure digital rights, and they did not secure extended Screen Actors Guild releases.  In this new age of search engine commercial broadcasting, think ahead and secure these rights prior to campaign launch for as long as possible. 

Own your TV commercials online.  Being the first to post the authoritative version of a commercial is a very important benefit of owning commercials in your respective keyword space.  If you're not the first, then a catchy viral spot will likely be captured and posted by a third party.  Third-party ownership of your commercials usually results in lower production quality of the spot. These third parties can also receive additional benefits that are not as useful to them as they would be to you, namely for back links, access to video stats, and the potential to build out the channel as part of your brand video community.

Optimize your video files.  When optimizing video files, be sure to do the right keyword research in order to target the right terms, and highlight them in the areas that matter the most: the title, description, genre categorization, as well as other identifying meta elements that may vary from host to host.  Add a transcript for the sites that will allow it, and don't forget to link back to your site.


Syndicate your TV commercials.  At this point, Google is relying on several sources of video content to display in the results, so it is important to place commercials on these sites.  Some of the more common sources currently showing up in organic SERPs include YouTube, Google Video, MySpace, Metacafe, and Yahoo Video.  If video content is indexed in Blinkx, then it also has a good shot of gaining visibility in Ask.  Add your commercials to one of more of these sites.

Own your brand commercial keyword space. The mere absence of your video commercials leaves room for the unauthorized versions or parodies to step right up into the primary brand keyword space.  Don't take your brand keyword space lightly.  Many corporations with major offline spend generate millions of brand searches per year, and in many ways these results becomes the first and authoritative impression of what a brand is all about.
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