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Funnel Vision

Posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Display, Featured, SEM

Funnel Vision is the phenomenon when advertisers become overly focused on the final conversion and lose sight of their audience’s journey towards the path to conversion.  We will set our gaze on the channels of display and search media in order to see the funnel from a multitude of paths.

There are numerous studies showing the beneficial relationship between concurrent paid search and display media, generally boosting conversions by 20%+.  Studies are mostly conducted by adserving and rich media companies, which naturally encourage media diversity and added tracking as their livelihood.  Seldom is there mention of the interwoven influence and intersects within the click-stream.  Credit is generally given to the ability of each media to perform a singular job and add scalability.  The added benefits of tandem messaging and optimization remain cloaked in mystery.

With the advent of retargeting technologies, it becomes harder to label the final actions that convert users.  Display and search are often targeting the same audience but seldom leverage cross channel data to confirm the mutual lifts in metrics.  Frequency is difficult to track across a single channel more so across multiple media.  Furthermore, depending on the product or services in question, channel switching within media may oscillate constantly during hours or months leading up to a conversion. Each channel also follows unique timing and creative variations to further complicate learnings.

A likely scenario is an initial brand exposure (perhaps via a display ad), and then beginning a search for competitive pricing and local availability.  This is a common path many users take.  It is also highly likely that the person who was exposed to a banner and performed a search would not be immediately converted after a single site visit.  It is then possible that the same individual was going about their general web browsing and saw another display ad.  Perhaps this ad had specific incentives and products relevant to their recent online activity (smart ads, retargeting, search retargeting).  Already both the search and display data are actively being used to generate audience profiles and increase product awareness.

What’s next? The user could click on the retargeting or standard ad, and return to the product site.  They are also likely to type the product name into a new tab within a search engine (or browser navigation bar).  A click on an organic search listing would give the display banner credit for a view-through conversion.  A paid search link would take credit for the final conversion if clicked, and also give a view-through conversion to the banner.  Search funnel reporting shows the path of keyword searches and sequence towards the final conversion.  Display media reporting also follows the click-stream and ad exposure.  The combined paths are becoming increasingly studied yet far from being merged in their messaging or sequence.  The need for universal adserving and integrated tracking parameters continues to make this an ambitious task, but not impossible.

The “halo effect” is when two objects conjoin to create a new vision or inspiration.  This term is often used to describe a combined media impact but also seems to evoke a cross channel phenomenon that appears only in favorable planetary cycles.  We must not hold our breaths waiting for some auspicious event to gain clarity.  The time is now to look closer at the media mix beyond simple budget allocations and incremental volume.  Position your focus on the entire funnel and how to bring in more users via various platforms and tactics.  Start to align on sequential messaging for your broader and niche audiences.  The added appreciation of how search and display function in tandem will lead to deeper messaging strategies and overall added efficiencies…which can later be invested in other emerging media channels- once the planets are aligned of course.

About Leonard Herman

Leonard has been embedded in the digital marketing/research/production industry for over 10 years. Engaged in a variety of tasks from development, project management to marketing strategy and media planning. Previous clients have included; Microsoft Xbox/Game Studios, Amgen, Unilever, Nike Japan, Volvo Japan, LVMH as well as a variety of clients in the QSR, Travel/Tourism and CPG sectors. Fluent in multiple languages but unable to write legibly in any, Leonard cherishes the familiar form of a keyboard vs. pen or pencil any day.

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