Brand Aid covers the unique issues faced by search marketers responsible for campaigns featuring big or well-known brands. Columnists look at topics such as effective branding via search, trademark protection, “co-opitition” with affiliates, integrating search marketing with traditional brand marketing and more.

The Doctor Is In: Using An Unbranded Health Site

Recently, I had an amazing experience. I was invited to be a part of an all agency partner meeting. Throughout the day, we talked about various initiatives to ensure that the right partners collaborated on each to maximize the brand’s marketing dollars. However, we did something else that was far more valuable. We listened. The pharmaceutical brand had invited a patient to the meeting. Because this individual has the condition that the brand treats, they were able to provide us with tremendously valuable insights that we could incorporate into our efforts. This was an amazing experienc [...]

How To Boost Brand Exposure On A Fixed Budget

It’s easy to increase brand presence in search... if you have the budget. But more often than not, search marketers feel trapped by their fixed budgets, and wonder how they can possibly increase branded reach without spending more money. However, it can be done. Online visibility is directly related to how many times your ads appear in the search results, which is directly related to your budget and bidding strategy. Usually, the more money you spend, the more often you appear. But there’s a way around this dynamic. One way to overcome this problem is through match types. Match types [...]

Why Affiliate Direct Linking Activity Has Doubled

Direct linking, sometimes also referred to as ‘URL Hijacking’, occurs on paid search when affiliate marketers assume the identity in paid ads of the represented merchant. Direct linking occurs when the affiliate uses the merchant’s website as the display URL, with an affiliate link as the destination URL. The effect of this tactic is that the affiliate does not need to operate a website because it is directing traffic straight from the search page to the merchant’s website. This tactic, while economical, efficient, and easy for the affiliate, creates problems for merchants. Co [...]

Why Brand Trumps ROI: 3 Tips To Build Your Brand Online

ROI. ROI. ROI. It’s the mantra for most direct response marketers. But to remain competitive, marketers must look beyond direct ROI, and invest in programs that will enrich their overall brand. Let’s take a look at why. Understanding The Shift There are more brands competing in search than ever, but the playing field is hardly level. In fact, it has shifted. Today it favors well-recognized brands that have built brand equity. Those who haven’t invested in their brand are being left behind. A recent study underscores this point. According to a recent Kenshoo report, "the number of c [...]

Top 5 Ways To Use Search For Branding

Search is typically thought of exclusively as a direct response medium with the objectives of driving traffic and customer acquisition. Direct response channels are measured in terms of things like response rates, purchases, and consumer action. These metrics fit in neatly with search because it is measurable media that can be directly correlated to response rates, e.g. clicks and purchases. Conversely, branding is not the ‘usual’ way that the search channel is used. This is primarily because branding objectives differ greatly from direct response goals and therefore the same measures d [...]

The JCPenney Situation Is A Symptom Of A Bigger Disease

Assuming you haven't been living under a rock for the past week, you've certainly heard about this JCPenney SEO debacle. But I think it's worth mentioning that while this issue revealed itself through some sketchy SEO, the issue here really isn't about SEO at all, and it's not limited to JCP at all. The links that JCP and their search firm went about gathering were the symptom, not the disease. Yesterday, my company released a response to our friends, summarizing our thoughts (I'll put a link at the end of this post, but I'll summarize the response here). In it, we discuss that there are t [...]

7 Tips To Use Paid Search To Unite Brands During A Merger

Do you recall the merger of AT&T and Cingular Wireless back in 2007? At the time, experts questioned  AT&T’s decision to retire Cingular’s brand name. After all, it was very popular. But now the AT&T brand is stronger than ever, and hardly anyone remembers the brand they cut. When faced with a merger today, marketers should tap into paid search to bring the brands together. A Difficult Journey Combining two companies can be a painful experience. In fact, it can produce a to-do list from hell. There are seemingly endless meetings to arrange, trainings to schedule, and corp [...]

Brands Beware: Affiliate Tricks Used In Email

Less than two years ago, I wrote an article for Brand Aid about display URL tricks used by affiliates and other brand hijackers in paid search ads. In that article, one of the tactics discussed, ‘tactic # 2’, was a misdirected display URL – where the display URL of the paid ad shows one domain, but the landing page is a completely different top level domain. In that scenario, the typical landing page would contain the advertiser’s logo and look ‘official’ as if it were authorized or even owned by the brand holder through the use of colors and brand like design. The website mi [...]

Search & The Slow Season: Your Brand’s Big Opportunity

Now that the holidays are over, many search marketers want to put their feet up and enjoy the down time. But does search ever have a lull? Not really – it is always on. However, the slow season offers search marketers a great branding and growth opportunity. The Opportunity For Brand Marketers Whether your slow season occurs after the holiday rush or during the first week of August, it can be the perfect time to focus your efforts on creating brand awareness. Because many marketers turn off their campaigns during this time, the competition can be greatly reduced. As a result, your brand co [...]

Putting Your Brand On A Diet

Dieting is one of the most popular new year’s resolutions for us humans. It should be. Nearly 34% of adults are considered to be overweight (source: CDC). After receiving the barrage of emails from brands this holiday season, some who I have done business with before and some I have not, I started to wonder:  Should you develop new year’s resolutions for your brand? What about putting your brand on a diet? Saturated fats are bad for us, perhaps saturated brands are bad for us too. A brand can’t over-eat, but it can do things like over-email and over-coupon. Over-Emailing Your Cus [...]

Leveraging Search To Amplify Offline Marketing Success

We know that measurement is essential for marketers to get the most out of their campaigns today, Fortunately, attribution technology allows us to measure ROI across online channels in great detail. But what about offline efforts? Can marketers measure the success of an offline program with a similar level of granularity? Absolutely. And search can help marketers do just that. Search has the power to provide marketers with important insights that can help them gauge the performance of their offline marketing efforts. By correlating search data with an offline initiative, a marketer can qui [...]

Top 5 Reasons Why Affiliates Are Our “Dumb” Marketing Channel

Did I just say that affiliates are "dumb?" You bet I did. I am referring to the definition of "dumb" which means "lacking some usual attribute or accompaniment; especially having no means of self-propulsion like a dumb barge." What I mean is that affiliate marketers do not have the same advantages that your other marketing channels have: they lack the same tools for success that your SEM, SEO, email and display teams have. Here are the top 5 reasons why our affiliates are forced into this position. 1. No Method To Exchange Information As you market to prospective buyers, you learn [...]

CPG & Paid Search: 4 Tips to Build Deeper, More Cost-Effective Bonds With Consumers

Paid search at its core is a dynamic, competitive, ever-changing auction space where retailers and brands alike are competing to get in front of the same consumer. But with so many different calls to actions, different price points, and different sources of information appearing within every search, how do you set your brand apart and create a loyal consumer in an efficient and affordable way?

Is The “Last Click Wins” Model Best For Your Affiliates?

The "last click wins" method of awarding affiliate commissions means that whichever affiliate is responsible for placing the most recent cookie on a user’s machine is awarded 100% commission for the sale. In this model, affiliates responsible for earlier cookies or impressions do not prevail financially—they get nothing. The question is does the "last click wins" method box affiliates in to "clicks only" marketing channels? Could brand holders gain greater reach if, for example, affiliates could take advantage of behavioral retargeting (BR), content channels and post impression cook [...]

Protect Your Brands With Collaborative Bidding

Bidding on the same keywords without a collaborative strategy spells risk for internal competing brands. Not only can it result in one brand stealing potential clicks and traffic from another, but it also can drive up the CPCs for both. This pattern can quickly lead to increased costs and lower ROI. Ultimately, when internal brands compete on the same keywords, they can inadvertently destroy each brand’s overall bidding strategy. For example: Deborah is a brand manager at a consumer products company with several types of shampoo. Responsible for shampoo formulated to treat dandruff, Debor [...]

Brand Challenges & Opportunities With Social Media & Mobile

Headaches for brands—and the people who manage them—are increasingly common when it comes to search results. More are on the way thanks to social media and the proliferation of smart phones. You should be aware of the impact on your brand because both social media and the use of smart phones to express opinions are growing quickly. Before we jump in, check out a few stats: According to comScore’s MobiLens data from August 2010: 234 million Americans age 13+ use mobile phones 34% use mobile web browsers (some math: roughly 79 million people) 22% access social me [...]

Boosting Consumer Packaged Goods Brand Awareness Through Paid Search

All Steve wanted was tooth-whitening toothpaste. Instead, he got 282,000 search results. Not surprisingly, he didn’t know where to click. Suffice it to say, he felt a tad lost in the sea of search. But such information overload actually represents an opportunity for savvy CPG marketers. Understanding The Opportunity Today, brand awareness is king. A product could be the latest greatest thing, but if consumers aren’t aware of it, or do not understand its benefits, they won’t buy it. Given that, consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers need to find new and innovative ways to help cons [...]

A Battle To Avoid: Search Team Vs. Affiliate Team

Lack of coordination between your search and affiliate marketing efforts can create internal revenue wars. Keywords that contain your brand are extremely valuable both because conversion rates are typically higher due to the high relevance between queries using brand terms and search results, and costs-per-click are often less expensive than those for generic keywords. Your search team wants to own your brand terms, and will want to prohibit the affiliate channel from advertising on them. But from the affiliate channel’s perspective, the ability to advertise on brand terms or brand deri [...]

Remember To Connect With Your Brand Loyalists

Having a well known brand can be a wonderful thing—you have a base of customers who know and trust your offerings. However, marketers often ignore this brand loyal segment, and chase after new customers instead. While developing new business is a necessity, marketers shouldn’t let existing customers get left behind. Why you should care The average consumer is fed thousands of messages each day. These advertisements flood their senses when they watch TV, listen to music, read magazines—and yes—search online. Because of this media deluge, even the most well known brand [...]

Important Restrictions To Include In Your Affiliate Agreement

When working with affiliates, compliance begins with a well crafted and thought out agreement. Here are examples of restrictions that belong in an effective compliance strategy without putting a choke hold on your affiliates. This is not legal advice, and is intended as business advisement. Direct linking a.k.a. URL hijacking. If you and your affiliates are both advertising in the same places—the same keywords on Google, Yahoo or Bing—you need to prohibit direct linking to your website. Links in ads from affiliates should point to their landing pages, not yours. This is beca [...]

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