One of my favorite speakers at last week’s Search Insider Summit was Jordan Rohan of Clearmeadow Partners — a kind of financial analyst guru in advertising and digital media. (And I’m usually skeptical of speakers from that background.)
One of his main topics was brand advertising, the tremendous magnitude of dollars associated with it, and the fact that very little of that money is invested in search advertising:
80% of online ad dollars are spent on direct response.
75% of traditional ad dollars are spent on branding.
The point he was driving at was that brand advertising is the great untapped opportunity in search marketing — an opportunity for marketers, agencies, and the search engines.
In Rohan’s opinion, the problem holding back that flood of ad dollars is the homogeneity of Google search ads. It’s hard to achieve emotional resonance with someone — and that is the goal of brand advertising — in 130 characters of plain text.
His solution was for Google to enable “rich ads” in the search results, or at the very least, allow advertisers to display their logos next to their ads. That suggestion, however, sparked a wave of debate in the room: would going more graphical increase the attention paid to ads, or would it have just the opposite effect by becoming clutter and triggering banner blindness? I’m sure this will be a debate that Google and the rest of us will be wrestling with for a while.
In the meantime, however, Jordan made another point:
KraftFoods.com is arguably one of the most successful “brand” sites on the web, and 49% of their traffic comes from search.
This is where I had to jump into the discussion and suggest that the great brand advertising opportunity from search isn’t necessarily in the search ad, but in the immediate post-click marketing experience that respondents receive after the click. We can debate hypothetically about more visual search ads, whether they would perform better or not, but KraftFoods.com offers evidence about how search and branding can be leveraged today.
This doesn’t just apply to web sites, and it certainly doesn’t just apply to consumer brands.
What people experience when they click through on your ads impacts your brand. Even if you’re a business doing lead generation with prospects on a serious mission, those respondents are still human beings who are influenced by conscious and subconscious emotional reactions.
Brand is tremendously important in landing pages and microsites and conversion paths, and yet it is often poorly served in most post-click scenarios. But, as is often the case, this deficiency is also a great opportunity.
If you haven’t read them, you may find these posts on branding + learning = future conversions and a warning to be careful of inadvertently optimizing yourself out of a brand as further food for thought.