Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Chapter 20: Don’t Rely on Search Engine Marketing Alone

Executive Summary:

What leads you to search?

There’s always some stimulus that triggers a search query. Often, that’s a marketing message. Google knows this. That’s why it doesn’t rely solely on search engine marketing (SEM) to promote its products. And that’s why it doesn’t count on SEM alone to grow revenue.

For years Google did very little traditional marketing but now it is active in out-of-home and even bought a Super Bowl ad.

Microsoft launched a full-blown multi-channel campaign for Bing — including a Bingathon on Hulu — and saw its user-base increase by 30%.

Research from iProspect shows that 40% of searchers make a purchase after being driven to search by exposure to an offline ad.

A study from Yahoo! revealed that 88% of sales influenced by online advertising was spent offline.

A GroupM Search report found 94% higher click-rates when people were exposed to both paid search and brand-influenced social media. Tracking — and acting on — these linkages is critical for marketers.

Orbitz shifted too much marketing budget to SEM and saw its volume dry up because there was nothing priming the pump at the top of the funnel.

Marketing channel integration can be difficult, especially when silos have been erected between corporations, agencies, and media companies. To overcome these hurdles, align incentives and centralize data systems. It’s an over-used buzzword, but a “holistic” approach is critical.

Select Quotes:

“People don’t just magically search.”

– Jill Balis, EVP, Managing Director Starcom MediaVest Search, @JillBalis

“Can’t wait to watch the Superbowl tomorrow. Be sure to watch the ads in the 3rd quarter (someone said ‘Hell has indeed frozen over.’)”

– Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google, @EricSchmidt

“A search is a response to something.”

– Janel Laravie, Co-Founder, Chaka Marketing, @JanelLaravie

“The biggest opportunity moving forward is to understand the interaction effects between media.”

– Jon Kaplan, Industry Director, Financial Services, Google, @Jon_Kaplan

Final Thought:

If you want to bring home the bacon, don’t put all your eggs in the SEM basket. Try to maintain some SEM-blance of balance.


June 21, 2010: Kelly Graziadei was quoted in this chapter sharing key takeaways from Yahoo’s research online buy offline (ROBO) study. Kelly recently left Yahoo and is now on the Brand Agency Strategy & Account Management team at Facebook.

June 22, 2011: Speaking at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity after accepting the Cannes Lions Media Person of the Year Award, Eric Schmidt confirmed that Google’s Superbowl ad “paid for itself” based on incremental search traffic. Reminds us that we can’t rely on SEM alone but also that it’s critical to track everything.

  • Scott K

    On p. 504, AG says that Microsoft may have over-promised by hyping Bing as a “decision engine”, but the boys in Redmond understood that search engines need to be more than “big dumb machines”.

    This actually gets to the basis of the service-and-flow economy, or product service systems (PSS).

    I can't remember if it was in Joel Makower's “Strategies For The Green Economy” or Paul Hawken's “Natural Capitalism”, but there was a particular quote that is germane to the Bing/Microsoft example that has always resonated with me:

    “People don't need a quarter-inch drill. What they need is a quarter-inch HOLE.”

    The point here being that people don't actually need tools – they need solutions. And everyone owning a particular tool that they use infrequently is a gluttonous use of increasingly scarce natural resources.

    Do you need a car, or do you need personal mechanized transportation to get you from Point A to Point B on demand? (Zipcar vs. owning your own car.)

    Do you need to buy carpeting for your office, or do you simply need your floor covered? (Interface carpets charges a company a monthly fee for carpet squares, so that when each area wears out – which only happens in the high traffic spots – Interface will come and simply replace that square and recycle, so there is zero waste to landfill, while the customer always has fresh, attractive carpet everywhere without ever having to yank up an entire room of carpet – most of which is still pristine – and sent it all to a landfill.)

    So while natural resource scarcity isn't driving Microsoft in creating Bing, the basis of consumer expectation is the same: it's not a tool you need, it's a solution.

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