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Reaping The Ads You Sow


Trends in search provide amazing intelligence. So much so that Google has provided a destination site with information even non-data junkies will find interesting. You can look at this data and understand two things about online marketing.

  1. TV drives a great deal of search inventory/demand/price/scale
  2. Getting media channels to work together can reap huge rewards

Different media channels serve different purposes for marketers and as Search has known for years demand generated by TV, Print, Radio, comes online and ends up as people searching for more information from publishers.

Most of the forces that drive intent occur offline. These vary from personal needs to macroeconomic and/or geographic issues. By studying content consumption patterns the way Google studies queries publishers can understand (even earlier than Google in many cases) what opportunities exist to match the information goals of their visitors with helpful and useful offers.

That’s all that Google is doing, helping people complete their goals. Being relevant to the needs of their visitors in a way that adds value to their experience, the marketer and their own bottom line. Their challenge is looking at the web in its entirety. For pubs the challenge becomes much easier looking within a single domain - especially a vertical one.

If we’ve learned anything 15 years in and with only 7% of brand spend it’s that Digital is not a medium you can use to get people to pay more for a product or service than a lower cost alternative - the essence of brand marketing. Digital actually facilitates the opposite. So where do all those publishers go that have been waiting with bated breath for brand demand to drive their CPMs higher and higher? There is only one option. Get in the demand capture game.

While publishers are privy to the same interest trends as Google they do not have the data systems to capture it, the targeting systems to leverage it or the advertising systems to monetize it (many pubs do have their own internal search applications capturing this data but they do jack shit with it). Also it’s not just the historical data that they can leverage -- as big an opportunity might be in real-time data.

It's time to move away from old media strategies like forecasting, allocation and planning. They never fit on a web where attention unpredictably ebbs & flows across it. The very idea of a campaign is antiquated when there is demand to be captured 365/24. How many more times will publishers fail to leverage events like Michael Jackson’s death or getting 9M impressions over 2 hours after a link is posted? How many more pubs will I speak with that have no idea how much traffic they get from Search each month, let alone daily by vertical.

If there is a wrinkle in the simplicity of the strategy (though I acknowledge the execution is fraught with challenges to norms) it is the number (25%) of search queries that are new everyday – never before seen. This "intention market" dynamic only serves to exemplify further of the nature and importance of the  real-time web.

There’s no “death by Google” going on here as many publishers would like to claim. Furthermore, this is not all about “bottom of the funnel” as many marketers would have you believe. All through the funnel there is plenty of valuable intent. However, if publishers don’t invest in harvesters and reap what they are sowing with their content they will simply starve themselves to death. 

It’s taken well over a decade for these ideas to get any traction at all and there are still plenty of holdouts, especially those who feel their business is publishing, not marketing. But the inevitable fact is online is not a branding/awareness/demand gen tool. It never was. Online is a demand capture tool – and serendipitously the greatest medium ever created for it. Let’s rejoice in that fact and get to work. Fall is the time to harvest.



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