You can’t lie to Google but try to look great on Social Media: Search vs. Display Ads

Social Media has galvanized us to share our best face with the world. Go to any event (e.g. weddings) and you will find everyone taking pictures on their cell phones. This despite the professional photographers trying to do their best and stay relevant in the age of the smart phone.

You have a public persona and you want to always try and look good on social media. You are not lying but just trying to look your best. In contrast, you are asking Google all kind of frank questions (queries) and unless you honestly ask what you really are looking for – Google can't get you relevant results. So you can't  lie to Google!

Against the above backdrop, here is how display and search advertising work:

McDonald Billboard
Display Advertising
: Display advertising works like old media viz. TV, Newspapers and billboards. You expect hungry folks to be looking for food near the above highway exit so the McDonald's  billboard should help.Similarly when you put out a display ad on a particular show on TV, media planners have viewer data and try and match viewers to your target market. In a similar way display advertising on any Internet platforms like Google, Facebook,Instagram, Twitter etc. try to put out your ad to an audience that you can select by geography,demographics interests etc. Google's display ads work based on content (e.g. blogs,YouTube channel) owner sign ups (the AdSense program) who get a small commission on display clicks that happen on their website. Social media platform use data analysis of the behavior of the user base to identify characteristics of the audience that are relevant to marketers. Platforms do "talk" to each other and you see those creepy ads following you across the Internet after you looked at a product on Amazon. This last bit of stalking is based on a "cookie" dropped on your browser (with your permission given at some point) and is called "Remarketing". Marketers hope is that constant reminding will urge consumers to buy in very much the same way as TV ads for Coca Cola should hopefully remind you when you are at the grocery store.

To summarize, display advertising on the Internet, mirrors old advertising that does work to inform,remind and persuade. This approach is also called "outbound marketing" or push marketing.  Today online display advertising can be started with pennies and without the whole lot of investment that is needed for TV, major newspapers or websites. The digital world allows for much more granular data and targeting and the better you know your market – lesser is your advertising expense. And this after discounting the "best face" that we tend to put on social media!

Search Advertising: Search advertising, on the other hand, triggers ads based on what you type on the search (e.g. Google) bar. Here, nobody searches for stuff without reason. This reason is an initial interest (however random) in your product category. In the physical world And you would be amazed at the search terms that people use, whatever your product. This amazement takes several forms for example a  local pizza  delivery following the AIDA model :

Do they really not know?Or do they ask random questions on Google?: The marketer scratches her head wondering if people really don't know. Against broad match search the pizza marketer is incredulous at a search query "what is pizza" coming from the US. Perhaps the person landed from the moon, the marketer wonders… somewhat annoyed because she just paid for that click! This stage for the consumer  is understandable and is a stage where you as the marketer are building awareness, of your category.

Is that interest? Someone might type " pizza places nearby" and this suggests that the person knows about pizzas and is just checking out what is available nearby. The order might not be immediate , but they might remember when they really want to order. Here display advertising exposure can help because the customer is already in the path to purchase.

Is that desire? If the search term is "thin crust pizza nearby" you can assume that the person is familiar with thin crust pizza and has moved along the purchase path. If you don't offer thin crust pizza – your ad was a waste for now, but tells you that you might want to add thin crust pizza to your product line.

Finally action..  A search term like " piza delivery now"(and don't worry about the mis-spelt pizza !) might indicate that the searcher is now ready to order.

To summarize, in search advertising the searcher is (a) serious (b) truthful and asks things they really want to know about for Google does not judge you! The searcher is on a path to purchase provided that they are reminded through display advertising. The process of the customer searching for a need and finding your product is also called  "inbound" marketing

Marketers need to appreciate that target customers are at different stages of purchase and need to be given the right message at each stage. Here search and display work together. Research suggests ( see Kireyev,Pauwels, and Gupta, 2016) that when search and display work together $1 invested in display gives $1.24 return but returns $1.75  on search. In the context of a commercial bank they find that there is under investment in search advertising by 36%.

For there is nothing as powerful as the customer calling you!