AdGooroo uncovered a number of interesting and sometimes surprising findings in our new report on the 2013 Top Consumer Packaged Goods Advertisers in Paid Search.
The Top 10 CPG Sites
AdGooroo ranked the Top 50 CPG advertisers in Paid Search based on AdWords impressions generated from August 2012 to July 2013. The chart above shows the Top 10. The undisputed CPG leader in Paid Search is Kraft Foods Group, whose websites KraftRecipes.com and KraftBrands.com accounted for more than 462 million impressions or 20% of all Paid Search impressions in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry. What these sites have in common with many of the other top CPG sites is that they provide a high volume of recipe and meal planning content that is popular with consumer searchers.
Single CPG Manufactures Dominate Entire Categories
Although we noted that participation in Paid Search was far from universal among CPG brands, we found certain brands are highly engaged in Paid Search. In fact, in nearly every category studied, there was one manufacturer whose brands completely dominated their category and competition:
- Coca-Cola Company brands accounted for more than 80% of Paid Search impressions in the Carbonated Beverages subcategory
- Keebler, 38% of Snacks impressions
- Mars, Inc./Wrigley, 99% of Candy impressions and 100% of Chewing Gum impressions
- Anheuser-Busch InBev, 69% of Beer impressions
- Diageo, 43% of Liquor impressions
- The Kellogg Company, 72% of Breakfast Cereal impressions
- Procter & Gamble, 75% of Laundry Detergent impressions
- McNeil/Johnson & Johnson, 42% of Pain Remedy impressions
- Pinnacle Foods Group (Duncan Hines), 53% of Baking Mix impressions
- Colgate, 42% of Oral Hygiene impressions
Only in the Yogurt category was the leadership less pronounced, as Dannon brands accounted for 43% of Paid Search impressions vs. Yoplait’s 32%.
Keywords Help Answer the Question ‘Why?’
As brand advertisers whose products are sold through third parties in physical stores, and at a relatively low cost and margin, CPG manufacturers do not necessarily drive direct revenue from site visitors. The question then is why would CPG marketers participate in Paid Search auctions and pay an average of $1.14 per clickthrough on U.S. AdWords over the last 3 ½ years, according to AdGooroo estimates?
A close look at the top keywords of CPG brands sheds light on their strategies and motivations.
Recipes Appeal to Mass Audiences
The common thread among the very top CPG sites in Paid Search (Kraft, General Mills, McCormick, Campbell’s, etc.) is that their keyword strategies focused on recipes and meal planning ideas. In fact, all types of recipes—from dinner to desserts to alcoholic mixed drinks—were found in the top keywords of nearly all food and beverage brands studied, giving an indication of an overall industry strategy to drive brand engagement through content that has mass appeal and that consumers are actively searching for online.
Targeted Approaches to Reach Specific Audiences
Analysis of keyword selection also revealed a more targeted approach to Paid Search by CPG brands, who utilized the medium as a means to reach specific audiences with tailored messages that may differ from those found in the brands’ mass advertising campaigns.
Snack brand Pop Secret (PopSecretLabs.com) focused not on popcorn or snacking but on a lifestyle activity: watching free movies online. Keyword examples include “free movies”, “free movie streaming” and “free movie websites.” In fact, of the 857 total keywords AdGooroo found for PopSecretLabs.com during the 12 months we studied, more than 43% were related to movies. And while this strategy may be jibe with the brand’s tagline, “The secret to movie night,” we did not expect to find a snack brand sponsoring many of the same keywords as Netflix.
Colgate’s top keyword by far was “diabetes” – generating more than 60% more impressions than even its own brand name. It also included two other such terms in its Top 10: “symptoms of diabetes” and “diabetes symptoms”, apparently in an attempt to reach a highly niche (but presumably growing) audience: diabetes sufferers, who may be prone to oral health issues.
The top keywords for Chewing Gum brands 5 and Eclipse included terms for “stress reduction” and “stress management”, though you don’t see this messaging in either brand’s mass market television campaigns.
While most Liquor brands sponsored mixed drink recipe keywords, Bacardi stood out from the crowd with lifestyle terms such as “zombie games”, which appeared to have been used in support of targeting a Zombie mixed drink recipe toward online gamers, and “free music downloads”, which the brand associated with a video and music download promotion.
A Clean Break from Couponing?
CPG brands’ begrudging reliance on couponing does not carry over into Paid Search. In fact, Laundry Detergent was the only category out of the 12 we studied that showed any significant coupon-related activity in brands’ top keywords. Tide, for instance, includes two in its Top 10: “tide coupons” and “laundry detergent coupons”, while All includes two competitor brand terms, “tide coupons” and “gain coupons”, Dreft includes “baby coupons” and Downy includes “printable coupons”, “free printable coupons” and “free coupons”.
As one of the higher-priced products in a typical grocery store purchase, these brands may be catering to consumer behavior to purchase on a discount. However, consumers are also known to be highly loyal to their detergent brand of choice (a preference often influenced by the detergent used in one’s household growing up), so the inclusion of couponing keyword terms may also reflect a desire to tempt brand switching.
Beer (Not) Before Liquor
Liquor brands were decidedly more active in Paid Search than Beer brands, with the top 10 Liquor brands generating a range of 2.3 million to 9.9 million impressions versus 14,000 to 4.9 million in Beer.
Within the larger Liquor category, vodka brands were particularly active in Paid Search during the period, occupying nine of the top 20 positions and four of the top 10 positions in Liquor. Of the top 4 vodkas (Smirnoff, Cîroc, Stoli and Ketel One), three are owned by Diageo and all competed on roughly the same mixed drink recipe terms during the period, attempting to differentiate themselves for consumers via ad copy:
- Smirnoff, “The Most Awarded Name in Vodka”
- Stoli, “The Most Original Vodka”
- Cîroc, “Ultra Premium”
- Ketel One, “Ultra-Smooth Taste”
The Cola Wars
As detailed above, Coke brands garnered more than 80% of all Paid Search impressions in the Carbonated Beverages category. Coke’s loyalty points program, MyCokeRewards.com, led with nearly 46 million Paid Search impressions. LivePositively.com, which features content demonstrating Coke’s commitment to local communities and causes, was next with 9.4 million impressions.
Pepsi.com on the other hand concentrated almost its entire Paid Search effort during the year on a single initiative (as well as a short window of time): its television ad sponsorship of the 2013 Super Bowl. The brand’s top two keywords during the period were “super bowl” and “superbowl”, followed by two other terms in their top 10 focused on the big game: “super bowl commercials” and “super bowl ads”.
Incidentally, Bud Light had a similar highly focused strategy as Pepsi, with the term “nfl draft” accounting for more than 2.6 million of its 4.9 million total impressions during the 12 month period. The terms “fantasy football”, “football games” and “football” added another 445,000 impressions for Bud Light.
Yogurt – It’s Greek to Me
Paid Search activity during the 12 months studied reflected the dramatic changes that have taken place in the Yogurt category in recent years, i.e., the sudden popularity of Greek style and probiotic yogurt products.
Greek style or probiotic yogurt brands accounted for five of the seven top yogurt brands in Paid Search. Notably, three Dannon yogurt brands made the list—two Activia sites (probiotic), Oikos (Greek style) and Stonyfield (organic) — but not the traditional Dannon yogurt brand itself. Tellingly, the #2 keyword of Yogurt category leader Yoplait was “greek yogurt”, which is supported with a Greek style variety of its own.