Keeping your search marketing options broad

Sitting here running online advertising campaigns, I’m constantly assailed with ‘improvements’ from the media, such as Google. The vast bulk of them are related to ever more precise targeting, and for many businesses, that’s a great thing. But for many more (including yours, I suspect), it’s a very dangerous path.

Google doesn’t give any impression that it understands business-to-business marketing. Despite protestations to the contrary, it doesn’t seem to be making much effort to do so either. Everything’s geared up to getting more ‘conversions’ at your online store, despite the fact that most industrial and scientific websites, for example, don’t have – or need – one. Consequently, the improvements it offers to its advertising products are nearly always aimed at detecting people who are hovering over a screen, credit card in hand, looking for the cheapest deal with the fastest delivery to their front door.

You, meanwhile, are probably interested in a completely different audience. It’s one which is researching technology options, and one which doesn’t get any easier to identify.

But I wonder if the consumer sector is also pushing back against ever-closer focus on specific targets. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Procter & Gamble Co., the biggest advertising spender in the world, will move away from ads on Facebook that target specific consumers, concluding that the practice has limited effectiveness. Facebook has spent years developing its ability to zero in on consumers based on demographics, shopping habits and life milestones. P&G, the maker of myriad household goods including Tide and Pampers, initially jumped at the opportunity to market directly to subsets of shoppers, from teenage shavers to first-time homeowners.

“Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief marketing officer, said the company has realized it took the strategy too far. “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow,” he said in an interview, “and now we’re looking at: What is the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision?”

“P&G could be the bellwether on how consumer goods companies and big brands use digital advertising. Over the past year some marketers, specifically consumer product companies, have discovered they need to go “much more broad” with their advertising on social media sites such as Facebook.”

While we work on identifying the search results pages (a.k.a. ‘keywords’) which deliver most engagement for our advertisers, we understand that important early-stage prospects could be making searches which are far broader, and corresponding search results pages may be the ideal place to put an advertiser’s name in front of them. If you’re running your own search marketing campaign, it’s important to remember this.

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