Bailing out GM with Google AdWords

First off, I’m not going to take sides here, I’m simply going to talk hypothetically about something I would do if I were GM.  Something, quite honestly, I’m surprised that they’ve already started doing (to some extent), and that’s utilizing paid search.

It’s no secret that I’m a big proponent of paid search marketing, and maybe I’m just on too much of a kick with this lately since I started digging into the brilliant use of defensive PPC and Internet marketing by Obama’s campaign, but I think I’m onto something.  One of my Facebook friends posted an item the other day titled “GM Facts and Fiction” which led to the website of the same name.  The site is a GM run marketing tool which does a nice job of segmenting why you should support the bailout from a variety of perspectives – employee, retiree, dealer, concerned American, and supplier.

Further, the home page limits options to a few clear, but highly actionable paths.  You either segment yourself for targeted marketing efforts, forward the site to others, watch a video, or go to a “learn more” page that further pounds home the message.

As Americans seek to learn more about the effects of these bailouts (last month Google reported over 4,000,000 searches for the term “bailout”!), this is obviously a good political tool to sway public opinion in your favor.  But this is only one step.  The site, like any, is useless without some marketing efforts getting people to it.  A quick search for “gm bailout” showed me the following sponsored link in Google:

GM bailout Adwords Ad

GM bailout Adwords Ad

Without much thought, we think, “Good move GM, way to get your message out.”  But I feel this is shortsighted.  First, the budget for GM has to be tight, so they should be pinching every penny on this (or at least giving the appearance that they are), so why am I seeing this ad in Michigan, where politicians and the general public are both firmly behind this cause already?  Ultimately, they’re preaching to the converted…and paying for every click!

If I’m running this campaign, I would be geo-targeting the ads to constituents with representatives deemed most likely to change their position.  My marketing mind says, I’d aim the campaign at areas where the representative voted in favor of the first bailout, or represents a large number of autoworkers.  Making sure these people are presented with the message, and providing them tools (the site’s forwarding option) could be a very effective way to develop grassroots support for GM’s cause.

As it stands, the effort can still be effective, just not cost effective.  Sadly, I’m not surprised.

Joseph Ford

Joe Ford is a Managing Partner at Netvantage SEO. In addition to overseeing day to day business operations of Netvantage, he directs paid search strategy and management. Ford is on the Marketing Committee for Impression 5 Science Museum, and the Executive Board of the Capital Area IT Council. He was previously a member of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Board of Directors for 8 years. Additionally, Ford is an adjunct faculty member in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.


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