Jeffrey Glueck, CMO at Travelocity, offered some controversial, and to some, nearly heretical comments while speaking at the IAB’s Performance Marketing Forum this week in Chicago. According to coverage in Advertising Age, Travelocity has found that it’s a waste to buy non-branded search terms.
Fully 96% of Travelocity’s bookings coming from paid search are from ads using branded keywords. And just 2% of paid-search conversions happen when a searcher originally clicked on a nonbranded term only to click and convert on a branded term later.
These findings have led Glueck to be dismissive of the “portfolio” approach to search advertising, bidding on lots of generic keywords to drive maximum traffic. This approach is essentially a waste of marketing dollars, according to Glueck, adding that it’s “a “profound mistake by all of us to think we’ve figured out how to measure ROI on search. We’re in stage one.”
These findings may be true for Travelocity, but I’ve also heard many success stories from other search marketers using generic, non-branded or long-tail search terms. It is refreshing to hear a contrarian point of view, however, especially one based on systematic analysis of searcher behavior.
Postscript: See Travelocity: Non-Branded Terms Convert Nearly 25% But “Assists” Might Be Less Than Assumed for a follow-up to this story.