Who watches the Search Engine Watch?

first-day-of-school-mch-strategic-dataRecently John Gagnon, a “Bing Evangelist” from Microsoft, approached MCH Strategic Data for assistance with an article. His premise is that consumer marketers can greatly improve the effectiveness of search engine marketing by using datasets from public and commercial sources to time their marketing strategies on a regional basis.

For example, he pointed out that some communities’ economies have a huge influx of money when a local corporation issues annual employee bonuses. Boeing issues bonuses that can be equivalent of up to three weeks of additional pay to more than 48,000 employees in the Seattle area. As a result, tens of millions of dollars flood the area on one day in February. Doesn’t it make sense for national advertisers to adjust their regional strategies based on predictable windfall events like that?

We provided John with data on the regional impact of varied back-to-school dates. Using the new geographic and time charting features of Excel 2013’s Power Map capability (download a free preview copy here), John created the animation above for his article on the Search Engine Watch blog. This makes it apparent that first day of school varies widely for districts across the lower 48 states. The earliest students back to school in 2013 were actually in Hawaii, where school started on August 5th. If marketers time their back-to-school activites to coincide with back-to-school dates in the northeast — often in mid-September — they’ve missed the window in much of the nation.

John’s article goes through this in much more detail, and includes specific recommendations to improve search engine campaigns, including:

  1. Break-out campaigns by geography
  2. Stagger campaign start dates
  3. Stagger campaign end dates
  4. Simple set-up with incremental bidding
  5. Beyond search – “Facebook targeting or display network options could open up as well.”

MCH has created a special package of national school district data with key school calendar dates including the first and last days of school, plus dates for breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas / Hannukah, mid-winter break, and spring break. If you’re interested in learning more, touch base with me at kirkc@mchdata.com.