Google AdWords search advertising works very well when you have a product to advertise that people will go on Google and search for. Obviously. But what if you’re trying to advertise the kind of product where people buy because they already know the brand, and not enough people know your brand?
AdWords is still useful for advertising campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of your brand, but it is AdWords display advertising that you’ll want to concentrate your efforts on.
An interesting job that we’ve done recently is for Ribeye, a manufacturer of luxury rigid-inflatable boats based in Dartmouth, south Devon. Ribeye makes both leisure RIBs (“probably the best leisure RIBs in the world”) and tenders for superyachts (that’s the small boat that the people who own enormous luxury superyachts use to transport themselves and their crew between the yacht and the shore). This particular project was to increase awareness of the Ribeye brand for superyacht tenders. When a superyacht owner or captain next buys or specifies a tender for their superyacht, we want them to be thinking “Ribeye”.
Now there aren’t that many people in the world who shop for superyacht tenders, so targeting adverts is tricky. But Google gives you a few tricks to put up your marketing sleeve.
You can have your advert appear on websites that you name. For the leisure boat market, there are plenty of boating websites and forums that will take Google adverts. However, for superyachts, those adverts aren’t that appropriate. You don’t really want to spend money advertising luxury superyacht tenders to people who just want a cheap dinghy,
You can ask Google to place your adverts on websites that match certain keywords. So our ad might appear on a website that includes the words “superyacht” and “tender”. That’s OK, but there are probably plenty of websites talking about superyachts that aren’t really relevant to our target audience.
You can use remarketing to show your ad to people who have already visited your website. This is definitely worth doing anyway, but it’s not necessarily building the brand. Apart from the fact that you are reminding them of your existence, it’s probably fair to say that people who have visited your website are already aware of your brand.
Where you can start to get clever is using Google’s “In-market audiences” feature. Google knows people who are into boats from the websites that they visit. You could advertise to this group, but again the problem is that only a tiny percentage of people into boats are ever going to buy a superyacht tender. However, what you can do is combine this audience with keyword targeting and show your ad to “people who are into boats” on websites that refer to “superyachts” and “tenders”. That starts to be a bit more specific and useful.
But there is one final targeting method that is perfect for this kind of ultra-niche brand awareness campaign. It’s tricky to set up, and rarely used, but it can be quite powerful – Custom Affinity Audiences. This is a little bit like the in-market audiences feature, except that you ask Google to create the audience list for you. How? You identify websites that your target market will use, and you ask Google to show your ad to those people, regardless of where they are on the internet. So Ribeye was able to give us a list of the sort of websites that captains of superyachts visit (discussion forums, crew recruitment sites etc), and we were able to ask Google to show our ads to those people regardless of what website they happen to be visiting.
As with any AdWords campaign, monitoring and ongoing optimisation is necessary to get the best results. We spend a lot of time tweaking the ads themselves and putting in fresh images now and again. We also keep an eye on the performance of the ad on each website on which it appears. If the ads in our Custom Affinity Audiences group keep appearing on a particular website, but nobody ever clicks on it, we can prevent that website from showing our ads. (Maybe that website is indeed popular with superyacht captains, but not when they’re thinking about work.)
One final note about Google’s audiences – for obvious data privacy reasons, we or Ribeye don’t get to see the names or any other identifiers of the people in the audience. Google keeps that data to itself.