Sunday, March 7, 2010

OMMA Gawd, This is Gonna Be Good!

OMMA Global SF
In a couple weeks, I'll be moderating a panel at OMMA Global in San Francisco. This conference is put on by MediaPost and, for the first time, track sessions will be free to the public.

Rather than sharing the topics and questions for my panel in the rear -- like I did for last week's CIMA event -- I thought I'd put 'em out in advance so people can get a sense for what we'll be covering and weigh in with feedback prior to the session.

Now I can check the buzzwords "transparency" and "crowd-sourcing" off my to-do list. (Speaking of transparency, I should point out that I'm compensated by MediaPost for programming the search track of this conference.)

Below is the prep sheet I just fired off to my panel. I'll be sure to update this post after the session with the highlights. Meanwhile, let me know what else you think we should hit on.

And, if you happen to be at the event, instead of Buzzword Bingo, we're gonna play Freestyle Fodder. Print out this post and keep track of how many Q's I actually ask versus ad-lib.

OMMA Global
Marriott Marquis
55 Fourth Street, San Francisco, CA

March 18, 2010
11:30am

Is Your Company Spending Too Much on Search?

Search may be the last click for customers who are buying what you have to sell. But that click often comes at the end of the consumer’s online marketing journey -- which includes exposure to banners, video ads, mobile messages and various other marketing techniques. Up to now, search has gotten much of the credit -- and the budget -- for making the sale. Smart search experts, however, recognize they don’t operate in a void, and more of them are studying and reporting how their discipline works in conjunction with other forms of marketing. They believe that by showing you the impact of marketing dollars spent "upstream," they can accurately address if your company is spending too much or too little on search. Others, however, are not so sure. This panel will discuss the unpredictable effects of search’s evolving upstream approach. Could it be a minefield for the search industry or will search finally step into the role as your strategic adviser? Find out what you have to gain either way.

Panelists:

Chad Baldwin, VP, Sales, North America, Kenshoo

Gerry Bavaro, VP, Managing Director, Resolution Media

Mike Moran, Chief Strategist, Converseon

Esco Strong, Director, Analytics, Microsoft Advertising

Moderator:

Aaron Goldman, Managing Partner, Connectual

Questions for the Panel

(Note: I will not get to all of these and won’t ask them in this order so be ready to improvise with me!)

Update 3/19: Well, I made it through half the Q's. See below in italics for choice sound-bytes from the panel. All in all, it was a great session. Thanks to my panelists for sharing their wisdom and to everyone who turned out in the audience!

Role of Search in the Mix

Before we can talk about proper budget allocation between search and other channels, I think we need to talk about the role of search in the marketing and media mix. Now, of course, this will be different for each marketer but give our audience a framework for how to think about the role search can play for their business? What part of the purchase funnel does search address?

Chad: Over 50% of new customer acquisition comes from search

Gerry: Search is part of a long trail. (AG: Hopefully it’s a happy trail!) You have to walk before you run.

Mike: Search is not a tool, it’s a moment in time. You don’t ask what the role of the telephone was in driving sales, do you?

When we talk about “spending too much on search,” we can be referring to many different things -- media costs for paid search, labor costs for natural search, technology costs for both and, certainly, opportunity costs for both. How does the approach to this conversation change if we’re talking about paid search or SEO? Or does it not change at all?

Gerry: Think about bucketing media into paid, earned and owned

Chad: Need to track every single event to conversion

Esco: It’s not about asking if I spend too much on search, it’s am I spending it in the right way or am I spending enough on other channels?

Mike: When it comes to SEO, many people don’t think about it until after they build the website. That’s like building a house and saying, “OK, now we need to figure out the plumbing.”

Big Picture

Mike reminds us that before we get into discussing advanced attribution modeling, we need to consider that most businesses that sell their products and services offline can’t tell what happened online to result in a sale. What are some basic best practices for these companies?

Mike: Too many clients think, “We went into marketing to get away from the math.” Don’t focuse on numbers, focus on answers or insights.

Best Practices

As we move into the online arena, where tracking is most robust, it’s clearly a challenge to isolate the impact each touchpoint has on your brand from search to display to social to mobile. How does one get started on building a basic attribution model?

Mike: Do it wrong, quickly. Whatever you do will be better than doing nothing.

Once you have a working model and data coming in, what’s the best way to analyze and act on that data? Is it just about redistributing credit for sales? Or are there other ways to apply this data?

What’s the biggest challenge to getting attribution right?

What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to attribution and budget allocation?

Can you share some examples of companies that have successfully created and applied attribution models to drive more marketing ROI? What typically happens to the credit for sales that search gets in these situations? More, less, same?

Players

Who needs to be involved in the allocation and attribution conversation? Which departments internally within the corporation? Which external partners? From an agency standpoint, who needs to be involved?

Mike: as few people as possible!

Ultimately, who should have ownership?

Tools

What tools and technologies are available for marketers and agencies looking to determine the proper budget allocation and attribution models for their business?

Chad: it’s a statistical problem. At Kenshoo (alert: sales plug!), we have PhD's working on technologies that can help solve it.

Will we ever get to the point where we can take people out of the equation and the technology can “do it all?”

Esco: it’s equal parts art and science.

Future

How do you think the attribution conversation will change in the coming years?

In 5 years, what will we be talking about on panels like this at conferences? Will we still have attribution and allocation panels at conferences?

Audience Q: How do you get everyone at the table to tackle these thorny issues?

AG: Free food!


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