Search Ads and Site-Side Brand Metrics
marketing and advertising are moving in opposite directions.
Rich media ads and other graphical animated advertising
appear more frequently on sites and in e-mail. Much
online image-based advertising is primarily used to
communicate branding and educational messages first,
then to drive traffic to the advertiser's site. As average
consumer bandwidth increases, so do the use of animated,
audio, video, and large-format image ads. Ad agencies
and marketing departments are set to communicate branding
objectives online as they do offline.
Search engine marketers, on the other hand, use the
text links in search results to drive traffic to Web
sites. Paid listings, while subject to editorial guidelines,
are very controllable. Organic listings provide marketers
with partial control. Nearly every search campaign's
primary objective is to drive site traffic. A secondary
(often ignored) objective is the text ad's branding
The destination Web site often contains a wealth of
content on dozens, hundreds, even thousands of pages.
Searchers are on a mission and in a very impressionable
state of mind when they engage in search behavior. What
better time to present educational brand messages? Given
the limited copy space in a search ad, marketers can't
educate or persuade much in the ad itself. Both brand
and direct-response marketers should consider the branding
and communication impact of the landing page, as well
as the site as a whole.
For each and every paid ad event (the click), a searcher
is exposed to at least one page of your site: the landing
page. The site becomes an extension of the ad. It's
the element with the most effect on a potential customer.
To ignore the site's value as a brand communications
vehicle is to ignore search most powerful aspect for
the brand marketer.
Traditional retailers know signage inside and outside
the store, as well as displays, are part of a branded
shopping experience. Airlines, shipping companies, and
fast-food outlets all use heavy branding messages on
vehicles and uniforms and within their facilities. Don't
ignore the importance and power of the Web site as part
of your ad campaign.
There are several ways a brand marketer can measure
search campaign results when the site itself serves
a critical ad element. Web and campaign analytics are
more than a reporting method; they're a means to more
effectively manage ad campaigns.
Factors to use when measuring campaign success through
Time on site. The longer a visitor stays on the site
after arriving via a search ad, the better you've done
as a marketer.
Page views. The greater the number of pages with which
the visitor interacts, the greater the likelihood she's
absorbed your marketing message. That's a lift in branding
metrics (awareness, purchase intent, etc.).
Registrations. Registration means the visitor gives
your brand permission to engage in a dialogue. The ongoing
conversation provides the opportunity to further build
your brand and move the customer closer to purchase.
Download/view. If your brand has a reputation for highly
informative (e.g., movie or political ads) or highly
entertaining (e.g., GEICO or Carl's Jr.) advertising,
visitors may actually choose to play your video or audio
Configuration or comparison. If your brand stacks up
favorably against the competition and you provide a
comparison page, it can have significant value. Product
configurators are also brand immersive (e.g., automotive,
washing machines, computer, appliances, furniture).
Targeted link to retailers. Many marketers don't directly
sell products, but their sites support retailers by
linking to them. If search listings ultimately result
in a link to a retailer, that's enhanced purchase intent.
No branding metric is better than purchase intent.
By closing the data loop and adjusting a search campaign
based on site-side factors that correlate with branding,
you can take the mystery out of search marketing for
branding. You can allocate a branding budget efficiently.
You'll pay less attention to ad position and more attention
to the post-click part of your ad -- your site.