Why don’t more marketers challenge consumers to search for their brand?

A clever campaign that connects a TV ad to search has the ability to convert even the most sceptical of consumers in a matter of minutes.

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Over Christmas, I was a little shocked when a TV ad for a luxury watch brand grabbed my attention.

Why shocked?

Because I never wear a watch. Let alone have I ever considered buying a luxury watch.

But with a magic combination of TV advertising and SEO, this was about to change.

And any marketing technique that can take a person from a firm no, to a ‘hell yeah’, in 10 minutes, is well worth exploring.


I’m not sure what triggers a person to want an expensive watch. Perhaps it’s age. Perhaps it’s achieving a life goal. Perhaps it’s neither of these things. But right there and then, and possibly with some saliva dripping down my mouth, I felt the burning surge of desire to own an expensive watch.

The company had nailed the TV ad creative and had me hooked.

Taking an anti-watch-wearing SEO nerd. Turning him into someone who is suddenly thinking about how a luxury watch would feel on his wrist is no easy feat. And yet, they achieved this in a matter of minutes.

Ads like this are a reminder of how powerful good TV ad creative can be.

Within minutes I whipped my phone out and started learning more. It was TV ad to search engine in seconds.

But this is likely where it would have ended. I would have turned my head and seen the rather large box of chocolates the kids were actively demolishing and refocused my attention on grabbing the last strawberry cream.

However, that’s when this watch company uttered three magic words that defeated the box of chocolates.

“Do your research”.

Finding the connection

The watch company is called Christopher Ward, and admittedly I’d never heard of it.

But having been captivated by the TV ad and being challenged to do my research, that’s what I did.

Within minutes I whipped my phone out and started learning more. It was TV ad to search engine in seconds.

I learned about the Christopher Ward brand. I discovered what makes it unique, its pricing and browsed its range of watches.

The next 10 minutes saw me rapidly learn about watches, comparing Christopher Ward with other brands.

Google calls this the messy middle of search.

The TV creative had triggered me to search, so I went off and explored the brand and the market and then evaluated Christopher Ward watches against the others.

It was a complete home run for Google’s explanation of how search works.

Understanding the ‘art and science’ of share of search

The magic here for Christopher Ward is clear.

Customers might not purchase a watch straight away.

Customers might not purchase a watch in the next three years.

It doesn’t really matter.

Whenever people are exposed to this marketing, and they decide to buy a luxury watch, Christopher Ward is the brand they’ll be comparing everything against.

They got in first.

You’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘doesn’t all advertising work like this?’

Yes, it does. But the shift is subtle. It’s taking people from an advert to searching for a brand and not a niche.

It’s the difference between watching a TV ad for a Kia Sportage and then searching for a new car.

It’s the difference between being searched for or being found through search.

The ‘Google slap’

Among some social media marketers, there’s become a phrase many fear. It’s called the ‘Google slap’.

You spend a fortune on ads to tell your target market about your new product. The prospect then turns to Google and learns more about your product category or industry.

Your nice social ad caused the prospect to learn more about your market.

And off they flee to the search engines where they’re exposed to ads, links, organic listings, map listings and the ever-growing ‘people also ask’ sections of search.

Your social ad budget is fuelling the exploration of your industry and product category. And not necessarily your brand. It’s your ad budget, being slapped right in the face by Google.

What Christopher Ward did was different. It challenged me to do my research about the company. And it’s pretty brave.

Christopher Ward has cleaned up the SERP with assassin-like efficiency.

As an SEO strategy, this is the difference between searching for luxury watches first or searching for Christopher Ward. One will see me exposed to ads and the organic listings where other brands dominate. The other sees me researching the Christopher Ward brand.

This opens up some interesting conversations about modern SEO.

And it opens up some interesting ways businesses can leverage their TV ad spend for faster action.

Leveraging brand SERP

When you search for Christopher Ward, you land on its brand search engine results page, also known as its SERP. And it has done a great job.

Once you ignore that it’s spending PPC budget on the brand name (my advice – test turning it off), it has the SERP nailed.

Page one of Google is now a mix of ads, images and ‘people also ask’ questions. Meaning there’s more than one way to disrupt the first page for any search term.

But your brand SERP is the search engine results page that shows up when people search for you.

Sure, most brands show up for their own brand name. That’s basic SEO.

It’s the ‘people also ask’ sections (PAA) of the brand SERP that most brands ignore.

The PAA section of the SERP can help solidify a brand’s positioning or weaken it.

And the first PAA Christopher Ward question on Google?

‘Is Christopher Ward a luxury brand?’

Christopher Ward has cleaned up the SERP with assassin-like efficiency, ensuring its brand SERP offers nothing but glowing support. Sure, this might be (and often is) accidental. But I’ll give the brand the nod in respect.

The result?

Prospects are exposed to its TV ad.

Prospects search about the brand.

Prospects click on its website.

I’d call that a marketing three-punch combination. And it landed with a knockout.

Maintaining attention

Christopher Wards’ marketing team deserves a pat on the back.

They took an uninterested TV ad viewer from product unaware to potential prospect in minutes.

And that’s one watch sale short of marketing perfection.

But as I nibbled on the last strawberry cream while listening to my grandfather-in-law talking about politics, the SEO in me went to work.

Why don’t more brands encourage people to head to search engines?

Sure, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing website addresses on ads and billboards. And there’s always the lazy call to action on some TV ads that tells the viewer to visit ‘www.blahblahblah’.

But a clear and deliberate call to action that tells people to do their research?

This is sending people to the messy middle of search.

This is a brand that has nailed it’s positioning within the market and wants you to discover that for yourself.

This is a brand saying ‘don’t search for luxury watches, go and learn about us’.

Encouraging people to jump on their phones and head to search engines helps cement a brand further in the consumer’s mind (altering their memory architecture). So, it’s worth considering how you can encourage people to participate immediately online after seeing your ads.

Christopher Ward uses a challenge.

Compare the Meerkat disrupted the whole insurance business by creating a TV ad campaign linked to search.

What could you do to create the urge to search for your brand?

And are you even trying?

If not, why not?

It’s worth considering.

Andrew Holland is an SEO specialist, marketer and was a police officer for 17 years. After first learning SEO while working in police intelligence, he swapped catching criminals for capturing the attention of search engine users. In the last eight years, he’s gone from freelancer to head of organic marketing for a seven-figure agency, helping businesses to leverage search engines to support their business goals.