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July 27, 2005
What’s Wrong With Advertising Today?

All too often companies announce new products or services with a multi-million dollar media blitz and forget to plan for a critically important by-product of their efforts. They forget that advertising and all other "awareness tactics" drive people to do one thing…


Yes, that's right! Search.

Think about it. Search is ubiquitous in today's world. Search has infiltrated our daily lives and has changed our buying behaviors. When we want something, we search. When we investigate something, we search. When we want to settle a bet, we search. It's what we do. And why should the advertising industry care? Because at a very fundamental level, all advertising and media aimed at creating awareness drives people to use search engines.

Today, people are naturally skeptical. They don't believe every advertising message they hear. When a new product is launched—a car for example—the first thing people do is to search for product reviews and product comparisons. Can this new car really do zero to fifty in six seconds? Can this car really get 40 miles to the gallon? How do the experts feel about this new car? Should I be one of the first people to purchase this car? How does this car compare to other recently released cars?

This is where most advertising fails. It fails to recognize that creating awareness is meaningless unless you have a strategy to capture the "user intent" that results from that awareness. That is where search comes in.

In 2003, one of the best product launches I have ever witnessed occurred. The code name of the product was "Ginger," sometimes simply referred to as "It." "It" was talked about in the media for more than six months prior to launch, though no one knew what "It" was. "It" was a new invention from multi-millionaire inventor Dean Kamen that was going to revolutionize transportation, and change everyday life on earth if you believed all the hype. What on earth was "It?"

With great fanfare, "It" was unveiled live on Good Morning America to an audience of millions. I was one of them. Yes, I bought into the hype, hook, line and sinker.

"It" turned out to be a scooter, "That’s it?" asked the bemused co-anchor after they literally raised a curtain to the sounds of triumphant trumpet music to reveal the two-wheeled self-balancing scooter.

The launch of the Segway HT demonstrated two marketing opposites: one being a spectacular PR success, and the other being one of advertising's most stunning oversights.

When Good Morning America dedicated the entire show to the launch their product, and millions of those viewers turned to their computer (some later in that day or week, no doubt) to search for more information, "It" could not be found in Google, "It" could not be found MSN, "It" could not be found in "AltaVista" and "It" could not be found in any search engine on virtually any keyword that the world searched on.

What marketers of the Segway failed to recognize is that all advertising, all PR, all media for the most part, drives search behavior. And the amount of search behavior that they failed to capitalize on in the hours and days following their product's launch is just unfathomable. They missed out—BIG TIME!

We see it in virtually all search engine marketing campaigns. When the client launches a TV advertising campaign, a direct mail campaign, a radio campaign or begins to generate media attention through PR activities, branded and non-branded keyword search referrals to the website skyrocket—but only if that website is appearing near the top of the search results.

So what's the problem? For many marketers, search marketing exists in a vacuum. It is relegated to an online marketing manager who doesn't know what's happening with his company's brand manager, who in turn doesn't know about the direct marketing manager's new campaign, who in turn doesn't even know they have an online marketing manager.

What we have here ladies and gentlemen, is a failure to integrate.

A failure to capitalize upon the synergies of search marketing and its sister marketing initiatives. Unfortunately, this "dis-integration" is often borne of departmental fiefdoms, rather than strategic consideration.

Well, what should you consider when trying to integrate your SEM campaign with all of your other initiatives? Here are some key things to consider about successful integration of search marketing with your other channels:

  • It starts with leadership—namely, the CMO
  • Measure and analyze your search marketing results at the most granular level
  • Share search campaign result with the management of other channels – especially the words visitors are using to find your products/services on which your website
  • Incorporate those traffic-producing keywords into the messaging you use in your TV, print, radio, outdoor, email and direct mail campaigns
  • Incorporate look and feel components used in your other campaigns into your website and any campaign-specific landing pages

Search engine use has become mainstream. Advertisers need to capitalize upon that, and the answer lies in integrating search marketing into the overall marketing mix. Search marketing has evolved and has proven its value as a highly effective tool that requires strategic consideration, rather than merely tactical execution. Search is ready, willing, and able to make your marketing initiatives more effective. So my fellow advertisers—isolate and die or integrate and thrive.

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As President of iProspect, Robert Murray is responsible for formulating the firm's corporate strategy and managing the company's operations. Murray, who has more than 15 years of strategic consulting and financial analysis expertise, also is in charge of developing and negotiating strategic alliances, identifying acquisition opportunities, and evaluating the company's capital structure. He has served as President of iProspect for the last 5 years and led the company through its recent acquisition by Aegis PLC. rmurray@iprospect.com

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