SEM and Online Advertising Symbiosis

Ad agencies can learn from search. They can also teach a thing or two to search marketers. We should attempt to not only integrate both kinds of campaigns, but also scrutinize each to help the other. Sure, it’s always a question of campaign objectives, but to operate the two independently from one another without analysis or takeaway is downright foolish.

Let’s start with the most fundamental kind of integration: paid search ads and display ads. Display ad creative should reinforce keyword searches by using the same terms. If the ad campaign’s purpose is to build new product awareness, you have even more reason to home in on keywords. I’m sure most of us are aware of the “purple pill” campaign. Check out the phrase in a search engine.

Moving beyond the fundamentals, SEM (define) successes can steer the decision-making process about where and how and by what means to place online advertising. We can identify strong keywords to use for behaviorally targeted or new RSS ad purchases, for example. Sleeper keywords that generate high conversions may help identify niche audiences for which you might want to purchase display advertising.

Contextual search success may also lead to online advertising ideas. We have a search client with a lesser-known technology that’s had surprisingly strong contextual results. We believe it’s because once the editorial reader finds out about this kind of technology, he wants to buy it almost immediately. So now we’re considering display ad opportunities to reach similar audiences.

If your client’s concerned about reaching audiences on a local level, examine traditional search keywords for Internet yellow pages (IYP) ad buys; opportunities have improved over the past nine months. Similarly, traditional search may lead you to explore advertising and search opportunities on niche engines, such as comparison shopping search engines and travel-booking sites.

Some visitors arrive at a site from a search but don’t convert. Look at advertising opportunities to recapture these prequalified visitors through programs such as’s LeadBack or Revenue Science’s new Re-Targeting campaign. These programs recognize unconverted site visitors. As they visit other sites within the ad network they’re served ads that try to woo them back to the initial site. Special offers or other unique messages can be used to entice these visitors with the goal of improving lift on the originating ad campaign.

Search can be used to hedge on high-minimum impression-based display ad buys. Test offers and responses through search before committing to larger display ad expenses. It’s a lot easier, faster, and less expensive to change a search ad than a display one.

Non-search ad campaigns also do their part to improve search campaigns. Direct response advertisers can test the waters on offer sites such as MyCoupons and CoolSavings to help determine what kind of offer to use in a paid search campaign. For brand advertisers, cleverly integrated campaigns, especially those involving display ads, microsites, viral buzz, and guerilla marketing, can not only drive direct traffic but also lead to improved organic search rankings of seemingly non-optimized Web sites.

To take advantage of these types of opportunities, the online advertising agency must have access to the SEM data. This gets problematic when the advertising and SEM agency aren’t one and the same.

Online marketing remains fragmented and siloed. In-house and outsourced players muddle around in the same space, oftentimes in an uncoordinated manner. This isn’t to say one player should have ultimate control, but all players should definitely share information if the client is to achieve optimal success. Advertising clients must trust their marketing partners more, and marketing partners must communicate and emphasize to clients what kinds of data they need to succeed.

Neither type of campaign should run in a vacuum. We’re missing out on too many opportunities to improve what we’re doing.

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

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