This fall I will watch a ton of football, which means I will see a ton of ads for trucks. What if the success of those ads was measured on the number of phone calls to a Chevy dealer in the minutes following a commercial? To measure TV in this way would be absurd. After all, it takes time to sway the hearts and minds of consumers who will buy these products in the future.
However, when it comes to digital advertising, where data is available in real-time, marketers often cling to this data, use it to evaluate all digital ads and optimize accordingly. As a result, “assisting” media is cut and marketers pour more money into “converting” activities; those that occur immediately preceding the purchase. the primary beneficiary is branded search (e.g., “Vitamix Blender”). Without marketing to grow the pool of prospective buyers and to stimulate demand, potential sales are limited and the well can even dry up, unless the marketer uses offline media (for which these metrics are not easily and quickly available) to build awareness. As a result, digital struggles to gain traction as a brand-building medium and win big brand budgets.
This article, The Underappreciated, Unrecognized Value Of Non-Brand Search Campaigns, focuses on the detrimental impact to paid search programs. Real-time site activity data implies that “non-brand” search (e.g., best blender) does not work. In reality, this type of work puts Vitamix into the searchers limited consideration set. A searcher may conduct a dozen more searches before finally deciding to make the $500 investment. This sale will most often be credited to a branded search “Vitamix blender”, though the “best blender” search put the Vitamix on the buyer’s radar and had the greatest influence on the eventual purchase.
More and more marketers are attempting to account for and measure all steps in the decision-making process. A study by one travel site found that its non-brand search campaigns were valued at an additional 43% after moving from a last-click attribution model (which would assign credit only to the very last, likely branded, search); which led to a dramatic change in their allocations across search campaigns. In the absence of robust and comprehensive data though, simply considering the typical path to purchase can greatly improve data interpretation and prevent teams from taking potentially harmful action.
Why It’s Hot: It’s hot because it has a major impact on the way that clients perceive our marketing programs. Data’s great, but it often has limitations (e.g., last click only). Before acting on it, we must consider the bigger picture; consumer insight, the user journey and the metric’s place within it.