Monday, November 13, 2006

The Value Of Integrating Search And Display

The Value Of Integrating Search And Display
by Yoav Arnstein, Monday, Nov 13, 2006 6:00 AM ET
ONE OF THE MANY CHALLENGES marketers are facing today is identifying ways to successfully integrate search and display, given the increasing dominance of these two categories in online advertising. Earlier this year, JupiterResearch forecast that search would lead online ad spend growth over the next five years, increasing from 41% of all online ad spend to 43% by 2011. Meanwhile, the firm predicted rich media would grow at a 21% compound annual growth rate, with video ad spend increasing at a 27% rate through 2011.

In many cases, search and display are still siloed practices, often reducing the effectiveness of both. In order to maximize each ad dollar while generating maximum brand impact, response and correct attribution of acquisitions, advertisers must fully integrate their digital marketing campaigns across both disciplines. As the use of emerging channels like gaming and mobile proliferate, integration will have ever more increasing importance.

Creative agencies and media planners are increasingly demanding integration of search and display, in order to better serve the brands they represent. To achieve this, many agencies are bringing search expertise in-house, investing in necessary staff and technology. As the scale of online campaigns increase, agencies also need more effective display campaign management.

Another agency demand is for technology that helps optimize online ad spend, especially as budgets increase and the online advertising landscape becomes more complex. More than ever, advertisers need to see maximum impact for each dollar spent online.

Without integration, budgetary decisions and allocations are made up front, even before campaigns are conceived, without any knowledge of performance. By integrating search and display, advertisers can make budgetary decisions during and after planning phases, giving the agency partners more insight into the most effective campaigns, as well as the ability to make changes after initial metrics are reported.

Additionally, display ads are technologically more sophisticated than ever. Wizard-based solutions incorporating advanced capabilities such as full-screen video, and interactive features such as games, texting and music can help advertisers create and manage display ads effectively. The best technology solutions automate ad creation, while requiring minimal post-production work. For example, a flash video used for a rich media banner ad format can be used within a browser game without expensive and timely recoding.

Technology can also help optimize search ad spend. For example, tools can enable agencies to more effectively credit the publishers responsible for a sale. Agencies previously have only been able to give "full credit" to one site for a sale, even if the user had visited multiple sites leading up to a purchase. Now, using the right platform, agencies can assign "partial credit" for the sale, helping the advertiser to plan for a more optimized spend in future campaigns. Thus an agency would be able to assign 30% of the credit for a sale to site A, for example, and 70% to site B.

To summarize, while there may be a general consensus that a conversion can only be attributed to one ad, be it search or display, in fact multiple ads may have contributed to the "birth" process of a conversion. If we agree with that premise, fair distribution of the contributions provided by different media buys should be taken into consideration when planning a campaign and for optimizing a current buy.

The right tools can also help simplify keyword generation with automatic generation of related keywords through data mining.

Other challenges related to search include managing the bidding process and duplicating audiences and conversions. If optimized, all three aspects of search marketing have the potential to return tremendous ROI for the agency.

Providing the benefits of integrated campaigns, especially on a global scale, is a value-added service that can help differentiate truly forward-thinking agencies from those left behind still grappling with traditional ad vehicles.

Yoav Arnstein is general manager of North America for Eyeblaster. He will be speaking at the Search Insider Summit, which will be held Nov. 12-15.

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