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A rationale for combining paid search marketing with display ads

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Aaron Finn is founder, chairman and chief strategy officer of AdReady (www.adready.com). Hands On: Search recently asked Finn about how search marketing can be supported by other channels.

HOS: What is the rationale for combining search marketing with other marketing channels?

Finn: For the most part, advertisers have two goals: one, to drive sales, and two, to help customers remember the brand, and have positive associations with its product or service when it comes time to make a purchase. But search advertising can't meet both of these objectives. Any advertiser who isn't combining search advertising with other advertising channels is leaving money on the table every single day.

HOS: What would you suggest in order to optimize overall advertising spend?

Finn: First, step back and recognize the intended—and real—benefits of search ads. It might seem obvious, but search ads give your company the opportunity to drive interest, clicks and sales when a consumer is using a search engine. This is a pivotal point in the sales process. A customer needs something, turns to a search engine, types in keywords, and then scans through the results—paid advertisements included. But estimates are that most of us, including customers, only spend about 5 percent of our online time performing searches. What about the other 95 percent of the time spent online? Clearly, using search advertising alone is putting all your eggs in one basket. You end up missing most of the people, most of the time.

HOS: How would you suggest reaching them?

Finn: Through the use of display ads, marketers can reach out to customers throughout their entire online life cycle. Display ads can be placed on thousands of Web sites, in a targeted or broad manner, and they aren't as costly or complex as you might think. New systems help marketers with all budget sizes and skill levels as they build, place, target and measure ads. But ease of use itself isn't a good enough reason to use display. You want to complement your search ads with display because display ads can do what search ads can't: communicate the uniqueness of a brand. Most online searchers won't recall a company or product advertised on a search page. But display ads, created with powerful visuals like color themes, photos, Flash and visual elements, help customers recall a brand vividly.

HOS: Describe how search and display can work together.

Finn: Studies show that display ads increase the performance of search ads running at the same time. With an integrated campaign of both search and display ads, there's a significant lift in onsite engagement and an increase in online and offline purchasing. According to “Microsoft Atlas Institute Digital Marketing Insight,” display ads can increase click-through rates of search ads by 22%, compared to when they are running by themselves. There also is an increase in related-term searches, such as brand name, company and product names, and higher click-to-conversion rates for integrated search campaigns.

HOS: It appears that search and display target customers in very different ways.

Finn: True, and that's the strength of the two in combination. Once customers leave a search results page, they leave those search ads behind, too. However, when display advertising is used together with search advertising, a marketer can reach those same customers again and again, after they leave the search results page. Or, even better, before they initiate a search in the first place. By using search ads in tandem with display, you can finally cast a comprehensive net across your customers online, driving clicks, leads and sales.

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