Search’s Impact on Brand Metrics

SES New York is coming up. As in past years, I’ll share my wisdom on a panel. Before I discuss that panel and the new SES, under the guidance of Kevin Ryan, I want to devote part of this column to a rant regarding conferences.

Simultaneous Conferences

Conferences are supported by sponsors, exhibitors, and full-price conference attendees. Booth sales and sponsorship opportunities require several things for vendors to avail themselves and commit time and resources to a conference. First is a slate of high-quality attendees in sufficient numbers to justify the sponsorship or booth rental fees. Second, the vendor must have the resources to sufficiently cover the conference, regardless of whether its presence involves booth staff or attendees.

This year, more than in any prior year, vendors seem to be significantly worried as they find themselves facing two, three, four, or more simultaneous conferences. This scenario reduces both the conference’s attendee pie and (due to a shortage of staff and booths) available sponsorship dollars. Even the media, particularly bloggers, are often torn between covering one event or another.

Vendors who sponsor, attend, or exhibit at conferences recognize the need to reserve venues a year or more ahead of time, but conference planners must have an opportunity to coordinate conferences to be at least a week apart. With media types converging due to merger activity and technological advancements, many vendors have an interest in shows that are broader than just search or e-marketing. The conference producers all know each other by name and would do the overall industry a big favor if they reduced triple conference bookings to double bookings. We have 52 weeks in the year and most conferences don’t even take up a full week, so there’s plenty of opportunity to coordinate to reduce this rampant overlap. End of rant.

Search & Brand Metrics

For SES New York (part of The ClickZ Network), my panel, “The Impact of Search on Brand Health Metrics,” is made up of esteemed “old timers,” including Rob Graham, VP of creative and technical training, Laredo Group; Doron Wesly, VP, strategic services, at Millward Brown; and Stephen DiMarco, CMO, Compete. (As an aside, market research firm TNS bought Compete just this week for $75 million cash and up to another $75 million in earn-outs over the next two years. If Stephen is smiling throughout the panel session, you’ll know why.)

The panel will discuss how you might measure or factor in lift in traditional brand metrics achieved through search. Traditional metrics used effectively by marketing and advertising professionals for decades are:

  • Brand and ad awareness

  • Message association
  • Brand favorability
  • Purchase intent

Despite study after study, marketers still don’t associate search engine visibility with the resulting high-engagement site visitations associated with brand lift. We’ll examine the catalysts necessary to change this mentality. Such change will be necessary for the search market to grow in spending, because, at least domestically, the level of systemic growth in search traffic is fairly low. Targeting improvements, CPC (define) price escalation among holistic and brand marketers, and the continued extension of search targeting beyond the SERP (define) will all be necessary to support even a modest growth level.

Search offers significant value to branding, and a brand gets healthier when it has good search coverage and a good landing page experience. Certainly you can argue that if your competition is there and you aren’t, the searcher’s perception must be affected. I’ve long held that search traffic and visibility in the SERPs provide a valuable incremental benefit to marketers. It will be interesting to see if the panel agrees on the best way to put that assertion into practice.

Clearly some media are converging; it’s even hinted at within the SES agenda with sessions about ad exchanges, affiliate marketing, Web analytics, and conversion optimization. No longer will search be a marketing methodology and media opportunity existing in a silo.

Just prior to my session, Dana Todd will be reviewing highlights from SEMPO‘s “2007 State of the Market Survey” results, which I’ll cover here next week.

Meet Kevin at SES New York March 17-20.

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

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