Moving Beyond Search

Data-driven marketing in the last decade has largely been thought of as a search marketing phenomenon. The growth of search fueled many of the tactics and tools adopted for digital since the launch of paid search in the early 2000’s. But now is the time for companies to step back and re-evaluate the digital landscape. If you’ve been heads-down in search marketing, you are in for a big surprise!

Paid digital advertising is both better and more varied than ever. Innovations in targeting, retargeting, ad formats, and measurement have broken open the dam, and advertisers should be embracing both new media formats in their digital campaigns as well as more advanced forms of measurement, evaluation, and modeling. Opportunities abound for companies willing to look beyond search, but to maximize these opportunities, some coveted metrics and tools will need to be cast by the wayside.

New Opportunities

If you have been heavily reliant on desktop-based search, then welcome to the party! From video to internet radio, to promoted tweets, pins, and posts, from pre-roll to rich-media display ads, the digital opportunities are almost endless for connecting to a targeted audience. Some favorites of ours at Working Planet include more sophisticated retargeting display ads, YouTube ads from text overlays to pre-roll video, Google Shopping product listings, and LinkedIn B2B paid advertising. All of these have proven to be remarkable areas of growth for clients willing to break out of the search box.

New Measurement Required

If you are moving out of search, be aware that your measurement and optimization program will need to mature as well. Many, if not most, non-search forms of paid digital media involve a more complex pattern of user behavior than the click- visit-buy approach that is common in desktop-based search advertising. Often, this will require looking holistically at your sales across channels, and looking for cause and effect in different channels. Be prepared for customers who engage without ever clicking on an ad, and don’t be locked into looking only at known channel behavior.

The good news is that there are sophisticated ways to assess and optimize multi-channel campaigns that take advantage of complex user behaviors. Attribution Modeling exlores the path of multiple visits across channels in the creation of value. Media Mix Modeling looks at the influence of marketing on cross-channel and cross-device behavior. Tools like these allow for the same kind of efficient optimization in non-search media, reducing risk and maximizing value.

We’re excited about the unceasing pace of innovation in digital media. Every new ad platform creates new opportunities. So look beyond search. Search is great, but there are so many other audiences to tap into.