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The Drum Awards for Search 2022 winners: inside the smartest campaigns

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

April 28, 2022 | 8 min read

Search is one of the most important marketing channels for brands. Even in 2022, the best marketers are finding clever ways to maximize investment and reach new audiences in a cost-effective manner. The Drum reveals the ad campaigns, teams and talent that have been awarded at The Drum Awards for Search.

This year’s Grand Prix was secured by Kleenex for Your Pollen Pal, which saw the brand find a way back on to radars with a pollen counter tool to help allergy suffers prepare for their symptoms. Two campaigns then won the Chair Awards, which included LNER’s work to tie ticket capacity into search campaigns (for more efficient media buys).

Reprise Digital was named Agency of the Year as a result of an exhaustive process that took in the views of clients thanks to research undertaken by The Drum Recommends and peer sentiment. Reprise was behind a number of the night's award winning campaigns including the Grand Prix winning Kleenex work as well as a campaign for Hiscox which was named Best Pivot Initiative by judges.

Search

Check out the smartest campaigns of 2022

The winners were crowned at a ceremony held in front of a live audience at The Drum Labs in London and broadcast around the world on Thursday April 28. The event rewarded the best work in search, with winners ranging from global heavy hitters to creative indies.

The competition was judged by a powerhouse panel of digital advertising leaders from the likes of Merkle, LinkedIn, Publicis Groupe, Facebook, MediaCom and Media.Monks.

Building a useful pollen counter to build brand awareness

Grand Prix, most effective use of data, best B2C, best FMCG, winner

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Kleenex

Kleenex tasked Reprise with finding a way to help sufferers and raise awareness of its Allergy Comfort line after the national lockdown kept people indoors and away from pollen.

The agency observed massive demand for pollen counts and forecasts, and noticed that the Met Office and then holistic medicines brand A. Vogel were most visible. The health brand’s pollen tool didn’t work so Kleenex, which naturally sees sales spikes during allergy season, created a working tool and won that traffic.

‘Your Pollen Pal’ was delivered in 12 weeks, hitting 239% of its original SEO forecast, and growing Kleenex Allergy Comfort sales in 2021 by 45% compared to 2020.

LNER making ticket sales a search ad lever

Chair Award and best auto winner

LNER

Rail company LNER realized it could make its media buys more efficient if it could tie its search query bids into its live ticket capacity – theoretically no longer bidding on searches for trains it was already filling. MG OMD was tasked with solving this issue by:

  • Targeting people only when there is a train available at their station

  • Connecting users with under-capacity trains and cheaper prices

  • Improving the cost efficiency of PPC spend

There were some 52 stations and a huge number of variables under the brand’s remit. It said: “Search, as the last-touch demand-led platform, offered the greatest opportunity for consumer signals, but also made it the most complex channel to activate, with different feeds needed for different search scenarios.”

Most train searches are formed around vague terms and places (not times and dates), so it launched Destination Generic Campaigns for broad queries such as ‘train to Newcastle,’ and ‘cheap train tickets to London.’ It categorizes stations as ‘high, medium or low capacity’ and pushed appropriately-targeted ads in Google and Microsoft to target users it was most likely to convert.

Year-on-year, with the campaign in place, clicks were up 86% (202,523 versus 108,870), click-through rates were up 6% and cost per click was down 34%.

Using search ads to stop the sale of under-age kittens

Best Not for Profit winner

cats

Cats Protection, working with John Ayling & Associates, looked to stop people shopping online to buy kittens before the eight-week safety cut-off with a campaign called ‘Eight Precious Weeks.’

It looked to interrupt the online search for kittens for sale by supplying information to potential shoppers.

It educated over 27,000 potential kitten purchasers on the importance of choosing a responsible breeder and the dangers of early purchase. It bought up the following keywords on Google: ‘kittens for sale,’ ‘buy a kitten,’ ‘kittens for free,’ ‘Gumtree kittens’ and ‘protect kittens.’

People who hit the site were encouraged to complete a quiz about kitten mis-selling, thus driving education and knowledge. There were 60,000 clicks through to the website and millions of impressions across all the keywords.

Creating a bot that can talk about Covid and flu jabs

Best public sector winner

omd

​Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the level of searches for official guidance surrounding ‘vaccinations’ was up 241%. MG OMD, working with the UK Government, had to manage these campaigns with searches for flu jabs.

To handle a very nuanced discussion, vaccine hesitancy and ignorance of the severity of the flu and its interactions with the Covid vaccine, the agency created a ‘Conversational Ad’ campaign across search, which enabled it to “talk with (not at)” the audience in a “two-way conversation driving high engagement and deeper connection.”

It targeted keywords with the ads on Android devices and then ran on search with a call to action to book jab appointments on the NHS website.

The campaign drove more than 4.7m impressions across a full search ad format and Search extension. Around 53% of users responded upon entering the messaging experience (2.6x higher than benchmark message conversion rate) and, on average, users sent 3.5 messages per conversation.

A customization tool that generates leads when supply is low

Best sports winner

touche

Sea-Doo, the watercraft brand, encountered an inventory shortage during the pandemic. It needed to capture interest and brand consideration until the 2022 models were released. It feared going dark on search engines or ceding ground (or water) to its three competitors, so created a lead-generating watercraft customization tool.

The strategy was to:

  • Capture demand when it was in market

  • Drive traffic toward the personalization tool

  • Maintain interest until the 2022 models were available for sale

It increased consideration on the website by 200% compared to last year and, due to retargeting, sold out in weeks. It generated 329% more leads as well as 230% more website visits year-on-year.

You can see full list of winners here.

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