At the beginning of 2020, I was booking a week-long trip to a yoga retreat in Morocco. One evening, I was searching on my laptop for a few different yoga and surfing packages and was looking into the best dates for my holiday, I went to Whatsapp the friend I was traveling with about the best flight options for me, and how they coincided with her flight. As I am sure everyone reading this fully understands, I ended up scrolling through Instagram, stopping at a swipeable carousel of beautiful beachside huts. It was an advert for a yoga retreat. Three days and multiple messages later we had settled on dates, booked our flights, and reserved a room in one of the beautiful beach huts I’d seen on Instagram.
According to a study done by retaildive.com, 75% of people say their purchase behaviour is now influenced by social media, whilst 55% of people read reviews on Facebook and Instagram before they book or buy online. This is a trend that is on the increase. Previously, and driven by traditional marketing, there were different channels to fulfill different roles. Display campaigns were for mass reach and awareness, likewise, was video. Social lent itself to the consideration phase but was never considered a conversion heavy channel. The main channel used to drive return for a business was search, and people were certainly not buying from the “spammy” ads following them around the internet.
There are many reasons that search was, and often still is, considered to be at the bottom of the conversion funnel. The nature of search, whereby it’s an intent-driven channel, means it tends to drive people who are more likely to convert on your site. Another often overlooked reason is attribution and measurement, which is often a second (and relatively un-explored) thought to advertisers. Using last-click attribution means we often undervalue our channels that are starting the conversions. I wonder how many of the brands you are aware of are a result of you directly searching for them. Probably none, because most of the brands you recognize come from seeing a TV ad or a social ad, for example.
I have worked in Paid Search for four years, and I’m the first to tell anyone the benefits of advertising on Google. With 2.5 trillion searches happening each year  and each person making, on average, 3-4 searches a day, it is undoubtedly the most straightforward way to understand when someone is in market for your product or service and show them an ad. With the sophistication of Google’s Marketing Platform, the capabilities to do this in an extremely sophisticated way mean it genuinely is the easiest and most effective way to drive conversions at a low CPA. However, at Merkle, we encourage all our clients to consider a more omni-channel approach. Whether that is adding YouTube to their channel mix, or having ads on Facebook, we believe that running on one independent platform, or multiple silo-ed platforms across multiple agencies who never sit in one room, puts you at a disadvantage.
So, what are the key benefits of a multi-channel, integrated approach to media?
1. You will reach a search volume ceiling on your keywords and upper funnel channels can drive a lower CPA than ultra-generic keywords.
2. Increasing people’s familiarity of your brand through multi-channels can drive more low-CPC brand searches and increase conversion rates.
3. Brand searches are on the increase but so is competitor bidding. It used to be that brands didn’t see the benefit of using PPC for brand terms when they have SEO, and the “to bid or not to bid on brand” argument is as old as time. However, a recent study found that 89% of clicks on ads are incremental. This means that having a strong SEO presence and a paid ad showing can lead to an 89% increase in clicks, than just SEO alone .
4. The market is changing, younger generations often want but don’t need. This may lead to them never searching your product, but they would most certainly buy it if an ad popped up when they’re making their latest TikTok video.
Once you have made the right decision to compliment your one-channel approach with a wider range of platforms, the next question is how do you plan the right media mix. There are four key elements to consider when launching a multi-media campaign: measurement, budgets, targeting, and messaging. The key to this is consistency and fluidity to ensure individual channels are all working together with one key goal in mind. Making use of consistent, brand-strong messaging can increase loyalty and credibility to new customers, whilst running activity in two totally different tones of voice often leads to uncertainty and distrust towards brands. Taking advantage of the sophisticated capabilities of Google Analytics and third-party tools to ensure you’re sharing your audiences between search, video, social, and display, learning who your customer is from all the data points available, and then using this to speak to them in the right way at the right time will drive up your click-through and conversion rates. Using advanced tagging solutions to de-duplicate conversions cross channel, and evaluating the attribution through custom and data-driven models ensure that your budgets can be split, constantly re-evaluated on performance, and optimized to drive the maximum returns.
Here at Merkle, we believe we have the right amount of specialized in channel expertise, cross-channel experience, and mastery in measurement and attribution to drive strong performance across all our accounts. If you’d like to know more about how you can ensure your strategy is being effectively executed across all performance channels, to provide fully transparent results useful for your business, please get in touch at [email protected]
 D. Chan and Y. Yuan and J. Koehler and D. Kumar. Incremental Clicks Impact Of Search Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, 51(4):5862, 2011.