Search is Not Just a Direct Response Vehicle!

By Aaron Goldman, VP, Marketing & Strategic Partnerships

Starcom MediaVest Group recently created a unit called SMG Performance Marketing to house its search, directory and direct groups. In reading ClickZ’s coverage of this news, one quote jumped out at me.

In the past you might bring a search capability or a directory marketing capability to play [for a client],’ said Mullahy. Performance-based media planning, with its focus on lead generation and sales, ‘demands an integrated look across all forms of media in all different channels,’ she added.”

Now I have lots of friends over at SMG Search and SMG Directory and I know some of the leadership there so I can attest that these are smart folks with good intentions. That said, I don’t understand why they are lumping search into a performance division.

As I emphasized in my rant last week on Google’s toggling back and forth between promoting itself as a brand marketing and direct response solution, search does more than drive “lead generation and sales.” It is certainly the best performing DR channel available to marketers today but ignoring the impact of search on brand awareness and consideration metrics is leaving money on the table.

We recently completed a study with Microsoft that proved that mere exposure to search listings -- no click, no on-site actions, just the impression -- provides a significant lift (10+ points) across 6 key metrics:

  • Unaided Brand Awareness
  • Ad Recall
  • Brand Favorability
  • Positive Attitudes (towards the brand)
  • Purchase Intent
  • Likelihood of Recommendation

News flash: people who are searching are not always ready to buy immediately. But search can still be effective in engaging consumers and moving them down the purchase funnel. Treating search solely as a DR channel and silo’ing the folks who manage it into a DR group makes it impossible to capture the full opportunity.


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