Paid Search: Moving Beyond The Keyword
With more products, features and prices available in comparison to physical stores, the sheer time and transportation savings are making the Web an increasingly preferred shopping venue. In fact, according to the latest Forrester research, online shopping is growing five times faster than brick and mortar stores, with a projected growth of 14 percent by 2012, a trend that the economy will no doubt fuel further. Knowing this, savvy marketers have begun to incorporate paid search as part of their internet advertising strategy as a means of reaching the buyer while they’re online. However, the cost of doing so has risen exponentially year over year, with more and more companies competing for similar keywords and market share.
What we have learned from the leading search engines is that marketers find paid search to be effective—its pay for performance model and highly measurable ROI are more easily justified than cost performance measurement-based offerings and mass media. The instant gratification of seeing brands move to the top of the list is beneficial for both advertiser and agency, not to mention consumers who deem the top listed brands as superior. But what is becoming more evident is that search engines only take the online purchase process so far. What happens with your brand once consumers have arrived at the online storefront?
Marketers spend billions of dollars each year on in-store promotion, end-cap and eye-level displays at the point of purchase in the brick and mortar world—and marketing has and will continue to work in that medium. The question is, how can these tried and true practices be translated to the web? Actually, quite easily, but it requires retooling traditional search techniques to combine cost-per-click bids with on-site search, creating virtual shelf space as a means of capturing buyer attention and mindshare. There’s absolutely no disruption to the user experience because it’s all managed in the background. For the retailer, bids are treated as an additional variable, or weighting factor, in determining sort order or product presentation. As such, retailers maintain complete control of the role those bids play, managing them in the same way that rules for margin, inventory and popularity are handled.
Technology in action
A leading provider of high-end televisions was looking to increase their clickshare and dominate search results on retail sites where buyers were looking at home entertainment systems. Much like their approach in the brick and mortar environment, this vendor was looking for ways to engage browsers and buyers at the point of purchase. In store, they are known for purchasing eye-level shelf space, interactive kiosks and end-caps to fully demonstrate products. Online, creating awareness and differentiation is a challenge, and the notion of attaining premium position by applying cost-per-click bids was worth a test.
Deploying the tactics discussed above, the advertiser was able to attain premium placement across a network of leading retailers. They had all the tools to manage reach, rank and revenue through familiar paid search tactics, manage bidding, track click and conversion data, and enjoy the halo effect of having products appear at the top of search results. On retailer web sites, premium placement was also available to the advertiser in general site search, on category and sub-category pages, in featured product listings and placement showcases—in short, wherever products were presented.
Within the first month of the campaign, this consumer electronics vendor saw its average position rise from fifth to first, and with the ability to bid by SKU, the number of products represented in premium positions on SERPs increased three-fold. In terms of clickshare, the measure of success for the campaign, the advertiser’s mix of products yielded a 30% increase and a 220% jump in clickshare; while the competition’s share dropped by 63 percent.
Whether online or in-store, the challenge for retailers is to connect manufacturers to consumers and to sell more products. Providing brand managers with the opportunity to achieve premium placement on shelf space across leading retail sites is a win-win for manufacturers looking to sell more product, retailers looking to create an additional line of revenue and buyers looking to make informed decisions. By building upon the best practices of the first wave of paid search but going one step further, combining the notion of cost-per-click and targeted, measurable reach within an identifiable target—retailers—they’re able to do just that.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.