How the Heroes Premiere Showcases Paid Search Usage by ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC

Tonight is the premiere for Season 2 of the very popular TV series, Heroes. Being the PPC “Hero” that I am, I thought it fitting to see how well NBC has used paid search in their advertising efforts gearing up to the new season. Are they ranking for key terms? Are they dominating the “big three” search engines?

My first test was to search on keyword: Heroes. NBC crowds the #1 spot in both paid and organic search across all three search engines. The ads on Google and Yahoo! rotate between basic text about watching the show online and the actual time and date of the season premiere. On MSN, however, the ads stick to the general, “watch your favorite show online” text. From this point I decided to check on general variations of the Heroes keyword.

Heroes tv show produced the same results as it’s one-word counterpart, but Heroes premiere gave me quite a shock. This keyword only gave me ads on Google and MSN. What happened to Yahoo!? On the day of the “big show” the entertainment industry’s biggest portal wasn’t showing an ad for the keyword Heroes premiere!

NBC’s pay-per-click campaign breaks down even further from this point. If you try to run searches for some of the main characters like Peter Petrelli or Claire Bennett or even Hiro Nakamura himself, you may not find an ad (I found one lonely ad on Google for Nathan Petrelli). Across the search engines, there are organic listings for NBC’s website when searching for characters, but they’re not always #1. And the ads are all but non-existent.

What I really found interesting in my search was how well ABC is covering this advertising space. For practically every search I entered for Heroes, I saw an ad for one of ABC’s fall shows (Ugly Betty, Gray’s Anatomy, etc.). Oh, and I should mention that ABC was #1 for Heroes premiere on Yahoo!. This is a testament to their PPC manager who knows how to bid on a competitor’s product/keyword!

Seeing that at least one of the major networks had the gumption to advertise on a competitor’s show, I thought I’d look at tonight’s TV show line-up for keyword fodder. Both CBS’s Two and a Half Men and Fox’s new show K-ville square off with Heroes tonight in the 9 pm time-slot. I searched basic show-title keyword combinations for both of those shows and found no PPC ads from CBS, Fox, ABC or NBC. So, it appears that the competition for search engine user viewership is relegated to the true “hits.”

What did I learn from this exercise? 1. That I’m a total geek and am completely psyched about tonight’s premiere of Heroes! 2. That the major networks have major strides to make in running strong PPC campaigns for brand exposure and general saliva inducing hype for their shows. 3. Because of this lack of expertise/PPC dominance, there is an apparent opportunity for anyone who has an angle for advertising on TV themed keywords. 4. And finally, I’ve learned that ABC may not be #1 in the Neilson ratings for their shows, but they’re working hard for that coveted spot on your favorite search engine.