Keyword influences on paid search click-through rates

This research paper investigated how specific keyword characteristics affect click-through rates. By modeling a set of keywords in a pay-per-click environment, the researchers found that searches conducted by brand-loyal consumers, typified by “retailer-name” searches, had the highest predictive value relative to click-through rates. The researchers noted that when consumers searched for specific brand names, however, click-through rates on paid searches were not as easy to predict. The researchers surmised that this is because consumers were more likely conducting “competitive” searches–surveying the market–and were not swayed by clever calls to action but focused more on securing the lowest price.

Mitigating bad press through viral marketing

Here is an excellent thesis on how public relations professionals can use viral marketing tactics powered by social media to mitigate bad press. The author states that viral public relations campaigns “are less overt and therefore better received” because consumers perceive they are in control. (p56) Viral marketing tactics allow professionals to listen, build relationships with customers, and hopefully build brand ambassadors.

Yet despite proffering evidence that viral marketing–if deployed strategically–can yield a high gain return in managing and preserving a firm’s reputation, the author points out that public relations professionals are loathe to abandon traditional methodologies. The author does point out some tactics, however, that public relations professionals can adopt from the advertising world: target marketing, integrated communications plans, deft handling and understanding of niche marketing principles, and embracing consumer control over and transmogrification of brand identity and meaning.

Brand considerations in social media marketing

This paper argues that allowing consumers to “co-create” or “co-author” products–i.e., directly engaging and encouraging consumers to participate in new product development processes–taps vast wells of creativity while exploiting certain cost efficiencies in terms of labor. Similarly, this paper explores how Web 2.0 will fundamentally (has fundamentally) changed the manner by which companies must brand themselves. Gone is a command and control ethos. Emerging is an empowerment and transparency ethos:

  • engagement replaces interruption
  • diversity and self-expression replace conformism and unity
  • the media of the masses replace mass media
  • granular insights and rich data replaces generalisation
  • conversations in marketing replace control

As examples of this new paradigm, the paper points to Dove’s (note too the related contra-positive consumer-generated videos) and Nike’s strategic Web 2.0 marketing successes.

Revenue considerations of social networks

This paper points out that social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook have huge potential for high advertising revenue gains because “the cost of gaining new customers is practically nothing [since] users join voluntarily and provide their own content through their profiles. In addition, the cost of running the sites’ web servers is relatively low.”

The authors do point out, however, that significant revenue gains might be limited because these sites must constantly innovate to retain and attract new “customers”, it’s easy to launch rival social networks, and consumers have lots of choices as to which social networks to use.

Managing online “spillover” reputational crises

This paper includes an interesting analysis of online reputation management. It discusses “reputation spillover”, which is defined as a “reputational crisis that impacts a focal organization [and] spread[s] to others.”

Reputation crises are triggered by financial crises or accidents and spread virally because consumer “link” like firms together, even if one of the “linked” firms has nothing to do with the crisis. The paper limits its analysis to “within-industry effects”. For example, a large player in an industry can casts a wide reputational reverb:

In the mid-1980s, the FDA released the results of a study that showed an unusually strong link between a tampon manufactured by Procter & Gamble and toxic shock syndrome (TSS) – a rare, life-threatening bacterial infection (Behr, 1980). The cause of TSS seemed to stem from a unique and innovative material used by Procter & Gamble (but by none of its rivals). In response, Procter & Gamble began a recall of their product from store shelves. Interestingly however, Tampax, the next largest rival in the product category, also began to experience declining market valuation, even while their product was recording record revenues (Metz, 1980). Arguably, had the crisis struck not Procter & Gamble but a much smaller organization, rivals would probably not have faced the same generalized and negative reactions.

Behr, P. (1980) ‘Toxic shocks, tampons under scrutiny’, The Washington Post, L1, Washington, DC.
Metz, R. (1980) ‘Toxic shock and Tampax’, The New York Times, 8, New York.

The paper points out that “any organization is at risk for a negative impact aimed at its reputation due to the actions of others in its competitive environment.” In response, the paper suggests that managers should have response plans in place along “marketing and public relations, legal and technical considerations.”