Hitting a Moving Target: Targeting Audiences on the Go With Mobile

Google, which seems to already have a hand in everything digital aside from Facebook, is now positioning itself as a resource for PR practitioners aiming to launch campaigns with increased accuracy.

Burson-Marsteller invited Google executives Andrew Roos, AdWords account executive of elections and issue advocacy, and Marl Bullock, sales manager, to lead a discussion at the Burson Breakfast Series event held on April 13, which looked at the most effective ways to use Google, mobile and YouTube for issue advocacy and political messaging. Roos and Bullock pointed out that in 2010, mobile search growth quadrupled and surpassed the growth of desktop searches, marking a shift in the way people search the Web. As such, PR pros need to make sure that their message is clear and relevant at that singular moment of opportunity, whether it's being visible to consumers as they search the Web on their tablet device or as they sift through social media feeds on their phones. 

While the task of connecting with someone and grabbing their attention as they’re using the Web away from their desk is becoming increasingly more complex, Bullock said there are unprecedented opportunities available as technology advances and supports the way that people are changing their media consumption habits. "People are searching, tracking and following topics, and from multiple touch points. You now have the chance to reach people while they're watching television, using their laptop, and searching on their phones at the same time," Bullock said. With so many communication channels available, it's more important than ever that PR practitioners tailor their messages to resonate with consumers.  

Roos said Google’s contextual targeting ad network can match an ad with relevant content across the Web, and in real time. “Typically when you buy an ad, you pick a publication, but Google is using its search intelligence to place ads alongside relevant content, whether it's an article or a blog post,” he said. 

In terms of reputation management, this is a major step toward attracting people who are actually searching for a company as a story breaks. Dallas Lawrence, managing director of digital strategy for Burson-Marsteller, said a company used to have to wait and write a letter to the editor to defend itself, but now it's possible to buy and launch a contextual ad in a relevant geographic area to do damage control about a story. “It’s a quick and easy pay-for-play approach that can be used for product liability and to put corrective messaging right next to the story,” said Lawrence.

For companies looking to boost their SEO strategies, a topic which Google generally prefers to keep shrouded in mystery, Bullock pointed to video. The more video a site has, the higher the optimization, she said, since Google considers video to be rich content worthy of higher indexing. In addition to SEO benefits, Lawrence added that including video clips in media releases also provides opportunities for sites to sell pre-roll ads—a win-win for campaigns with placement goals. "We don't put out a release without including a 60-second video clip,” said Lawrence.

YouTube, as a lean-in medium, attracts viewers who are watching videos when they choose, which prompts higher recall rates. In particular, mobile videos maintain the highest recall rates, since viewing a clip on a mobile device is a deliberate choice, said Roos.

PR practitioners will need to consider how their campaigns are performing at a particular time and place. To this end, Lawrence recommended starting with free tools like Google Trends, which allows users to compare search engine trends and see which topics are getting more searches in metro areas. For PR professionals, these tools can serve as cheap shore of voice indicators. If people are searching for something online, they're more likely to be sharing it among friends and colleagues.