What Would D-Mac Do


Monday, December 21, 2009

Big Brands and their analytics

I was a bit surprised to read Avanish's post this morning. His ideas were pretty cool, where he demonstrated a few ways to slice and dice load a of data so that you can see the forest from the trees and make actual data informed decisions about your marketing plan. I 100% agree with this premise. It's very easy to be overwhelmed by the range of data that can be extracted from web analytics...to the point of full on analysis paralysis in many cases.

What was interesting was how he picked on Gatorade as a poorly optimized site/campaign because the word cloud he made with Compete and Wordle shows people come to the site overwhelmingly because the word 'Gatorade' was in their query string. His reasoning seems to be that Gatorade isn't attracting people to the site that don't know anything about Gatorade to begin with. Avanish is making the assumption that the purpose of Gatorade's web presence is not to foster brand loyalty, but to increase awareness of the brand. I find this interesting because in the same paragraph, he points out that "Gatorade is a huge brand". One would think if your brand is one of the most ubiquitous in the world, reaching those people "that don't already know about Gatorade" are far and few between.

I'm not exactly sure what Avanish would 'humbly dramatically' change about Gatorade's SEO and PPC strategies. There's an economy of scale that comes into play when you're working with a brand that is a mass marketing event horizon. It absolutely affects search behavior. Now for the sake of argument, we'll factor out the notion that Avanish is completely oblivious to the legal/technical parameters a campaign a brand like this is subject to and focus on his assertion from the data he extracted.

Let me just say that Wordle is awesome. I use it daily. However, when aggregating keywords in the fashion Avanish did, one runs the risk of what I hereby call TBAAS (Too Broad An Analysis Syndrome). If unchecked, Avanish could find himself submitting to symptoms of SBOIT (Strategy Based On Irrelevant Trends). When that happens, it's only a matter of time until he show signs of MRTARTBG (Measuring Results That Aren't Relevant To Business Goals) and then you're well on your way to full blown YMDDWYPAAAYWALOOMSYNWWOOA (You Morons Didn't Do What You Promised At All And You Wasted A Lot Of Our Money So You'll Never Work With Our Organization Again). Oh how do we avoid such a fate?

You see, while it's certainly valuable to see how overwhelming a brand is to a campaign, what Avanish isn't measuring is the concepts people are associating with that brand. Gatorade doesn't spend millions of dollars on endorsements with the idea that somebody will type in "Michael Jordan", see a Gatorade link and go "Oh Wow! Gatorade Has Content on MJ! W00T! I'm gonna go to 7-Eleven and start drinkin' Gatorade today!". Rather, they WANT you to always associate Michael Jordan with Gatorade before you're even at the search stage for either entity. It would be an abject failure on Gatorade's offline marketing if people were at the initiation of a search and didn't already know Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods were associated with Gatorade (and for the record, Tiger's affairs had little to no impact on Gatorade's web activity).

First off, if I were running that word cloud, I would factor out the brand name completely. I want to see the words people are associating with Gatorade. I already know they are likely to come to the site with Gatorade in the query string. I want measure if people are concerned about high fructose corn syrup in Gatorade. I want to know if Tiger Woods association with Gatorade or the sponsorship issues were part of how people were finding the brand. I can use that information to assess what I need to be speaking about. When we factor out the brand the word cloud at the top of the post is what we get.

This is actual usable data to a marketer. Gatorade has a lot of interest in the ingredients and calorie intake of their products. Michael Jordan is still a HUGE traffic driver (this is why he's worth that money to them). People come to the site looking for the commercials and also Gatorade information as it relates to the NFL. These are all things Gatorade can capitalize on. We could build word clouds to drill down on any of these categories and determine specifics.

I may do some actual branded vs. non-branded visitor analysis as well, but that data would not be best expressed as a word cloud. We should be looking at that as a ratio, which could then be compared to what we see for volume around Gatorade's search space as a whole.

There are plenty of good takeaways from Avanish's post, but the idea that a big brand's site is a failure just because it drives a lot of traffic from queries with the brand in the string isn't one of them.

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