Display Advertising and SEO

// // March 25th 2010 // Advertising + Marketing + SEM + SEO

A new study by .Fox Networks and comScore shows (again) the positive relationship between display advertising and search.

Video and display advertising both successfully increased brand engagement in each of the four campaigns analysed. The average uplift across the campaigns saw site visitation increase by more than a factor of seven over a four week period following exposure to an ad, with consumers three times more likely to conduct search queries using brand or relevant generic terms in the same time period.

display advertising and seo

Advertising Attribution

These studies all point to a synergy between advertising channels. That’s not ground-breaking, though the measurement of it is innovative. What marketers have been trying to figure out is attribution. What channel or channels should get credit for a sale or lead? It goes to the heart of the old marketing adage: I know I’m wasting half of my marketing budget, I just don’t know which half.

Impact on Display

Many advertisers and agencies still measure success of a display campaign based on traditional click through rate (CTR) and ROI. The low CTR of display ads makes marketers suspicious. The concept of a view-through conversion made sense to some, but it still seemed like a bunch of hand waving and didn’t solve the problem of attribution. New services like Vizu also go beyond clicks and provide measurable brand lift based on display campaigns.

Studies and tools that provide multi-channel insight into conversion will help advertisers move beyond antiquated success metrics and increase their display advertising budgets.

Impact on Search

Convincing advertisers of the relationship between display and search is only half the battle. How will advertisers respond? The obvious knee-jerk reaction is to increase their display advertising spend. But is that really where advertisers should start?

If display generates more search volume, wouldn’t you first ensure search was optimized to convert that additional volume? Even within search, would you allocate more dollars into PPC or SEO? Would you prefer to pay for that customer twice or once?

Display and SEO

I’d argue that the first action item based on this study would be to invest in SEO. We already know that the vast majority of search clicks come from organic listings. The importance of rank cannot be denied, even with recent studies showing interesting behavior around brands.

Display primes the pump and generates intent. But you could be generating that intent for your competitor if you haven’t done enough SEO. Branded terms are likely safe, but the ‘relevant generic terms’ are a battlefield.

For example, if Best Buy ran a display campaign for HDTVs, this would create additional search volume for branded searches (Best Buy) and relevant generic searches (HDTVs). A brand search works out just fine. But a search for hdtvs returns Walmart as the first retailer result. Best Buy could wind up spending advertising dollars to drive sales for Walmart.

My fear is that instead of investing in SEO advertisers will simply throw money at the problem through PPC. Never mind that you’ll still only capture a small segment of that additional search volume, it’s also eating into your overall ROI.

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