Lee Odden

Branding and Search – SES San Jose

The Branding and Search session started out with Barbara Coll moderating and the following cast of characters: Ron Belanger from Yahoo! Search Marketing, Jonathan Mendez from OTTO Digital, Chris Copeland from Outrider Search Marketing, Mike Margolin from Targeted Marketing, RPA and Jenny Howell American Honda Motor Co. who did not speak, but was the topic of Mark Margolin’s presentation.

Just before this session started I ran into a prominent search marketer and we talked about some of the common questions related to search and branding. How do you sell clients on search marketing for branding purposes? Also, how do you best measure it? These questions and more were answered by the panel.

First up is Ron Belanger of Yahoo and his presentation, “Nurturing your brand with search marketing”. Ron posed the question, “What is search and branding?” and went to the dictionary for a definition. What he found was hardly appropriate (as was intended) for defining “brand” in terms of what brand means to search marketing. So used a series of quotes from prominent individuals in the advertising world to help define brand:

Jeremy Bullmore – “Customers build an image of a brand as birds build nests. From the scraps and straws they chance upon.”

It’s not just the advertising message, it’s every interaction that defines a brand.

David Ogilvy – “Any damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverence to create a brand.”

Nittin Shah – “Branding is not something where the entire investment happens overnight and profits can be reaped the very next day. It’s a continuous process and the returns also come in a similar fashion.”

When you talk about top brands, you’re talking about emotions. How we define brand is how we feel about those companies.

Ron then checked Yahoo Answers to find out about some of the top rated brands: Starbucks, Apple and Yahoo.

The value of search as a branding mechanism is not the medium. In fact, if a search marketer is doing their job, they’re getting the visitor off the search results as fast as possible. The branding does not happen within the 70 characters of text in the ad, it takes place on the site.

Measurement – clicks, time spent on site.

Another quote:
David Verklin, CEO Carat Americas – “It’s hard to overstate the importance that search plays in marketing and advertising campaigns. “Search will become ubiquitous. Search is becoming the behavior of choice. Our job as advertisers is to put our clients’ products in the path of search behavior.”

Search often leads consumers to new brands and websites. Top ranking postitions in search often convey perceptions of leadership.

Every intereaction with a brand reinforces that brand. This is not limited to search for products, it can also occur with search for support and for other post purchase search situations.

Use appropriate measurement models.

– Brand

  • Engagement – page views, time spent on site
  • Value – score desired outcomes
  • Brand lift
  • Data overlays
  • Yahoo Buzz/Google Trends

– Marketing Sales

  • Online sales
  • Use appropriate cookie window fhr product


  • How does search affect customer support

Shows example of a multichannel strategy.
Commercial: Guy going on a beer run during a commercial.
What keywords are important, but not necessarily relevant to the product for the target audience? Online games. Next he describes an advergame related to the “beer run” concept and how search terms related to “beer run” were used to attract traffic.

Next up is Mike Margolin from Targeted Marketing who brought his client, Jenny Howell from Honda and discussed branded and non-branded search.

Described a Yahoo Search Marketing Study to determine whether there was there a defined impact on search terms: branded and non-branded. They found that even impressions had value. There was also a high recall of text in search ad title and description. Overall, search brought brand exposure that might not otherwise have happened and encouraged further research. There is opportunity with non-category phrases.

Shows example of Honda Civic, not a great looking car. Ad: “It has a great personality”. Next he shows an ad for Honda Element. Honda made commercials that used clever/humorous situations to communicate features of the car and then ran keyword ads to attract people looking for the commercials.

Targeted cheap keywords – a lot of them.

Created a game showing the Element interacting with the various animals in the previous commercials.

The phrases that were unrelated to the car or it’s features were tracked. They identified the phrases that converted to visitors the most.

The question about going after non-related search terms, is whether they were “talking to their audience”? They used Yahoo Buzz index to identify the phrases to drop. 20-40% of all referrals were coming from paid search listings.

Branding study showed significant lifts for target audience in: Awareness, intent to purchase.

Query to the audience: Half the audience is a search marketing agency and half are brand marketers.

Next up is Jonathan Mendez of OTTO Digital, part of Offermatica and his presentation, “Optimizing your brand through search Relevance”.

Search is so powerful because it’s the opportune moment. THe searcher is focused on achieving a goal. How can marketers find the opportune moment and deliver contextually relevant brand messages?

Gives example of an ad via cell phone where Starbucks offers to sponsor a meeting between two friends in the same area.

Searcher behavior – people are searching on generic phrases. Need to be visible – top rankings for paid and natural phrases.

Why does the search impression have no (perception of) value? It does.
Messaging: Words can brand.

Case Study 1
Branding & Search via SEO

Focused on optimizing for “discount vitamins”
Messaging: Title tag – brand name, keyword, brand message

The brand name in the search results makes you stand out. Brand names in title tag are in ALL CAPS.

Case Study II
Branding and Search via PPC

Segmentation – Gives example involving “Timberland” showing keyword buys and landing page creative that varies by the targeted audience.

Case Study III
Branding and Search
Secret Deodorant – National promotion.
Missed opportunity because the phrases related to the “What’s your secret” are not being bid on.

Coke and Coca cola. Not showing consumer the logo according to how they searched. coke.com vs cocacola.com

There’s a huge amount of data for brand intelligence available online. Who decides your brand identity? Your creative director? Why not test using search?

Brand intelligence through search analytics:
Prod interest
Messaging that best attracts
What imagry they respond to

We are just scratching the surface. optimizeandprophesize.com (blog)

How fast can you talk about brand? Chris Copeland of Outrider tried to find out in his presentation.

Brandng for the Masses
– Setting brande expectations
– How the other half lives
– Branding between channels
– Branding for the masses

We have to get beyond situations like, “We ran a superbowl ad and bought related keywords”. i.e. Most brand search marketers have “been there, done that”.

Branding Expectations. The branding studies in search are limited. The studies that are being done are one-offs and being led by search engines. There needs to be consistent methodologies. Band value in search is limited by limitations on creative and control of positioning.

Dynamic Logic measures shifts in attitudes about brands. Explains the AdIndex tool that can be used to measure brand.

Outrider Research:
Online ads boost search engine searches.

How to measure brand without a study
Set objectives – not about perceptiona purchawseintent, but about engagement

Brand exposure isn’t limited to just branded keywords.

Key erformance indicators
Normal DR Metrics
Conversion rate, Renvenue, ROI

Make sure you’re using both orgnaic and paid search for both brand and generic messaging. Adding PPC to an organic-only campaign rasied overall conversion rate.

Barbara Coll: How do you sell this up the chain? Make people worried about the competitive risks out there can be a start. Show this via a competitive intelligence report.

Questions from the Audience:

Audience: What are some best practices for managing affiliates and your own SEM for brand?
Mike: Has worked with a few clients in this situation. In some cases, back down to affiliates. Define what affiliates can bid on?

Audience: (Nacho Hernandez) How do different languages affect how you use branding in search?
Jonathan: Be sure to test and measure.
Ron: Treat each market separately.

Audience: For Chris. Have you worked with Dynamic Logic on a search branding study?
Chris: Dynamic Logic cannot do a brand study with search because the search engines control the ad placement.

DMNews also covered this session.

For full coverage of Search Engine Strategies, San Jose 2006 be sure to visit Search Engine Roundtable.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


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