Intel Corp.'s Carrillo on search marketing success

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Corey Carrillo is global search manager at Intel Corp. ( Hands-On: Search recently asked Carrillo about the company's complex use of search marketing to reach both its channel partners as well as consumers.

HOS: What role does search marketing play at Intel?

Carrillo: I've been here five years, and search has become more and more important to the marketing mix. It's become a larger percentage of our online spending and … continues to grow—from 30% to 40% growth year over year for three to four years. It's definitely getting the attention of senior management, and the decisions to invest are coming from above.

HOS: What are the reasons for that?

Carrillo: Intel is a strange animal. We market to our direct customers—original equipment manufacturers—but probably most to end users. We're an ingredient. We don't sell direct to the average consumer, but we have to “sell” to them with the “Intel Inside” program to create this whole demand … [for a product from] HP or Dell with an Intel product within it. Search is a big part of that. That's the most relied-upon tool to funnel people into the stores or online.

There's a renewed emphasis on search because of other online media that feed into it, social and video in particular. And universal search has really opened up a lot of the activity for everybody online, and made it more important to rank well organically with your content, as well as with paid programs working in tandem.

HOS: It sounds like Intel uses search primarily as a branding tool, is that right?

Carrillo: You almost have to play in that space to remind people that Intel is a brand that they need to seek out. By funneling users into the Intel site, we hope to educate them, since the only thing we have to sell to consumers is information.

HOS: On the purely b-to-b front, how does search play into your relationship with OEMs?

Carrillo: That's the delicate one. We let the OEMs and retailers use broad terminology, but we still purchase those terms. However, we have to be complementary with them to allow them to market their higher-end products with our processors in it. And there are some occasions where we have joint marketing programs.

For the most part, the OEMs have a set of rules that they have to use with the “Intel Inside” program, and only if they do those things will they get part of our marketing spend as reimbursement for their marketing message. In that area, the OEMs actually have a little more power, depending on the media they choose to come to us for reimbursement for.

There is competition with the OEMs in the search space. We're both fighting for keywords, and I strategically bid around certain words I know I can own without bidding through the roof. Then, I let them have those terms that realize the final sale.

HOS: How does your strategy with paid search differ from your organic efforts?

Carrillo: With paid search, it's more campaign-oriented, given the other marketing media we're using. For example, if we have a new TV commercial or print ad, we'd want to play up the terms around the product or commercial to try to connect the dots. People see Intel all over the place but may not remember a particular ad. We're playing the hooks.

Also, PPC is a little more strategic for those areas where we don't do so well organically. Organic search is a difficult thing. We can control our Web content, but not others' Web content we're ranked against.

HOS: What does the future hold for search and Intel's participation in it?

Carrillo: There are a few unknowns out there. The really obvious one is that online populations are exploding in emerging markets. We have to spend more dollars in those areas, as well as in the U.S. and the West, where we have seen increased competition and higher costs-per-click. A lot of this is about keeping business stable in known areas and having the money to go into unknown areas.

Also, what we're starting to see is more competition for organic results, with social media ranking really well. That will make it tougher for Intel to rank well, so we may have to rank higher on the paid and organic side to make sure we're still in competition with all the social media links.

HOS: Social includes many formats. How are you getting your hands around it?

Carrillo: Yes, video and other formats will only add to the mix. We're starting to focus this year on mobile search marketing. People don't think of handheld devices and search, but they get used quite a bit more than you realize. We need to start playing in that space more and more, especially as it connects with the retail environment.

I feel that search may actually be usurped by handhelds. When you consider all the apps available, there's no need to go to a website. You can have an app—or better, your Facebook page, or e-mail or bank app. Pretty soon, you won't need the Web.

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