Search Integration: The Online/Offline Mix


Welcome to our ongoing coverage of SES Chicago, 2009. Commercials and print have become massively expensive for most small companies. Large companies are cutting budgets and there’s really only so much you can say in your 15 or 30 second spot or print ad. Websites have become the hub of many marketing campaigns because they house deep and valuable information for users who care to look further. Search marketers have the opportunity to leverage offline channels to drive traffic to these hub.

Jim Sterne, Chairman Web Analytics Association & Founder, eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit Moderates the discussion about integrating online and offline channels,  managing the relationship and obstacles to the process.

The panel holds industry experts: Michael Kahn, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Performics; Keith Boswell, Director of Digital Marketing Strategy, Kaiser Permanente; Vivek Chaudhuri, Director, SEO / Strategy, Digitas Health and Alan Osetek, Managing Director, iProspect Boston. Below we’ve captured exchanges between the panelists.

Sterne starts off waxing poetic: “integrated marketing WAS the ideal and the strategy. Then the internet came along and we all got distracted.”

Osetek: People are going online to information gather. Search is capturing the demand.

Sterne: If you could make the marketing mix organization easier what would you do?

Vivek: We had either teach online to marketers or marketing to online people. What people are searching online is significanly important and marketers must use that to drive the rest of the channels. Conversely when people see a TV ad the search numbers go up. Keyword research, insight and analysis is the connecting point in online and offline worlds.

Sterne: If you worked for a large healthcare company what would be your magic wand?

Boswell: we work on websphere portal, which is very difficult for optimization. Increasing the site is not built to be  a series of pages. The page metaphor is changing. Navigating the technical platform is an obstacle.

Sterne: What about including the rest of marketing?

Boswell: Keyword research changed the game. In the old days we went with a gut feeling. Keyword research now touches everything we do from product names to headlines

Sterne: What’s the magic wand for the industry as a whole or with clients.

Osetek: Integrated reporting and analysis. 67% of online searchers are driven by offline, but most search marketers don’t look at offline analytics. They think search is the bottom of the funnel, but that’s not necessarily true.

To be more hands on, I would recommend:

  • integrating something simple, then
  • integrate search display, website data and customer data and then
  • bring in offline level data to look at the correlation

Kahn: Would have two magic wands: One

  1. Complete understanding by agencies and advertisers: SERPs are just another storefront. The SERP represents your brand.
  2. From the agency perspective: Compensation models work against integration. Uniform compensation models are necessary to avoid bias.

This can be accomplished two ways:

  1. Time of staff and a performance based componet (sales or lead generations)
  2. Percent of media and performance component

Performance-based marketing should be used as the leverage to integration.

Sterne: Vivek, raised the standardization flag. How can you measure online with offline?

Kahn: Ultimately advertisers and companies must decide what are the metrics and drivers. The model will be refined overtime but it a place to start is identifying metrics.

Boswell: This is a goal. We do struggle with how to break that out. We can propose something but everyone says “my channel out performs” or “this drove my channel”

Vivek: It comes down to conversion, but companies must identify what constitutes a conversion.

Boswell: It comes down to have integrated tracking sites. Using more than one platform (like Omniture vs. Google) will give you different data. The data is accurate, but not necessarily precise. 🙂

What’s going on within the site is a small part of what you should be looking at. Companies must look at what’s driving traffic.

Ostetek: There are three models you can take (using integrated dashboard), first: someone higher up the marketing food chain needs to choose one of three:

  1. Have one agency holding company and ask them to figure out the integration, all of it. (though, these number could be massaged and bias a bit because the agency is inclined to produce good numbers)
  2. If you work with many agencies you must build the data aggregation internally
  3. Third party platform (which is completely unbiased)

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