Increasing competition in the search ad space requires that SEMs get more creative in 2011. It goes without saying that your PPC ads should be of the highest possible quality for all basic elements—the headline, call to action and unique selling proposition.
It’s when you move beyond the basics that you find a competitive advantage. What can you be doing with your search advertising that you aren’t already?
Provoke emotions in readers
Watching television I’m struck by how clever some advertisers are getting.
In March, insurance company State Farm ran a series of ads featuring a spokesman who came across as generally likable, except for his pesky habit of interrupting the State Farm agents accompanying him on screen. The series stuck with me because of the discomforting feeling that came from watching him trample all over the other person’s words. And while I came away annoyed, I remembered. Advertisers are finding that any emotional response to an ad is a good one, helping to cement the brand in a viewer’s memory. Granted, it may be risky to connect your brand to
a negative emotion. However, State Farm followed up a few months later with an ad where the agent spoke over the spokesman, turning the ad campaign into a story and giving viewers a feeling of vindication.
Achieving an emotional connection in the short moments of attention granted your SEM ad by a viewer is a challenge. Humor, poignancy or revealing a secret are a few ways that brand recognition can be achieved in the instant provided.
Tie search ads into other media
Search is not an island. Research shows that a holisitic marketing strategy is the most effective, boosting brand recognition across all channels when e-mail works with display works with mobile works with SEM, and so on. Industry and audience research is required to determine the best channels to advertise your product or service, but there’s no question that if you tie your search ads into other media messages that a viewer will recognize, your search ad will resonate.
A cross-channel strategy is being adopted by advertisers rapidly, and it’s most commonly seen in social media. TV and print ads frequently feature Facebook URLs instead of the brand’s official website. When tying search ads to a cohesive marketing strategy, ensure the messages are aligned, common taglines are used and that the tone communicates to the intended audience.
You can also track how search ads are driving conversions to other channels, including offline channels, to see how multi-faceted marketing efforts work together. Then you can optimize search ads based on data that shows what’s working.
Take advantage of enhanced formats
Finally, don’t overlook ways to heighten the impact of search ads with features beyond text. Product listing ads allow advertisers to punch up ads for products with pictures, a price and a description. As might be expected, viewers are twice as likely to click on a product listing ad as a standard text ad.
While product listing ads are limited to Google Merchants, there are other exciting enhanced ad formats on the horizon for all kinds of businesses. According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, interactive video ads are coming soon. Rich-media ads are already available in the mobile space.
If you found 2010 to be a strong year for your PPC campaigns, you may be ready to bring your SEM to a new competitive high. Consider ways to make your ad copy jump. Leverage the success of other advertising channels to gain attention with your search ads. And experiment with new ad formats as they become available.