Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2007 ClickZ Track: What is a Brand Vehicle? Integrated Marketing Together Forever Roundtable Discussion
Speakers: (Moderator) Rebecca Lieb, Editor-In-Chief, The ClickZ Network Bob Heyman, Chief Search Officer, Mediasmith, Inc. Eric Picard, Director of Advertising Strategy, Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions Kelly Graziadei, Senior Agency Development Director, Yahoo! Scott N. Linzer, Director of Search Marketing, Universal McCann
Kelly: We're still in the early days of understand search's role in branding and it's use in building a brand. As marketers, we also are trying to understand the new model of consumer behaviors. We have multi channel consumption now, whereas in the past, say the 1950s, we were all in our homes focusing on a single medium, the TV, and now, we might be sitting in front of our TV, but we also might have our laptop and be surfing the web and listening to our iPods at the same time.
In terms of multi channel marketing, marketers are beginning to make subtle changes to address the multiple mediums that can reach consumers. Tagging their commercials and other marketing material with URLs and web addresses.
Consumers are using the web at a number of points during their research/purchase process, so marketers are faced with the task of trying to reach a wide variety of people at a wide variety of points in the purchase cycle.
Scott: Integrated marketing is a challenge. Our clients really are starting to udnerstand that if they aren't there (meaning search and online) their competitors will be. So they're fighting for their branding budgets, and that is starting to help tremendously.
Rebecca: Where does search come into the planning process?
Scott: We bring search into the mix at the beginning and pre-buy. We do a small testing batch for focus groups, and it helps define and refine the rest of the campaign.
Bob: All brand display advertising drives search. As soon as you're doing anything, you want people to be able to find your campaign via not only the correctly remembered tag line or address, but also via the mis-remembered tag lines and web addresses.
Eric: A lot of the web analytics only track the "last action" that led to the conversion, so it's somewhat misleading in terms of showing how valuable your other branding efforts are. The results almost always show that organic is your leading traffic driver, with PPC being in second.
Bob: When you're writing your search copy, you have to boil down either your value proposition or your call to action. Crystalize your message and then do your testing so you know what's working and what isn't.
Kelly: We also need to do some testing to see how well the user is being engaged by the site or the various activities available on the site. There are no one size fits all metrics. You have to understand what is most important to your goals, and make sure you're tracking those keywords/campaigns/activities.
Eric: You can find different things to drive through search and different goals than what people are normally doing via CPA.
Kelly: Coordinating your display and search activities greatly impacts your results.
Rebecca: Are there categories for which integrated marketing that includes search work better? Are there some sectors in which this stuff just isn't going to work or where it hasn't been proven?
Bob: There are certainly categories where SEs can charge more for keywords or there are greater volumes, but this works across the board.
Scott: Search, I think, tended to be reactionary before, and I think agencies and their clients as well are beginning to be more proactive about their search strategies.
Kelly: I think about search as a connection point between all of the other branding vehicles. Special K created a very robust and fluid interactive/traditional campaign. The print and screen collateral encouraged the user to go to Yahoo and searchf or Special K where the user then encountered a very customized and rich experience. So, if we think about what our target audience is doing online, and then make sure that we're delivering our message to them in all of the areas they are and then make it easier for the consumer to locate those messages (via search).
Eric: There's a lot of opportunity for search to participate in all of these areas and be used.
Rebecca: Does any of this bleed into contextual?
Bob: Contextual is a different animal. It's display on training wheels. It has great virtues in that it isn't user supplied keyword driven. My guess though is that it works very well for some things, but not for all.
Rebecca: Let's look at universal search in this. Is universal helping or hurting?
Bob: I think this is more useful to the users, but less useful for the brand marketer. It's a catch 22... the more accurate the search engine gets, the less likely the user is to continue looking on the SERPs. We need them to continue looking a little.
Rebecca: So we should be trying to break the search engines?
Rebecca: So from Yahoo and MSN, how do you guys look at this?
Kelly: We've been experimenting with a blended search for about a year. It's not about getting a breadth of results for the user, it's about getting that one result the user wants. It's an area we're very excited about.
Eric: As I don't work on the search side of things, it's difficult for me to comment on what they're doing. I will say that from an ad-ecosystem standpoint, I've been a big advocate for a long time about changing the creative formats for search. Back in the early days when people were using banner ads, they did wonders as opposed to just text ads (at that time).
Rebecca: Where do particular search verticals fit into this? How are they playing into your branding strategies?
Kelly: I think that the local/mobile space is very exciting. It changes where we're going from a search perspective. Again, you're looking not for 20 listings, you're looking for that one you NEED. As an industry, we're trying to figure out what that user experience looks like, how it behaves, and then what kind of content we need.
Eric: The thing to keep in mind about mobile with a text ad is that even the smallest text ads take a HUGE portion of the screen size. As more studies are done, I think we'll see that the recall for these ads is much higher, assuming it's the proper audience.
Bob: The early adopters for this are the guys who are trying to sell ringtones and mobile games.
Rebecca: We're talking about graphics and images, how much of a consideration is the optimization of other site elements and brand collateral playing in the strategies?
Scott: From the agency side, I'm still in fights everday with our creatives because they still design everything in flash, which we know throws a wildcard into your plan. It definitely hurts your organic, your paid is unknown...
Bob: Press releases have some great link building potential and it's great to have knowledgable PR people who understand this. Video optimization I think is the most important thing to work on these days because really, unless it's originally a broadcast clip that has a closed captioning feed, it's difficult to find these videos via search.
Rebecca: Getting back to paid search... is it worth it to appear in geographic areas (in the paid search results) where your services aren't necessarily offered just to keep your brand in front of the users?
Bob: I think perhaps if your client is planning to roll into those areas eventually, then you're building your brand, otherwise I think it's a waste of money.
Kelly: I think you need to think about your user experience. What message am I sending the consumer... is this the best experience for the user... to entice them to click on a link and then send them away empty handed?
Rebecca: What are your top considerations to get a campaign off the ground?
Scott: What are the top keywords? (Include linguistics in your research) Make sure your copy has a strong call to action, or if it's a branding campaign, make sure it's being treated as such... and research what your competitors are doing.
Kelly: Start early. It's important to begin those conversations when the brand activites are being planned. To get a true integrated experience you have to include all stake holders, be clear on the objectives, how do we become useful, and make sure you understand the goals and mechanics of all the pieces completely.
Bob: The equivalent of "location, location, location!" is "testing, testing, testing!" Test everything you can... locations, value propositions, etc.
Questions and Answers
Q: What is the budget allocation for search in a campaign? A best practice really? A: Realistically, throw as much as you can at CPA until you can't anymore. If it's working, ultimately it's self-financing.
Q: Why do you say that search "doesn't scale"? A: Because the pool of searchers is relatively static... there are only so many searchers so at some point, you just can't grow that pool anymore.
Q: What is the engine's stance on bidding on competitors terms? A: Yahoo prohibits it. Rep from MSN does not work in that area and couldn't comment. (No rep present from Google)
-- Have some budget set aside for your "CEO Terms"... these are terms that may not be effective for anything, but when your CEO searches for them because they're important to HIM, or because he perceives them as being important to the brand, you're at the top of the lists. It might not increase your sales or better your campaign, but it keeps you out of the doghouse with the C-level execs.
-- Searchers are more likely to engage in social media and share their research with friends and families. These types of consumers are very important and so companies really cannot afford to not be in the online spaces that these consumers frequent. You cannot afford to not reach out to them.