Note: This is Part 2 of our analysis of apparel advertisers at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Read Part 1 here. ___ The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi was the perfect time for apparel advertisers to capitalize on interest in Olympics apparel. Millions of people spent hours a day glued to their TV or computer screens, exposed to some pretty unique designs in Olympic clothing. Just look at the Ralph Lauren-design Team USA outfit, for example.
From a marketing perspective, it’s a great time to use search marketing to tell Winter Olympic fans how they can get the clothing worn by their favorite athletes.
The Search Monitor was curious how apparel advertisers ran their search campaigns during this time period. Our theory was that the most ‘on-their-game’ apparel advertisers would be bidding on Olympic-themed keywords and serving up compelling Olympic-related ad copy to match those keywords and increase click rates.
We used our search engine crawling technology to perform the experiment. Here are the details:
- Looked at one busy 24-hour period (Monday, February 17) during the middle of the Winter Olympics.
- Only looked at US searches on Google and monitored both desktop and mobile searches.
- Looked at 90+ keywords containing variations of ’2014 Sochi Winter Olympics’ and 5 popular apparel terms: t-shirt, hat, jersey, apparel, jacket.
- For these keyword combination, our SmartCrawler™ technology returned 288 different ads run by 66 advertisers.
- This blog post focuses on three areas we found most interesting: non-apparel advertisers, PLAs, and mobile ads.
Non-apparel advertisers bidding on apparel terms
The data that came back from this experiment was enlightening in many ways. First, we saw many non-apparel companies bidding on apparel phrases, which can definitely be a productive strategy if done correctly.
One such non-apparel retailer was ATT who ran ads telling searchers to support Team USA and download their app. The ad has nothing to do with apparel but ATT chose to display it to searchers who were obviously big fans of the Winter Olympics. So the question is: will Olympic apparel seekers click on something that is related to what they were seeking, but not exactly what they wanted? AT&T will likely see slightly lower click rates than if they ran a more targeted ad but they are clearly getting their message in front of thousands of Olympic fans. Another non-apparel advertiser we saw was Chobani, the yogurt company. They ran ads on apparel keywords telling searchers that they are proud sponsors of Team USA. It might be the case that the volume of Winter Olympics keywords was low enough to force companies like Chobani to expand their keyword targeting list. After all, they need to make sure they are adequately supporting their large Winter Olympics sponsorship investment. Winter Olympic-related Product Listing Ads Our SmartCrawler technology also looked at Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and found that Google was displaying them for many of these apparel keywords, as they should be. The highly visual PLAs are perfect for apparel searches. As we scanned through the PLA units, we noticed something we’ve seen with other instances of PLAs. The product images and prices being shown were quite varied. In some cases it looked like Google was probably not choosing the items that the retailer would have preferred to appear. The image below shows several jackets that have nothing to do with Sochi, for example, as well as a very broad price range that make the $359 jacket seem very expensive. Retailers give up some control with PLAs since Google will select the items to display from your submitted data feed. The lesson for retailers is to constantly monitor how their products are appearing in PLAs and make changes to their feed and bids accordingly. Specifically, retailers need to make sure their best photo is being displayed and that the price point is also attractive. They don't want to always display their highest priced items, if possible. Running mobile ads correctly Lastly, we wanted to see how many advertisers were running ads on Google Mobile and of which ads included language about a mobile-optimized site. The lack of such language is one of the main reasons that mobile clickthrough rates are so far behind that of their desktop cousins. To sum up, we learned much more than expected by looking at how advertisers changed their ad strategy during the Olympics. Many search marketers didn’t take full advantage of different search patterns and needs that happen during events like the Winter Olympics.