PPC

A surefire PPC brand exposure tactic for AdWords advertisers

Yuri Gagarin logo

What’s a search term that – for one day only – will have a massive surge of search volume in Google?

Whatever the Google Doodle’s linking to.

“Google Doodles?”

Readers who aren’t familiar with the term are bound to be familiar with one of Google’s quirky and clever branding traits. Google Doodles are Google’s reworks of its famous logo. Yesterday’s was a tribute to Yuri Gagarin, the first human being to journey into outer space, 50 years ago.

Some Google Doodles aren’t obvious straight away. For those wanting to find out more about its presence, Google provides a link to a relevant search term, which will then give searchers an idea as why that particular topic is being paid tribute to. In yesterday’s case, the search term the Doodle linked to was “yuri gagarin.”

How AdWords advertisers can take advantage

I clicked on the logo, and here’s what I noticed when I clicked through:

Yuri Gagarin in the SERPs

Notice the PPC ad on the right-hand side of the SERPs? It says:

Out Of This World Deals
Whether You’re Building A Rocket Or
A House We Have The Tools You Need
www.screwfix.com

That’s a clever little exercise in brand exposure.

Using PPC advertising and AdWords to advertise on a search term that’s not relevant to a business or website but is very topical is not a new tactic, but it’s certainly not a widely implemented one. I’m reminded of the brilliant Ann Summers PPC campaigns on searches relating to last year’s UK Elections and this year’s Chinese New Year.

To quote the latter article, iCrossing – Ann Summers’ PPC agency – “knew that hanging paid search ads off the back of popular news-based searches would drive a lot of awareness, with relatively few clicks.” I bet this was Screwfix’s intention, too. A few people might click on it while a few people might not even notice it at all, but I bet more people were thinking about Screwfix more than usual yesterday.

Google Insights for Search indicates the impact of the surge:

Yuri Gagarin on Google Insights

Interestingly, it’s showing the rise on the 11th April, not the 12th (the actual day of the Doodle and the anniversary of Gagarin’s achievement). Whether this is due to the freshness of the data or the fact that the logo would’ve shown earlier in the UK than in the US, I can’t say. Either way, if you look at the Insights data for “harry houdini”, you will see that the rise takes place on 24th March, the date of Google’s Harry Houdini Doodle (note: refine the search to the last 30 or 90 days – I’ve linked to data showing the whole of 2011 otherwise the link will become obsolete for future readers).

The downside?

Surely the pros outweigh the cons: huge brand exposure, a low advertising cost (due to high impressions but low clickthrough rate) and a chance to be cheeky and funny and possibly throw in a pun or two – surely that’s a win-win scenario for a lot of advertisers! However I can see AdWords’ keyword Quality Score being negatively affected, unless an advertiser is actually a Gagarin biographer or has any other close connection to him, but what’s the harm if it’s only for a maximum of 24 hours?

Advertising for the quick thinker

I have to say that I am amazed that there aren’t more companies like Screwfix and Ann Summers jumping on opportunities like this, unless I’m just not aware of them. Compared to other topical events, the Google Doodles in particular will be difficult to predict, unless it’s a really obvious anniversary (although there’s nothing to say that Google will Doodle it), or perhaps a yearly occurrence, such as St. Patrick’s Day, which is usually a yearly tradition of the Doodle, this year notwithstanding (outside of Ireland).

I can see quick-thinking advertisers benefitting from this type of strategy, while those who aren’t so much on the ball or with too much red-tape to go through not being able to implement anything within the short 24-hour period. But for those who do, the result should be a nice – albeit fleeting – exercise in brand exposure to a large number of Google users.