Search Marketing Influencers Series: Rob Griffin – Part 2

Rob Griffin, Havas

Rob Griffin is EVP of Futures & Innovation for Havas Media. He spent the good part of the past decade building search marketing teams and product solutions for Havas Media clients worldwide. The following is the conclusion of a two-part discussion (part one here) sharing his perspectives on local search and the future of SEM with T.S. Kelly and Henry Hall of The Media Strategist.

Last week, you touched on rapid changes in the consumer’s overall search experience, stating that zigzagging’ from app to app, site to site across multiple screens and locations has become the standard mode of local search activity. That must make it difficult for marketers to properly assess performance.

Yes all those ‘zigzagging’ consumers reveal limitations, and I argue significant opportunities, in the planning tools and attribution approaches we use every day to assess performance. Like last week, let’s use John Doe to illustrate both issues. Wine enthusiast John Doe is also an allergy sufferer. He received an email from Walgreens for Claritin-D, clicks on the link and goes to the Walgreens site for discount details. John switches to Google and checks pricing, confirming Walgreens price.

Heading out the door, he taps the YP app on his smartphone to find the nearest location – two nearby. He clicks on directions, opening Apple Maps. Once in the store, John opens the Walgreens app, just in case there’s a better discount locally.

That’s a lot of touchpoints. What’s missing from the typical local attribution model?

Walgreen’s touchpoints possible from receipt of the email – (1) inbound email click, (2) site visit, (3) Google pricing search, (4) YP app, (5) click to Apple map, (6) GPS (local options), and (7) Walgreen’s app. All visible? Not everything. Very likely Walgreens will see the click, site visit and some Google activity depending on behavior. App activity may also be visible in part if the user is registered.

Missing? Possibly quite a bit. Consider the app activity leading up to purchase including local search via YP, map directions, etc. A lack of holistic understanding of app activity means planning and attribution must be done without accurate and timely projections (modeling) of the impact of these missing touchpoints.

Constantly ‘zigzagging’ consumers reveal limitations … in the planning tools and attribution approaches we use every day.

If existing attribution efforts are missing key touchpoints like local search behavior (zigzagging) and planning tools cannot easily incorporate new forms of search from apps and elsewhere, how does SEM innovate?

This is the real challenge and, again I argue, the real opportunity: Difficult to justify ongoing investment comparing performance with the rest of SEM activity if relevant touchpoints are missing. Local typically does not fit into a defined marketer box within agencies – mobile, paid search, SEO, social, and even content folks could all lay claim to part of the local landscape. The agency broadcast teams may also want a say. In many agencies, if a new local innovation is tested, its future may sit in limbo between all these teams.

What is the proper marketer response here?

If consumers can zigzag seamlessly from search engine to app, in various locations and on multiple platforms, the industry must learn to zigzag as well. Here are a few suggestions:

— Redefine success by building local teams budgeted outside existing procurement parameters. Test, Share. Test, Share, Test.

— Develop search planning tools that are holistic and app friendly.

— Push for better syndicated (and proprietary) measurement of app adoption and use.


Join Rob Griffin and YP’s Luke Edson as they continue the discussion on the zigzag approach and what brands can do to link search, mobile and display advertising to drive sales results. August 12 @ 1pm. Brought to you by YP and Adweek. Register for the webinar at the link below.



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