We have been going through an interesting crossroads in the online advertising world. The formerly separate worlds of search marketing and display advertising have long been on a collision course, meaning there is now a huge crossover in the skills necessary to run search marketing and display advertising campaigns.

As a result, we have seen many of our clients joining their search and display teams into one biddable media team, or alternatively moving a few search marketers into the display team and vice versa in order to cross-breed skills.

Based on my conversations with clients, these are the main learning points across each skill-set.

Search Marketers Learning from Display Advertisers

Audience Data  

Search marketers have traditionally bought their advertising using keywords, targeting the ones they see as relevant to their products or services. This is what has made search so effective, as consumers are hit with your advertising at the very time they are showing purchase intent. Display advertisers have traditionally purchased advertising based on targeting an audience that is most likely to click and convert.

Search marketers have recently been adding this audience layer to search targeting; by integrating data from Data Management Platforms (DMPs) they are now able to target the consumers who are searching for particular products or services and most likely to convert. MoneySuperMarket, for example, have been adding audience targeting to their search optimisation by integrating BlueKai with Marin Software.

The Use of Images in Creative

Traditionally, search marketers have only dealt with text in their creative, while display advertisers have worked with a combination of mostly image and text- but are mostly adept at optimising campaigns using the former. The rise of Google Shopping Campaigns has meant there are an increasing number of images appearing on search engine results pages in the retail industry. This has meant that search marketers are having to learn how to optimise image based creative; a skill that they are more frequently having to turn to their display colleagues for.

Display Advertisers Learning from Search Marketers

Search Intent Data  

Whilst search marketers have been learning how to use audience data to better target their ads, display advertisers have taken search intent data the other way.

It is now possible to take the purchase intent that consumers demonstrate when looking for products and services on search engines like Google and Bing, and use that data to retarget consumers who did not purchase through display.  

For me this bi-directional shift of data has been the most valuable thing to come out of search and display cross-breeding.

CPC / Auction Based Buying Model

Search marketers have been used to buying advertising on a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) basis for a long-time. Meanwhile display advertisers have predominantly purchased ads on a Cost-Per-Impression (CPM) basis.

The IAB estimate, however, that programmatic trading accounted for £500m of display advertising spend in the UK last year. This shift has led to display advertising increasingly being purchased by advertisers on a CPC basis through an auction model. The result is that display advertisers have to learn how to purchase media through an auction model on a per-click basis. It has led to a huge demand for more mathematical skills from search in display advertising.

All in all, what you can be sure of is that you need to work out how you are going to structure your teams and technology to take full advantage of this shift in skills and data.