Own Your Catchphrases in the Engines

While watching the Green Bay Packers get pummeled by the New York Jets this weekend, I realized I’d begun to eagerly look forward to the game breaks. I preferred experiencing the onslaught of seasonal TV commercials to watching Chad Pennington complete yet another pass.

As multitasking is habitual for me, I started jotting down catchphrases and buzzwords used in the ads, with the idea of checking just how well these high-priced phrases translated to the Web.

To be fair to the big brands behind the phrases, I tried to select only jingles and buzzwords that didn’t include brand names. I also decided to go with exact phrases in my search queries to minimize the contextual jitter.

No unscientific audit would be complete without querying the big three search engines, of course, and only the first three pages of results at that. To determine if the big brands put their money where their words are on the Web, I also audited PPC (define) results.

All standard rankings apply to the following chart. The first three pages of natural search results generally encompass the first 30 indexed items, so results are numbered 1 through 30. The same goes for PPC ads, with fewer listings, of course. A dash means a big brand page or PPC ad wasn’t found in the first three pages of search results.

Google Position

Yahoo Position

MSN Position

Ad Phrases

Advertised
Brand

PPC

Organic

PPC

Organic

PPC

Organic

Note

So easy a caveman can do it

Geico

Yahoo suggests trying “geico caveman commercials.”

Safe happens

Jetta

7,8

2

4

5

In Yahoo PPC, GM is number one for the phrase.

America’s game

NFL

4

6

Ag.nfl.com is all flash, with no PPC.

World’s first television for men and women

Sony Bravia

16

1

Yahoo had everything but the Sonystyle.com site in its first 30 results.

I’m lovin’ it

McDonald’s

2, 7

3, 4

1, 2, 4, 12

Again MSN has issues; YouTube and MySpace rule the phrase.

TV with the power of the Internet

AT&T

So few matches on an exact-phrase search; AT&T could own the phrase if it tried.

Work weekend dress golf

Dockers

1, 2

The phrase is owned by Dockers fans on YouTube and MySpace profiles in Google and Yahoo.

Welcome to the human network

Cisco

1

1,2

1

7, 8

1, 2

Cisco crosses over from TV to the Web; a well-networked networking Net worker

Real comfortable jeans

Wrangler

1

6

2

Wrangler’s pants are missing the PPC mix.

Purely you

Dell

1

1, 2

3

1

You can see which search engine Dell put its money on.

Invest with confidence

T. Rowe Price

2

1

1

4

1

6, 7

T. Rowe Price’s investment in search is impressive.

We are professional grade

GMC

1

2

1, 2

At least GMC hit third gear in organic search.

The diamond store

Zales

1

1

6

1

3

Everything that sparkles doesn’t include the MSN adCenter?

Rewarding. Very, very, very rewarding

Citibank

Victor and Roman are all over MySpace but struggle to turn a buck for Citibank.

Talk to Chuck

Charles Schwab

1

1, 2

1

1

1

1, 2, 3

You have no choice with this search phrase, you must talk to Chuck.

I found the results a bit surprising. If a big brand pays for TV advertising of a particular catchphrase, why wouldn’t it do the same with PPC? I doubt the big brands created these catchphrases for the pleasure of YouTubers and MySpacers. Unless, of course, there’s no such thing as bad brand buzz. Let’s ask Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola.

Of the 15 phrases audited, only Cisco, Dell, T. Rowe Price, Zales, and Charles Schwab put their money on their catchphrases in the search engines. Odder still, Zales opted to advertise with Google and Yahoo, but not MSN.

Of the 45 opportunities to meld TV and Internet advertising, only 24 percent of the advertisers made the leap. Only 20 percent of the TV ads owned their phrases in PPC. Conversely, nearly 70 percent of the big brand television advertisers earned page-one organic results for their catchphrases.

Do most big brands still not get the concept of a well-rounded media mix? Since this study is completely arbitrary, I’m certain broader research is required — something a bit more statistically pure. Yet the results of this random, any-given-Sunday audit seem to indicate that natural search results trump PPC as a means for translating TV catchphrases on the Web.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies in Chicago, December 4-7, at the Hilton Chicago.

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