This article is originally from August 2007. I decided to dust it off, simply because it was correct two and half years ago and continues to highlight an important trend regarding how search engines and businesses interact online. Once you understand this concept, several other more advanced ideas regarding online reputation and brand management begin to have a clearer picture (such as search reputation and brand value)
When most people think of the word “conquesting” they probably think of roman soldiers claiming Europe or Celtic barbarians ravaging peasant villages. While the term may invoke memories of epic stories, it is also beginning to see a revival in the online marketplace. Conquesting in regards to marketing is when a competitor purposely places advertising and brand message side by side with similar businesses. In the real world conquesting has been around for years in grocery stores where like-minded products are side by side or in retail malls where cell phone booths are packed within arms reach of one another. In print media conquesting often took the form of advertisers purposely buying strip ads near larger competitive ads in an attempt to leverage the competitors larger ad.
The online world has given conquesting entirely new life.
Popular search engines have enabled pay per click campaigns where competitive ads are displayed when someone searches for a competitor’s name (even when it is a trademark). As online technology has become more precise, conquesting has become more and more prevalent providing side by side advertising and in actually having the ability to completely replace a competitors presence with targeted advertising. Rather than just sitting side by side, newer versions of online conquesting make finding the original content almost impossible.
The Google Culture of the past five years has assisted this trend by training the consumer audience to accept competitive ads when searching and it has also created seasoned marketing veterans who actively focus advertising on competitive brands rather than their own. This has created a trend where the pay per click system has seen increasing cost as businesses bid on terms that reflect their own company’s own brand; and it has slowly evolved into a situation where savvy marketers have realized the benefit of not only controlling company brand, but competitors branding as well.
Organic and natural search results have also seen plenty of conquesting strategies where white papers, professional reviews, and customer opinions are purposely indexed under the names of competitive businesses. The purpose of such articles is to present consumers with competitive marketing information to compare Product A to Product B, to present skillfully crafted and biased articles trying to trigger a consumer response, or to simply derail a competitors ability to have meaningful information found.
Outside of the search engine world the effects of online conquesting can also be seen through social community sites where public personalities have written articles that are conquested by competitors purposely commenting on articles or discussions to lure away readers. Individual blogging platform have allowed companies, employees, critics, and peers to utilize the conquesting tactic to dominate the online realm.
Understanding How It Affects You
The most critical element of conquesting is realizing that it exists as a valid marketing tactic. It may be something your business may implement in its own marketing strategy or it may be utilized to better understand how to defend your brand against competitive conquesting. There are many tactics in understanding how consumers find your business through search terms and it is more effective understanding how your brand is established online and understanding how well your competitors brands are also established.
Does Conquesting Work?
Marketing through conquesting techniques can have huge return on investment. It also risks alienating the marketplace if the attempt is too flagrant or poorly implemented. Consumers love to have choice, so there is merit and even sound strategy in helping prospects find useful information that assists them in making an educated decision to conduct business. When done skillfully- leveraging marketing budget through conquesting can be compared to buying larger advertising campaigns for pennies on the dollar.
In the battle for online real estate, conquesting online is becoming a significant factor in maximizing online superiority.