Friday, September 19, 2008

Search Insider: Seize The Search Trend

Seize The Search Trend

There have been numerous articles commenting on the search efforts of major advertisers like the presidential candidates, and sponsors of blockbuster events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl.  It is almost too easy to pick apart the efforts of others, so today I would like to commend those search marketers who have taken advantage of major spending in television and media hype and applied some innovative strategies to their own SEM campaigns. 

The key to your ad consistently appearing in search results over time is relevancy, so the innovations I highlight here may not still be visible today; however, the brand impact these advertisers received prior to their ad no longer serving is what made them winners.  While there could be negative Quality Score implications to bidding on high volume searches and receiving a low click rate, these advertisers won impressions and subconscious brand awareness, which technically does not cost anything.

During the Olympics, AT&T ran a commercial that features a fanatical Michael Phelps fan, or maybe I should say a "phanatical" Phelps Phan.  In the commercial, the girl wore a t-shirt that read "Phelps Phan."  Since this was memorable to me, I Googled it and found a sponsored listing for Café Press.  The ad text referenced the girl in the commercial "missing the call" and told searchers, "Don't miss the shirt."  While Café Press no longer appears in the sponsored listings for this search, they do appear as the fifth organic listing.  It is important to note that the search engine results page is dominated by F-shirt sites, which confirms the relevance of the search query to the product offering.

Next on my list is a company called ZAGG, Inc,  which sells a unique product called invisibleSHIELD, a durable thin-film protector for gadgets.  This company used an out-of-the-box approach and bid on "Sarah Palin" the day she was announced as McCain's running mate.  The creative ad copy positioned the company's product as "The Perfect Running Mate" for the iPhone 3G.  While this ad was most likely viewed as irrelevant by searchers of this term, the innovative strategy and prominent position in the search results provided significant exposure for this growing brand.  "We're thrilled by the positive consumer response to the campaign we implemented.  We try to create marketing campaigns that reflect our cutting-edge products, and felt this was successful," said Robert G. Pedersen II, president and CEO of ZAGG.

The most relevant recipient of media hype traffic is a company called Stock-Trak Group, which is promoting an online game called Wall Street Survivor through both paid and organic search.  When reviewing some of the most searched terms from Monday, Sept. 15, which was the worst day in the stock market since Sept. 11, 2001, I found the company's ads in search results.  They experienced a spike on everyday keywords.  This clear messaging perfectly positioned what searchers should expect if they clicked on either the paid or organic listing.  "It was our biggest day ever," Mark Berger, senior director of marketing at Stock-Trak Group, said of Monday's search engine marketing performance.  He went on to say, "We even had one referrer from the search phrase I lost a lot of money today."

The takeaway is that advertisers who are well prepared and act quickly have found innovative ways to position their offerings in search.  This does not mean that advertisers should haphazardly bid on high volume terms for "free" impressions.  It simply shows these marketers are thinking outside the box, while creating a relevant connection through the ad copy messaging -- and sometimes it works. 

Janel Landis is senior director of search development and strategy at SendTec, Inc., a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based multichannel, integrated marketing firm specializing in search engine marketing, direct response television and lead generation.

Search Insider for Friday, September 19, 2008:

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