We all know that significant changes in the market can impact the results we get from advertising campaigns; this is because unforeseen events and seasonal trends can make the user behave differently, and therefore consume media differently. It is important though, that in these situations, we don't allow the market to drive our advertising campaigns, and that we remain in control and minimise the effect – rather than 'riding the wave'.
Of course in some situations, the market can be very positive for Clients:
Figure 1: Search interest for retailer brand term over last 12 months (Google Insights for Search)
In the above example, for one of our large retail clients, we know that brand and product interest will increase due to the Christmas season, and we spend the whole year planning for this peak so that we can ensure we fully maximise the potential this brings.
On the other hand though, Clients can be negatively affected as a result of increased search interest, as this interest is not always proportional to the user's propensity to buy the product:
Figure 2: Search interest for term "cruise" year on year (Google Insights for Search)
The above insights graph shows how the tragic events of last weekend; when the Costa Concordia cruise ship went down promoted an upward turn in search interest for the generic term 'cruise' even though previous trends were downward. This disaster significantly changed the landscape of the search engine results page (SERP) for Google, with this news story being the most prominent feature on the page against the generic searches:
Figure 3: Google SERP for term "cruises"
This change in user behaviour has consequences for brands advertising against these terms:
- Match Types – many of the advertisers on this page rely on the broader match types so that they build visibility against a variety of "cruise" and "cruises" related terms. They are likely to have seen a spike in impressions and perhaps traffic to site while this story features heavily in the news, which doesn't necessarily portray an increase in people interested in going on a cruise... quite the opposite – they are likely to be more interested in the new story.
At Equi=Media, we ensure that we keep a tight rein on very generic terms, so that these campaigns are always capped and can't 'run away' in instances like this. Rather than relying on broad match terms to pick up traffic, we review Search Query Reports and ensure that we are moving long-tail phrases into their own campaigns, with relevant ad copy, and review the landing page we are directing this traffic to – to maximise quality score against this keyword, and therefore efficiency of the campaign.
- Misleading / inappropriate product association - this increase in interest around the Costa news story isn't isolated to the SERP itself. Display Network campaigns are now pretty standard across many advertisers, as these are a great way to build brand awareness. In the case of Google Display network, whether using text ads or display banners, advertisers use contextual and behavioural (or interest-based) targeting as well as remarketing to serve ads to customers who Google believes are 'in market' for the product the advertiser is trying to sell, based on the interest categories selected. This can result in some advertising being mis-placed, against unfortunate content:
Figure 4: Text Ad served against article on news site
Figure 5: Text Ad served against Video on You Tube
The ads above were served as a result of the keywords within the advertiser's Adwords account matching the words used on the sites, within the news stories or video synopsis / title. They weren't necessarily placed against this content on purpose, but it can sometimes look distasteful from the outside.
As with PPC, Equi=Media takes steps in these situations to minimise the risk of Clients' ads appearing against news content like the above, which could be detrimental to your brand values. Categories can be excluded within the Display Network so you can choose to exclude news sites, for example. In addition entire sites can be excluded where required, if the tone of certain sites is not what you want to associate your brand with - at least as a temporary 'response' measure until the story has run its course.
By controlling where you are advertising, and keeping a tight rein on generic campaigns, this helps to protect marketing spend, so that in the event of a news story increasing generic interest for a particular product or service, the traffic to a Client’s site remains pre-qualified and relevant – helping to maintain efficiency and reduce the risk of campaign results being skewed by these one-off, unforeseen events.