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Why run a search advertising campaign?

I’m sure that most readers will be running advertising campaigns on Google, and perhaps Bing too. So the question “Why run a search advertising campaign?” may seem redundant. However, having a solid answer to this can help when we need to explain the strategy to colleagues, or even to justify it in our own minds.

Search advertising has two competitors, or alternatives: doing better elsewhere in the search engines (i.e. SEO), and advertising in other media. Its strengths will vary according to the comparison.

An aspect where it beats both is in speed. We can have an advert up and running in minutes. We can change our message frequently and instantly. Nothing else offers this, and it’s something to take advantage of. I’m surprised that we don’t see more adverts saying “see us at the exhibition next week” or “find out more before the legislation changes on Friday”. If we don’t change our search advertising to take advantage of this opportunity, we’re missing a trick.

Control of positioning is another strength. With SEO, we’re battling an unknown and ever-changing set of rules. With search advertising, we can advertise as prominently as we’re prepared to invest in. Want the top position for a certain search? Just pay for it. Want to sneak in a less prominent but possibly more cost-effective position? That’s quite controllable too.

Results measurement of search advertising is second to none. It’s very hard to accurately measure the effect of spending on SEO (what would we have got regardless?). Advertising in print or broadcast media is usually just an act of faith. With search advertising, every clickthrough can be measured, and every enquiry tracked. That’s why many businesses are happy to put their entire promotional budget into this channel …because they know it makes them a profit. Other channels could do better, they could do worse, but it’d be guesswork.

Finally, search ads offer the widest range of targeting. Whether it’s advertising down to postcode level, advertising at certain dates and times, or advertising to hot prospects making certain searches, it’s a compelling offering.

And at this point, it would be a dereliction of duty if I didn’t add that if you want someone to run your search advertising campaigns, you know who to ask.