When it comes to search engine advertising, one thing I’ve learned is that lay people (including those who you might need to sign off your advertising plans) consistently underestimate what it can do. For many companies, it’s still “just another channel”, and budget is almost arbitrarily allocated to it. The sheer scale of what’s going on is hard to grasp (and I include myself in this), but we really need to try harder. Let’s try to simplify what’s happening, in case you ever want something to casually leave on someone’s desk…
I’m sure you’ll agree that the number of enquiries you get from an advertisement comes down to three things: how many people are looking for your product; how many of those people see the medium you choose to advertise in; and how many of those actually see your advertisement. It’s the attrition rate between the steps which is key, and it’s here that search engine advertising does so well. This is what happens:
Now, let’s compare that with, for example, a magazine advertisement. I’m sure you’ll agree that if there are 100 people out there who might want your product today, more will be likely to search Google for that product than will pick up a specific issue of a specific magazine which happens to have your advert in it. That’s probably common sense.
And I’m sure you’ll also agree that in comparison to a Google search results page, they’re more likely to miss your advert in a magazine. So the attrition rate is considerably steeper:
This doesn’t mean that magazine advertising is a waste of money: those few potential enquirers at the bottom of that illustration could easily justify the cost of the advertisement. But the potential of search advertising is so much greater. It’s just a question of how much of that potential you’re prepared to invest in.
(If you’re ever trying to make this point to somebody, feel free to use those images!)