Remember a few weeks ago, when there were practically no commercials that didn’t feature either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney’s face? Thankfully we made it through the election, but it provides a very effective usage case for digital marketing strategies.
You may have tried to reach either candidate’s Facebook fan page to see how many likes they had accumulated, or perhaps to like one yourself. But by the time you had typed “Barack” in the search bar, you saw a link to Romney’s page on the list of results. Frustrated, you wonder how this could have happened when the words have no letters in common. Confused? Try Googling “Ford F150” and see if you don’t get ads for the GMC Sierra or the Dodge RAM.
The article, an Economic Times piece reported by Bloomberg Media, refers to this as “brand hijacking.” It’s a marketing technique that doesn’t work in other media; no matter how much they pay the networks, Ford can’t get its commercial to play in the background of a GMC commercial. In the digital field, however, the user is entirely in control of his or her experience.
This is an important skill, but its effectiveness is somewhat situational. It requires a bit of insight into the consumer’s perspective. If you already knew you were voting for Obama in 2012 when he won in ‘08, seeing Romney’s name on the side of your 50th Google search of the day won’t be very effective. However, if, say, you’re in the market to buy a midsize car and are still in the product research phase, using optimized search ads is a top method to get attention for your brand.
If your ads are written around a solid set of keywords, you can find the exact customers you’re marketing to. Say you’re Toyota and one of your ad groups is optimized around truck fuel economy. Assume you buy the keywords “Silverado MPG,” [Chevy Silverado MPG], [Silverado MPG], and other similar keywords in Google AdWords; if you have a customer who wants a fuel-efficient pickup and is just looking around at their options, you can tell him in your ad text that the Tundra has better fuel economy than the Silverado. If you have an eye-catching ad, you’ve just hurt a competitor and helped your position in the digital media marketplace.
The same applies to the election. Lots of undecided voters use the internet to research the candidates’ positions on important issues, their political records, or any other potentially relevant information. Digital ads can serve as an easy, 70-character reference; a search for Obama’s economic record could provide an ad that links to a page describing Romney’s economic plan. Obviously with a presidential campaign you have the marketing budget to pretty much stay at the top of the page as long as you want, and thus you can continue drawing attention to your page.
The digital sphere is still developing, so the effectiveness of brand hijacking remains to be seen; however, there is no question that consistent exposure to your brand will keep it present in the consumer’s mind.
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