The self-proclaimed Heiress of Hotness has definitely been hot in terms of search volume over the last few weeks. Search volumes for the term "Paris Hilton" have been consistent, but on Aug. 5 the term began to spike, peaking with a five-fold increase over the average volume on Aug. 8. All is revealed in the graph below from Google's Insights for Search tool.
What happened? A new boyfriend? Another DUI? The spike was actually a result of Paris' comedic acting skills, which came in the form of her excellent presidential campaign ad. The campaign video, which broke exclusively on Funny or Die about two weeks ago, is Paris' response to John McCain's ad that likened Barack Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spear and claimed that Obama is more celebrity than substance.
I have numerous political issues with McCain's ad, but we're not here to talk about politics. We're here to talk about social media and search. Infectious video content like the Paris video spreads like wildfire across the Web in under a week. That's a dream for most marketers and we should have, in hindsight, expected it from Paris. Whether we like her or loathe her, she is the consummate brand marketer -- her brand being herself. And with the most viral Presidential video ad comes great word-of-mouth and phenomenal PR. I found nearly 2,000 articles about "Paris for President" on Google, and at this point the video hadn't even been live online for two weeks.
With interest come searches, and with search spikes comes opportunity. And with paid search comes an advertising vehicle to take advantage of those searches quickly and cost-effectively. A search for "Paris Hilton" on Google sees (at the time of writing) two paid search ads:
The first ad is for Funny or Die. As the breakers of this story, they naturally want to drive this traffic to their site. Given that they have an ad-revenue business model. it makes perfect sense to buy traffic at affordable cost-per-click (CPC) prices and convert this into CPM revenues on their site. After all, with just two advertisers bidding on the term, CPCs should be low. And the more impressions, the more inventory, which hopefully results in more ad dollars.
The second paid search ad is a little different. It's Jeremiah Weed's video response to Paris' ad. Jeremiah Weed is a bourbon brand, and its paid search ad doesn't take you to the company Web site. Instead, it takes you to Jeremiah's video response on YouTube. Putting aside whether the Jeremiah video response is good or bad, what it is, is opportunistic. This bourbon brand is cleverly using both social media and search to promote Jeremiah Weed. Company strategists have recognized a pop and political cultural moment and are piggy-backing on to it to promote their brand. And they are not spending tens of thousands or getting buried in a time-consuming production schedule to do so. These opportunities have a short life span, so being quick to leverage them is crucial.
Funny or Die and Jeremiah Weed demonstrate two ways that brands can benefit from using paid search to take advantage of temporary spikes in searches that are on the pop culture or news hot-o-meter. The first is driving traffic and subsequent ad revenues. The second is promoting a brand. And there's a third -- driving sales. Paris has her own perfume. It's a shame that e-tailers that sell her perfume, such as Sephora and Amazon, are not appearing on the keyword "Paris Hilton" even though they are appearing for the term "Paris Hilton Perfumes."A missed opportunity? Definitely. Perhaps, however, Paris is restricting her e-commerce partners from bidding on her brand name. Mmm... trademark issues. Let's save that for another article.