“Super Searchers on Madison Avenue”

In the high pressure world of advertising, researchers must be good… and fast. In the most recent addition to CyberAge Books’ Super Searcher series, some of Madison Avenue’s best information sleuths share their secrets.

Effective advertising involves much more than creative pitches to buy stuff. Successful campaigns are assembled by teams that blend clever messaging with specific knowledge of target markets, demographics, product knowledge, and countless other factors.

In practice, this means using deep, thorough research as a core strategic component of a campaign. “Super Searchers on Madison Avenue,” by Grace Avellana Villamora, profiles 13 advertising researchers working at top international agencies, such as TBWAChiatDay, Leo Burnett, and Interpublic, to uncover the search tactics that allow them to survive and thrive in this intense business.

Though searching the Web is a core focus of the book, there’s also a ton of useful information related to compiling and presenting results. Culling information and presenting only the most relevant — in effect, reducing information overload for users — is a key skill practiced by all these searchers.

Villamora’s interviews are wide-ranging, eliciting not only tips and techniques for more effective research but interesting personal information as well. I particularly like the stories related to challenging or surprising requests for information. For example, do top fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein wear Levi’s? What are examples of spectacular product failures?

Some other great tips from these super searchers:

  • Search proactively to have the answers (or at least the best resources) at the ready. This is particularly helpful if you’re in a high-pressure situation and need to find information on deadline.

  • If you’re looking for consumer information, online “complaint” forums such as Planet Feedback (now Intelliseek), Complaints.com, and even Google Groups are a gold mine.
  • Use specialized directories to search for experts, then contact them directly by email or phone.
  • If you seek information on obsolete or discontinued products, your first stop should be eBay.
  • A great resource to see what’s hot and what’s not in advertising is Ad Critic.com.

The list of referenced sites and sources is extensive, covering over 300 resources. Even better, the list is available online with direct links whenever possible.

Like all books in the Super Searcher series, “Super Searchers on Madison Avenue” is packed with practical tips. They’re useful to anyone who spends time searching, whether you’re involved with the advertising industry or not. It’s a worthy addition to any searcher’s library.

Disclosure: CyberAge Books is the publisher of my book,”The Invisible Web,” coauthored with Gary Price. Apart from this, I have no professional connection with either CyberAge Books or Grace Avellana Villamora.

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