I was inspired by the article by Christi Olson posted on Search Engine Land on this subject. While I respect her research and the quality of the article I do not agree with every detail. There is no doubt that PPC strategies need to evolve and that audiences will be a big part of that but audiences and keywords are two very different things. New thinking about the audience and keyword combinations are not a replacement for keywords but they certainly supplement each other. We propose that keywords are events that are part of the overall purchase cycle, while audiences are people who care about the message. In this article we will take a different approach to the same facts and see if that takes us to a different place.
Advertising is evolving and on that we have consensus. Christi’s article proposes that audiences should be used in replace keywords. I propose to you that the goal of advertising needs to change. As an advertiser we should seek to only deliver an ad when the person has an interest. In most research this is called the Point of Purchase or Sale but in reality it is the Point of Want. If you pitch your product at the point of want the consumer will see your advertisement as a service and welcome your content. Nobody wants to be sold but almost everyone wants to be educated at the point when they are making the purchase decision – that needs to be the new goal of all advertising.
Most people hate advertising because it is badly timed not because they object to the information. SEM starts to give us some of the tools we need to improve that situation but we have to think differently. Keyword searches are events that are clues to the interests of the consumer and using these clues in combination of audiences, placements, and keywords it is possible to engineer a delivery model that is much closer to the point of want than what we have today.
The next big thing would be to build audiences based on keyword impressions rather than script execution. The tools for management of the audiences will also need to improve, especially in the area of time frame of the audience event.