We Need To Simplify

"Displaying Search" is a column capturing the intersection of display advertising and search marketing.

Displaying SearchToday's column is written by Dax Hamman, VP, Display Media, at iCrossing, a digital marketing agency.

Have you stopped and looked at our portion of the industry lately? Have you seen how confusing it really is? Imagine you are a paid search media manager with a few years experience, you are good at what you do and you control sizable budgets for your clients. You get the call that says, 'hey, we want to do some display'......

The search marketer is going to do one of 3 things.

First, if they work for a full-service agency they are going to bring in their display colleagues. But if they don't, they are going to either say they don't offer display, or they are going to shoot for what's familiar to them.

The world a search marketer lives in is the engines + data + bidding + reporting; that's what they know and that's what they are comfortable with. It's about quantifiable evidence and near real-time optimization decisions. They spend their lives competing in auctions and their creative is nearly all text based.

As a display industry we talk a great game when it comes to exchanges and DSPs. We talk between ourselves about how display now works like search, and how display has become an auction based RTB environment. We pull in data from vendors like BlueKai, we make bids on platforms like MediaMath, Triggit or DataXu (to name just 3 of the ever growing number of 17 DSPs I have listed to date), we overlay the social graph from people like Media6Degrees and look to gain value from search intent data any which way we can. We produce reports by the dozen that say display + search is a 1+1=3 model. And we have completely lost sight of how to actually define a network vs an exchange given most are acting as both.

But, put yourself in the shoes of that search marketer who takes that client call and needs to jump into display - where do they possibly begin? On some recent panels about the overlap between search and display, the most common question we have been asked is "that all sounds great but how do I get started".

As an industry we have to listen to these people and learn how to guide them into this space better than we do today. I have a training program for my teams for instance that gives simple starting points and then layers on the complexities as and when they are needed. Oh, and a very thick book of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms).

The obvious clear winner in all of this will be the engines, at least for the short and medium term. The engines are home to the search marketer, they have interfaces they like and are comfortable with and there are reps at the end of the phone that will take their call and guide them into the display world. They will tell them to start with some retargeting (hopefully) and then add in something like Yahoo DR and MMN BT segments. And of course upload some creatives into Google and you have a live display campaign on the GCN within minutes.

Search marketers control budgets. The longer I spend looking at this industry the more I see all these tech and data companies touting their wares at the display planners, and isolating the search marketers in the process. Make it simple for a search marketer to add display to their mix and they will do so. Their clients are demanding it.

Follow Dax Hamman (@daxhamman), iCrossing (@iCrossing) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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