Are Multi-Channel Efforts Undermining Your PPC?

By Carrie Albright | @Albright_C | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing


We all know the classic saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work” and it couldn’t be truer for marketing. Ensuring that your marketing channels are cooperating to create a cohesive message is one of the cornerstones of effective branding for your business.

PPC marketing is fraught with reminders that congruence is key. These reminders vary from Quality Score (a metric that Google and Bing mysteriously produce to punish or reward your consistency) to CTR (a metric that tells us if the user themselves feels a connection between their search and our ad), all the way to conversion rate optimization (where on-site activity tells us what messaging resonates with our visitors).

But what about extending beyond just the Google and Bing interfaces? What about e-mail marketing, direct display buys, and even offline marketing such as inserts and billboards? Your brand recognition and ultimately customer acquisition can hinge on creating a consistent set of images and language; and as a PPC marketer, you’re positioned to take advantage of this opportunity.

To begin, Google Analytics can provide you with a quick idea of the online channels in which you’re seeing most activity. Multi Channel Funnels are able to give a visualization of this experience.

MCF Visualizer detail


As you identify the interaction Paid Search has with your other channels, it’s time to dig in.


To begin, the obvious first step is to identify what other channels your client is using.

It’s astounding how many Paid Search marketers have no insight into the

other channels their businesses are using. It’s up to you to fix that.

The questions you ask your clients (or other departments) can be broad or quite in depth, depending on their planning periods as well.

Example questions for this conversation may be:

  1. What other online marketing channels do you use?

Answers might be e-mail, 3rd party retargeting, streaming commercials, programmatic advertising, or display buys

  1. What offline marketing channels do you use?

Responses may range from TV commercials, fliers, direct mailings, and even print ads such as magazines.

  1. What is your flight schedule for each of these channels?

This is a big question that may not have an immediate answer. The goal of asking this question, however, is to get your team on the same page as the other marketing departments.

  1. How early do you plan the creative for these channels?

Some marketing departments burn the midnight oil planning out imagery, promotional language and landing pages months in advance. Others are changing the final proof within hours of the launch.

  1. And of course: To what restrictions should we adhere when planning our creative layout?

Most companies have a design aesthetic or language restriction that they’d like you to work within. You should already know these guidelines, but it’s important to revisit the question when talking specifically about other channels. Although a client may allow you to test whatever ad images you see fit, there may be an overarching design or layout that all other channels are observing.


Once you have answers to these questions, we move on to the next step, which is the congruence factor.


As you move between your email messaging to your display messaging to your PPC ads, do you see a consistent message?

Are the images on your billboards matching those found on the PPC ads that correspond that same geographic targeting?


Many brands fail to connect these dots for their visitors and prospective customers.


Let’s use a major insurance provider as an example: Liberty Mutual.

There are a series of commercials running for Liberty Mutual that fall around the theme of a “You’re driving along….” narrative directed at the viewer. The speaker varies in age and appearance, but it’s always shot with Lady Liberty herself in the background:

LM capt2LM capt3LM capt1


Consistency between commercials? Yes. But what about other channels?

Liberty Mutual also has billboards, such as this one:

LM Billboard


There are a few visual features that are similar, but we don’t get the same affect as the actual face of the story, as in the commercials above.


Liberty Mutual also has a Facebook page and many posts, including this one:


LM Facebook post


We can see that the imagery is much closer to the commercials (NY skyline is pretty great), but the message is completely new. Now, because one might a huge variety of Facebook content, we won’t judge them too harshly, but the important note to make is the lack of consistent messaging across the channels.


You may also stumble across one of Liberty Mutual’s print ads, such as this one:

LM Print Ad


From commercial to content to ad, there are some themes such as consistent color schemes and of course the Liberty Mutual Logo, but the major takeaway from each message varies.


Lastly, we have our PPC ad for this company. When I typed in a branded search query, I was shown a nice big text ad:


SQ-Liberty mutual car insurance


But when searching for “auto insurance coverage” and “insurance provider” I was served the following PPC ads:


SQ-Auto insurance coverage



We can detect quite the difference and certainly less catchy or content-filled as the branded ad. I’m also seeing very little consistency between either of the text ads and the preceding media.


The question for these vendors is “How intentional is this variety?”


Confession: I’m not above admitting that I may have caught these pieces of creative between transitions or as one campaign is wrapping up.


However, the bigger question revolves around how we can use our PPC touch point to reinforce other messaging and create consistency with our brand’s imagery and language.


The first step is to get a clear understanding of what channels your business is working within and getting a clear picture of what message (and ultimately what goal) is being representing by your varying media types. From there, begin the layout for coordinating your ads with these print ads, billboards, commercials, and social media messages.


In the agency life, we often only work with our own channel, but in-house life can be distinctly different. PPC Heroes – what experiences (of success and failure) have you had in efforts to coordinate your marketing channels? Inquiring marketers want to know!