Search and Networks: Better Together – I Think So!


Mollie Spilman,’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer interestingly suggested a holistic media approach in her iMediaConnect article, Search and Networks: Better Together.  She urges an advertiser to combine search and network advertising together to create a more powerful, cohesive campaign.  Her position is that with the rising costs of search (see my post Banners vs. Search), banner advertising can be a good offset to balance the investment.  But her really convincing argument was found in the following statement:


“…while search is limited to generic text listings, behavioral targeting enables you to follow up with a more compelling sales message, using ads that are tailored to the user’s online activity. Rather than simply hoping that the consumer will return to your site after researching or comparing prices across the net, you can take action– serving up your most powerful message or promotion all across the network.”


So if you combine BT with search you can tag someone the first time they come through from search and then target them in the future based on that search.  Provided that you are strategic enough to couple both the cost of the search and the cost of the BT back to the eventual sale, measuring the CPA accordingly, you may find the approach to be more effective than just one or the other on their own. 


Now, Mollie’s shameful plug of a network as the Chief Sales and Marketing Office of is totally acceptable.  But I would love to see some data behind this idea as it is compelling.  It would be hard for most advertisers – let alone many agencies – to track and calculate the CPA under this method, but if someone is tagged from the initial landing page based on the search term, recognized later through the BT recognition process, retagged, and then tracked through a conversion process you could have a pretty solid argument.  Would it be a cost effective acquisition?  It would certainly be an accurate measurement of the acquisition.  It would be a more accurate depiction of the holistic investment then just looking at search or just banner advertising with or w/o BT.


You see I have always said that the technology is here.  My blog is committed to finding the technologies and then proposing other ways to using them to do more.  So here goes….  First party ad serving can do this too, but we may be able to eliminate a step or two in the process. 


Let’s assume that when someone lands on the site from the search term they are cookied with a first party cookie rather than a third party cookie – like the cookie.  Then let’s use first party ad serving, like DirectServe to do behavioral targeting, using the first party cookie instead of the third party cookie.  What will happen is that when the browser is recognized the next time they are encountered, the cookie recognition will be based on the advertiser’s own first party cookie and the ad served will still be event-based.  So far things are pretty much the same.  But when the individual clicks on the ad and is driven to the site, the advertiser can read their own cookie and will know the search term that generated the lead, the banner that generated the click and the site that generated the lead.  So when it comes to calculating the CPA, all of the data will be aggregated into one place and will be readily available.


If we build off of Mollie’s model – which I originally proposed, not Mollie, so don’t shoot her – you would have to calculate the ROI from the search campaign, calculate the ROI from the network banner campaigns and then synchronize the two with some kind of algorithm.


I am liking this idea a lot.  I think that Mollie is right here.  I think that a great way to bring down the rising cost of search is in fact to combine it with BT banner advertising.  And maybe using a network would be an affective medium since the inventory will be vast and the CPMs are lower.  Premium networks also do get some good inventory as I have mentioned in the past.  But we definitely need to be able to have a way to calculate the combined CPA of the lead which comes first through search and subsequently through BT and the banner.  I’ve got one easy way to do it.

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