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Why HP Has Purchased Tens of Thousands of Search Terms

A Top Exec Explains New Marketing Visions at AdTech

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In its quest to be close to consumers wherever they are online, HP has bought the rights to tens of thousands of search engine keywords, according to the company's interactive global brand marketing chief.

HP has bought up tens of thousands of search engine terms to ensure constant access to online customers interested in computer products.

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Consumer control
Speaking yesterday at the AdTech Conference at the New York Hilton, Mary Bermel said HP has recognized there has been a marketplace revolution and that consumers now control advertising content. She said the company has made sweeping changes to address that new reality and she warned that other marketers ultimately had no choice but to do the same or be left behind.

The intense focus on owning search engine terms is only one part of the tech giant's overall new marketing strategy for consumers who expect the marketing message to be always available when they want it and always as personal as possible, she said.

All channels
For HP and other marketers, that means being accessible through all channels, including e-mail, mobile devices and out of home, Ms. Bermel said. HP is so determined to "to touch consumers wherever they are" that it has recently experimented with outfitting sport utility vehicles with a range of its electronic gadgetry, she said.

Beyond that, marketers must be able to anticipate where consumers are going to be, she added. That's why beyond the tens of thousands of keywords it already owns, HP's search team continues to anticipate what search words customers might use in the future. Plus, it has devised a product "click" feature that displays not only the link for the product the consumer is looking for but a series of links providing information about the product that leads the consumer to purchase.

Because the nexus of customer control is the Internet, the PC marketer uses a variety of online media, Ms. Bermel said. HP has a reputation for having a traditional online media, though it is not afraid to use old staples like newspaper inserts and coupons, but now the company relies more on cable TV and print magazine ads, she said.

Blogs and chat rooms
Online, HP increasingly spends time listening and talking to people on Web journals, or blogs, and chat rooms, she added. Bloggers are influencers, she noted, and HP pays close attention to the "neighborhood affect" they have on the community of people who visit blogs.

Microsoft understands the power of blogs very well, she said, referring to a brand-enhancing blog Microsoft's engineers operate to casually discuss products with customers. HP supports its own engineers and tech staffers running their own blogs, Ms. Bermel said.

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