‘Virtual’ Panelists Seek Best Practices

LOS ANGELES Forrester Research senior analyst Shar VanBoskirk said search advertising can be optimized by taking a more scientific approach during a panel discussion at AdweekMedia’s Interactive Marketing Virtual Conference and Trade Show today.

VanBoskirk’s “best practices” advice included using personas to guide search strategy, since, for example, three different women might all be seeking running shoes, but with entirely different profiles. She recommended using multi-keyword phrases and constantly developing new keywords, testing a few new ones with each buy to find hidden gems.

Another best practice involves targeting search ads. VanBoskirk showed the Microsoft adCenter software for fine-tuning search and screening for personas. She also recommended buying ads across multiple search engines and applying “direct-marketing smarts” to the copy and landing pages to get better transactional results.

“Think of it as a data-driven science and less like media buying,” she said. “Search could be a lot more optimized than it is by taking a database approach.”

Mediaweek senior editor Mike Shields, also a panelist, discussed a new phenomenon: advertisers using search to build their images, rather than as vehicles for direct response. But he added that the sophisticated analytics, forecasting and management of keywords have made media buying as complex as “buying stock.”

Reprise COO Steve Chiles said search is a conversation initiated by the consumer—which brands then join in a give-and-take online.

Reprise data shows Google dominating search with a 62 percent market share at 4.65 billion searches a day. Chiles explained the nuances of quality-based bidding on the major search engines: “There is an opportunity to win the auction before it ever begins.” Though the ability to track anything in search is both a benefit and a challenge, he cautioned.

Chiles said “universal search” has become “not a matter of if, but when.” Universal searches will find various media related to keywords, including video, photos and even dictionary definitions. Chiles said that they are potentially disruptive to marketers because rather than the typical page structure, universal searches encourage the eye “to wander around the page.”

Nielsen Business Media’s editorial director of Webcasts and digital events Elliot Markowitz hosted the presentation. It is accessible in archival form at www.nielsencast.com using the Virtual Trade Show tab.

Click here for more coverage of the show.