Last Wednesday, Reprise Media’s Managing Partner Peter Hershberg participated in Media Bites – a breakfast seminar hosted by Advertising Age at the Paley Center for Media in Manhattan (nee the museum of Television and Radio).
The event (additional coverage here courtesy of Ad Age), which was part of last week’s Advertising Week festivities, focused on search marketing for large corporations, sort of a 200-level SEM course that assumed that the crowd of roughly 100 marketers were coming to the table with some level of beginner’s knowledge.
First up in the morning was a joint case study from Reprise Media and Microsoft on the challenges of managing search for an enterprise brand. Mark Grote, Senior Search Advertising Manager for Microsoft started off, by framing up the challenge of running the company’s search efforts in fairly colorful terms:
“Doing search for an enterprise brand is like being a mosquito at a nudist colony – I know what I need to do, I just have no idea where to start.”
To illustrate the challenge, Grote walked the crowd through the structure of Microsoft’s Windows division – 15 versions of Vista, promoted by 23 different stakeholders using a wide range competing business goals (downloads vs. sales vs. etc.) With all these different variables, it’s tough to know how exactly to most effectively manage a campaign.
Peter followed this up by highlighting the major elements of our relationship with Microsoft (and, for that matter, the essential parts of any enterprise campaign):
- Educating stakeholders, so that all of the thousands of Microsoft marketers have the same resources and the same set of best practices in search
- Recalibrating Goals: Because the marketing organization in an enterprise-level client is often quite decentralized, you often deal with departments who track and measure success very differently. Getting everyone speaking the same language helps to make campaign management scalable – if we all agreed on what we’re trying to accomplish we can go about it much more quickly.
- Repurposing search learnings: Enterprise search campaigns produce a lot of data. When taken in aggregate, this data can help you learn things about how your audience views your products and the market in general. We developed processes to help Microsoft feed this information back into their decision making.
- Sharing assets between agencies: By speaking regularly with Microsoft’s network of agencies and marketing partners and getting early visibility into Microsoft’s marketing efforts (such as the recent Jerry Seinfeld/Bill Gates ads) we can predict where demand is likely to come from and match it with relevant search ads. (For example, not just buying Microsoft’s brand terms, but memorable terms from the commercial, like “warm churro.”)
- Managing Search Overlap: Finally, with any enteprise level campaign, you run into overlap issues, where multiple business units need to run on the same keywords at the same time. We helped
(If you’re interested in seeing more, a full copy of our joint presentation can be viewed here via SlideShare.)
Afterwards we were treated to a great panel discussion on recent trends in search. Ad Age assembled a very interesting cast of characters, including Curt Hecht from Vivaki/Starcom, Ron Belanger from Yahoo, Jeff Glueck CMO from Travelocity (and self-proclaimed Chief Gnome Guy) and moderator James Lamberti from ComScore. Among the major topics discussed:
- Branding Value of Search: The panelists were in agreement that the nature of the conversation has changed. As Ron from Yahoo pointed out, ten years ago we were arguing that search deserved consideration as a replacement for TV & Radio. Now the industry realizes that they each play their own role. Demand is created in other media, and fulfilled in search.”Expanding on the point, Glueck reminded the audience that “Google & Yahoo can’t force someone to type your brand into their blank box.” The implication was clear. Search not only won’t replace these other forms of media, it’s reliant on them to create the demand that causes someone to initiate their search in the first place.Hecht agreed, and expanded on ways in which marketers should be considering this interplay between search and other forms of media. As an example, he referred back to the Google/Pontiac campaign which launched a few years ago. At the time, he was at GM, and said that the Pontiac team “were thinking about ‘what’s really going to happen if someone types in our brand on Google?’ We tried to control as much as possible of what’s going on that page. That’s when it was all text. Now with universal search, there’s so much more that could show up there – images, video, social media. You need to consider it all.”
- Buying Branded Terms: Jeff Glueck from Travelocity mentioned that they run more than two million keywords, but a huge portion of their profit comes from people searching on their brand terms, such as Travelocity & Travelocity.com. He attributed this inequity to their efforts to create brand equity in the marketplace.He likened buying branded terms to being a professional gambler: “If you’re really good at blackjack & you know you can win – why would you want to put that money back into a slot machine before you leave the casino? That’s what happens when you buy a generic term that might not convert. You shouldn’t be willing to subsidize or lose money on another term when you can get so much cash.”
- Yahoogle: The subject of the Yahoo/Google partnership also came up, as it will any time search is discussed anywhere these days. We got both sides of the debate – Ron from Yahoo shared the positives of a potential tie-up between the companies: more inventory for advertisers, an ability for Yahoo to select best of breed content and ads for its users regardless of where it comes from.Then Jeff from Travelocity threw a bit of water on all that kumbaya-ing: “I’m not concerned about exposing our brand to more consumers. The Travelocity gnome has 30,000 friends on Facebook. That said, I AM concerned about exposing such a large percentage of my livelihood to a Google/Yahoo partnership.” He went on to point out that many companies have come to rely on the revenue they get from AdWords. Google recently revised the rev share split from 70% to 60%. Once they stop competing with Yahoo, will it drop even farther?