Search Data Matters (or why I just quit my job!)

As a media agency guy I set out several years ago to develop a new approach to media planning for our clients, an approach that would allow them to capitalize on the growing need to invest media dollars into display and get a positive financial return. SEM bid prices were rising, SEM programs were becoming mature and digital investment continued to grow. Display was going to be the natural next port of call for these brands.

And so we developed the concept of performance display, the idea that you could ‘talk to individuals expressing intent’ rather than simply ‘shouting at the crowd’, a method that removed the wastage from the media spend and produced extraordinary ROIs.

These programs rely on a foundation layer, a combination of techniques that find those intent markers, whether they be a site visit, a search event, an onsite behavior, a social interaction etc and use them to message the right people.

One of the strongest intent markers is search data, and for that reason I am leaving the agency world behind me today and joining Chango, a leader in the concept of search retargeting.

In its simplest form, search retargeting allows a marketer to discover and target those prospects that are searching for the terms that matter to the campaign, but may not have engaged with the brand yet.

That’s a powerful proposition – just like with an SEM campaign, the prospect is expressing their need or desire openly in the search event and you get to respond to them one on one. It is this ability to target so accurately that makes SEM the first point of call when a campaign has an ROI goal.

But search engine marketing is not perfect, the search funnel leaks prospects constantly.

The first leak is when a prospect searches for the terms you have identified as important to you but choose to click on a competing SEM ad or naturally optimized link. You have lost the opportunity to engage with someone expressing a need you can solve, and more critically, your competitor has won that chance.

The second leak is when the prospect clicks your link, visits your site, but leaves without converting. A wasted SEM spend perhaps, and certainly a risk that whilst they continue their research they may rest on your competitor’s site again.

With the right approach you can plug both of these leaks. A campaign that runs in the background, talking to these prospects and winning new opportunities for engagement will increase the success of your display program, as well as make your SEM and SEO investments work harder.

I believe that the most successful digital programs of 2011 will include search retargeting as part of their foundation layer in order to achieve these improvements, and as a result will have the highest ROIs. And as an (now ex)agency guy, I know clients love it.