by Rob Sullivan
by Rob Sullivan
I listened to the Yahoo! earnings call this week and one thing struck me as quite interesting.
The use of branded keywords in paid search is growing. In fact Yahoo! claims that its top 200 advertisers use Yahoo! paid search to promote their brands.
They realize that they need to be involved in the research process even if they can't directly measure conversions offline.
Yahoo! went on to say that historically sponsored search has been driven by direct marketers. That is, those websites which experience direct sales from their website. They are able to easily measure such conversions directly and understand the impact their paid search program is having.
However research into the buying funnel has demonstrated that consumers conduct their primary research on the web to find what they are looking for. Once the research is done the large retailers understand that conversions generally occur offline.
It is because of this understanding of the buying cycle that has lead to OEM type companies like auto manufacturers, brick & mortar businesses, and traditional financial services to begin to spend directly on branded sponsored search as well as attempt to determine the value of that search beyond immediate conversions.
In fact this type of branded spending has become so popular lately that the growth in its spending is beginning to outpace the growth in other media spending.
So what does that mean to the smaller sites?
Well for one thing, it is going to become much harder to compete on branded terms in the long term.
However there is going to be increased opportunity in organic search. This article by our company president along with scores of others seems to indicate that these same big companies suffer organically.
Either their sites aren't search engine friendly, or they aren't properly optimized to take advantage of their brand.
For example, a search on Google for Walmart returns 3 million pages. That's pretty impressive. So I did a search at random for a product.
I searched for a TV show's boxed DVD set.The show is Lost and I want the first season DVD set.
When I do this search however, I find Walmart at #31 for that phrase.31??? You'd think with a site of that size it would rank higher.
And Walmart is just one example. When I search for a 'Lexmark X710' printer, Lexmark, the manufacturer, is #7 in the results. It should be number one, but it isn't properly optimized.
A search for Ford Mustang returns the Ford site at #10 behind a bunch of aftermarket suppliers, car aficionado sites and even a couple blogs. Don't you think Ford should at least be in the top 5?
This is the real value of organic search. Until the same OEMs that are now just realizing the value of branded sponsored search also realize that they have an entire website devoted to brand, there is great opportunity.
If you are an e-tailer reselling Lexmark printers there is potential to outrank Lexmark, even though they are the manufacturer.
Similarly, there are other products and services which companies should be found for but aren't because smaller retailers have already understood the value of organic search and began preparing.
Even if a large site like Walmart or Ford or Lexmark were to realize the value of organic now (and trust me, I think this will take some time for some large companies simply because organic is hard to qualify. With sponsored they can more directly measure performance but it is difficult with organic) they would be behind the pack of smaller retailers who have already established themselves.
So if you heard the Yahoo! call and were concerned that the sponsored keyword market is getting more expensive because large companies are beginning to realize the power of brand online, think again.
While it is true that they do understand the power of brand, I don't think they get the whole picture. Sure they may bid to be number one for their brand, but what about the organic side of the coin? What does it say to the researching consumer if they can't find a company like Lexmark in the top 3 when searching for a Lexmark printer?
Head Organic Search Strategist
Enquiro Full Service Search Engine Marketing
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