The Fine Art of Search Engine Marketing

I dropped by the recent OMMA (Online Media, Marketing and Advertising) conference here in San Francisco and got a healthy education on some of the finer points of search engine marketing. What was most startling to me was the finding by one of the panel members (it might have been Geoff Ramsey of eMarketer, he was throwing a lot of stats around) that the ROI for most search engine campaigns is now up to $1.50 for each dollar invested. The significance of this was not lost on the audience. Search Engine advertising is no longer a marketing expense but a sales channel.

I may be stating the obvious to some of you but this struck me as significant. When a traditional marketing activity moves from the expense column of a balance sheet to the revenue side, it completely changes how management views this activity.

I had the good fortune to catch up with Joshua Stylman of Reprise Media and he explained to me some of the things that Reprise is doing to optimize marketing for their clients. Reprise also runs the Movable Type-powered blog, SearchViews so they’re drinking their own sherry (it tastes better than dogfood)

For The New York Times, they analyze the top stories from the RSS feeds to make selective keyword purchases to drive readers to the nytimes.com site.

For a Lord of the Rings merchandiser, they spider their client’s site to extract product names and use them in combination with general phrases related to Lord of the Rings to bid on "tail terms" which are extremely specific and thus low cost but highly effective and relevant. The case study (registration required) goes on to quote attaining a 1:6 ratio of ad dollars spent to every dollar generated!

I don’t know about you but if I had a campaign that returned $6 for every dollar spent, I don’t think there would be any doubt in my not looking to maximize resources spent on that channel.

I found the tenor of this conference refreshing. Unlike other conferences which had the feel of a shrill carnival, this one was more in tune to the art of good advertising; the importance of creating something that is of value to not only the advertiser but, equally important, the consumer. I appreciate that there are companies out there that are taking the time to work out phrases that will find me exactly those things out on the tail that I might want. Spend your money to optimize the tail, relevance will trump brute force "Punch the Monkey" schemes every time. Anyone remember the x10 camera?

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