Search Is No Longer an Afterthought for Brands

Unlike eight years ago, paid search campaigns are no longer a hard sell.

Still, search marketers say they are haven’t reached the equivalent of marketing nirvana — ensuring that search is always part of an integrated campaign. However, search marketers and others speaking at the Search Engine Strategies conference this week in San Jose, CA, pointed to inroads being made. (ClickZ and Search Engine Strategies are both part of Incisive Media.)

“We’re starting to use search to justify traditional media budgets,” said Aaron Goldman, VP of Resolution Media, a search marketing firm owned by Omnicom. By identifying spikes in search queries against TV schedules, Resolution Media is helping other Omnicom agencies determine where to place paid ads.

Goldman pointed out that search marketing consultants were involved during the early planning stages for Gatorade’s League of Clutch microsite. “Two years ago, no one was thinking about search that early in the process,” he said.

Robert Murray, president of search-marketing firm iProspect, pointed to internal research that shows the power of search. “Two-thirds of the people polled after exposed to some form of offline messaging were driven to perform a search. Then 39 percent of those people made a purchase,” he said.

Some search engines have taken measures to help build relationships with brand advertisers, said Steven Kaufman, media director at Digitas. On Yahoo, for instance, Kellogg’s Special K has displayed its logo and linked to a video for its “Eat Breakfast, Weigh Less” campaign. The paid listing also provides a link to a Special K Challenge Group on Yahoo Groups.

“This is branded search,” Kaufman said, referring to Yahoo. “It’s not going to be the be-all or end-all of branded search…but go to Google, and it’s not as compelling.”

Special K on Yahoo

Special K on Google

As the cost for some keywords continues to increase, the search marketers said they plan their budgets with those increases in mind.

“We have to make sure we’re measuring and managing bids and keywords,” Kaufman said. Does that mean search marketers should put more emphasis on organic search over paid search? “We should do everything possible to capture all traffic. There’s one school of thought that the more positions on the [search engine results] page, the better,” he said.

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