Omniture Helps Put JetBlue's Keyword Marketing on Automated Pilot

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JetBlue Airways is beta testing Omniture SearchCenter to fully automate keyword marketing designed to encourage ticket bookings online.


The hosted suite reduces time spent researching keywords and tracking bids, said Marc Koif, JetBlue senior interactive analyst. The New York-based airline manages keyword campaigns of 3,000 to 4,000 words at any given time.


"I can set business rules through SearchCenter," he said. "I'm able to dial up certain keywords at a certain time of day and dial down during the other times."


The airline's use of SearchCenter complements Omniture's SiteCatalyst Web analytics program that JetBlue has used for a year and a half. It doesn't rely much on the Omniture Discover analytical product.


JetBlue typically buys all its brand-related keywords including permutations of its JetBlue Airways name. It also buys terms like "airfare," "cheap ticket" and "cheap tickets" as well as destination-specific keywords like "las vegas vacation" and "las vegas vacations."


"We're always trying to think of new keywords," Koif said. "If you can think of any keyword about buying an online ticket, we probably advertise with it."


SearchCenter is JetBlue's first hosted search solution. The company previously used Google AdWords before starting the early fall beta test of SearchCenter.


JetBlue struggled with many issues before SearchCenter. Keyword search marketing performance could not be measured. Multiple time-consuming steps were required to publish keyword marketing reports. And a three-month reporting lag existed for accessing keyword performance data.


SearchCenter has lowered the airline's cost per conversion. It is on track to save 50 hours of manual report generation for the quarter. The three-month reporting time lag is gone. And keyword performance data automatically are delivered in real time.


Another benefit is SearchCenter's click-fraud detector. Click fraud is a major issue for search advertisers, but the subject is enveloped in opacity. So the detector sets thresholds that alert Koif when violated. One example is if a keyword suddenly gets 10,000 clicks instead of the typical 1,000.


"Google and Yahoo are not very forthcoming on that kind of information," he said. "There are times when I see a $1,000 credit on my bill and then you get a runaround. I ask, 'What's this for?' and I'm told, 'Oh, it's just an adjustment.' I never know what an adjustment means. And if they're giving us $1,000, why not $2,000 or $3,000?"


Omniture's search and analytics products help JetBlue understand how consumers behave online. This is critical because the Web, along with the telephone, is a main source of JetBlue's bookings.


Koif handles not just search campaigns, but also develops internally JetBlue's e-mail efforts linked to offers on www.jetblue.com. Omniture SiteCatalyst helps him track consumer behavior online and adjust things like buttons higher on a Web page or pitch better depending on seasonality.


"Most obviously it helps us track all campaigns," he said. "We can further define e-mail campaigns and banner ads. With SiteCatalyst, we can see the booking flow, when people are searching for flights, where they are falling off."


As with many companies, considerable traffic on JetBlue's site originates from search queries. So search marketing is critical enough that JetBlue handles it inhouse.


"Overall, I'd say it's very important," Koif said. "In the last year since we've been doing search, it's really moved up the ladder. Two years ago it was a novelty."


The case can be made that JetBlue is such a strong brand that it can draw traffic directly to its site. And it has. Yet it is compelled to advertise on search engines like Yahoo and Google. Not buying keywords, even of its own brand names, is a risk not worth taking.


"People searching on our brand terms would obviously go somewhere else" if JetBlue didn't buy them, Koif said. "I honestly think, in terms of brand terms, it's a defensive move. I make sure that we grab that top spot so that no one else can. I haven't seen any advertisers on our keywords. We never buy other airlines' brand keywords. But who knows? A Delta someday might decide to."


Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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