The growth of search has played a critical role in how online marketers look at different channels, specifically ad networks. Search traditionalists developed some of the best network strategies.
Should search and display be a part of the same conversation? Absolutely.
Certain display options, such as networks and demand side exchanges, give online marketers control while yielding results. Are we utilizing this control similarly across channels?
The network market is saturated. To find the right fit to shadow your search program, spend some quality time in the research stage. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the initial thought process (if you aren't already).
1. Knowledge of Vertical
Nothing is more frustrating than a sales rep asking about the budget before they provide a recommended strategy. It's also beneficial to pair up with a network that understands your top-level business. Find someone who can speak to your seasonality, competitor's strategy, creative differentiators for specific geographies, and supportive categories.
2. Resource Allowance
A partnership is defined as a "relationship between individuals or groups that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility surrounding profits and losses (as for the achievement of a specified goal)."
Hmmm. When is the last time we held engine G responsible for losses due to a disjointed broad match strategy (pretty weird, I searched for "vacation rental" and a "Coca-Cola" ad is showing)? In most cases you're better off lighting cash on fire -- OK, not really, but you get the point.
Fortunately, I've experienced some partner-centric folks on the network side. Like us, they have to run a business, so resource allocation usually depends on spend levels. Make sure you look for a partner that wants and works for the business day in and day out. If you're passionate about your business and/or client, make sure they are too.
3. Search Talk
Do they understand search basics? We're working to provide a joint strategy. It's important for a partner to provide cross channel insight and strategy, so understanding how we as search marketers speak and deliver is important. Many networks developed strategies to support search efforts, such as search retargeting.
4. Data Crossover
We're all data hounds. The industry breeds us this way. Look at your data the same way you consider your search data.
How do we make decisions based on the data though? Look at similar display program metrics. Look at your conversion data and look for particulars, like geographic conversion density, type of product(s) consumed, average conversion value and time stamp. How do these particulars compare to your search data?
Use this data to answer search questions. How is your display CTR performing in a certain area of the country -- in relation to your search creative? How is your inventory moving in Dallas versus Vancouver? Will the hot spots in your display program translate over to search?
5. Internal Resource Allocation
This is dependent on bandwidth, but try and keep management of search and display under the same team. Managers with search experience tend to manage network campaigns much like they manage their search strategy -- granularly. It also allows the team to efficiently communicate daily trends and related adjustments.
There are a thousand other things to judge during the planning phase. However, focus on the partner attributes that drive your business, create efficiency, over deliver and challenge you and your colleagues. Search and display do mix; however, it takes a little finesse to make it a true "partnership."