How did the Gillette video impact search traffic?

Over the past couple weeks there was a lot of media coverage, in both traditional and social mediums discussing the Gillette “The Best a Man Can Be” ad.

The ad has a lot of layers to it.

But for the search engine marketing crowd, we know one of the most important questions is, “What was the impact on search traffic?”

What impact does creative like this have on a brand and that brand’s search volume?

This is especially interesting as we get closer to the Super Bowl. Brands have sunk millions of dollars into the ad spot and the creation of the ad itself.

Why do they make these investment choices? What is the impact to search traffic and volume?

In case you haven’t watched, here is the original video from Gillette.

Also worth watching,  Saturday Night Live parodied the video using Kool-Aid as the brand.

Now that we’ve seen the ad, let’s look at the corresponding searches.

How did the Gillette video impact search traffic?

I started by looking at Google Trends for the term “Gillette.”

As expected, it spiked over the past 90 days and was the highest since 2004.

Okay, maybe this is just people looking for the commercial, or information about the Patriots since they play at Gillette stadium.

gillette search traffic over time

So, I took a quick look at “Gillette Razor.”

Boom! Highest search traffic volume in 5 years, and not just be a little bit, but a massive spike.

gillette razor search traffic over time

So people were also specifically driven to look for the product by branded name.

This is where the magic really happens.

Taking a look at forecasted metrics from Google’s Keyword planner over the last 12 months, you can see that the average CPC is ~$1 less per click.

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If you stack that up over the course of any given day or week you will save thousands of dollars.

CPC comparison between branded and unbranded keywords

Gillette is probably like a lot of us and read the articles about Nike and the Colin Kaepernick ad.

This ad had a similar affect. It was divisive and took a stand, but the end goal impact to shareholders was a 31% increase in sales.

The ad launched on September 3 and the Times published an article about it on September 10.

As you can see, Nike stock was on its way to a 52 week and all-time high, and has outperformed the Dow Jones over the past 12 months.

Nike search trends over time following Kaepernick ad

This is the type of impact that powerful branded ads can have on people.

The challenge for many of us is that we don’t have big branded budgets. We don’t work on brands that have the ability to take these types of risks.

So what information can we apply to this work in our own world?

Here are three things to consider when creating branded ads that might drive search traffic

1) Focus on quality

It doesn’t have to be a branded controversial TV ad, it just needs to be good.

Look at what Dollar Shave Club has done. They came from nowhere on the back of a quality YouTube spot which now has over 25 million views.

This is true for so many other brands who have launched themselves on Facebook, or driven significant sales on a purely direct response budget to start.

Dollar Shave Club search trends over time

2. Are you filling a consumer need with value?

Here is where a lot of brands have stepped in to challenge legacy brands, or leveraged their ability to solve problems by taking the friction out of something.

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This is a big focus now with “digital transformation,” but there is a lot of truth to this when thinking about what value your ads are driving for customers.

Value can simply be selling them something they need like an iPhone charger, or removing friction from something that was previously painless, such as Uber/Lyft, or Pop sockets for phones.

Focus on the value your product is bringing and the corresponding ad space where that value is to be transacted.

This could be as simple as providing location extensions when someone is searching “running shoes” so your store can quickly and easily be found.

Help consumers get to the answer they are looking for quickly. Provide value by removing friction.

3) Are you monitoring attribution?

Watching how consumers move between tactics, and branded and non-branded keywords, is a great way to understand the impact of your advertising.

There are even some great ways to measure foot traffic now to help with “traditional” mediums like TV or Billboard. Doing your best to understand the measurement and inter-connectivity of your advertising will help justify these types of branded ads.


Overall, it doesn’t really matter if you liked or didn’t like the Gillette ad. The fact is it worked. It got people talking, and it drove up search traffic. Even if it has half of the impact that a similar ad had for Nike, the sales will follow.

So as much as we in search rely on consumers searching, remember there is still a lot of value in branded advertising, big and small, across mediums.

The post How did the Gillette video impact search traffic? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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