The ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program hoopla and Congress’ push to infuse it with more ‘cash’ was a fantastic opportunity for big auto manufacturers advertising like mad on TV to reach local buyers online with local dealership offers. Not surprisingly, after a few quick geo-searches on Google Maps and Yahoo Local among others, the search results for local car dealerships or their parent manufacturers participating in the program were lackluster at best. Here’s an example:
As local search is continuing to grow and advertisers, search engines and local businesses alike are grabbing a piece of the pie, does it make sense for big brand manufacturers to join the party? Today, “ROBO” (research online buy offline) search queries are changing the face of local search. According to a study by Yahoo, consumers exposed to online retail marketing campaigns were more engaged and spent more dollars in physical stores than otherwise. Now, ready-to-buy consumers are conducting more precise targeted local searches through a series of keywords, which often include brand focused-searches. But again, auto manufacturers don’t seem to be taking advantage of the phenomenon:
While big ticket brands spend money on paid search campaigns with specialized offers and promote these incentives through targeted TV and radio ads, often online organic search is left out of the mix altogether. It’s a great time for brands to start ramping up organic SEO campaigns as local organic searchers often generate higher conversation rates than paid search campaigns, and most users tend to trust organic results over sponsored links.
What we’re seeing is similar to the days of yellow pages co-op advertising—still a tried and true approach for manufacturers for boosting sales and visibility for specific products through their local distributors. Local search offers further revenue-generating opportunities for manufacturers and their distributors to join forces and reach the growing local online consumer base. Avenues for these brand powerhouses are numerous.
Brands should focus on extending promotional/brand advertising to the near point-of-sale by partnering with local search engines and content management providers to push out display advertising when relevant keyword searches are performed, for local queries that include their brand names (e.g. Frigidaire) as well as for local queries that include products they sell (side-by-side refrigerators).
Big brands or manufacturers can also offer co-op opportunities with distributors to place logos/offers at the individual listing level to draw the consumer to the brand they are looking for or to influence their selection if they have not specifically selected a brand.
There are also opportunities to create directional advertising by developing branded local search micro-sites targeted at local searches that include their brands, products or services that contain “where to buy” links to distributors offering their products.
It’s all about brand awareness and market share, right? Well, today local is where it’s at. If you’re missing out on this opportunity, you should make sure you are throwing the party instead of being left off the guest list.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.