Adding Offline Data to Online Search

Search has always been a dynamic keep-up-or-die industry, and it's about to take another one of those jumps that will change the industry forever. The use of offline data to support online line search marketing strategy and tactics will be a must-do for most savvy companies. 

Let's look at just one example of how this might work. We'll take recent advancements at Google and Overture, specifically their new local ad placement capabilities, and then combine them with a traditional demographic marketing technology in order to change the scope of a national search marketing campaign for a brick and mortar retailer into one using local targeting.

Let's begin by clearing our minds of the localized search positioning that has been done by the search engines that suggest that local ad placement and local search in general are designed to replace yellow page advertising.  Instead, let's look at these programs from a much broader perspective and think about how they can be utilized to allow for consumer segmentation within your SEM campaign.

For those not familiar with Google and Overture's local search programs, the concept is simple. In Google's case, you have the ability to purchase keyword phrases in your AdWords campaign based upon the location of the person that is performing a search for the specified terms. This means that you can buy paid keyword placement for a specific geographic area. If Google can identify the originating location of the searcher, and if it is within the area specified, your text ad will appear. Overture's program is a little different. It focuses more on the terminology used to search for a product or service and whether or not the search phrase contains a location specific term (Example: custom jeans Pittsburgh). The caveat? The bidder must have a physical location within the location term area.

Build and maximizing your campaign to incorporate the data that you have offline into your online search placement (on both the Google and Overture engines) is a three step process:

Step 1: Define where your best offline customer lives

Within your offline data, you have probably already defined who your best customers are. Now, in the online search arena, you want to get in front of a greater percentage of those people that fit your offline best customer profile.

For instance: a large national retailer has multiple store locations across the country. They want to drive more people to their stores from their Web site. They have loads of information on their customers that have been gathered via their CRM and Point of Sale System, indicating that their best customers are males between the ages of 25 and 34, married with children, who make more than $75,000 in yearly household income. When these best customers shop at the retailer's stores, the margin realized on purchases is 25 percent greater than that of an average sale.

By using geographic information databases from firms like Claritas, Melissa Data and Experian , you can determine which Designated Marketing Areas (DMA) of the country that have the highest population of consumers that fit your ideal best customer profile. 

Step 2: Determine what keywords to use

Just as you would in any search marketing campaign, you need to determine what keywords searchers are using to find your site, and if possible, which ones lead to conversions by your targeted marketing group. Rank them by usage and then pick the ones that have both a lot of searches and are likely to combine with a location term.

Step 3: Buy the best areas with the best keywords

After you have determined the keywords and phrases that your best customer group uses, you can set up your PPC programs within Google and Overture, using the DMA geographic boundaries determined in Step 1.

Google is location-centered, so along with radius and latitude/longitude placement options, Google allows keyword bidding by specific Designated Marketing Areas. Bid your best keywords on only the DMAs that fit your best customer profile.

Since Overture bases their local search on the combination of the keywords and location designator, include the keyword phrase and DMA name in your bid entry. Again, you must have a physical location within the designated area.

This is only one simple example of how companies can begin to use offline data to create more sophisticated SEM campaigns. This could go much deeper via more pinpoint targeting by zip and/or polygon selection on Google, to a breakdown of a DMA to smaller location names joined with keywords for Overture.

Now imagine how productive your search campaign might be if you were to do this type of segmentation and ad placement on a continuous basis.

Matt Naeger's primary responsibility at IMPAQT is management of IMPAQT’s Search Performance Management and Research Departments. Matt spent six years managing large scale direct marketing analysis projects for clients such as General Nutrition Cos., Eckerd Drug and Carnegie Library Systems prior to joining IMPAQT in 1999.  Since 1999 Matt has been instrumental in the development of the scoring metrics, keyword selection, bid management systems and research methodologies used in our client’s campaigns. Matt attended Duquesne University Law School and has successfully applied his training and knowledge to the search industry, specifically trademark and copyright issues.