Sri Sharma, managing director at Net Media Planet, provides his advice on the key developments in search to watch in 2011.
2010 was undoubtedly a year where return on investment (ROI) and added value reigned supreme – nowhere was this more true than online. With no let up in the opportunities that the internet and ecommerce provides, a comprehensive search strategy will be crucial to success in 2011.
Social media and new innovations have been in vogue over the past year but with a 60 percent share of the online adspend, paid search is where brands are seeing the best returns. To unlock opportunities from paid search, and generate increased results, Sri Sharma, managing director at dedicated PPC specialist Net Media Planet, provides his advice on what to watch in the months ahead. Here are his top tips for marketers looking to maximise opportunities and add value to their brands.
Use PPC to illustrate the strategic value of search to the board
As brands continue to focus on return on investment, scrutiny of marketing budgets at board level is expected and reasonable. However, rather than see this as a threat marketers should embrace this opportunity to illustrate the value of their search strategies.
The value of PPC versus other channels can be measured and demonstrated through incrementality testing. This approach also identifies ways for better budget allocation towards new customer acquisition. For one retail client we have seen PPC provide over 30 per cent additional bottom line profit than SEO alone and have found several ways to improve budget allocation towards driving new customer acquisition, which is music to the ears of the board.
Increase use of paid search on YouTube
Video content has exploded at a phenomenal rate, with 35 hours of content now being uploaded to YouTube every minute (an increase of 145 per cent from last year). Also, in 2010, Google Adwords PPC could be targeted to individual video content on YouTube for the first time.
In 2011, brands should look to use PPC in the form of video overlay advertising to target specific videos or categories of videos, and specific demographic groups to drive consumer engagement and revenue growth.
View Facebook Ads as a means of engagement not a tool for direct response
Using Facebook Ads for direct marketing, whilst popular in 2010, has had limited success – the only real winners being brands with low value items to distribute to consumers. Clearly Facebook is not close to the end of the buying funnel and marketers should look for new ways to use its advertising platform rather than pushing direct response.
Facebook advertising will continue to grow in 2011, but with the onset of new engagement tools it will become a mechanism for branding as opposed to direct response. And for brands looking to harness this social behemoth, the advice is simple:
• Test Facebook ads as an engagement marketing tool – outline your objectives correctly and measure against them
• Utilise the full spectrum of engagement tools, including video, events, gifts and poll engagement ads to understand which drives the best engagement for you
• Learn from your experience and keep evolving how you interact with consumers
Embrace re-targeting as it grows by 200%
Following the Google Remarketing launch, it has become clear that re-targeting is a must-have for marketers, and I believe we could see as much as a 200 per cent growth in re-targeting in 2011. The tools available to brands to re-target customers are getting broader and more advanced as the industry dedicates more resource to them. Google, for example, is looking to invest significantly in its offering, which I believe could see them acquire one of the current market leaders, for their technology. The message here is clear: act now.
Watch Google’s social plans & react swiftly
Social has been hailed unequivocally as the future of marketing, and this is not likely to change. In the search industry, this has created an interesting dilemma for the leader, Google.
Having tried, and failed, to launch a successful real-time social tool it is clear that Google is struggling when it comes to successfully covering social. And, as consumers move closer to wanting a single online dashboard through which they do all their socialising and searching, it is clear that Google needs to act quickly to retain its leading position. In order to do this, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google taking drastic action in 2011. This could be a major change to their strategy in the form of building a social network or a ground-breaking acquisition in the social space – whatever it is, it will create a huge wave in the industry, and it will be interesting to see which way it crashes.
Whichever way Google moves, marketers need to stay abreast of developments and evolve their plans swiftly in line with the plans. The marketers that fail to monitor Google and react will be the marketers playing catch up through-out 2011, and this is a position no brand wants to be in.
The Search and Social platforms, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and Facebook, are stepping up their battle to win over consumers. As this competition gets fiercer, the pace of change across the industry is also set to increase. With change, opportunities constantly arise. To leverage these opportunities and drive success, marketers need to focus on innovation. If we innovate, we’ll spot those opportunities and 2011 will be a great year for marketers.
By Sri Sharma
Net Media Planet