Online Exclusive: Is Your Search Ready for the Bowl?

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If you're serious enough about advertising to be in the Super Bowl, chances are you already know that Super Bowl ads drive search engine traffic. Ads create interest, and interest drives search. Which is why, year after year, there's an enormous search spike for the products and services that are featured in the ads during the game. And that search traffic spike begins seconds after the ads hit the screen.

And there's another reason why Super Bowl ads drive search traffic. Increasingly, Internet users use search engines as their web browsers. They don't type URLs into their browsers any more; they type a brand name into Google, Yahoo or AOL. And that pattern includes ad-driven traffic to mini-sites (mini-sites will be all the rage this year).

That means there's a tremendous amount to be gained from combining your Super Bowl ad with the best possible search. Your ad creates interest in your brand; but it's your search, increasingly, that turns that interest into near-immediate conversions.

There's also the matter of metrics. Traditional advertising is notoriously bad at creating hard numbers that tell you how your ad performed. Which is too bad, because there are an awful lot of important questions that every marketer needs to know. Campaign questions might include:

· How much of your audience liked the ad?

· Did your ad only drive a generic interest, or did it lead to specific conversions?

· Are the conversions your ad drove the same as the ones you had intended initially -- or were there surprises?

· What kind of demographic heeded your ad's call to action?

And while traditional advertising alone can't get you precise answers to these questions, you can use Search to find out all of this, and more. By tracking conversions back to the original keyword source, and comparing conversion metrics with pre-ad metrics, you can understand who your ad has affected and how, down to the individual searcher. And you can apply those metrics to learn how to make an even more powerful ad next year -- or next quarter.

That's the up side. The down side is what happens if your search isn't strong. Because, again, once they see your ad on TV, lots of searchers will swarm the engines to find your brand, and to find the kinds of products and services that you sell. If your search listings are waiting in the engines to meet those searchers, and your search copy is enticing enough to make them click, and your landing page is helpful enough to keep searchers away from the dreaded back button -- then you've made your multichannel campaign into a conversion funnel.

But if you don't have all of those elements in your Search campaign, then your searchers, having expended their excitement in a failed search, will just forget you. Or -- a much worse, but extremely common scenario -- they'll click on your competitor's search ads instead of yours. You've spent all the money on the Super Bowl campaign; your competition reaps the rewards.

Of course, we're not just talking about Super Bowl ads here. We're talking about any kind of advertising that generates interest. A strong search campaign will help all of your offline and online advertising and PR work even harder -- and get better results -- than it already does. A weak search campaign turns your PR/marketing into a free handout to the competition.

And on game day, which kind of marketing campaign will you have? Look to search to find out.


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