Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Offline Search Versus Online Search

With offline, i.e. broadcast, advertisers are searching for viewers. It’s why reach is the big seller for offline.

With online, viewers are searching for information, often about advertisers, or, at least, their brands.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) consists of 130 characters of text, works best when people already have some idea about the brand being talked about. Basically, the SEM ad works as a shortcut to the advertisers website.

But it only works as a shortcut if the advertiser has already built the reputation of that brand.

If I’m looking for a new camera, I’ll click on the SEM ad for Nikon or Cannon before I’ll click on the SEM ad for Joe’s.

It’s branding that makes SEM work. In other words, offline drives SEM.

If we think of offline and online as having two very different objectives, offline spreads the net as wide as possible while online hooks the fish and hopefully, reels them in, then the advertising we create for offline and online should be very different.

In most cases, it isn’t.

Which is probably why we keep trying to sell offline and online advertising the same way. Offline is driven by the intent of the advertiser. Online is driven by the intent of the user.

The former is about reach. The latter is about time spent.

Until we start measuring what’s important about online, we’re never going to get a true measurement of its effectiveness.

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