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October 6, 2008

Search Integration: Are We There Yet?

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Welcome to the Big Apple, ladies and gents, for the first annual Search Marketing Expo – SMX East. To kick off three days of search, I’ll set the mood with this first session that will cover how well search is being integrated in overall marketing efforts today.

Robert Murray, iProspect, says that integration is key and it’s key to offline channels as well. Here’s the background. Search marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard this before: integrate or die. What are marketers doing about it? What techniques are they using? And if they aren’t integrating with offline channels, why not? These were the questions they asked in a study they did.

An earlier study conducted among consumers found that 67 percent of searchers are driven to search by an offline channel. Once exposed to some form of offline messaging they were compelled to search online. Furthermore, 39 percent of users ultimately make a purchase from the company that initially drove them to conduct a search.

The second study they did was done between April and June 2008 among 289 qualified search marketers. Their objective was to uncover the extent to which search efforts are integrated with offline marketing channels.

The findings:

Only 55 percent of search marketers coordinate or integrate offline channels with search marketing.

  • Direct mail: 34%
  • Newspaper or magazine ads: 29%
  • Television ad: 12%
  • Radio ad: 12%
  • Outbound telemarketing: 7%
  • Billboard or sports venue sign: 7%

The big disconnect: If 67 percent of the audience are driven by offline marketing and 45 percent fail to integrate, there’s an opportunity being missed.

What’s preventing the integration?

  • Don’t advertise in offline channels: 24%
  • Lack of budget: 19%
  • Lack of human resources: 15%
  • Simply didn’t consider the option: 13%
  • Lack of senior management buy-in: 11%
  • Separate people manage offline channels: 11%
  • Don’t see the benefits of coordination/integration: 9%

What techniques are people using when integrating?

  • Included company Web address prominently: 84%
  • Included company name prominently: 66% (Robert thinks that this technique and the above technique aren’t truly integration, but rather coordination)
  • Use same colors offline that were used online: 41%
  • Used same keywords online and offline: 26%

What does this mean for you? The implication is that failure to integrate is a competitive disadvantage.

So how can marketers make it happen? The CMO is in the unique position to make integration and cohesion possible. The CMO needs to:

  • Create a strategic plan
  • Break down silos
  • Share data
  • Reward integration

Sharing data is one thing, but integration gets results and should be rewarded. Even if you’re not the CMO, there’s something you can do. Walk down the hall and share your findings with your offline counterparts. The offline people need to come to the table as well. They need to share the product messaging and ad copy with search. Think about the time and money saved and the improved results that will come from testing online.

The bottom line is that we’re all in the game to win. The marketers that are doing the best job integrating search with all other forms of marketing are the ones most likely to find success.

James Lamberti, comScore, sees how brands are dealing with integration. comScore researches consumer behavior online. So is the search industry there yet?

Advertising is coming from all sides. Offline, digital, social media and friends and family all have an influence on a consumer, but they all come together through search. It’s the one place that’s left that’s simple for the consumer and the marketers. Consumer search activity is on the rise. There has been a 25.3 percent year-over-year increase in queries. If that’s the case, why isn’t search marketing integrated? How can search marketers make sure that search marketing catches the activity of the offline messaging?

Retail buyers’ total searches: 55 percent are generic, 45 percent are branded.

This is notable because the emphasis on the trademark is missing out on the value of generic. Searchers want information and help making a purchase decision. Missing generic means missing your market. There’s a huge percent of your market that’s never going to search in branded terms. These consumers needed to be treated as a separate bucket.

The CMO can relate to reach, frequency and GRPs. Marketers can make an impression through this common language. Marketers are generally looking at search as a direct response tool. They’re starting to see it’s also a latent response tool. In 2006, PWC estimated that more than 50 percent of all sales were impacted by search.

Market mix modeling, or attribution modeling, shows that the search data can be modeled into mix model marketing. The results will almost surely show that more needs to go into search.

  • Establish common ground: Apples-to-apples GRP, audience composition and ad effectiveness media comparisons are now possible and will engage the CMO.
  • Measure the full value: Measuring the link to online sales and the inherent value of impressions is key.
  • Measure search as a desired outcome: Training your organization to view search as a logical, desirable outcome will help with integration.
  • Treat organic and trademark as unique efforts: Most organizations ignore generic and forget a huge part of the market.

Peter Hershberg, reprisemedia, believes that integration is hugely challenging, especially for enterprise brands. Microsoft will be the example, and we’ll be focusing on the Vista product for this demonstration. Vista is being marketed pretty aggressively.

There are multiple products, multiple stakeholders and multiple goals for Microsoft Vista. So how do you even approach it?

Challenges:

  • Coordinate efforts of 5,000+ marketers with individual search budgets.
  • Create universal process for budgeting, management, and reporting.
  • Tie campaign metrics to marketing goals.

Strategy:

  • Contributed to Search Center of Excellence to share best practices and processes in search. This is to share the best practices with the whole team.
  • Launched “Search 101″ training series, tailored to needs of each Microsoft department and its line managers.
  • Established a uniform 3-phased approach for taking fully-integrated campaigns from concept to launch over a 5-week period.

While reprisemedia is only working on the search campaign, it’s critical to understand and effectively share assets with the other departments. Advanced knowledge about campaigns makes it possible to predict the “unpredictable”. Knowing what the new ads were going to be about, they bid on some of the more obscure keywords, like “shoe circus”, “warm churro” and “conquistador”.

It’s important to note that the efforts in search marketing have helped overall corporate communications. There was close coordination of paid search efforts and PR that resulted in improved Vista campaign results.

Aligning goals with the channel must be done through reach and frequency. This is finding answers to the question of “How many of my customers saw my message and how often did they see it?” The goal of reach and frequency must align with site engagement, or “What did my customers do once they visited my Web site?”

By analyzing search traffic and behavior, you can gain insight that can influence the entire marcom mix:

  • Marketing messaging: email, banners, on-site
  • Media selection
  • Communications strategy
  • Site experience
  • Competitive insights

The lessons learned:

  • Educate all stakeholders.
  • Establish repeatable process for effectively sharing assets.
  • Recalibrate goals to match strengths of the channel.
  • Repurpose search learnings to inform overall marketing program.

Don Steele is up next to give us the client perspective. MTVN Entertainment Group is a group of MTVN Brands aimed at adult/male audiences. The sites are both marketing tool for brands and home to original content. They are ad-supported sites. He’s not an expert on “Are we there yet?” but they’ve been working on it and invest a lot in online marketing.

Why they market:

  • Branding
  • Awareness
  • Target
  • Interaction and sampling

How they market:
The slide has a picture of the Daily Show billboard that says “Welcome, rich white oligarchs”.

Why search:

  • Branding: Search engine space is the new billboard and they must be there.
  • Awareness: search allows them to gain visibility for shows and content while users are expressing interest in it.
  • Target: Deliver a timely and fluid message to users who are expressing an interest in it. Search is much stronger in this area than traditional marketing like billboards.
  • Interaction/Sampling: A smart search campaign should encourage interactive behavior where a brand is delivering upon a user’s expectation.

Here’s an example. TV Land recently got the rights to The Cosby Show. They’ve been buying the appropriate keywords, and this is the best way to target a broad swath of people. Likewise, the show Chocolate News with David Allen Grier is a new show on Comedy Central. They’ve centered the campaign around Grier’s name and bidding on the keywords is inexpensive.

How they have been able to sell it:

  • Core audience
  • Reporting
  • Self selection
  • Evangelism

Reporting is good, but know the audience you’re reporting to. Many of the upper-level execs may not want to see a 40-page report on all the search terms people are using. It’s also important to be willing to speak to anyone who’s interested.

The real challenge is that billboards (traditional) and search (new) are not equal. Don’t look at search as one thing to check off the list. It’s a fluid medium and the audience’s expectations shift.

Moderator Sara Holoubek wants to know if search is really being viewed as a branding mechanism, considering how often the panelists mentioned reach and frequency. Peter says that search is not being used as a stand-alone channel, and when it comes time to allocate advertising dollars, reach and frequency is discussed because it’s how execs see the world. James says that the key is the impression has value. Even if they don’t click at that point, they’ve been made aware that that site has something related to what they were looking for. Don says that search is a tool to get recognition of the brand.

Looks like we’re just getting started, both in search marketing integration and this great content and info we’ll be getting from these conference sessions. I’ve got my fingers warmed up, so watch for more coming your way!

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One response to “Search Integration: Are We There Yet?”

  1. Nick Landers writes:

    Fantastic article. It is important to note that TV, Print, Radio, or other methods are hardly effective enough to establish a brand or to create awareness for companies that do not already have a strong brand.

    Particularly for new or small companies, TV, Print, or Radio to Search is a great way to raise awareness, create interest, and then build the desire for action!



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