Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Hi, I'm Search." "Hi, I'm Display."

Like peanut butter and chocolate, Michael Phelps and gold medals, and Britney and K-Fed....some things were just meant to be together. OK, maybe not Britney and K-Fed, but the others on the list stand true. What about online advertising's biggest money makers Search and Display though? Were they meant to be together? Well, based on the fact that most companies still track their search and display efforts with separate teams, the likely answer is..."I don't know".

If it was up to Atlas Solutions however, their latest report findings would have you believe that search and display should be together more than Harry and Lloyd (from "Dumb & Dumber"). Their findings showed that,
"When marketers supplement search with display impressions, they get a significant lift in conversions. Unfortunately, most advertisers that run both search and display are unaware of this...” The study demonstrated that "users exposed to both search and display ads convert at a higher rate: an average of 22 percent better than search alone and 400 percent better than display only."

When running a case study for Alltel wireless, they found that, "users who clicked on search ads who were also exposed to display were 56% more likely to purchase from Alltel than those only exposed to search, illustrating a significant synergy between the two."

But as Atlas states above, "Unfortunately, most advertisers that run both search and display are unaware of this...” Why? As I mentioned above, many companies have separate teams that run and track search and display campaigns. Therefore, due to the lack of alignment between the two teams, neither realizes the benfits that a combination of search + display has on improving conversions, brand awareness, and increased traffic. Neither team has the combined data to show that display ads are assisting in converting search ads.

This is a major problem because companies are making separate online advertising budget decisions based one one single data point....conversions. For example, let's say an advertiser is tracking a new display ad. After running the ad for a month and gathering up the conversion data, they see that it's converting at a very small percentage. They come to conclusion that the display ad isn't performing well and it's not profitable so they pull their budget for the ad. Little do they realize, that while the display ad did not convert well on its own, it was very successful at building brand awareness and driving visitors and conversions to their Yahoo! or Google search campaigns where visitors later converted.

The problem? They've just cut the budget on a channel (their display ad) that was successful at driving brand awareness, visitor traffic, and additional conversions for their search ads.

Whoops. You don't know what you don't measure, right?

On the flip side, if the advertiser had been using an online advertising tracking solution like Yahoo's 'Full Analytics', they would have been able to measure that the display ad was driving additional conversions for other ads (using Yahoo's Assist report). In response, the advertiser would have continued to run the display ad knowing full well that it was driving awareness, traffic, and conversions to their other advertising channels (such as search).

As web analysts, we're supposed to make decisions based on our data findings and report on those findings. Now I don't know about you, but in terms of conversion, a 22% lift vs. doing search alone and a whopping 400% lift vs. doing display alone sounds like a pretty amazing deal to me.

Need more proof that search and display work better together......

"Grant MacFarlane, head of search at Havas agency Media Contacts and previously head of client services at Google, agrees. "Search often takes the glory for the purchase, as a lot of agencies can't track back to see where someone saw a banner ad that got them searching in the first place," he says. "We've seen a 15% or 20% uplift when you run display and search in tandem.""

How about some MORE proof that search and display work better together (do you see what I'm getting at here?).......

"The study, entitled “Close the Loop: Understanding Search and Display Synergy,” found that when combined, search and display advertising deliver profoundly better results than when used independently. The study showed a significant lift in onsite engagement and an increase in online and offline purchasing by consumers who are exposed to integrated campaigns that employ both types of online advertising."


So what are you doing then? As and analyst I report that you stop watching Dumb & Dumber and get tracking (and check out Yahoo's Full Analytics if you want to track this stuff)!!