Search completes and enhances other channels
No matter which medium is used to touch customers, the likely medium of deeper engagement will be a search engine. Consumer actions have changed dramatically and advertisers need to change their game plans.
Look at the progression of various calls to action and how consumers reacted. A Mercedes-Benz ad from the 1960s grew sales by asking the magazine reader to “Write to Mr. Peter…” and “Visit your dealer… .” In 2005, a Mercedes-Benz ad uses “Call 800…” and “Visit MBUSA.com.” Progressive brands such as Kellogg's are now using search as the call to action in their television ads, pointing watchers to search on Yahoo for more about the benefits of their product.
The Kellogg's example shows search as an ad medium that works outside of the direct response domain. It is trying to drive sales at the grocery store, but is taking advantage of a major shift in consumer behavior toward search being the starting point for deeper engagement, product research and information gathering.
Have all major advertisers started using search?
Yes and no. Search is thought about late in the marketing plan development process. It's often something the “interactive department” worries about, rather than an integral part of a brand manager's marketing plan. This thinking must change, and that is where the principle of search as a bridge comes in.
Let's say you have your award-winning television commercial completed. Your print advertisements are ready for insertion, your online banners are ready to impress and you're ready to go. Spending money to buy your product's keywords seems like common sense.
Marketers can take advantage of many creative opportunities. Diet Coke's Heart Truth campaign is designed to raise awareness of heart disease risks and included a promotion with Heidi Klum around the Academy Awards and her red dress. The campaign included a call to action delivered through television, as well as various other methods for consumers to register to win Klum's red dress on the My Coke Rewards Web site. To capture consumer interest, Coke purchased a variety of keywords including “The Oscars,” “Heidi Klum,” “red dress” and “heart health.” In the course of the campaign, it discovered that a large portion of traffic came through the heart health-related keywords with traffic spiking around Oscar-related keywords.
If there is no search in the marketing mix to complement and enhance the branding and promotion opportunities, then all other forms of advertising will be less effective.
Eduardo Llach is CMO of SearchRev. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.