L'Oreal Breaks Search Engine Effort to Drive Matrix.com Traffic

French cosmetics giant L'Oreal Paris has named Unreal Marketing Solutions Inc., Bala-Cynwyd, PA, to handle keyword buys as a prelude to a search engine optimization campaign to push its Matrix line over the Internet to professional hair stylists and consumers.

The interactive agency has initiated a keyword buy that begins today on search engine google.com to drive traffic to matrix.com. The Matrix site was launched last month soon after L'Oreal bought the Web address from a software company.

“What we're trying to do is generate qualified search engine traffic to their Web site, matrix.com,” said Adam Weil, chief operating officer and director of new media at Unreal. “It is also to maximize the clicks by attempting to convert these clicks into registered users.”

A leading brand for hair care, Matrix's lineup for professionals and stylists includes shampoos, conditioners, hair color and hair smoothing systems. Labels under that line are Sleek.Look, Biolage, Amplify, Vavoom, Vital Nutrients, Matrix Essentials, Logics and Professional Color.

As part of this campaign, Unreal bought keywords like “hair style,” “hairstyle,” “hair stylist” and “hairstylist.” Matrix will be the first sponsored highlighted link on the top of that google.com search page.

Once on matrix.com, visitors will be encouraged to sign up for a free online newsletter that delivers news and updates on Matrix products. Registered users receive free samples for opting in.

“We did some research and found that the word “hair style” was researched over 1 million times last month on Overture,” Weil said. “But by using that information from Overture, we saw how many times that word was searched, and we wanted to capitalize on the traffic.

“We also saw that on Google there was no other competition purchasing the ad unit that we're buying for Matrix,” he said. “So therefore we saw an immediate opportunity.”

Founded four years ago, Unreal specializes in search engine optimization. Among its other services are online media planning and placement, viral marketing and promotions, affiliate program management, strategy, digital design and customer relationship marketing.

The agency handles search engine optimization with Carat Interactive, Zentropy Partners and Initiative Media's FastBridge. It has clients like Kaplan College, Brooks Brothers, Yves Rocher, Eastbay, Franklin Mint and Nautica.

Matrix is the first of many L'Oreal brands Unreal hopes to work on.

“We're close to bringing some additional brands under L'Oreal — Dermablend, Biotherm and Kiehl's,” Weil said.

Planned to run through mid-July, the Matrix assignment is expected to generate a wealth of data on site visitors. Unreal will use its proprietary tracking system to follow visitors from click to post-click actions. Clicks on salon locations, advice and registration tabs will be scrutinized.

The agency will look for information on people who live near a salon selling Matrix products. It will then notify these people about that location.

“The key challenge is that they're trying to gain market share,” Weil said. “They're trying to stand out among the competition and create a real interactive experience for salon professionals and consumers.”

At some stage, the agency wants to combine online and offline elements of L'Oreal's advertising efforts conducted by the cosmetics company's New York office. This could include the redemption of online coupons in hair salons.

Simultaneously, consumer details would be collected on cards at salons and that data married to the online database for targeted Internet marketing.

However, there is some question as to whether salon professionals have the same receptivity to online marketing as the rest of the population.

“That's an issue,” Weil said. “That's why it's both consumer- and stylists-oriented. They do say that not many stylists have access to computers, so this is a site that is also for consumers to go on and have an interactive experience to find out what they're looking for and convey that to their salon professionals.”

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