Mindshare and Google Collaborate to Create Search As Signal

WPP’s Mindshare and Google have developed a location-based marketing tool designed to help brands track real-time behaviors and emerging trends, allowing them to better target consumers.

Called “Search As Signal,” the tool identifies what people are searching for on Google, as well as where they are located and which type of device they are using. This information helps Mindshare create a more strategic paid ad strategy for its clients.

Mindshare originally developed an early version of the tool in 2012 to help their client Kleenex manage its ad spend based on the location of people searching for keywords related to the flu. It found that more than 95 percent of the searches during the flu season were coming from a large commuter rail line where the campaign was focused. By re-evaluating paid media spend and redirecting it along the rail route, Kleenex’s campaign achieved a 40 percent sales lift, according to the agency.

With such good results, Mindshare wanted to take this further and continued to build out the search technique with Google. Norm Johnston, chief digital officer at Mindshare, provided some insight into the importance of this new tool:

If you’re Kleenex, it’s the ability to understand there’s a flu outbreak expected somewhere locally. If it’s related to a variability in babies about to be born, it enables us to shift media spend related to Huggies. If there are nuances in particular features people are looking for in luxury cars, we can adapt the creative messaging with that particular audience.”

How Does It Work?

To begin with, the tool groups search queries with related keywords under umbrella categories. That way, searches for specific items such as luxury car models as well as the related terms can be compiled under a category of “luxury cars.” From there, the tool organizes the categorized queries according to location starting at a country level and drilling down to region and event city.

Mindshare has also created a dashboard for its clients so that it can easily see how searches have trended in the past year or week and even zoom in to gather more location-specific information.

This data is used to inform companies on what tweaks may be needed on their ad buys to improve success.

What Does Google Get Out of the Deal?

It appears that no revenue sharing deal has been struck between the two companies. However, an increase in ad spend will lead to direct revenue for Google. Johnston shed some additional light on the nature of the relationship when he shared, There is no financial deal behind this.” While no money changed hands, the tool’s use is expected to indirectly flow clients’ budgets toward Google when the search-trend data indicates an advertiser may want to put more money toward search, display, or YouTube. “We spend money with Google if we think it makes sense, but we’re not going to sign up numbers arbitrarily.”

In our research we were unable to find any additional information indicating that this tool would become available to the public. As a digital marketer, is this a tool that you would be interested in rolling out to your clients?

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