Last week, I was reading an email discussion list I belong to. Although most of the list was already in the holiday weekend mood, there was some lively discussion about an online marketing campaign. The campaign, ShaveEverywhere, was for Philips Norelco’s Bodygroom, developed by Tribal DDB, New York. It’s a classic case of a brilliantly executed ad creative designed to be viral and rely on word-of-mouth advertising (WOM).
Clearly, the campaign’s viral dimension was successful. According to Alexa, as illustrated in Alexaholic, ShaveEverywhere’s traffic spiked significantly during the week of May 1. However, something was missing in a campaign that, according to “The Wall Street Journal,” had an initial budget under $500,000. Where was PPC (define) search?
There must be a culture shift among agencies that do this kind of brilliant creative work before they can extend the value of their campaigns to clients. Perhaps Tribal DDB did, in fact, pitch search to Norelco. The sad thing is an opportunity was wasted.
It wouldn’t have taken a large PPC budget to dramatically extend the campaign’s viral reach. Sure, purchasing the domain and product names, particularly during launch (when the URL probably was missing from search engine results) would have guaranteed more of the population that uses search engines as their mode of Web navigation would have found the site. But even after the site achieved top organic rankings, PPC ads could have doubled screen real estate and would have allowed for a split message. One message, appearing in organic results, could have displayed the site’s title and description; the second, appearing in paid listings, could have been entirely different.
Message diversity is a great way to bifurcate your audience, not all of whom respond to the same messaging. Audience segmentation and message diversity can be really powerful in a viral campaign, where stated and implied benefits relate to an area not normally covered in marketing communications. Because this site (and most sites used for viral campaigns) was developed exclusively in Flash, most of the keyword-rich content never shows up in organic results. Paid search provides marketers with the perfect tools to attack the marketplace and gain visibility for the searchers who not only will respond to the creative, but (gasp!) are actually looking to buy a product to solve a problem. This is the difference between viral reach and targeted reach. Search delivers targeted reach. The viral pass-along becomes an added benefit.
The ShaveEverywhere campaign draws inferences about “the optical inch” and how women prefer a man who’s well groomed in every area. The message is humorously delivered on the site, but imagine how the humor could have extended to the search campaign. My campaign recommendation (at least to test) would have included a combination of fun keyword purchases, listed here with some approximate monthly costs:
The above list could be much longer, and, more important, landing pages for these keywords could have featured the actor in the Flash movie addressing the keyword issue in the same clever tongue-in-cheek way the overall campaign does (I’d love to see that dude talk about sexual satisfaction). The ShaveEverywhere product clearly isn’t selling features; it’s selling benefits. Those benefits are delivered through solving a problem; the kinds of problems people search to solve.
Norelco isn’t alone in creating viral campaigns that don’t tap the targeted reach of PPC search while going for tonnage (overall reach) with the core viral campaign. In the same men’s shaving category, Gillette has a viral campaign at NoScruf.org, but it certainly doesn’t have the viral impact of the ShaveEverywhere campaign. This would make PPC support even more important (the folks at ShaveEverywhere might even want to buy the keyword “noscruf” and get visibility there).
I’m optimistic that marketing departments and their agencies will learn how to be creative not just with their sites and strategies but also with PPC search campaigns. What better time to capture viral momentum than when someone has the problem that your product solves? The pass-along rate must be at least as good among those who are smack in your target market as it is for those who appreciate great creative advertising.
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