The Dove Soap Bubble

According to the Google Keyword Tool,there were 7.5 million broad match searches on the term "˜soap’ in September.  Granted that some of the searches are related to "soap operas" rather than cleansing soaps, there are still quite a few people searching for the term.  CPG companies are fueling this growth in search with increased investment in online advertising.  In fact, according to TNS, one of the leading soap brands Dove spent nearly $5MM on online display advertising during the first half of this year.  This investment is significantly greater than that of rival brands Softsoap and Olay.  Due in part to their investment in online advertising, Compete’s data shows that site traffic to are multiples greater than its competitors.

Over one million consumers visited Dove’s website in August.  This volume is comparable to the number of consumers visiting sites like Bravo TV, The New Yorker and Morningstar.  So how does Dove maintain its online visitor volume using display advertising?  Many of you have probably seen a Dove ad online recently.  We went back a few months and examined two campaigns that Dove ran on both Yahoo! and AOL in late July.  We isolated exposed consumers who saw the Dove ad and compared their behavior to a group of control consumers who did not see the ad but were otherwise similar in behavior and composition.  Take a look at the search results below.

On Yahoo!, exposed consumers were nearly twice as likely to search for the Dove brand as control consumers who did not see the ad up to a week after the campaign ended.  The ad on AOL resulted in an even greater shift in consumer behavior prompting exposed consumers to search at nearly twice the rate than those on Yahoo.  The incremental search activity for Dove is not just a sign of online success, it is also a sign of brand strength and consumer recollection. So it is no wonder that according to the Google Keyword Tool, there were 2.2 MM searches for Dove in September compared to 823K searches for Olay and 60K searches for Softsoap.  The ads did drive direct traffic to Dove’s site, but Dove got even greater value from the incremental searches and the resulting "indirect" traffic.  Here is another great example that shows that online advertising indeed works!