Through my last 3 and a half years at PMG I’ve made it no secret that I love working specifically on International strategies. After all, I did study International Marketing in school (with a Digital emphasis) – so it only seems natural that in my post-grad career I’d gravitate towards doing exactly that!
What I hadn’t anticipated about International Digital Marketing was how undefined the space would be. The large majority of programs I work with are the exact same as those in the US, just with different geographic and audience targeting strategies. For those programs that are unique to International many are very difficult to to execute, especially when you work with clients that don’t have localized sites. This why when I was first presented with the opportunity to work with Baidu (the Chinese equivalent of Google) I was incredibly excited. Finally! This was the International “edge” I was looking for.
The opportunity itself was to execute what’s called a Brand Zone campaign. And it is, for lack of a better word, really dope. What Brand Zone does is essentially dominate the entire above the fold search results page. Rather than just a standard text ad + extensions that you see on Google, Brand Zone allows you to integrate display banners, videos, social links, etc. into a customizable powerhouse of an ad. In addition, with Brand Zone you don’t bid on keywords in the traditional sense, instead you pay a flat monthly fee and lock in your keywords ensuring that you have 100% share of voice and that no competitors can show ads against those terms (see, it’s dope, right?)
Here are some examples of brands that are taking advantage of Baidu’s Brand Zone feature –
While getting to work on the Brand Zone campaign was one of the highlights of my career thus far. It definitely came with its fair share of frustrations and complications.
1. The Red Tape
Baidu is a huge company (again, the “Google of China”) and basically, they can do what they want.
This means that the process of planning for and executing the Brand Zone campaign itself was continuously changing and never straightforward. One day our proposals would be accepted and in less than 24 hours those same proposals would be denied with very little background information given. New paperwork was suddenly mandatory and having to adapt these changes to fit within client expectations meant LOTS of emails back and forth. Which brings me to my next point…
2. The Language
The one thing I should mention is that both the Baidu Team and the client I was working with were based in China and native Chinese speakers. Which meant lots of the communication went like this
Baidu (Chinese Speaker) -> Me (English Speaker) -> Client (Chinese/English Speaker) -> Me (English Speaker) -> Baidu (Chinese Speaker)
To say lost in translation would be putting it mildly. Luckily, PMG is a lot more diverse than you would expect coming out of Fort Worth, TX and I had the amazing support of a team member who was fluent in Mandarin.
3. The Time Difference
The time difference was also quite brutal since relaying information I received from China, back to China took a nearly 48 hour cycle. Dealing with the aforementioned continous edits made this a painstakingly slow process. While my expectations were that executing this campaign would take 2-3 weeks it actually turned into over 3 months of work. 3 months of work that was so vague, I had nearly given up hope that launching the campaign would ever happen.
The day I got the news that PMG’s first ever Brand Zone campaign launched (the week before Christmas) I actually did a literal “happy dance” around the office and nearly cried tears of joy.
In the end I’m very happy to report that it paid off! PMG’s first ever Brand Zone campaign was massively successful with an over 50% CTR! And I’m not talking about a 50% CTR with a handful of impressions, I’m talking about more traffic than LA and NYC combined! (#lamejoke)
So in the end – unique opportunity, amazing results and happy clients. There’s nothing quite better than that in the world of Digital Advertising.