DM Days Says 'Search Me'
was the first word at the tip of all tongues on a panel of ad experts who converged for the keynote "Ad Agencies Speak Out-Adding Value and Measuring Results for Direct Marketers." on day two of the DM Days conference held in New York City. The panel presented insight into making the most out of search while churning a debate over the reach of search's value. The search channel, all agreed, is growing rapidly and will continue to become even more crucial to marketers in the future. As the channel is both prominent and very new, many marketers are left wondering how to best address customer activity online.
John Greco, president and CEO of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), opened the day by giving attendees a short history of DM Days as a conference. DM Days began, he explained, as Direct Mail Days. With the emergence of new digital ways to sell, the conference soon changed the words behind its acronym. Greco sees a similar shift occurring today. "In marketing, we tend to mark changes in large paradigm shifts," he said. "Search is a true paradigm shift in terms of our behavior [as customers] and what we do."
When the topic of search was turned over to the panel, the experts expressed a similar sentiment about search's growth and enormity in today's marketing world. "The results are just so proven," said Alan Boughen, partner of NeoSearch@Oglivy. "People are looking to spend money on search." The panel stressed the measurability of search as one of its biggest advantages; the number of clicks and length of time on Web pages can be easily quantified and analyzed. Additionally, the speakers acknowledged search marketing's ability to reach customers 24/7, with more and more people having access to the Internet and using it as their primary information source.
The panelists also debated the limits of search marketing. When the question of branding came up Amy Auerbach, vice president and group account director of Media Contact, said, "Search is not a deep enough experience in itself to create a branding experience." Auerbach highlighted the uniqueness of search as an advantage to the channel as it allows customers to interact with a product on a personal level; however she argued that the personal nature of this experience resisted the broader idea of branding. Others countered that search could be used as a valuable tool to develop a brand. Boughen noted that if search behaviors and responses were tested, marketers could use that information "and apply it to something much bigger."
Across the board, the panel emphasized the importance of integrating search marketing into the framework of all marketing efforts. If companies look into all aspects of the search experience, the panelists agreed that they could gain crucial information about their customers. With the presence of search marketing expanding and its value increasing, the panel recommended marketers look to extend its reach. "People need to start thinking less about the two-dimensional world of search as in Google and Yahoo!, but more about behavior, moving search to mobile, audio, and podcast."
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