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Today’s post is a guest entry from Caroline Watts. Watts is a Marketing Associate at ReTargeter, a full-service display ad platform specializing in retargeting.
In the word of online advertising, clicks and conversions drive decision-making. Many a seasoned digital marketer scoffs at branding plays as relics of the Mad Man era. Why would performance-driven online marketers launch something so nebulous, so immeasurable, so unscientific as a branding campaign?
Branding campaigns don’t seem to have a place in the performance-driven online marketing world, but is that necessarily a good thing?
“Branding” is often associated with multi-million-dollar TV and print spends. Smaller companies or companies with limited marketing budgets can’t launch such massive campaigns, and even for larger companies, that type of spend is often illogical. Luckily, a more efficient method exists online.
It is possible to have high-ROI branding campaigns with measureable results. Search retargeting allows brands to serve targeted display ads to a highly relevant audience, meaning it is possible to launch a branding campaign focused only on the right people.
What Is Search Retargeting, and How Can I Use It for Branding?
Search retargeting is an advanced retargeting technique that allows brands to serve display ads to people who have searched for a key term relevant to their product or service. Let’s say, for example, you’re the online advertising manager for the Wynn hotel and casino. Using search retargeting, you could serve display ads to users who search for ‘Vegas hotels’ whether or not they’ve ever been to the Wynn website or have even heard of the Wynn. But the searcher doesn’t just see the ad once. Rather, he/she will see display ads for the Wynn all over the web, creating a lasting impression and ideally drawing the searcher to the website, either by clicking on an ad, searching directly for the brand via a search engine, or directly inputting the website URL.
Search retargeting allows you to introduce your brand to new people who are in-market for your product or service right now. This is branding without waste.
With display, there is an important component that does not come into play with paid search: optimizing creative. The display ad is a different animal than the traditional search ad, and those new to the space should heed that warning. If your ads are not visually appealing and well-branded, you are wasting the opportunity. Remember, branding plays are all about a visual association with your brand. The display ad, though not often regarded as a high art form, deserves significant creative investment, or it will not be successful.
As with traditional PPC, a significant part of the value of search retargeting comes from the fact that you know the user is searching for your product or service, or for something similar. But the seasoned search marketer will have to come to terms with lower average click-through rates than search. People are significantly less likely to click on a display ad than on a search ad, but that doesn’t mean display isn’t valuable. If you can make people remember your brand, they are likely to head back to your site through other means. There are metrics other than clicks that can define success.
Any strong branding campaign must have a specific goal in mind, be it driving new traffic to your website, building awareness for a new brand, or taking away market share from the competition.
Depending on your stated goal, there are different ways of measuring your success. If you’re interested in driving new traffic, check Google Analytics to see if new visitors to your site have spiked after the launch of your search retargeting campaign. If you’re hoping to siphon traffic away from your competition (search retargeting with competitive keywords is a particularly effective technique), check Compete.com to see if your share of search is improving. For a more in-depth look at defining and measuring success, check out this excellent blog by Avanish Kaushik.
Be Memorable and Clickable
The line between branding and direct response is blurred online. A savvy search retargeter will combine strong branding with clear calls to action, much like those included in PPC ad copy. Ads should appear clickable; you should never ignore the fact that display ads are also a direct-response tactic. Much like you would in a search campaign, you should test different calls to action such as ‘Click Here’ or ‘Learn More.’
Search retargeting is the modern marketer’s online branding play and a great extension for anyone using search marketing. Its success revolves largely around optimizing keywords, so search retargeting is the perfect next step for the veteran search marketer. In fact, PPC and search retargeting can be quite effective when used in conjunction.
Branding doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Search retargeting campaigns can build measurable brand awareness and improved revenue. In the long run, establishing wide brand recognition is significantly more powerful and long-lasting than one-step calls to click.
– Caroline Watts