Money for muffin: Great British Bake Off search advertising is a piece of cake

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

GBBO search is the cherry on top of the advertiser's pudding.

The return of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) this week was highly anticipated, with the switch to Channel 4 causing die-hard fans concern. Which for some, only grew following the announcement of surrealist comedian Noel Fielding as one of the hosts.

The move to Channel 4 of course also meant the introduction of adverts, with advertisers rumoured to have paid up to £200,000 for a 30 second slot. We were curious to see what return brands got for this expense and how brands who didn’t stump up the cash for an ad slot could still use GBBO to drive sales.

At mporium we help brands to make the most of their digital advertising campaigns by using our technology to optimise for the times that people are more likely to be searching for a product or service, which often includes when they are inspired by something they’ve seen on TV. With a peak of 7.7m viewers tuning into the season premiere that’s a lot of viewers with the potential to become inspired about cake.

The sponsors

Dr Oetker and Lyles were announced in July as the joint sponsors of the show, and on the night bumpers from each sponsor alternated as the ad break started and came to a close. For Dr Oetker, who used the sponsorship to advertise its Baking Powder through the use of singing cakes, there were large spikes in related online searches during the show and immediately after. While related search terms included ‘advertising’, ‘baking’, ‘icing’, ‘Prue Leith’ and positively for Lyles, ‘Golden Syrup’, when it came to Lyles, the bigger spike in search terms occurred after the programme finished.

The advertisers

The first ad break kicked off with a film from eBay, showing a man buying the right materials to make a cake for his dog’s birthday. The ad had clearly been purpose made for Bake Off, and the effort seems to have been worthwhile, with a significant search spike at 8.20pm. As a digital brand, search traffic direct to the site will be a big driver of sales, so for eBay the investment was clearly beneficial.

The next ad up was an odd one from ‘Stork with Butter.’ The ad, which appeared to be dubbed from another language, was an odd 1950’s depiction of a kitchen. Following the eBay ad which felt more in keeping with the spirit of Bake Off, this ad jarred and got some stick on Twitter. But despite the cliched ad, Stork still saw search spikes when it was aired at 8.18pm and 8.56pm and the related terms appear to be purely about ‘Stork with Butter’ as a product rather than for the somewhat sarcastic tweets.

For those who haven’t splashed out

For those brands that didn’t invest in TV ads during GBBO there was still a chance to take advantage of second screening opportunities, when Prue announced that the technical challenge would be mini rolls and then proceeded to explain just how hard and fiddly they were to make – this should have been cause for celebration for Cadbury’s and all stockists of mini rolls!

The search behaviour shows this to be correct, with a huge spike in searches for mini rolls. This provided a real opportunity for supermarkets to react in real-time and use their search advertising to promote stock, so that anyone searching for mini rolls would be able to quickly add them to their next online shop. Brands tend to have an always-on approach to generic terms, which can be both expensive and inefficient. By using technology that allows optimisation in these ‘micro-moments’ - rather than after the moment has passes - brands can ensure they are well placed to take advantage of these opportunities.

Unexpected consequences

While food brands and supermarkets should be well aware of the potential of GBBO to drive sales, fashion brands may not be so clued in. However, with Mary Berry being hailed as a style icon whose penchant for floral bomber jackets from Zara saw the store sell out in record time, they need to be aware of the potential opportunities.

And despite Sandi copying Mary by donning her own fetching bomber jacket, it was Noel that appeared to be the fashion influencer, with large spikes for "noel fielding shirt" and "noel fielding crow shirt" during the show.

While keen to make the most ad revenue from the show, Channel 4 was careful to not give the impression of making the show too commercial, so decided to forgo paid product placement. Despite this choice, if brands are tuned in and dedicated to making sure that they are first to appear in the moments that matter, they can in effect create their own digital product placement.

Tom Smith is head of biddable media at mporium.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.