Integrating Search With TV Ads: The Next Generation

Over the last year or so, marketers have told me when they run a TV spot, they immediately see a spike in searches for their products or brands. Could it be search is becoming the catchall call to action? That would be great. Now, though, we can just say the behavior is emerging among consumers.

This stems from continued improvement in search engine results and home Internet accessibility. With more homes wired for broadband and computers situated near TVs, marketers will see this behavior increase. It represents a great opportunity to convert interest into purchase and begin to understand, in real time, offline advertising’s effectiveness.

Bid on the Right Words for TV Ads

At the latest Search Engine Strategies conference, my colleague David Daniels and I spoke on search as a part of an overall advertising strategy (search returns to the marketing mothership, as I call it). During the Q and A, someone asked what marketers should do about the phenomenon described above.

Our first bit of advice: have a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign in place! Before the commercial runs, set up a paid-placement campaign for all the words consumers might type into the query box. Include all relevant product or brand names, as well as broad-matching keywords. It’s highly possible a user will search a product name plus “commercial” or “ad,” particularly if you’re offering a particular promotion online or the ad is something the consumer may want to see again. If you don’t do this, your ad still airs, of course. But it will be interesting to know how many consumers specifically wanted to see it again.

Good TV ads often focus on a unique product feature. This helps fix the product in the consumer’s mind by connecting it to a new idea. One flat-screen TV provides ambient light along the unit’s perimeter, which enhances the overall visual effect. The marketer should consider words and phrases that might be searched relative to that differentiating feature, such as “ambient light television” and even “television that gives off colors.”

Used this way, search helps alleviate a classic advertising problem: consumers remember the feature but not the product. If the campaign is designed right, the recall gap between feature and product can be closed.

Flowing Information From Search

The second bit of advice from that session is even more interesting. Advertisers and their agencies consistently operate inside data vacuums. Data on an ad campaign’s efficacy comes back into the organization only after a considerable delay. It takes time and money to run pre- and post-campaign surveys. Sales data flow even more slowly and can’t always be directly correlated to a particular campaign.

Search is immediate behavior, with immediate data availability. Plus, it takes the form of consumer requests. We’re not at a point where the inherent search call to action is universal; it may never be. Yet a growing consumer sample acts immediately by heading to Google or Yahoo after they see an ad.

Marketers should watch their search numbers and use the data as an immediate, early barometer of consumer interest sparked by TV ads. You don’t necessarily need to pay for a click! Impression numbers tell you the volume of searches (but try to get the click anyway).

Business Intelligence Will Spark Strategy

Microsoft finally came to the paid-listing market last week, and hit the ground at a full sprint. The quiet expectation was Microsoft’s would enter the market by offering a service essentially mirroring those already in place. It didn’t. It truly evolves SEM by exposing searcher data to advertisers.

Advertisers must now determine how they’ll use this data, both for their search campaigns and inside their organizations.

Consider search a new data stream into the overall marketing department. Your CMO should get a report from the search team, not just on how the campaign is doing but also about what managers are learning about consumers from how they ask for products. When Microsoft’s new service launches, managers will also be able to report on the behavior of particular consumer segments.

This is how the Internet will become truly integrated in the marketing mix. When we talk about integration, we tend to talk about it superficially, noting the types of media that can be created online and the experience it can create. The next level, built on top of search, will be the integration of the unique data the Internet can provide to an organization, in real time, about what consumers are doing.

Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.

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