Monday, March 20, 2006

Apollo, When Will We Have Liftoff?

Again kudos out to Marshall Sponder, who writes about Project Apollo, an effort led by ACNielsen to piece together the elements necessary to afford an offline or multi-channel marketer the same measurability to ROI that we operating primarily on the Internet have come to expect.

That article led me, in turn, to read about the Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM):

The PPM resembles a pager. The passive device automatically records the wearer's exposure to any medium that has inserted an inaudible code into its audio programming using an Arbitron PPM encoder. When a unique, inaudible code is detected, the PPM registers, records and time-stamps the signal. At day's end, the media history is downloaded by a docking station that simultaneously recharges the PPM unit.

Portability ensures that all exposures register, from conventional broadcast media to in-store vehicles, from entertainment venues to streaming media, from video games to the Internet.

The Closed Loop System

The entire multi-media tracking system comprises five
elements, the:

encoder installed at the broadcast signal source inserts an inaudible identification code into the audio stream,
station monitor ensures proper encoding at the signal source,
portable people meter carried by consumer panel members records the inaudible codes embedded in programming,
docking station recharges the meters overnight and downloads information from the handheld units, and
household hub collects information from the docking station and transmits the data via phone lines overnight.

Looking at the description of PPM on ACNielsen's Project Apollo website, it really starts to sound realistic to expect that in the next 5-10 years we'll have the type of measurability for TV, radio, print, outdoor and in-store media that we've come to expect from paid search.

Apollo, when will we have lift-off?

Does PPC Cannibalize SEO? Not Likely In The Real World

Gary Angel, CEO of SEMPhonic wrote a great article on the interplay of organic and paid search listings the other day for iMediaConnection, and Marshall Sponder of WebMetricsGuru had an equally good review of Gary's article; I highly recommend you take the time to read Marshall's article, and then Gary's if you feel like it.

Taking data from one of his F1000 advertiser's PPC and SEO campaigns, Gary infers that

"if your SEM provider isn't accounting for organic cannibalization and you have a significant natural presence, then chances are they are seriously mis-optimizing your campaign. Indeed, it seems likely that the worst possible scenario would be to use an automated PPC management tool that isn't taking account of organic cannibalization. Such a system would be particularly efficient at steering dollars into terms whose apparent (but not real) incremental cost is artificially lowered by organic cannibalization."

At first pass, I think many in the search industry would look at his data and agree with him. But in my opinion, however, a couple points are worth considering:

1)Unless I misread Gary's article, the data is mainly for brand keywords. And unless your PPC/SEO campaigns exist only to ensure people find you who don't know the difference between the browser address bar and a search engine, then a study of this type must consider more than just brand keywords to have any relevance.

2)Most advertisers I know have thousands to tens of thousands of keywords in their paid search campaigns, with average bid positions of ~5.0 and average organic rankings of ~15. In that more real scenario, I'll bet two dollars to your penny that the cannibalization Gary speaks of is less like 20-50% and more like <2%.

3)Paid search traffic varies to a much lesser extent than organic traffic, as victims of Florida, Allegra, Bourbon and other SERP updates can attest. Yet, advertisers' traffic and ROI needs tend to move in one direction - up and to the right. In a world where advertisers' marketing goals are set by...themselves, I have yet to meet the advertiser who cares more about avoiding unnecessary cost than achieving his/her goals in a predictable fashion.

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