Don’t Be Sold Media When You Should Be Shown

Steve Niemiec

Chief Operating Officer & Chief Revenue Officer

media partnerWith the proliferation of ad technology and low cost do-it-yourself programmatic platforms, there is no shortage of intriguing media “ideas” for marketers. Alluring automation – “fire-and-forget” programmatic that targets only the profiles you want at unbeatable pricing – seems like nirvana, now.  Uh huh.  And if you believe that … good luck to you!

Marketers Need to Know: There’s an Easy, Objective Source

Smart marketers are already starting to see that pure programmatic comes with significant risks – hidden costs that that can drive down ROI and worse. According to a recent post on Harvard Business Review, there is a huge transparency gap between getting what you hoped for and seeing what you’re getting. With many suppliers, there’s a serious lack of critical transparency.

Many vendors today will tell you they have your audience. But they’re hard put to actually show you what you need to know to be sure.  According to Econsultancy, transparency has become such a widespread problem that only 12% of marketers and media buyers say they are comfortable with the current display model. The main reason they’re not comfortable is because they don’t know where they’re ads are running.

My feeling is it’s time to think for ourselves. Time to stop only listening to newly minted ‘experts’ – people who tell you they have a magic bullet that’s all you really need. It’s time to step back again and find objective sources that can show you what you need to know. Like where your audience truly is in the first place.

Google is the objective source. Its organic rankings reflect what people are really looking for, where they turn for advice again and again. If you’re looking to know where prospects for your solutions really are when they will be interested in you, a handful of key word searches around relevant terms can tell you a lot.

Think about the Logic of Being Where Your Buyers are When They’re Looking 

In theory, big data automation can deliver an audience in aggregate that matches the profile you want.  On the face of it, the numbers can seem to tie out.  And yet, these techniques give you little if any way to understand what that audience is actually doing when you happen to reach them.

Last week, my colleague Doug Olender posted some thoughts on being where your buyers are after they search.  He explained the logical value of context – that the place you should try to be is where your audience is when it’s actively researching the problems you solve. Makes sense, right?

Start Leveraging Google as the First and Real Indicator of Who Has Your Audiences and the Best Intent  

That’s why I think Google can be the great equalizer – that it makes sense to leverage Google first whenever evaluating media and data providers. We all know Google’s the starting point for most research. And as Doug describes, since 90% of all Google traffic never interacts with paid (SEM) placements, its organic results that help you zero in the most on the audience you want at the moment it matters most.

So logically, the next step is to look for media providers who can capture this traffic for you. Because these are the ones who can offer you the audiences you need at the most relevant times in the buyer’s journey. It’s they – those who have earned the search power with their content to rank highly – who can provide you the impact you seek.

Find the Right Media Partners – Organically

Google has no allegiance or partnership with organic results that rank highly on the 1st page. They couldn’t care less about who shows up organically – it’s simply a reflection of content relevance. Google’s commitment is to trying to deliver the best information available to its users.

I think of Google as the barometer of what’s relevant to whom, in any given market. It is your definitive gut check – the place you go first to know where your targets live – where they go when they’re looking to accomplish the objective of vendor selection and project research.

I’m not asking you to listen to me. After all, I’m just another sales guy. But if I were you, before I choose my next media or listen to an ‘intent partner’ on the signals they capture, I’d Google a string of keywords that are important to my users. I’d look at search terms in my category around key buying indicators like ‘vendor selection,’ ‘product evaluation,’ ‘comparisons’  — terms indicative of real purchase intent. Be your user and find which sites organically surface on the first page so you have a real understanding of where your targets go and, in turn, who has your audience.

No matter your or my perspective, it’s hard to argue with what Google shows. Any sales rep will tell you they have what you need, but in the end Google reveals the truth. Google shows where your audience goes for project research and gives you a view into the most logical path to intercept that audience for better ROI. Google makes it easy for your sales targets to find the best information and easy for you as a marketer to know where you must be.

Google, organic search, programmatic advertising, search engine marketing, TechTarget

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