This Is A Blog About Marketing
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Search and Display, Friends or Foes?

Most people who came to the SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization) Meetup last night were probably interested in the relationship between search (or Pay Per Click - PPC) and display, and then there were others who came for the free foods (which I am not gonna lie, I was guilty of this as well). However, besides the good foods (and sangaria ), there was a great discussion about the effectiveness of display advertising as well as how it can be measured. Display advertising is a type of marketing that includes means such as images, logos and banner ads to deliver a message to customers. It is mostly used for branding and is said to be able to influence behaviors. Theoretically, if being done well, a display ad could get people to accept a brand as one with high quality, make a purchase or sign up for a service. Companies are willing to spend a large portion of their budget to get people doing these kinds of things.

Ever since Google created this whole new advertising form called search marketing (a type of marketing that allows companies to target and influence their customers when the customers are looking for information on a search engine), organizations and ad agencies have found it important to measure results. Search engine allows advertisers to look at metrics and be able to tell how their advertising budget is spent, how much of the spending results into conversions (a purchase/registration is made), etc.

So.... instead of using the budget on something that is difficult or almost impossible to measure (like whether or not people buy a car thanks to a car banner ad), companies choose to spend on PPC. The PPC ad is measureable and targeted. Unless companies do not fully comprehend the concept of PPC, it is hard for any of them to say 'no, I don't want to do search'. It's like saying no to having a tax accountant.

Is display advertising effective? I try to think of a last time I decided to buy something because of a display ad and I couldn't think of any. But I know some display ads are good, they get people clicking around, like the one with Obama's IQ score, I know my brother clicked on it to take the IQ test. Does that mean my brother ended up buying or registering for anything? Not necessary (he didn't). Does that mean he is influenced for future purchases? Maybe. People don't often realize they are influenced. When I see an Old Navy banner ad, I think about it but don't buy it until later when I go to the store. So how are we supposed to measure that kind of influence? A better question, if people see a display ad and then google it, finally they make a purchase, will the credits go to display or search?

It takes more than a banner ad, a search ad copy, a TV commercial or an email to change someone's behavior. Effective marketing/advertising is usually a process. After customers are influenced by different advertising forms and channels, search (if done right) is the best way to reach a large number of those targeted customers. Therefore, advertisers should use search and the understanding of search in coordination with other forms of advertising (display, TV, social networking) to receive the best result.

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