I've seen a lot recently about the power of pay-per-click contextual advertising- that is paying a search engine like Google to put your site at the top of the stack for web queries.
While the truth is, I use this all the time when searching for stuff, it is however a very dangerous double edged sword.
The thing I really think most web evangelists miss today is that sure "Internet Telephone Books"- that's what google really is let's face it- work but we're losing out on 150 years of marketing expertise here...
THE BRAND, where is the brand? what is the brand?
How can you take anyone seriously today who rants and raves about Web 2.0 and not once stops to think about how an Ad Agency functions. Why are millions of dollars thrown at these agencies??? What is and Ad Agency providing that is very powerful?
Take a good listen to the Age of Persuasion on CBC and you'll get an interesting history of the marketing world...
Just take a look at your favorite records. Pop music is one of the best examples of brand marketing available to us. Were the Beatles or the Stones, U2 or REM, Public Enemy or Rage Against the Machine just a few songs? Pop is all about symbolism and the significance of this symbolism. This really is what branding is. Associating an idea with an image or sound that on it's own is insignificant. The object becomes a representation- a physical manifestation of an idea - a concept.
If I show you a flag with red and white stripes a blue square and white stars what pops into your mind? Ah it's a windy day??? No you think of the USA and all that it stands for, perhaps a recent headline- George Bush,Barack Obama, American foreign policy. Really that's a lot of ideas being projected by a piece of material on a flag pole.
Take a look at Nike, what is Nike, shoes? clothes? No Nike is the swoosh, it's the idea of getting up and going for a run, it's about being better than we are now...
The emotional link that is created between these ideas surrounding the simple product and the consumer is what drives purchase decisions and brand FIDELITY!!!
You can never never never never forget that-NEVER!!
This is branding, now how can pay-per click contextual advertising beat that?
It can't and sure it's great to help support an impulse buy, but if Google really wants to be clever about this in some way - advertisers will be able maintain their brand visibility in this environment.
Then of course, we get to noise, when is information to much information- when it's unsolicited. So I'd have to say Google has to come up with something soon if they are to maintain their edge. They'll have to figure out how branding and search engines can work together.