Search Advertising: Still Unglamorous, Still Effective

You’re looking for a new pair of shoes, but you don’t know where to start. For most people, the next step is somewhat natural: Google it. Whether you notice or not, your search query returns two types of results: ads and organic listings.

These ads aren’t glamorous, they weren’t designed in a studio, nor will they win any awards. What they are is succinct, powerful and trackable.

We’re exposed to advertising everywhere – but search ads have a unique advantage over other platforms. Think about the difference in a consumer’s mindset when listening to an ad on Pandora compared entering a search query online. In the best case scenario, a Pandora ad targets a relevant, attentive consumer while he’s already invested in something else – the next song. But by the time that consumer makes it to a store, will he remember what he heard?

On the other hand, a search ad targets the consumer when he’s in a buyer’s mindset. Through keyword and audience targeting, search campaigns are triggered only when certain people are searching for certain products, services, etc. This means advertisers can automatically drop their ads in the right place at the right time.

The key is allowing the consumer to show his cards first. When he enters a search query for “black running shoes,” he’s taking the first step in the buying process: showing purchase intent. As an advertiser selling running shoes, what better time to show him your ad?

In addition to more precise and effective targeting, search advertising allows for in-depth analytics and attribution. With Google AdWords and BingAds, digital marketers can view comprehensive cost, engagement and conversion data of both past and live campaigns. This data-driven strategy adds tremendous value to marketing efforts while increasing credibility in the eyes of their clients.

I relate search advertising to buying a subway pass in New York City. Riding the subway may not be as glamorous as driving a brand new BMW on the city streets, but it avoids traffic and gets you to your destination in a more cost-efficient, predictable and measurable amount of time.