When search engines first emerged in the digital landscape, we all marveled that you could get answers to any question in a matter of seconds. And, to be fair, it was a marvel. But two decades later, it’s become more difficult for internet users to find the best information in their moments of need.
Brand leaders understand this better than anyone.
The cost to acquire customers through digital channels has skyrocketed because there is incredible competition from advertisers. In the U.S. alone, ad spend is consistently climbing.
According to forecasts from MAGNA, a media intelligence company, media owners’ (think Alphabet, Meta, X, etc.) advertising revenue will increase by 2.5% to $333 billion this year. Of all channels under that advertising umbrella, search, and commerce advertising will increase by the highest percentage, 10%.
The high price of finding your customer — and them finding you
Here’s the challenge: Even if your brand is the best in the business, the most reputable, innovative beyond competitors, and consistently provides value, you’ll still have to pay high prices to get in front of customers.
And, to win the attention of their consumers, brands are neglecting other essential marketing assets (like websites or owned content) in favor of high-dollar paid media.
The result? Brands aren’t spending time and effort building a library of assets that truly address customers’ questions and fill their needs for information.
And this is a huge missed opportunity.
The Arrival of Owned Asset Optimization (OAO)
Owned asset optimization (OAO) is a new way to earn customer attention and trust. It puts the power of marketing back in the hands of brands so that they can spend their marketing dollars more effectively by building up their own libraries of resources and assets.
OAO is exactly what it sounds like: it focuses on the assets a brand owns—like corporate websites, blogs, downloadable documents or assets, proprietary data, and IP—as core aspects of the growth strategy.
The OAO strategy has a wealth of benefits. Not only does it lower the cost of customer acquisition, but it also improves consumer relationships and the brand experience overall.
Owned assets are developed with an understanding of where the consumer is in the buying process. This way, consumers are met with the information they need when needed (ultimately eliminating the need for intermediaries like paid media brokers and affiliates).
From Interruption to Reception.
The force driving OAO is a shift in marketing values from interruption marketing to reception marketing. Interruption marketing, the types of ads that show up while you’re watching TV or scrolling social media, is inherently disruptive.
Consumers’ wariness about advertising (due to privacy concerns), and their outright blocking of the content they didn’t ask for is challenging the value of interruption marketing. And even permission marketing, a term coined in the ‘90s by marketer and author Seth Godin, has lost its favor with consumers due to an overabundance of marketing messaging (like all of those brand emails crowding your inbox).
Reception marketing, on the other hand, focuses on connecting with consumers meaningfully and non-intrusively. OAO falls under this umbrella.
The strategy enables brands to meet consumer needs at the right time and with the right asset. Through reception marketing, brands become trusted resources for consumers without disrupting the customer’s everyday experience.
How OAO Adds Value to the Consumer Journey
The underlying purpose of OAO is to add value (and, by adding value, win customers and grow business). The strategy begins with owned assets, naturally, and is channel agnostic.
This means that OAO is driven by consumer intent data, not a platform or channel alone. Consumer data enables brands to create and optimize assets that answer consumers’ questions as they venture through the buying journey.
Remember earlier when we discussed the marvel that is the modern search engine? It’s still valuable in the customer experience under reception marketing, but just in a new way.
The queries that your prospects and customers type into Google are the starting point for OAO. The data—the searches on company computers for tech products or the late-night Google searches from mobile devices about a product to remedy health concerns—determine the next steps for owned asset optimization.
Search intent data connects brands and consumers in a valuable way.
Instead of inferring what customers need or their questions, brands can understand the exact queries their intended audience is searching for, and gain completely uninhibited and honest data.
Search engine data gets to the heart of consumers’ concerns.
Think about it: When you type something into Google, it’s likely your most honest and straightforward question. You’re not filtering yourself, nor are you fearful of asking an embarrassing question, because you know that Google doesn’t judge.
Search intent data captures this authentic, raw point of inquiry and helps brands understand where there are opportunities for connection or clarification.
OAO in Practice
Implementing OAO begins with consumer intent data and a clear understanding of the customer journey. With this established, brands can build a foundation of user-informed owned assets. This begins with establishing critical assets like brand identity and messaging, intellectual property, and even building a team of experts.
From there, investing in the brand’s website is essential. It’s the most critical part of the OAO equation and the point of access where consumers interact with the brand.
Optimizing your brand’s website using search intent data, best practices for design, user experience, CRO, and content development, and by adding valuable, meaningful content to the site is essential.
Once the website is established, OAO builds upon it. It’s an ongoing process that will endure as long as the brand operates. Through the development of pillar content, blog posts, tools, downloadable assets, and even corporate communications messaging, brands can reach their prospects and customers at the point of need and the right moment.
OAO Results: Decreasing Customer Acquisition Costs
Here’s the full-circle win that OAO provides for brands: it lowers the cost per acquisition (CPA). With OAO, CPA can be as as much as 87.4% lower than paid channels. But it’s not simply that OAO is cheaper than paid advertisements through specific channels, though this is clearly a huge benefit.
OAO means that brands can consistently build up their library of content, develop assets to meet consumer needs and create brand equity in the process. With paid channels, those assets are limited to a specific function (the ad campaign) for a designated period of time. When the ads stop running, their value ends.
Not to mention that they exist on third-party websites and platforms and not the brand’s own site. On the flip side, OAO ensures that brands truly own the content, products, and assets they create.
Full ownership of these assets means that brands can do more with less, building from their asset library and repurposing (or redeveloping) content to ensure the brand’s messaging, story, and assets meet consumer needs and build trust.
Over time, these assets help brands build meaningful relationships with customers where value is exchanged before and beyond the point of sale.
Brand leaders are beginning to question the value of high-cost short-term advertising strategies. OAO has (and will continue) to transform the modern consumer experience because it’s focused on value and quality first, frequency and quantity second. OAO is the emerging practice that will help brands build sustainable ROI and forge long-term, value-driven customer connections.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Tim Douglas; Pexels; Thank you!