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Search In The Digital Media Ecosystem

I had the rare pleasure last week of
spending one day learning from 150 people whose insights always
explicitly or implicitly inform this column each week: my clients,
colleagues, and partners. What follows are a number of takeaways from
my company’s summit, "Search in the Digital Media Ecosystem."

The insights included here are from a number of speakers and sessions,
so if the originators will pardon me, I’ll spare the attributions and
offer a collective thanks to all who’ve shared both the ideas below and
those omitted solely because the space allotted could not do justice to

1) As campaign budgets drop, the share that’s digital rises.
This idea was offered by a marketer from a movie studio, but it’s
hardly unique to that industry. For a major campaign, the online share
keeps growing, but it’s still often in the single digits. This creates
opportunity when online marketing can take credit for much or all of
the success with a given campaign, but it also means the Web can serve
as a dumping ground for campaigns that don’t have as much promise. Or,
as another speaker countered, the Web can prove to be a way to
efficiently expose a campaign to targeted audiences. He launched a TV
show this year only through online advertising and public relations,
and it did well enough that a second season’s arriving soon.

  2) TV beats the Web in research studies. According to the
movie studio marketer, whenever a new movie is coming out, there are
third-party tracking studies to gauge whether buzz is building for the
film. When there’s a TV ad blitz running, it shows up in the tracking
studies. When there’s an online ad blitz, it doesn’t affect the studies
at all. That’s a major hindrance when lobbying to shift marketing
dollars online. Despite the countless successful uses of search engine
marketing for branding, one has to assume that text ads won’t do
anything to move the tracking needle. The tracking studies may not be
the most important thing to measure in the long run, but if they’re
valued by marketers, that’s all that matters. Understand their metrics
first before trying to convince them why yours are so much better.

3) Use search to create demand, not just capture it.
Tracking studies aside, search marketing is most commonly used as a way
to capture demand that already exists. If someone searches for a
product you sell, then you know there’s some degree of interest already
and you just need to be there. Yet if someone searches for a related
term, you could try to spark interest and create demand. For instance,
if you’re trying to get Vegas visitors to visit your nightclub, you
could bid on terms such as your club’s name and "Vegas nightlife." Yet
you could also build your brand by bidding on terms of celebrities
who’ve been spotted at your club. It’s not as targeted for the
immediate conversions, but it does help establish the brand with
credibility for celeb stalkers.

  4) Bigger than Roddick vs. Federer: core vs. mass. One of
the themes that arose was the struggle between reaching core versus
mass audiences. On one hand, it’s imperative for marketers to reach
their core audience. When launching a new game system, for instance,
Sony needs to reach hardcore gamers. On the other hand, the core
audience may already be well-served, so how do you reach beyond them?
How much value do you stress on capturing demand versus creating it?
These questions are especially salient when planning digital marketing
spending for campaigns where budgets are limited.

5) When it’s time to launch a site, pre-launch it with a coming-soon page to give engines a chance to spider it.
To really do it right, populate with assets and tip off bloggers and
others that it’s there. If blogs or other sites link to it, it will
help build credibility for the site in search engines and give it a
better shot at ranking for a few mission-critical terms.

Success has many parents, as my CEO Bryan Wiener mentioned during his
remarks. For last week’s event, the one parent who must be singled out
is Vice President of Emerging Media & Client Strategy Sarah
Hofstetter, who orchestrated it all.

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