Planning Search Engine Marketing Campaigns for Large Events
By: Matt Leavens, Search Account Manager
Every year, marketers spend millions of dollars to air their commercials during the Super Bowl. While we all realize the opportunity to reach target audiences during this event via TV ads, a vast amount of opportunities lie within online strategies that span across a multitude of other relevant events.
When marketers think about advertising for an event, TV has historically taken the lead in advertising spend. But in recent years, we have seen a shift in consumer behavior that makes online channels just as vital to the overall event strategy. Today, 63% of US internet users use a computer, smartphone or tablet while watching live TV, and that number increases to 66% when they are watching a show on DVR.
It is important for marketers to take advantage of unique online behavior that is directly correlated to these events. For example, if a major jeweler has an actress wearing its jewelry at the Academy Awards, they have an opportunity to reach search traffic specific to the event before, during, and after.
With so many opportunities throughout the year, and so many ways to reach your online target audience interested in these events, it can be difficult to decide when and how to build these campaigns. Let's look at some considerations in more detail to ensure your online team is taking full advantage of relevant events.
Which Events Are Right for My Brand?
There are a few reasons to consider online advertising campaigns during these events. The most obvious reason would be if your brand is sponsoring the event, participating in the event, or has TV ads tied to the event. Any participation or brand advertising within the event itself poses a great opportunity for an increase in brand related search traffic. In this case, you would want to consider increasing your display and Paid Search spend, ensure your website is best optimized for branded terms, and more closely monitor your social listening tools. In addition, you may want to consider increasing or setting up retargeting programs to reach viewers after the event.
If your brand is not participating in the event in some way, it does not necessarily mean that the event is not a right fit for your brand. It is important to also ask yourself the following questions. If you answer two out of three with a yes, then the event is probably a great fit.
1. Is your brand relevant to the upcoming event?
2. Does the event audience fit your target market?
3. Are your competitors advertising during the event?
Remember that if your brand is not specifically represented at the event, your strategy will need to be much more creative. In this case, search marketing and retargeting should be a main focus of your overall online strategy.
How Do I Identify the Best Strategy for My Brand?
Once you determine that it makes sense to advertise during an event, you must determine which strategies to implement. Because Search Engines are the most popular way for consumers to find information, Search should be at the core of your strategy. We will discuss what your Search strategy should look like in more detail within the next few sections.
It is also important to determine all online and offline channels that should have an event specific strategy, and then tie these channels into your search campaigns. Below are a few examples:
- Video/Multimedia Sharing: If you have a TV ad scheduled for the event, or there is a post event news clip highlighting your brand/a celebrity utilizing your product(s), this information should be used across online channels. Your brand can share the video within your YouTube channel, post across all social media, and tie it to a Paid Search campaign for keywords related to your brand, and/or the event itself.
- Social Media: If your audience is active on different social media platforms, it is important to post questions, polls, pictures, videos, etc. about the event on those pages. Make sure you choose a hash tag so that your posts and consumer interactions with these posts appear within search results for these social media platforms.
- Display: First, it is important to understand where your audience will be visiting before, during and after the event. Pre-event and last year data from third party tools can help you understand where the most traffic will be driven to through the search engines on keywords specifically related to the event. Tie this information into your display decisions, to best reach your audience during the event. Display efforts on these pages can help extend the momentum around brand awareness, even after the event is over.
Your target market can give you the best insight into which strategies to consider. You should already have an idea of what channels to include in your strategy based on prior knowledge about your audience. But remember, your audience within this event could be active on a platform that you don't normally use. Therefore, it is important to do research around the event and audience behaviors, again using third party search marketing tools. Most importantly: whatever you decide, ensure that each channel has a cohesive message.
Which Keywords Should I Focus On?
When creating a Search campaign, you must first determine what type of keywords you will be bidding on or optimizing pages with related content for. Brand? Non-Brand? Both? Determine where in the conversion funnel the consumer will be. If the consumers are mostly top funnel, the keywords should be non brand, and event focused. In this case, your team will need to do extensive research on keywords that will be most popular before, during and after the event. For instance, a particular celebrity, pre event information and hot trending topics that come out of the event are all keywords that you should build your campaign around. Make sure that you are constantly monitoring the event trends, even after making the initial keyword list, to ensure that the list evolves with the searchers' interests.
If the event is recurring, you should take advantage of historical keyword data found in Google Trends, Google Insights, social listening platforms, and other third party platforms like Hitwise. But again, make sure you still take into account and constantly monitor trends unique to this specific event before, during and after. This data will give you a much better perspective on when you should start and end your ad campaigns.
What Type of Message Do I Use in my Ad Copy?
When determining what ad copy message will be best in this situation, always first consider the policy guidelines from the Search Engines you are advertising on. The primary point here is to avoid any trademark infringements. For example, if you sponsor an athlete during a sporting event, it is possible that there may be an embargo in place that restricts you from using their name and/or using it in ad copy while the event is taking place.
Chances are that calling out the specific names of the events in your ad copy might be restricted due to trademark guidelines. If it is a matter of not being able to use it in ad copy, then it forces you to think outside of the box and really get creative with your messaging. Ask yourself - Is it possible to allude to their name without calling them out directly?
How to Select the Best Landing Page?
Always keep in mind the primary best practices of selecting a landing page:
- Does the landing page support your ad copy message and keywords with relevant content?
- Does the landing page direct the consumer to a page where you will make it convenient for them to complete your goal conversion?
As long as you consider those bullet points, you will be setting yourself up for success. Let's look at the jeweler example again. If the actress wore a specific diamond necklace at the Academy Awards because your brand wants to entice consumers to purchase it, then be sure to direct the ad to a product-specific page that also has an option to purchase the necklace. Ideally you would also include content about the actress wearing that necklace. Again, consider trademarks when building out your content.
On the other hand, if the jeweler's goal is to get searchers interested in that necklace to purchase another related product on their site, a landing page should be created that discusses that actress wearing your necklace, with a list of pictures and links to "related products."
Many marketers have yet to tap into the vast opportunities that exist with Search strategies tied to brand related events throughout the year. This additional Search traffic has the potential to grow your customer base and support your marketing goals, as long as you construct a well thought out strategies and take into consideration the topics discussed above. Each year, your team should be researching the types of events that could apply to your business, as well as analyze how similar event campaigns in previous years have impacted your bottom line.