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5 Ways To Capitalize on TV in SEM Campaigns




Recently Google quietly changed the geo footprints formerly called “metros” into Nielsen® DMA® regions. This means that these metros are 100% aligned with television advertising footprints.

This change got me thinking about the interaction between TV advertising and SEM and its increasing significance as more and more people watch TV with a device in hand.

For large brands that actually do national TV advertising, the lift to SEM (particularly on brand) driven by TV adverts is clear and easy to read. However, even if you don’t have the budget or resources to run TV ads, there are still ways that TV affects your SEM account. Here are some ways for you to capitalize:

  1. Adjust your Device Strategy – It used to be that search volumes for many verticals fell off later in the day. That simply isn’t true anymore. Instead, people are just shifting devices and searching from the couch on mobile or tablets. 

That said, you do not have the full attention of the user on the couch in the same way you do for a desktop user because you are competing with the television. From-the-couch users are less likely to be in a mindset to “pull the trigger” and convert, but they are definitely researching and participating in top-of-the-funnel browsing. As such, your device strategy, day-parting, and target metrics should reflect this – and you may have an argument for attributing some of your daytime conversions to what happens on tablets and mobile in the evenings.
  2. Take advantage of TV ads from brands you carry – In a former position, I worked at an e-commerce company where one of the brands we carried also had brick-and-mortar stores and did regional TV ads to support them. We’d see huge regional spikes in sales on this brand when they were running TV in a particular region. The ads drove people online to search, and by showing up prominently on the results, we got the revenue off of their TV ad spend! (The ROI on other people’s money looks pretty great.) Try asking for the TV advertising calendar from brands that you carry; when the ads are live, make sure to beef up your SEM by doing thorough keyword builds on that brand, increasing bids, and aligning your ad texts with the TV messaging.
  3. Mooch off of your competitor’s ads – If you have any competitors that do TV advertising, you can capitalize off of their ad investment. Build out search campaigns on their brand name, taglines, and products with an offer that trumps theirs. If you are in the e-commerce space, pay attention to big box retailer circulars and subscribe to email updates, as these often align with what they are pushing on TV, and build SEM support for those products and offers.
  4. Get at the right demographic in Google Display Network (GDN) – TV is an increasingly interactive medium with all kinds of TV-focused web content such as blog posts, forums, and chat rooms. You can create keyword contextual GDN support for the TV shows that align with your core demographic and reach those users online. Want to reach housewives? Use soap opera titles to get at them online. Men age 18-45? It’s football season! Get your ads next to all the football content.
  5. Piggyback on TV events – Think about large TV events (usually these are sports related) ahead of time and use these (generally low competition) builds to drive low-cost traffic. For instance, there was huge opportunity in selling travel to London during the Olympics with the right targeting and messaging when people’s interest in London was already piqued. Even if your product or service does not align with these television events, there is opportunity in thinking about how these events will affect your results and considering opportunities for ad text adjustments that capitalize on the excitement the events generate.

So, even if you are not in the TV space, TV does (to some degree) impact most SEM accounts. As targeting capabilities, mobile device adoption, and more sophisticated attribution models continue to advance, the relationship between TV and search will only get larger and more entangled. Smart search marketers are thinking ahead here and taking advantage of this growing opportunity.

About the Author

Susan Waldes is an Account Director at PPC Associates, a digital marketing firm based in the Bay Area and downtown Chicago. She has worked in the search engine marketing industry since 1999 for a multitude of lead generation, branding, and eCommerce clients in her time at ivgStores, ROI Revolution, and Rockett Interactive and as an independent SEM consultant. Susan has a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and lives in the Raleigh, NC, area.