Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Chris Copeland, GroupM Search

Chris Copeland
CEO
GroupM Search
2/22/10

Which of my lessons resonates with you the most and why?

For me, the two lessons that stand out are Relevancy Rules and Your USP is critical.

Despite its push nature, advertising has always been about the pursuit of intersecting audience and content in a relevant setting. With the majority of advertising, the location was the definition of relevancy – be it a television show, a magazine or other form.

What Google has done is empower the consumer to express intent and facilitate the easy (emphasis on easy) connection in a relevant way. That being said, what I admire most about Google is a slight variation on Your USP is critical. Google has never been defined by anyone outside of Mountain View, California. They began as a technology company and maintain that identity. And, while they have clearly become one part advertising company, one part telco, one part social network amongst other things, they are still a technology company. They define what matters to Google and if it changes, it only changes because they decide it should.

How have you put one or more of these lessons into play for your clients?

Right now, the lesson we preach more and more to clients is the importance of shelf space. So much attention is given to the paid search side of the Google experience because of the enormous revenue streams. But,for advertisers, the opportunities to leverage organic, video and image search, and even tap into social networks and third party sites for brand growth, is critical. This diversification is a key to strengthening brand and reducing dependency on paid media and is a strategy we have built our business towards for clients.

You recently published some research on the impact social media has on search. Can you provide a brief synopsis of your findings? Were you surprised by any of the results?

When GroupM Search partnered with comScore and M80 to explore the intersection of search and social our goal was to validate the “gut feelings” many in the space have about the channels. We expected that individuals exposed to a brand’s efforts in social (Influenced Social) and paid search would perform better. We ultimately took away three key understandings which any advertiser can build upon.

1. The connection between social media and search is even stronger than we expected. Internet users exposed to both search influenced social produced a 94% higher CTR [click-through rate] than users exposed to paid search alone. This far outpaces similar efforts studied between search and display.

2. These users exposed to Influenced Social are much more likely to end up searching around product attributes. This tells us that social media not only helps connect users with brands, but also creates better association with a brand’s key attributes. There within lies an unique opportunity for advertisers that is afforded by the excess space found in social — in comparison to character limits in search.

3. Social today does not have to tie to a direct ROI. It doesn’t hurt if you can link it directly to ROI, but ultimately, the findings from our research help us better appreciate the value of social without forcing the channel to be direct response. Likewise, searches up the funnel can be better positioned to drive to off site, expanding engagement and experience with a brand, instead of simply trying to push product.

Lesson #14 is “You can Learn a Lot from a Query.” How can marketers leverage insights from SEM [search engine marketing] to inform broader marketing initiatives?

Marketers have the ultimate petri dish of research in intent-driven responses provided online. Search has been the single-greatest source for this intelligence. With the rise of social we are creating a virtuous circle which helps clients understand expectations, needs and demands of their consumers. Today these learnings shape messaging and responses in many advertising channels. Tomorrow they will shape everything from packaging to future product R&D.

Lesson #20 is “Don’t Rely on SEM Alone.” Do you think marketers give too much credit to search? When putting together a media plan, do you advocate starting with search and expanding from there?

Our focus is on journey and destination. When someone engages, be it a purchase or form fill, we consider that a win. You can’t win the race if you don’t cross the finish line and search is rewarded because it is the last mile after countless hours of preparation and other efforts.

Personally, I worry less about the “credit” search is given as long as where we invest facilitates movement through the product journey and delivers on engagement. Where we get into trouble is when self-serving models are created that discredit search to increase worth of other channels. Our social and search research, as well as countless other studies we’ve conducted on tv, print and digital, say that everything works better together. The best clients understand this, and while attribution has its place, the end goal is not one of budget self preservation but rather of destination delivery.

What makes Google such a unique company? Why has it been so successful?

A lot of companies tout themselves as customer first but Google may be the single greatest example of living the principle daily. The consumer – the end user who searches and engages daily with Google, has given such an enormous level of trust to Google in what they share that it’s a bit mind-boggling. The reason this has happened is, once again, Google has been resolute in the definition of who they are and what their purpose is: to organize and simplify on behalf of their audience. This can be maddening to the advertising community and is not without conflict as it broadens beyond desktop searching, but it is who Google is and what has made theme supremely successful.

In less than 140 characters, what’s the single most important thing you’ve learned from Google?

Only you can define yourself. Never let others tell you who you are or what you can be.

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