Google’s Vertical Ad Honchos Talk Campaigns and Results

Google executives discussed advertising and commerce within the automotive, retail, entertainment and media, financial services, and healthcare verticals yesterday during an industry press day in its New York offices. The media confab offered a rare peek into the company’s recent campaigns and results for clients in numerous categories.

Industry Director of Media and Entertainment Adam Stewart detailed results from a campaign NBC Universal ran for the show “Heroes” across several Google ad offerings as the show returned from hiatus in the spring.

“We weren’t looking to grow the show, we wanted to bring people back to the show, to let them know it was back on,” said Stewart. The campaign produced a 60 percent increase in unaided awareness, he said; viewers were more likely to discuss the show with others. A spike in awareness led to a spike in search activity, with increases of up to 114 percent in branded and trademarked searches.

The campaign was a collaboration between Google, NBC Universal, and 360i, NBC’s agency.

In the healthcare category, Google executives said pharmaceuticals, hospitals, wellness programs, have been slow to embrace the Internet for marketing and branding. Print, television, magazines, and radio advertisements remain preferred advertising vehicles.

“The Internet is the most underleveraged resource in the healthcare industry,” said Khee Lee, Google’s healthcare industry manager. Still, he said data show consumers, after seeing a healthcare advertisement offline, will turn to the Internet to see more information about a health condition or treatment.

Pointing to a successful offline-online campaign, Lee referred to King Pharmaceutical’s non-branded advertisement, broadcast during the 2007 Super Bowl, designed to increase public awareness of high blood pressure. In addition to the television ad, titled “Heart Attack,” King worked with Digitas Health to create a search campaign and posted a YouTube video to promote its sponsorship of the American Heart Association’s high blood pressure Web site.

A look at the retail sector showed how online campaigns can effectively drive offline sales. A recent campaign for Rooms to Go, a U.S.-based furniture retailer, tracked the in-store redemption rate of coupons printed from the Web, and also looked at click-through rates. The campaign was geotargeted by IP address, using concentrated terms like “Austin furniture” in local search and AdSense placements. The campaign showed increased revenues and no change in return on advertising spend.

Current turmoil in the financial sector hasn’t affected the search giant’s stronghold. Google claims it drives more traffic to financial services content than all its competitors combined. At $2 billion, financial is the largest sector of online ad spending. Over the past year clicks were up 66 percent, and Google data shows the ad spent was up 90 percent.

Google shared preliminary details of a study it undertook with Compete for the automotive sector. The study looked at online shopping and research behavior in the six months leading up to a vehicle purchase. The research finds the buying cycle for autos has condensed from up to six months to one month, with 65 percent of buyers making a decision in one month or less, and only 17 percent taking more than three months to make a buying decision.

“Automobile marketers are more used to planning their marketing activities around a six-month cycle, but they must now adjust to the new speed of online marketing,” said Bonita Coleman Stewart, director of Google’s automotive industry team.

“Google has been reaching out to the auto industry to educate them on these kinds of findings,” said Coleman Stewart. “Google is working with automakers, agencies, regional dealer groups, and individual dealers, as well as parts resellers and service vendors, to help them understand which of Google’s products would work best for them, and show them metrics that prove that it will be worth their while,” she said.

Questions concerning the rumored GPhone were skirted with talk of the mobile sector. “Mobile advertising is very important,” said President of Advertising and Commerce Tim Armstrong. “As a platform [with] access to information, searching [and] ads, mobile is a critical piece of the future.”

What of DoubleClick? “On a normal review process,” said Armstrong. “We continue working with the government to make sure the acquisition closes.”

Related reading