January 31, 2006, 12:00 AM

Google’s footprint grows

Google is extending its advertising reach into a new medium with the announcement in January of its agreement to acquire dMarc Broadcasting. Some believe the acquisition will demonstrate to marketers how offline advertising can power up online search campaigns.

Google is extending its advertising reach into a new medium with the announcement in January of its agreement to acquire dMarc Broadcasting Inc. The deal, expected to close this quarter, means an initial $102 million in cash for the radio ad platform provider with performance-based payouts to come. But what does Google’s move into radio advertising mean for retailer search marketers?

One view is that it will demonstrate to those marketers how offline advertising can power up online search campaigns. “They’ll discover that when you add radio, you increase the effectiveness and the value of your search engine marketing,” says Frederick Marckini, CEO of search engine marketing company iProspect.com.

Marckini offers the experience of one iProspect client, a b2b provider of e-mail services, as proof of concept. After considerable growth, the search campaigns managed by iProspect for the company, Constant Contact, began to plateau, until Constant Contact decided to add an offline campaign including radio and print ads in multiple markets. Suddenly, the search engine ad campaign began to grow again, with iProspect’s automated bidding agent reporting that higher, more expensive positions in sponsored search results were beginning to reap conversion rates that justified the higher bid price.

“The offline advertising effect was hard to miss. Clearly, it was driving people to search engines,” says Marckini.

Google promises the incorporation of radio buys into its ad platform will bring a new level of accountability to radio advertising, though it hasn’t yet shared exactly how. Marckini speculates the measurement of radio ad success may be tied to pay per call technology at Google, noting that Google’s acquisition of analytics firm Urchin means more Google advertisers now have access to analytics, including the ability to measure the effects of search and likely, the ability to integrate metrics from radio ads into their analysis.

“It’s a certainty that Google doesn’t have plans to simply be another broker of radio time,” says Markcini.

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