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Search engine marketing is dead; audience marketing is what matters

Search engine marketing is dead; audience marketing is what matters

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Published by icrossinguk
Will the constant battle for visibility through search engine optimisation last? Social media optimisation is of course the obvious next step in the journey, but how long will this last? If marketers aren’t putting audiences first what opportunities are they missing out on?
Will the constant battle for visibility through search engine optimisation last? Social media optimisation is of course the obvious next step in the journey, but how long will this last? If marketers aren’t putting audiences first what opportunities are they missing out on?

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Published by: icrossinguk on Aug 20, 2013
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10/02/2013

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Search engine marketing is dead;audience marketing is whatmatters
 An iCrossing point of view
Prepared by: Sam Fenton-Elstone Head of MediaThis document contains confidential and proprietary information of iCrossing Inc.
 
© COPYRIGHT 2013 ICROSSING LTD AUGUST 2013 | AUDIENCE MARKETING
1
Search engine marketing is dead; audiencemarketing is what matters
 
When we want to find out about something, we search for it. When we want to buy something, wesearch for it. Our expectations have been dramatically altered by search. We expect to be able to findthe things we crave, instantly and on the go, no matter where we are.In as much as search has changed consumer behaviour, it has also had a huge impact on the way webuy advertising. Increasingly, advertisers have seen search as the most cost effective digitaladvertising channel, investing millions and driving highly qualified traffic to their websites, which in turnconvert into sales. Internet behemoth Google has been built on this.But will this constant battle for visibility through search engine optimisation last? Consumers arebecoming increasingly savvy to advertising in SERPs, spending more time looking for high qualitycontent and reviews on their intended topic. Social media optimisation is of course the obvious next
step in the journey, but how long will this last? If marketers aren’t putting audiences first what
opportunities are they missing out on?
 A search term is a significant indicator of consumer intent
The core to the success of search
, both from the advertisers and Google’s perspective
, has been thelevel of intent that advertisers can garner when serving an advert. Consumers input exactly what theyare looking for into a search engine.
 Advertisers can buy “keywords” that are matched to consumer 
search terms, which means adverts are shown only to consumers who have expressed a clear intentfor the product or service they are advertising. Moreover, advertisers only pay when a user clicks onthe ad and visits their website, which ensures the marketing spend is focused on a highly relevant,targeted and interested audience.
We’ve seen an
industry of search marketers develop, with a skillset built around interpreting intentsignals and executing advertising campaigns designed to capture this demand. The intent is in thesearch term. The levers advertisers use to execute efficiently are the keywords, the match types andbids they set. They complement this with the message they serve and the destination they send theconsumer to. The outcome delivered is highly targeted and cost efficient seeing advertiser investmentrocket as a result.
 Advertisers scale campaigns and increase investment
Paid search is seen as an always-on advertising channel and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is avital cog in the digital marketing machine to drive awareness, increase visibility and increase revenue.But brands want more. More of what search delivers. More ROI. They want to maximise the amount of conversions they are generating.It is common to try to squeeze every drop of value from search. As a result you often see advertiserspursue the following strategies:Build out huge campaigns with millions of keywords to capture additional trafficChase volume by increasing paid search investment in high funnel generic keywordsCompete for high volume, high competition search terms in position one within the naturalsearch results. This can be seen negatively, as it sometimes leads to suspect tactics.The intended outcome of these methods is to deliver increased conversions
 –
to reach more people
willing to buy a brand’s product or service. However, there are inherent challenges with this. Firstly,
each additional keyword that is built into a campaign brings additional complexity into the execution. Itbecomes questionable as to whether the incremental return on that complexity is worth the
 
© COPYRIGHT 2013 ICROSSING LTD AUGUST 2013 | AUDIENCE MARKETING
2
investment. Secondly, each advertiser within the market follows a similar path. As such, we see eachincremental benefit neutralised.In SEO this means the cost of achieving position one for some keywords can be too large. In paidsearch the most likely outcome of this is higher CPCs, more revenue to Google and lower ROI acrossthe board.
Search term intent has been overstated
The problem is that too much significance has been placed on the search term.
While it allows more insight into a consumer, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Consumers can want
different things but share the same search term. Consider what people mean when they search for 
‘apple’ or ‘
orange
’.
 
The ambiguity of a user’s intention can be increased when you consider the device they are using, the
time of day they conduct the search and where in the world they are. All of these can change the levelof user intent.
It’s clear that if you truly want to understand your audience, you need to look beyond what people are
searching for and consider the context as well.
Google has built additional intent signals into search
You wouldn’t
look at a photograph and claim to know everything about the person in the image. Youwould need to find additional sources of information in order to even begin to understand them.Similarly, a search term alone may not signify exactly what a user is looking for.In late 2012 Google introduced Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). In my opinion this is one of the most exciting developments to hit search. Ever.It is the first major step towards reducing the significance of search terms. Similar to remarketingwithin display, where advertisers re-target consumers based on their behaviour on a brands website,for the first time an advertiser is able to use 1
st
party data (an advertisers own data) within the searchauction.For the first time a brand is able to treat its existing customers differently to people who have never purchased from the brand before. This presents an exciting opportunity to better align mediainvestment with the value of the consumer. Brands may also seek to remove investment from certainaudience groups preferring to drive through links within the natural search results.In reality, search marketers are layering multiple intent signals when running search campaigns. Theylook at geo-location, time of day and the device the user is on. Google recently launched EnhancedCampaigns, further amplifying the prominence of intent signals. Arguably Enhanced Campaigns has been the most controversial change within the paid searchindustry in a long while. The goal of Enhanced Campaigns is to remove the unnecessary process of 
building campaigns based on device and location. It just doesn’t make sense for advertisers and
agencies to create separate campaigns for each of these. It is a waste of time. Time that would bebetter spent delivering true creative and strategic value advertisers should expect of their agencies.Enhanced Campaigns increase the significance of consumer intent signals provided by the devicepeople use, where they are and when they search. It will not be long before we see additionaltargeting options and intent signals built in. Demographic targeting, interest targeting and lookaliketargeting for search are just round the corner.This changing landscape can appear to layer additional complexity to what is already a confusing
world but ultimately it’s what we should have been doing all along –
knowing your audience and

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