Google Ads campaigns in promotional activities of theaters
Grzegorz Szymański, Ph.D., D.Sc., Professor of the Lodz University of Technology
Lodz University of Technology, Faculty of Management and Production Engineering,
Piotrkowska Street 266, 90-924 Lodz, Poland
firstname.lastname@example.org z ORCID: 0000-0003-3179-1805
Although the pace of life is very high today, young people spend free time among applications and electronic devices, but theatrical performances are relatively popular nonetheless. Theaters to appeal to young people should use online tools as a basic form of advertising. One of the most popular forms of e-marketing is the search engine SEM. The research question was formulated in the form: do the theaters advertise in paid search results PPC? To answer this question, we analyzed the search results on Google, including AdWords ads, among Polish theaters for popular keywords. By analyzing the results obtained, it can be said that definitely theaters do not use PPC as an advertising tool. Among the popular keywords only 5 theaters were identified using this form, which represents less than 3% of all the theaters in Poland. The reasons for low popularity are the high costs and the lack of advertising due to the relatively large number of contemporary theater customers.
MINIB, 2020, Vol. 37, Issue 3
Published 30 September 2020
Google Ads campaigns in promotional activities of theaters
According to the universal classification of cultural institutions, 15 types of entities operating in this area can be distinguished: theaters (dramatic and puppet), musical theaters (operas and operettas), philharmonics, orchestras, choirs, song and dance groups, museums and para-gallery institutions, libraries, information and library institutions,galleries and art salons, cultural centers, community centers, culturecenters, clubs, recreation rooms and cinemas. Despite the fact that today pace of life is very high and young people spend their free time amongapplications and electronic devices, theater performances are relatively popular. Although it would seem that the theater has no chance inconfrontation with other competitive forms of spending free time, thereare still performances, for which tickets must be purchased well inadvance. On the basis of the researches of the Theater Institute (Instytut Teatralny, 2017), three largest barriers in visiting theaters include: toohigh price of a ticket, lack of free time and communication difficulties. Aninteresting result is the fact that the largest group of theater viewersconstituted people with higher education (44%), while the students constituted only 15% of respondents. In order to reach young people,theaters should use online tools as basic forms of advertisement. Activitiesin SEM search engines are one of the most popular forms of e-marketing. The research question was formulated in the following manner: do thetheaters advertise themselves in paid search results in the form of Paid Search?
Theaters as cultural institutions
In 2016, there were 182 theaters and music institutions with their own artistic groups in Poland. During the year, they staged over 60,000performances and concerts for audiences exceeding 14,5 million spectatorsand listeners. A year later, their number increased (slightly) — there were187 such units, organizing over 65,000 events (GUS, 2018). Additionally,they showed 752 performances and concerts abroad — compared to 2015 it presented an increase of almost 200 events (538 in 2015). Groups of dramatic theaters — 332 (including puppet theaters — 125) and philharmonic orchestras (142) most often performed abroad. Otherorchestras and choirs performed 155 concerts abroad. The majority ofinstitutions from the analyzed sector operated in the following voivodeships: Masovian, Silesian, Lesser Poland and Lower Silesian. A large number of cultural entities is not always connected with thenumber of recipients. The highest number of viewers and listeners perperformance was achieved in the Lesser Poland and Pomeranian Voivodeships. A high ratio was also achieved in Lodz and West Pomeranian Voivodeships — despite the relatively low number of theaters and music institutions.
Over the last six years, the number of theaters and music institutions in Poland has been relatively constant, oscillating around 180 entities. In2016, in the area of dramatic and puppet theaters, 108 institutions were identified. Dramatic theaters constitute 45.9% of all theater and musicinstitutions. This sector is mainly represented by public institutions(83.3%), which received 13.8 million viewers. Satirical theaters andinstitutions, as well as small stage forms were also included in the subjectsof dramatic theaters (GUS, 2017). When analyzing consumer behaviors, it should be noted that the average annual expenditure on the purchase of cultural articles andservices in 2016 amounted to 347.40 PLN per 1 person in a Polishhousehold, obtaining a small (2.2%) increase in this value compared to thelast year. It is less than 30 PLN per month. if this amount was entirely allocated to the theaters, we would be very enthusiastic about the results. However, the highest expenses were related to the use of popular media (radio and television subscription fees, as well as fees for digital and cabletelevision) and they accounted for nearly 30% of the total amount ofexpenditure on culture in households. On the other hand, the amount of 2.66 PLN per person per month (on average) was spent on tickets fortheaters, music institutions and cinemas. A significant difference in expenditure was observed in the resultsbetween urban and rural residents. This is probably determined by thelimited access of rural residents to cultural institutions and other socialbehaviors and habits. Households in cities spent in 2016, 42.60 PLN per person per year (on average) on entry tickets to these institutions, whilehouseholds in rural areas spent only 15.00 PLN. Dramatic theaters are slightly more popular in Poland. In 2016, oneperformance was watched by 195 people (average), while the puppet show — only 131 persons. Some performances, despite their many years of presencein the repertoire, are still very popular — for example, Paul Pörtner’s “ShearMadness” premiered in Poland on 27 March 1999, and it is still difficult tobuy tickets for this performance. Nevertheless, in order to meet theexpectations of viewers and enrich the repertoire, Polish dramatic, puppetand music theaters presented 760 premieres (in 2016). Polish theaters areprimarily located in the largest cities — the majority of them operate in Warsaw (19 entities), Cracow (9), Lodz (7), Wroclaw (5), Lublin, Poznan,
Szczecin (4), Bialystok, Slupsk, Torun (3) (GUS, 2018).
Search Engine Marketing
The creation of the Mosaic web browser in 1993, which has the functionality of graphics presentation, influenced the emergence of newforms of online advertisement (Kuś, 2010, p. 75). Today, search engines arean important tool in the field of Internet marketing communication, and the term describing this phenomenon is called Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Search engine advertising covers many areas: website positioning and optimization from the point of view of position in search results, searchengine advertising context, forms of ad targeting to users, payment systemsand methods of converting advertising creations (Wiktor, 2013, p. 290). Usually, the term of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is defined verygenerally. It focuses on activities, the aim of which is to improve theposition of the website in SERP (Search Engine Result Pages). Despite the fact that there are many interpretations of SEM (Szymański & Mróz-Gorgoń, pp. 199–209), for the purposes of this publication, it is assumedthat SEM constitutes all marketing activities using search engines throughthe use of: SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Paid Search and contextual advertising. The concept of SEO is a set of activities aimed at increasing theposition of a website in organic SERP results — on-line and off-lineactivities should be highlighted here. On the other hand, PPC (Pay PerClick), in accordance with the acronym, is a form of setting payments for clicks. A widespread popularization of this abbreviation as a classic PaidSearch enables its identification with all paid forms of search engineadvertising. This enables to take the relation SEM = SEO + PPC ascorrect. PPC activities in Google search engine operate under the name AdWords and their popularity is definitely greater than other knownforms of e-marketing (Figure 1). In 2000, Google implemented an advertising program called AdWords. According to many reports, expenditure on search engine advertising in the form of Paid Search has constituted the largest share of Internet platforms for many years (van Gelder at all., 2019, p. 1286). They maintain an annual growth rate at the level of 10% (PWC, 2015).
Pay Per Click is a type of advertisement in the form of a banner or a link with a description displayed in search engines. This is one of thefastest methods to increase the number of visits to the website, which determines the more effective acquisition of new clients. The basicadvantage is the model of payment for effects. In the case of PPC, they constitute clicks on the advertising creation. A sole display of theadvertisement, regardless of its popularity and time of exposure, as wellas the number of views, does not charge the advertiser’s account(Tricahyadinata & Mulawarman, 2017, p. 62). However, an ineffective optimization of the advertisement, connected with a low clickthroughrate, causes an increase in click fees. The next advantage is that the overwhelming majority of users are not well able to distinguishadvertisements from organic results on Google’s search engine results pages (Lewandowski, 2019, p. 13). Another determinant that differentiates PPC from SEO is the ability to activate (immediately) thecampaign. In the case of website’s positioning, effects are visible withinseveral weeks. However, launching the AdWords campaign depends only on the funds in the account and the preparation of the basic elements ofthe creation. An important advantage is also the possibility ofpermanent optimization of the campaign. A constant monitoring ofcurrent results guarantees quick optimization response that increases clickthrough and conversion rates. The effectiveness of advertisingactivities in search engines is most reliably characterized by theconversion rate (CR). It shows the ratio of the number of clicks on the ad to the number of persons, who completed a specific task (Berkley,2009, pp. 35–36). On the other hand, the clickthrough rate (CTR)determines the frequency of clicks on the ad by Internet users, who haveseen it. In the form of PPC advertising, CTR is used to determine the effectiveness of keywords and entire campaigns. CTR is the number of clicks on the advertisement in relation to the number of its views. A high CTR indicates that users find advertisements as relevant interms of their search. In the area of payment for specific keywords, CTRis a component of the quality result that affects the cost and position ofthe ad. In the optimization process, the CTR identifies the effectivenessof ads and keywords (Google). 1 The last significant advantage of AdWords is the ability to personalize ads, both in terms of demographic data of recipients and in terms ofdisplay time. Identification and geolocation of recipients significantlyincreases the conversion rate, especially for companies that operate inthe local area (as cultural institutions). The results of researchesindicate that there are noticeable differences between the acceptance ofpersonalized and general contextual advertising. Personalized Facebook ads are seen more often by women than men. On the other hand, men provide a higher bid and conversion rate for Google AdWords ads(Ruhrberg, Kirstein & Baran, 2017, p. 230). The key disadvantages of PPC are short duration of actions and higher costs compared to SEO. The visibility of advertising creations is strictly dependent on the positive balance of the advertising account. Furthermore,an unprofessionally prepared campaign and the lack of permanent optimization and control of results can significantly increase total costs. The use of a word that is less popular (but more effective) brings benefitsin the form of less competition. This method is colloquially called the “longtail of search”. There is a visible analogy to the Pareto principle, the onlineform of which could describe the relation that 80% of website visits comefrom 20% of marketing activities related to the PPC form. Available studies indicate that SEO activities determined a muchlower CPA (Cost Per Action) than PPC, which means more effectivemarketing strategies (Kritzingers & Weideman, 2017, p. 13). However, optimization actions are definitely long-term and (for better results)they need close cooperation between the marketing department of enterprises and programmers (Drivas, Sarlis & Varveris, 2017,pp. 429–436). Optimization activities include many complex operations, the correct implementation of which is aimed at improving efficiency. Although there are attempts to create an automation of the optimization process with the use of neural networks and fuzzy logic, the obtainedresults are unsatisfactory (Madera et al., 2016, p. 106).
The use and possibilities of the AdWords tool
in the promotion of theaters
Both in PPC and SEO, the right selection of keywords is an important element of effectiveness. Theaters are definitely operating on the B2Cmarket, where recipients are individual clients — viewers (less ofteninstitutions). For potential clients, the selection of a particular theater isusually less important than the choice of a specific performance. Therefore, SEM activities should not be focused on the names of cultural institutions, but on the titles of performances and popular queries. The “long tail” technique is widely used in the e-commerce sector and it should also be effective in the area of marketing activity of theaters. However, in the event that a potential client enters the name ofa particular performance / play, there is no need to pay for this word,because it is characterized by low competitiveness. Two theaters rarely have in their programs identically titled spectacles — especially theaterslocated in close proximity (theaters that could be selected by the same clients). In these cases, SERP organic results should be a sufficientsource of information for Internet users. Another aspect of searching new clients by theaters is the possibility ofacquiring undecided persons or people without specific plans in the area ofperformance titles. Among the most frequently typed Google terms related to theater or spectacle, an automatic proposal of the planner (Google tool)identified many possibilities (Keywords ideas) — Table 1. The majority ofthe proposed keywords are related to a specific theater (Capitol, Narodowy,Powszechny, etc.). These words in the field of cultural institutions shouldhighly position a given theater in SERP organic search results. A large partof Internet users, who enter the query “theater”, probably do not look fortheatrical inspiration, and perhaps only definitive, historical or eveninformation elements. An interesting proposition with a relatively low rateis a “gift idea”, especially during the holiday season. According to thePremiumBrand report (2016), 78% of people buy presents for relatives and family, 39% of people spend on all gifts from 100 to 300 PLN. This may indicate that theater tickets can be an attractive gift for persons withouttheir own idea — despite the fact that in 2016 only 3% of Poles chosetheater tickets as a Christmas gift. On the other hand, the Deloitte report(Deloitte) is a positive aspect. It indicates that 94% of Internet users willsearch for gifts with the use of search engines, 95% of users will use pricecomparison websites, and 53% of persons will take advantage of theassistance of social media. When analyzing Google Planner’s proposals in terms of the amount of the suggested rate per click (Table 2), you may notice the relation that themore general password, the higher remuneration per click. Although there are only 10 searches for the phrase “repertuar warszawskich teatrów” (“repertoire of Warsaw theaters”), the proposed rate exceeds 14 PLN. Thismay be connected with a large conversion of this password. Clients, who are undecided on a specific title of the show, will be happy to click on theadvertising creation that contains the answer to their query. However,despite the fact that the payment for highly effective keywords willincrease the number of clients, it may turn out that the campaign will beineffective due to the high costs compared to revenues.
In order to answer the research question, a study in the form of observation of Google search results for selected keywords was carried out. Analyzing the obtained results (Table 3), it can be noted that there isa little interest among theaters in relation to PPC advertising. Alonginstitutions that advertise themselves, only 5 theaters were identified:3 theaters located in Warsaw (Teatr Komedia, Teatr Narodowy and Teatr Druga Strefa), one theater in Słupsk (Teatr Władca Lalek) and one theater in Wroclaw (Teatr Pieśń Kozła). Moreover, the lack of professional preparation of AdWords campaigns can be indicated. Almost all theaters in their adsredirect users to the main pages of websites. The only exception is thecreation of the National Theater in Warsaw, where the link directs to awebsite with a repertoire. Furthermore, no personalized advertising creation that has at least a title correlated with the keyword has been identified.
However, the analyzed keywords were paid for by many companiesother than theaters. We can indicate the following entities related with thetheater: “Niezła Sztuka” Art Promotion Foundation and “Ależ Gustawie”, Futura Philharmonic in Gdansk, PKT industry website, as well as “JEST OK” Foundation conducting trainings and workshops. An interesting fact is the advertisement of the “Farmer” online service for the word “teatralnehity 2019 gdańsk”, or the Volvo showroom in Gdansk with a test drive offer(for the same password). However, for the word “co polecacie w teatrze” (“what do you recommend in the theater”), Ceneo’s ads were identified.
When analyzing the results obtained in terms of the posed research question, it can be said that theaters definitely do not take advantage of the PPC form as an advertising tool. Among the popular keywords, only 5 theaters using AdWords were identified — this is less than 3% of alltheaters in Poland. However, taking into account the average cost-perclick, which will not always end in conversion, the use of this form may be ineffective. On the other hand, there are keywords, the costs of which are observed within the limit of 0.5 PLN (Table 2) and perhaps their usewould increase the number of clients. Among theaters that currently use PPC, all of them do not have a properly prepared AdWords campaign. Basic mistakes are made — for example, ads are displayed to users all over Poland and it is rather unlikely that they will come to Wroclaw fromGdansk in order to show the performance. There is also the lack ofpersonalized ads, i.e. titles and descriptions adapted to keywords. Linksalways direct users to the main pages of websites — instead of specific programs, price lists and other elements that are searched by Internet users. All conclusions indicate a lack of interest in PPC advertising among theaters. The reasons of this fact include too high costs, no need to advertise all performances and the use of other forms of online advertising, including social media marketing, which may be sufficient to achieve the intended strategic and marketing targets.
1 https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2615875?hl=pl (12.10.2017).
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Grzegorz Szymański, Ph.D., D.Sc., Professor of the Lodz University of Technology, Faculty of Management and Production Engineering, Poland — Head of the Division of Management Systems and Innovation at the Faculty of Management and Production Engineering of the Lodz University of Technology. Since 2005, the author has been dealing with the innovative approach to the current issue of marketing, as well as the development ofthe internet commerce. He is the head and contractor of numerous projects from the scope of implementation of marketing innovations, particularly in the Polish sector of e-commerce. Author of numerous scientificpublications considering the internet marketing, advertising innovations, as well as enterprise activities in the ecommerce sector. Coach of the trainings concerning innovative promotion, designer and creator of theinformation exchange platform in terms of the student-lecturer relation for the École Polytechnique de l’Universitéde Nantes.