When the going gets tough, do the tough turn to marketing?
According to Van Chappell, General Manager at BrandVerity, that is exactly what happens.
“When economic factors create uncertainty, naturally, marketing budgets are closely examined and costs are put under review.,” he says.
“But times like these create opportunities for brands that are focused on what they’re trying to achieve. Those with sharpened focus can take marketing share from competitors who are making short-term decisions at the expense of long-term outcomes.”
For Chappell, the key issue in executing as a marketer with sharpened focus during times of uncertainty, however, is not only maintaining market awareness for your brand but also having the necessary visibility into the destinations where your brand is present.
As an example, “Paid search is a constantly evolving channel,” he points out.
“If you lose visibility into where you’re appearing on the SERP, and what competitors are doing, you can quickly lose traffic to your competitors.”
Glass half full
Taking a ‘glass half full’ approach, Chappell sees an economic slowdown as an opportunity to gain competitive advantage, as rivals pull back marketing spend.
Maintaining or even increasing ad spend during this period can yield increased ROI, as competition decreases, and consumers get pickier about their purchases.
Smart marketers remain alert to recession-based opportunities, not only on a broad scale, but in specific areas.
“If you stop seeing competition in certain regions or categories, that can be a signal to make tactical changes. Intelligence is crucial,” he advises.
For example, at certain times, competitors will pull back from investing in paid search on specific terms, meaning organic results come out on top.
BrandVerity offers an automated service which checks the status of key terms and enables automated inactivation when there is no competition.
“We have the data to turn ads on and off, checking as often as every 5 minutes. This can be a major cost-saving lever, particularly for a large company or companies with sizable ad spend in search,” says Chappell.
Another way to minimize costs while maintaining visibility is to monitor affiliate activity on the SERP.
“You can be an affiliate or partner to a brand, but that does not necessarily permit you to bid on brand-related keywords. There are still terms, conditions and parameters that partners must abide by. BrandVerity helps companies to identify where non-compliant bids are happening, using an automated system.” Chappell explains.
“This reduces the cost per click for the brand and creates an even playing field to drive incremental traffic.”
Chappell also warns of the growing threat from brand hijacks, where affiliates create imitation ads which look like well-known brands, prompting a user who cannot tell the difference to click through the ad. In this instance the brand must now pay the affiliate for the traffic, driving up their own costs.
“Brands hate this, understandably,” he stresses.
“When someone creates a lookalike ad, you need to have automatic scanning. BrandVerity is good at identifying these ads and helping companies limit this illicit activity and thereby limiting their costs.”
This online banditry has continued to exist for well over a decade, despite the material losses brands suffer from. Chappell would like to see more concerted action to stamp out hijacking. He believes there is growing consensus in the industry to address it.
Besides the obvious economic threats from a slowdown, Chappell urges marketers to pay attention to other risks from partner or third-party behaviour that could impact brand positioning, paid search visibility, and wasted ad spend.
“Most marketers conduct a manual scan as part of a routine quest to see what’s happening in search,” he explains.
“But if someone’s located in London, their view of search results will be different to what they see if they’re located in Paris, Dublin, or New York. Different search engines will give varying results, and these will change according to the time of day.”
As a result, manual search monitoring is unreliable, ineffective and inaccurate:
“You really need an automated system to monitor your brand online,” says Chappell.
Brandverity has launched a free version of its search monitoring tool, providing brands with enhanced search visibility.
“The more visibility you have, the better your chances of discovering problems,” says Chappell.
“And the more visibility there is in search generally, the better shape the industry will be in.”
He is a proponent of the ‘always on’ monitoring that Brandverity offers: “There’s no industry that’s not affected, so the future is bright for companies like BrandVerity,” says Chappell.
By allowing brands to defend their search monitoring and enabling them to spend effectively, Chappell and Brandverity are committed to seeing customers through to the other side of any uncertainty, with their businesses flourishing, however tough it gets.
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